Silver Diamine Fluoride

What is Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF)?

  • SDF is a liquid medication for tooth decay.
  • SDF stops the cavity from growing by killing bacteria.
  • Arrested tooth decay turns dark brown or black, right away or over time. (See photos below)
  • Healthy areas of teeth treated with SDF will not stain and will remain a natural tooth color.
  • Like other fluorides, SDF also strengthens the tooth to prevent new decay and is used to treat tooth sensitivity.

How is SDF treatment done?
  • Teeth are dried and a small amount of SDF is brushed on areas of active tooth decay.
  • Care must be taken to avoid allowing SDF to touch the gums, skin or clothing.
  • When decay is treated, the dark color shows that the SDF is working.
  • Early treatment can prevent more damage to the tooth.
  • SDF may be a first stage or long-term treatment.
  • A filling or other treatment may still be recommended if the SDF treatment is done after a cavity has already damaged the tooth.
  • For best results, SDF may be applied every 6-12 months.

Who should not have SDF treatment? People who have:

  • a silver allergy
  • painful sores or raw areas in the mouth
  • concerns about staining of the decay

Who should have SDF treatment? SDF may benefit:

  • very young children who cannot yet cooperate for dental care
  • children with decayed baby teeth that will soon be lost
  • people whose treatment will delayed or need to be completed over a long period of time
  • people with dry mouth from medications or chemotherapy
  • people for whom other dental treatments are too challenging or not possible

Please ask your dental provider if you have any questions about SDF treatment.

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