Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF)

What is it?

SDF was recently approved by the FDA. It’s an antimicrobial liquid that can be applied in certain instances to stop the progression of tooth decay.

Does it eliminate the need for dental treatment?

Possibly… or may delay the need for further treatment. The ideal way to treat tooth decay is to restore the tooth with a filling or crown, for example. SDF, instead, provides a means to stop the decay so either the treatment can be postponed or the cavity remains small enough that only a small filling will later be indicated, without the use of numbing.

How does SDF work?

Made up of mainly silver and fluoride, they work together to kill the cavity-causing bacteria and strengthen the tooth to prevent a cavity from progressing (getting larger).

How is it applied?

During your child’s check-up, if SDF is recommended by the dentist, it is applied to individual teeth with an ensuing cavity. The liquid is applied for about a minute with a very small brush. It is painless but care must be taken not to get SDF on anything other than the tooth as it will stain clothes and skin.

Are there drawbacks to its use?

Yes, the main drawback is it will stain the affected area of the tooth or teeth permanently black. (Healthy tooth structure will not stain.) A stain on the skin or tissue will disappear after several days.

When is SDF recommended?

Every child’s needs are different and not all cavities can be treated with SDF. Some criteria might be:

  • A young child just starting to form a cavity on 1-2 teeth
  • A teenager who has a single cavity on a molar tooth
  • An infant with early decay on several front teeth

Does insurance cover SDF?

Some do and some do not at this particular time. Although it does stain the decayed area of the tooth black, the benefits gained may well be worth it! We are happy to discuss SDF treatment for your child further, should you have questions.