Tooth decay is damage to your teeth caused by acid-producing bacteria, which live in your mouth. Proper brushing, flossing, and general oral health habits are often enough to prevent cavities, but most adults still have untreated tooth decay. For adults with tooth decay, getting a filling, dentures, or an implant can be vital for protecting oral health in the long-run.
Kids also have a high prevalence of tooth decay, due to them still learning good habits, and simply having less developed teeth. However, treatments developed for adults are not appropriate for children, who still have baby teeth and growing jaws. That’s where silver diamine fluoride comes in.
What is Silver Diamine Fluoride?
Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) currently has FDA clearance as a desensitizing agent. However, it is commonly known today for its off-label use of arresting caries lesions (stopping tooth decay). Unlike tooth sealants, SDF not only protects teeth, but actively prevents further decay. It is very safe, carrying a Class II medical device designation, the same as a pregnancy test. While sold in some stores for home use, the most common and safe way to receive treatment is in a dental clinic, applied by a trained professional.
Silver Diamine Fluoride consists of four basic components:
Silver – Silver ions kill bacteria cells, and keep them from multiplying.
Fluoride – Fluoride helps your teeth repair damage and decay through a process known as remineralization.
Water – Water simply acts as a liquid base, so the mixture can be easily applied.
Ammonia – Ammonia helps keep the mixture concentrated, ensuring a successful application.
Silver Diamine Fluoride for Kids
Silver Diamine Fluoride treatment is so easy and low-risk, that at Newtown Dentistry we even offer it during your child’s routine checkups! The application is quick and painless, and prevents cavity growth on 70-90% of treated teeth. For children who receive SDF treatment, their teeth should be monitored every six months to ensure the cavity has not progressed. Putting kids through more significant dental procedures can be traumatizing, and can entail unnecessary risk. SDF is a simple, easy alternative, allowing parents to preserve their child’s oral health.
Silver Diamine Fluoride for Adults
SDF treatment will rarely be considered for adults, as it is used primarily to prevent further decay in baby teeth before the permanent teeth come in. Due to the need for continual reapplication, more permanent solutions are often recommended for adults. This is true in a financial sense as well as a practical one. A single application of SDF is likely far less costly than a dental implant. However, repeated twice a year for many years, a one-time, permanent solution is both more convenient and less expensive.
The exceptions to this are in the case of seniors or adults with special healthcare needs. For those who cannot or do not want to go through an invasive procedure to get dentures or implants, SDF can be a reasonable alternative. For seniors particularly, who will require fewer years of reapplication than younger adults, less invasive SDF treatments may be worth the combined cost.
What Happens During Silver Diamine Fluoride Treatment?
As mentioned before, SDF treatment is easy, painless, and safe. So much so, in fact, that SDF is available for retail purchase from some stores. However, to ensure the best results and safest application for your child, let the pediatric dental experts at Newtown Dentistry help keep your child’s smile shining.
The procedure can be broken down into five basic steps:
First, cotton is placed in the mouth to absorb saliva, and keep the teeth dry.
Next, a vacuum tool is used to remove any excess moisture from the affected tooth.
Then, a small brush is used to apply SDF solution to the cavity on the tooth.
After that, the solution is left to dry on the tooth.
Finally, light curing is used to make sure the SDF bonds fully to the tooth.
Are There Any Risks to Silver Diamine Fluoride Treatment?
While SDF is very safe and widely used, it is not without side effects and conditions. The only common side effect is black staining around the application site. This is only a cosmetic side-effect, but it can affect a child’s confidence when smiling. The staining is another reason the treatment may not be preferable for permanent teeth. SDF will also stain skin, clothing, and anything else it comes into contact with, which is another reason to have a professional perform the procedure.
Patients will also not be recommended for SDF if they have a silver allergy, mouth sores, advanced gum disease, or tooth decay that exposes the soft tissue under the enamel. The ammonia in SDF will cause significant pain on contact with damaged tissue.
Keep Your Teeth Shining for a Lifetime of Smiles with Newtown Dentistry!
We pride ourselves on delivering compassionate, quality dental care to patients all across Greater Bucks County. Part of what makes a dental practice into a dental home is getting the knowledge and resources you need to make the best choices for your family’s oral health. That’s why we put together a free ebook describing our technology, our processes, and how Newtown provides comprehensive protection from cavities. Download your copy here!
To learn more about how to keep your teeth and your family’s teeth healthy, strong, and cavity-free, schedule an appointment today! Or, call us any time at (215) 461-3562.