Sorting out Silver Diamine Fluoride

Lately the dental staff at South Valley Pediatric Dentistry have gotten more and more questions surrounding a new alternative treatment for dental decay: Silver Diamine Fluoride.

Silver Diamine Fluoride, or SDF, is a topical treatment, which can be used to stop the progress of cavities. It has been used outside of the US for decades, but was only recently approved by the FDA for use domestically.  Silver Diamine Fluoride, or SDF, has been studied thoroughly and shown to be effective, when used appropriately by trained clinicians.

However, many people have misconceptions about the purpose and use of SDF. Though it shows immense promise as a treatment alternative, it also has limitations, and might not be the magic bullet some make it out to be.

dentalxray

Here’s everything you need to know about Silver Diamine Fluoride:

What it does:

SDF kills cavity causing bacteria, strengthens surrounding healthy enamel, reduces sensitivity, and slows or prevents the spread of decay.

What it cannot do:

SDF does NOT repair existing decay.  Which means that teeth treated with SDF still have damaged areas of tooth that can collect bacteria, compromise tooth structure, and cause future pain or other problems. Only dental restorations, such as fillings and crowns, can actually repair decay.

Who can benefit:

Children who are too young for certain types of sedation (generally ages 0-3 may be too young for some sedation methods), can use SDF to arrest further decay until they are old enough to restore their teeth with fillings or crowns. It may also help children with cavities on baby teeth that will fall out soon, if those cavities are mild enough to go without restoration until the teeth fall out naturally.

Who it’s not for:

Adults and older children who can use other methods to restore teeth and prevent further decay. If older patients experience dental anxiety, we recommend laughing gas, Valium or sedation to assist with treatment.

Furthermore, if you are allergic to silver, heavy metals, or fluoride, you should never use SDF.

Side Effects:

Silver Diamine Fluoride on child's front teeth, demonstrating the black stain
These anterior teeth have been treated with silver diamine fluoride. Photo credit http://www.oralhealthgroup.com

Silver Diamine Fluoride will stain decayed areas a dark brown or black color as seen here, but it will not permanently discolor healthy teeth.

SDF will also stain any clothes or skin it comes in contact with. Stains on skin will go away on their own within a few days or weeks, but cannot be washed out.

 

Conclusion

Silver Diamine Fluoride can provide a valid treatment alternative for some patients. While it may slow down or stop the progression of cavities for a time, it cannot take the place of traditional dental restorations, such as fillings and crowns. If you have further questions about this, or any other oral health questions, be sure to ask your dentist or give us a call at 801-489-1301.

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