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Having a cavity used to mean one thing — drilling and filling. While that still remains the gold standard for treatment of tooth decay in both adults and children, young patients and those with special needs now have another choice for managing their tooth health: Silver diamine fluoride. Here, we’ll share with you what silver diamine fluoride is, what the benefits of this treatment are, and when it is useful.

Silver Diamine Fluoride

Silver diamine fluoride (SDF) is an antibiotic liquid treatment that is painlessly brushed onto the teeth to prevent tooth cavities from forming, growing, and spreading. Though fairly new to the United States, it has been used extensively outside of the country for many years. In fact, it was first approved for use in Japan more than 80 years ago and approved in the United States in 2014.

There are three classes of medical devices. Class I is the least risky, and Class III being more risky. SDF is considered a Class II medical device. This classification of risk is comparable to risks associated with powered wheelchairs and pregnancy test kits, which are also classified as Class II medical devices.

What Ingredients are in SDF?

SDF contains four ingredients that help with tooth health:

  • Silver: Helps kill unwanted bacteria
  • Fluoride: Helps teeth rebuild the enamel so cavities are less likely to occur
  • Water: Provides a liquid base for the compound
  • Ammonia: Allows the solution to remain concentrated so that it’s most effective

What Are the Patient Benefits of Silver Diamine Fluoride?

Untreated dental cavities are a notable pediatric public health problem. Approximately one in every five U.S. children ages 5 to 11 years has at least one untreated decayed tooth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children in low-income families struggle with cavities twice as much as children from high-income families.

Non-invasive interim treatments have been sought after for a long time, particularly in low-income households that lack access to restorative dental care. Fortunately, SDF fills this gap. Used internationally for decades, SDF reduces dental cavities in primary and permanent teeth. It has twice the strength of commercial fluoride varnishes, and hasn’t had any adverse effects reported.

SDF is recommended for patients whose cooperation is limited, such as young children, people with significant intellectual or developmental disabilities, and those with situational anxiety. Rather than being an invasive measure that requires lengthy cooperation, this treatment can be applied quickly and with minimal invasiveness. However, it should be considered a part of a larger, more comprehensive dental treatment plan instead of a replacement treatment.

How is it Used?

Most dentists use a mixture that contains at least 38 percent of the SDF solution. It is applied directly to the surface of a patient’s tooth in the following way:

  1. Cotton or gauze is placed near the decaying teeth to prevent saliva from moistening the area.
  2. Moisture is removed from the surface of the teeth using a vacuum suction tool.
  3. The topical solution is applied to the area in need of treatment.

There’s no set number of treatments recommended for SDF to work, though most dentists apply it once per year. By comparison, many traditional varnishes require four or five annual applications.

Interested in Learning More? 

Contact Triangle Dentistry today and find out if SDF is the right choice for your specific situation.

Triangle Dentistry, located in Raleigh, NC, provides a state-of-the-art facility that offers exceptional general dental and specialty services guided by empathy of a patient’s needs and desires. Services range from dental crowns to veneers and whitening procedures. For further information, questions, or to schedule an appointment, contact the office at (919) 747-3608.