Silver diamine fluoride (SDF) is a topical liquid medication that can be applied to teeth using a small brush. This easy and quick application process allows dentists to apply the liquid in a matter of seconds! The FDA approved SDF in 2014.
So, how does SDF work? SDF’s two main ingredients are silver and fluoride, which provide numerous benefits for dental health. Silver has antibacterial properties that have been recognized for centuries and is safe for use in humans due to its low toxicity. Fluoride, on the other hand, increases the rate at which tooth enamel can be remineralized by saliva, making teeth more resistant to future decay. Additionally, fluoride has antimicrobial properties.
SDF has various uses, including slowing down or stopping dental decay and stabilizing affected teeth until a dentist decides if further action is necessary. SDF also helps harden the tooth structure weakened by decay.
One of the significant advantages of SDF treatment is that it carries very little risk and is generally free of side effects. The primary risk is aesthetic, as SDF may cause blackening of the treated teeth. This black staining occurs because the silver in SDF oxidizes and leaves a stain on the cavity portion of the tooth, but not on healthy enamel. The staining of gum and tissue surfaces that come in contact with SDF is temporary and typically lasts from a few days up to a couple of weeks. However, when applied by a skilled dentist, the chances of tissue staining are quite low.
For children with baby teeth, the staining is effectively temporary as the teeth will fall out on their own. In rare cases, SDF may cause mild and temporary irritation when it comes in contact with oral tissues.