Silver Diamine Fluoride

Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) is a conservative treatment to help stop tooth decay. SDF is used to arrest dental caries and reduce tooth sensitivity. It is not definitive treatment; but can buy time until a child is old enough or cooperative enough to undergo treatment, in office on the affected tooth. Our office uses SDF in select cases in young children with cavities who may not be able to sit well in the dental chair for treatment. Placement of SDF can arrest the cavity and allow time (six months to a year plus) for the child to be a little older and be able to sit in the chair to repair the tooth. In such a case, a young child can avoid having to go to the hospital and needing treatment under general anesthesia. SDF can also be used in select cases on adults with difficult to treat areas or in adults with physical limitations or medical conditions that preclude them from having definitive dental treatment. Treatment with Silver Diamine Fluoride does not eliminate the need for dental fillings or crowns to repair function or esthetics. 

Here are some benefits of receiving Silver Diamine Fluoride: 

  • SDF can help stop tooth decay
  • SDF can help relieve tooth sensitivity
  • SDF can help buy time for patients who are very young, fearful, or have special needs that may otherwise require sedation for dental treatment 

Risks related to SDF include:

  • The affected area will stain black permanently. Healthy tooth structure will not stain black. Stained tooth structure can be replaced with a filling or a crown in the future. 
  • If SDF is accidently placed on the skin or gums, a brown or white stain will appear that is not harmful and will disappear in one to three weeks. 
  • You may notice a metallic taste that will go away quickly
  • There is a risk that the SDF application will not stop the tooth decay 
  • If the tooth decay is not arrested, the decay will progress. In that case, the tooth will require further treatment which could entail repeat application of SDF, a filling or a crown, root canal/pulp treatment, or extraction. 

Contraindications to SDF include: 

  • allergy to silver
  • a history or current painful sores or raw areas on the gums (ulcerative gingivitis) or anywhere in the mouth (stomatitis)