In the past few years, dentists around the country have been able to offer some of their patients with cavities an alternative to removing the decay using a drill. The application of silver diamine fluoride, or SDF, to small spots of tooth decay can stop the progression of bacteria without the need for more invasive measures. SDF is an exciting development in kids’ cavities treatments that patients and their parents can appreciate.
At Sprout Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, we offer SDF treatment to children of all ages on a case-by-case basis to help protect your child’s teeth and enhance their oral health for years to come.
What Is SDF?
Silver diamine fluoride (SDF) is a liquid compound that relies on the bacteria-destroying properties of both silver and fluoride. After being applied to places of tooth decay, SDF serves several purposes.
First, the SDF goes to work eliminating harmful oral bacteria. Next, it adds a protective barrier against future decay at the same site. More specifically, the silver works to inactivate and kill cavity-causing bacteria, and fluoride helps to remineralize and re-harden areas of the tooth that has been softened by the cavity. Not only can SDF stop a cavity from progressing, it can help reverse some of the damage caused by the cavity. Finally, it acts to prevent tooth sensitivity linked to decay.
Why Do Dentists Use SDF?
Dentists prefer using silver diamine fluoride in cases where decay hasn’t spread very far. SDF provides an alternative to drilling and filling, making the process easier for patients. Plus, the procedure exhibits very predictable results, so it’s useful and safe. If you have any questions about the benefits and safety, feel free to contact our office directly to learn more about how and why we use SDF as a treatment method and if it may be appropriate for your child.
Is Your Child a Candidate for SDF Treatment?
Patients of all ages tolerate SDF well. However, this treatment tends to be the most widely used in pediatric dentistry. After all, it’s fast to apply, making it a terrific kid’s cavity treatment. Dentists can also use SDF on babies or children with special needs who find it difficult to sit for long periods in a dental chair. At Sprout Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, our pediatric dentist, Dr. Dana Fox, will assess your child to determine whether they might be a good candidate for SDF treatment.
People with known allergies to silver will need to consider a different method to address their cavities.
How Does SDF Work?
The process to receive silver diamine fluoride treatment in Portland is quite speedy. First, our team, will gently clean the area of tooth decay. This helps to rid the tooth of any residual food debris or plaque that is covering the cavity surface. Once clean, our team will dry and isolate the tooth, using cotton rolls or small barriers to keep the tongue and cheeks from touching the tooth.
After air-drying the cleaned site, the dental provider brushes on the SDF liquid with a small brush. Depending on the size of the cavity, as well as patient behavior, the liquid is allowed to absorb into the tooth surface for 10-60 seconds. To prevent the SDF liquid from being washed off the tooth with saliva, a thin application of fluoride varnish is applied over the top of the SDF. This helps to seal in the SDF over the cavity and prevents it from being diluted in the saliva. Your child is allowed to eat and drink immediately following SDF application.
Depending upon your child’s situation, two or more applications of SDF may be necessary. After applying SDF treatment, Dr. Fox will evaluate whether the SDF liquid is successfully halting the spread of decay and determine if any further action is necessary.
Pros and Cons to SDF as a Kid and Toddler Cavities Treatment
SDF is a reliable method to safely halt the spread of decay in many instances. It’s particularly beneficial for pediatric patients, including infants with decaying baby teeth. Rather than resorting to invasive measures that require anesthesia and numbing agents, our pediatric dentist can address cavities in a way that makes the patient feel more comfortable.
The biggest pros about SDF: No numbing. No drilling. Minimally invasive. Fast. Effective. Affordable.
At Sprout Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, we go above and beyond to help young patients feel at ease during the procedure — including playing movies during their appointments. Since the application takes just a minute, though, most children don’t have any issue sitting still and staying comfortable.
Although SDF application offers tremendous positives for patients, it does have one downside that parents and patients should consider. Once applied, silver diamine fluoride turns decayed areas dark brown or black. It does note discolor healthy enamel. This color change is permanent. For this reason, some people only opt for SDF application on teeth that don’t show when the patient smiles.
Schedule a Consultation to Discuss SDF in Portland, Oregon
Does your child have extensive areas of tooth decay? Do you have a family history of cavities that start during the toddler years?
Contact our staff at Sprout Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics to talk about minimally invasive treatments such as silver diamine fluoride protection.