What is Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF)?

SDF is an antibacterial liquid that can stop the growth of tooth decay and treat tooth sensitivity. No anesthesia or invasive dental treatment is required to apply this substance. It is simply painted on the affected area, dried, and coated with a fluoride varnish to cover.

What are the pros?

It has been scientifically proven to stop the growth and symptoms of a cavity, so that more aggressive treatment can be delayed, or in some cases, avoided. This is ideal for some patients who are very young or have special needs and would otherwise require moderate to deep sedation for fixing cavities. Dr. Johnson  has successfully treated active decay with this material in many of his patients. In many cases, when the patient does require final restoration, it can be done in a very non-aggressive manner without anesthesia and without sedation!

What are the cons?

The silver in SDF stains any decayed tooth structure dark. While a healthy tooth structure is not stained and remains white, a dark black stain will be seen wherever the cavity is. While this result is not desirable aesthetically, it is a much preferred and conservative approach if the alternative treatment requires sedation of a young child. Many of our parents have chosen this medicament and have been very pleased with the results.

There is never any guarantee that SDF will be the best solution; in a small percentage of cases, the decay is not arrested and further restorative treatment is required. Also, not everyone is a candidate for SDF application. SDF may not be effective or indicated in cavities which are deep or severe.

Why is a restoration still required, even when SDF has arrested the cavity?

SDF can only treat disease, and cannot restore function or esthetics to the tooth. Depending on the location and extent of the decay, capping or filling of the tooth is the only way to restore the teeth to full capability and appearance. SDF is a wonderful tool that dentists can now use when immediate restoration is not possible or desirable.

How does it help your child’s dental health?

  • SDF has been shown to be efficient in stopping cavities in their track after they have formed. Dentists call this process caries resonance.
  • SDF destroys the bacteria that break down tooth surfaces while also stopping them from spreading to other teeth.
  • SDF is often suggested as a much more comfortable option for drilling cavities. Children with anxiety regarding dental appointments find this option to be a much better choice.
  • SDF can help keep cavities to a minimum or prevent them entirely if you feel that it’s difficult to make time for regular dental check-ups or feel uncomfortable about cavity procedures. It’s quick, requires no special equipment, and generally only needs to be done once per year.

Our pediatric dentists provide gentle, minimally invasive, age-appropriate dental care for kids of all
ages. Whether you have an infant or child in high school, we’re by your side to help them succeed in
having healthy teeth for life. Feeling confident about your smile is something that affects everything
from self-esteem and your social life to your health and personality. We’ll do whatever it takes to help
your child love the smile they have.

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