Silver Diamine Fluoride

What is Silver Diamine Fluoride or SDF?

Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) is a bactericidal liquid that is painted onto a cavity. It offers the possibility of stopping or delaying the progression of cavities without removal of tooth tissue. It provides stabilization of the diseased tooth prior to proceeding with the conventional restorative treatment.

What is SDF used for?

We use SDF on surface cavities to help stop the progression of tooth decay.  SDF can also be used in the treatment of tooth sensitivity.

Who is ideal candidate for SDF?

  • Younger patients with early decay.
    SDF - before application

    SDF – before application

  • Children with surface cavities only – see picture.
  • Uncooperative patients not old enough for IV sedation.
  • Candidates must show NO clinical signs of pulpal inflammation or reports of unsolicited/spontaneous pain.

What to expect if SDF is recommended for your child:

  • SDF is typically applied in two visits, at least one month apart.
  • During the 1st visit SDF is applied and the medicine will start to penetrate the cavity.
  • During the 2nd visit the dentist will check the application and determine if an additional visit is necessary.
  • The SDF application will continue to be evaluated during regularly scheduled dental cleanings.
    SDF - after application

    SDF – after application

  • If decay is not arrested, the lesion can progres. In that case the tooth will require further treatment, such as repeated SDF application, a filling or crown, root canal treatment, or extraction.

Are there any risks when applying SDF?

  • The affected areas of the tooth will stain black permanently. Healthy tooth structure will not stain. Stained tooth structure may eventually be replaced with a filling or a crown, but may not mask all of the discoloration.
  • Tooth-colored fillings and crowns may also discolor if SDF is applied to them. Normally this color change is temporary and can be polished off.
  • If accidentally applied to the skin or gums, a brown or white stain may appear that causes no harm, cannot be washed off, and will disappear in 1-3 weeks.
  • The child may temporarily notice a metallic taste. This will go away rapidly.

Silver Diamine Fluoride FAQ:

Q: Will the whole tooth turn black?

A: No, SDF typically only stains the  tooth structure that is already affected by the cavity. 

Q: Will the tooth be black permanently? 

A: Yes, until the tooth is restored.

Q: Will it affect the permanent tooth?

A: No, the permanent tooth will not come in discolored.

Q: Is SDF effective on all kinds of cavities?

A: No, your childs’ dentist will let you know where SDF is indicated and where it will not be effective. 

Q: Will I still have to treat the tooth later?

A: Probably, SDF is not a definitive treatment. SDF only delays or stops the progression of a cavity until further treatment can be performed. The hole created by the cavity will not be “filled” by the SDF.  The cavity will always have a tendency to trap plaque. 

Additional Questions?

At Kids Teeth, every reasonable effort will be made to ensure the success of SDF treatment. There is a risk that the procedure will not stop the decay and no guarantee of success is granted or implied.

Still unsure if SDF is right for your child or have additional questions? Feel free to call our office at (843) 216-5879 or send us an appointment request. Additional information can also be found on the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s website.