Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF)

Great News! Silver Diamine Fluoride may slow or stop tooth decay. This medication is another tool that can be used by dentists to conservatively treat teeth that have cavities. It is typically used for patients that may not be able to have dental treatment right away. The recommendation for the use of SDF is made after a thorough discussion by the dentist with the parent. It is FDA approved and is safe for children with the exception of those patients that may have a silver allergy.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF)?
    Silver diamine fluoride is an antimicrobial topical medicament used to slow down or arrest dental cavities in both primary and permanent teeth.
  2. How does it work?
    SDF is a clear liquid applied directly on exposed cavity with a microbrush or other technique. Cavities may slow or may be stopped through the free silver ion inactivation of bacterial metabolism and remineralization occurs through topical fluoride release.
  3. How effective is SDF?
    Limited clinical studies indicate that SDF is effective in 70% - 90% of treated teeth and reapplication at predetermined intervals increase effectiveness. Since SDF is not effective in all teeth, in all circumstances, follow-up evaluation by the dentist is necessary to determine when other interventions are indicated.
  4. What are the benefits?
    The benefits of SDF include its ease of application, effectiveness, and avoidance of intense interventions such as administration of local anesthesia, pharmacologic sedative management, and protective restraint in very young and special needs populations.
  5. What are the side effects, risks and other considerations?
    SDF will turn carious dentinal lesions a dark black color. This may be a concern to patients or parents, especially in the anterior dentition. If SDF comes in contact with the skin or oral mucosa, it will leave a temporary superficial stain or “tattoo” which will resolve in 2 to 14 days with the exfoliation of the superficial cell layer. Definite contraindication is a silver allergy. Relative contraindications include significant desquamative gingivitis, mucositis, or open mucosal lesion. Of concern is the potential assumption by the patient or parent that SDF is definitive care. Treated areas must be actively monitored by a dentist following SDF application. The pediatric dentist will review the risks and benefits of the use of SDF for your child.

A baby with blue eyes sucking on his fingers

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