Silver Diamine Fluoride

Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) is used in the dentist’s office both to treat sensitive teeth & to stop caries lesions, or areas of tooth decay.

When used for tooth decay, SDF does not require removal of surrounding healthy tissue in order to be effective. On top of that, current studies suggest that the use of SDF remineralizes dentin, the softer layer of your teeth below the tough outer enamel. This could lead to longer tooth life even in damaged teeth. Applying SDF to affected teeth is a non-invasive, painless procedure that can be performed in one visit. Depending on the condition of your teeth, your dentist may recommend treatment every six months. If you are going to receive a fluoride treatment, you will have to wait until a separate visit to receive SDF.

What is Silver Diamine Fluoride?

As the name would suggest, Silver Diamine Fluoride is a mixture of fluoride and silver. It is a colorless liquid that can be applied onto cleaned teeth with no plaque buildup to treat tooth decay.

Tooth decay is one of the most common diseases across all ages, with as many as one-in-seven U.S. children suffering from tooth decay between the ages of 2 to 8, according to a National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey. In adults 20 to 64 years old, as many as 92% of the population suffers from the disease. Tooth decay leads to cavities & can require more invasive treatment if not handled early, such as extraction.

Fluoride is used in several ways to help keep teeth healthy. This naturally occurring mineral is put in many water systems as a supplement for dental health & specific fluoride treatments are also available at the dentist.

Silver has long been used in dental care & many are familiar with its use in fillings. The mixture of silver in SDF performs in much the same way, as SDF is able to block off affected areas, halting the progression of decay.

Once applied, SDF can also reduce the risk of tooth decay spreading to nearby teeth. It also reduces the risk of other infections, as the stop of decay with allow adjacent inflamed soft tissue to heal without any incisions to surrounding gum that would increase normal healing time. Though more study is needed, this treatment may also lower the overall risk of tooth root decay in the elderly.

In special cases where multiple traditional treatments for tooth decay are needed, the use of SDF can stabilize decay in order to more smoothly proceed with restorative treatment.

When used for sensitive teeth, a thin layer is used over the affected area, which then partially closes off the sensitive area & decreases pain and discomfort. This is similar to previous treatments some may be familiar with, fluoride varnish.

An added benefit of SDF is that it is a relatively inexpensive material. Since its use to prevent tooth decay is considered an “off-label” use at this time, talk to your dentist about coverage options with your insurance.

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