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.


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

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.



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.


Halloween Candy Buyback!


South Valley Pediatric Dentistry is proud to host our annual Halloween Candy buyback! In an effort to promote healthy habits and keep cavities at bay, our office will be exchanging cash for candy November 1st through the 4th. Parents and kids are encouraged to bring their Halloween haul to either of our locations during regular office hours (listed below*). Children will receive $1 per pound of candy! Now that’s what I call a treat!

*Springville Office Hours:


8:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.

Closed for lunch 1:00-2:00

*Payson Office Hours:


8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Closed for lunch 1:00-2:00

For more information on cavity prevention during the fall season see our previous post, Costumes, Candy and Cavities.

Flossing Facts and Fiction

You may have seen recent articles in which trusted news sources, such as the New York Times and Associated Press suggest that flossing your teeth is unnecessary. However, we at South Valley Pediatric dentistry stand with the American Dental association in recommending that our patients floss at least once a day. Why do dental professionals like those at South Valley Pediatric Dentistry still suggest daily flossing when news articles and statistical reviews claim that flossing doesn’t help? To answer that question I’ve compiled a list of facts and falsehoods surrounding the whole flossing issue.

Much of the current confusion about flossing comes from articles like this one from the New York Times, which make several questionable claims about flossing. Many of the points made by these articles perpetuate myths about flossing which need to be debunked.

Claim 1: The government doesn’t want you to floss anymore.

Status: FALSE – The Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services did remove the recommendations for flossing from their 2015 dietary guidelines, but that doesn’t mean they’re telling you not to floss. They took flossing out of the dietary guidelines for two reasons: one, because they wanted the dietary guidelines to focus on nutrition (go figure), and two, because they had not conducted their own randomized clinical trial to test the effectiveness of flossing. The fact that the government has not tested flossing does not mean you shouldn’t do it. The phrase “a lack of evidence is not evidence of lack,” applies here. Or in other words, things that have not been proven, are not automatically false.

Claim 2: American Academy of Periodontology doesn’t want you to floss anymore.

Status: FALSE – The American Academy of Periodontology has stated that much of the current research on flossing is flawed or incomplete. This fact should inspire researchers to look more thoroughly into flossing instead of giving people a pass to not floss. The fact that the Times presents the lack of evidence on flossing as a reason to skip it altogether is irresponsible, as it may encourage unhealthy habits and lead to poor overall dental health.

Claim 3: The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews doesn’t want you to floss anymore.

Status: (Mostly) False – The Cochrane looked at 12 studies and found “unreliable evidence” that flossing helps prevent plaque. However, this review did support the claim that flossing can help. Researchers merely suggest that there is not a lot of evidence and that existing evidence is difficult to analyze because most people do not floss correctly. The solution then, is to learn to floss correctly, which has been proven to prevent tooth decay, rather than to give it up as a lost cause.

Claim 4: Flossing prevents gingivitis, but that doesn’t make a difference.

Status: (Mostly) True – Flossing has been seen to prevent gingivitis, swelling and bleeding of the gums. But the Times article also claims that gingivitis is not a serious condition and that flossing is not worth the work to prevent this condition. In reality, gingivitis can become problematic, painful and lead to more serious dental conditions. Preventing gingivitis is in fact one good reason to make flossing a daily habit.

Along with making the above assertions, articles like the one in the Times, brush over or outright ignore a few key facts about flossing such as:

  1. The American Dental Association still recommends flossing once a day.
  2. Flossing removes food particles from in between the teeth. Research does show that food particles remaining in contact with teeth leads to plaque buildup and tooth decay. Logically, removing food from between teeth will prevent dental problems. Some things are too obvious to extensively research. Like the grass being green, or the sun being hot, or the fact that flossing prevents tooth decay.
  3. Flossing is a low-risk, time effective way to protect your teeth. It is safe for most people and will add, at most, two or three minutes to your routine. You have nothing to loose from flossing, but potentially much to loose in giving it up.

Summer Smiles

Thinking about scheduling your child’s dental visit this summer? Summer is a great time to have your child’s teeth professionally cleaned and examined. When school is out, parents often find scheduling around activities and sports much simpler, which means our schedule fills up quickly. Here are three tips to making your child’s summer checkup a success:

  1. Schedule in advance: If you find your calendar is far easier to manage between June and August, you’re not alone. Lately our appointments have been filling up even faster than usual – often booking weeks, if not months ahead of time. If you know your child will be due for their check-up in mid July, try calling in to schedule toward the middle of June. We will make every effort to remind you when it’s time to schedule, so you have plenty of time to get in as close to six months from your last visit as possible. That way, any needed treatment can be addressed sooner rather than later, which can save you and your children time, money and dental pain.
  2. Note Problems or Concerns: Keep a list of anything out of the ordinary you or your child notices in his or her mouth. These can include discoloration (spots of brown, white or red) on the teeth or gums, swelling of the cheek or gums, pain anywhere in the mouth, loose permanent teeth, loose baby teeth which just won’t fall out, or anything else that seems strange to you. Your dentist will be happy to address any concerns you may have, and answer all questions regarding your child’s dental health at your exam.
  3. Make it fun: Some children don’t want to sacrifice their summer freedom for a dental visit. Bringing toys or games to play with in the waiting room or during their cleaning can help children feel at home and happy. Our office also provides Nintendo DS games, iPads and movie screens to help pass the time pleasantly. Feel free to ask about our entertainment options, if you’d like to assure your children their dental exam can be an enjoyable experience.