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Does Silver Diamine Fluoride Stop Tooth Decay in Children?

Cavities can lead to dangerous infections if untreated, but your child is too young, has special needs, or is afraid of the dentist to have a filling done. Maybe your child isn't suitable for sedation dentistry, or you're wondering if there are viable alternatives. A pediatric dentist may recommend using silver diamine fluoride to treat your child's cavity.

What Is Silver Diamine Fluoride?

Silver difluoride fluoride (SDF) is a liquid solution made of silver, water, ammonia, and fluoride. The silver in the solution strengthens and protects the dentin layer of a person's teeth, and the fluoride treats decay and stops it from getting worse. SDF is clear and sometimes has a slightly metallic taste when treated.

This antimicrobial liquid has been used to treat hypersensitivity for years. Still, it wasn't until recently that we had a lot of detailed studies on how well it works to treat and stop decay in children, people with special needs, and the elderly.

How does Silver Diamine Fluoride work?

The patient's teeth are cleaned and dried before a single drop of SDF is painted onto each tooth using a tiny brush and set for around two minutes. The solution can prevent cavities or slowed growth by applying it directly to the afflicted areas, killing the dangerous bacteria responsible for the deterioration. This is because the silver reinforces and protects the exposed dentin, the most common source of hypersensitivity, reducing the dentin's sensitivity.

How Does a Pediatric Dentist Administer Silver Diamine Fluoride?

The actual process of using SDF is rapid and easy.

Making the Place Clean

Dental procedures need a clean mouth. The dentist cleans the tooth cavity to ensure the solution can reach the affected area. This could be a plaque, food particles, or some of the hole itself.

Leaving the area alone

Because the lips and skin are so easy to stain, dentists may put a layer of Vaseline on these areas to protect them. Dentists will also use cotton rolls or other things to separate the treatment area from the rest of the mouth. To protect the gums, petroleum jelly or cocoa butter is commonly opts.

Putting the SDF to use

When the mouth is ready, the dentist will use compressed air or dry gauze to dry the tooth and a micro brush to apply the SDF. They just dip the brush into the solution, wipe off any extra liquid, and paint the SDF on the surface that needs it. With just one drop, you can treat up to eight teeth at once.

The dentist may use gentle airflow until the solution is dry to let the SDF set and then paint it will varnish. This varnish acts as a top coat and seals the SDF over the cavity part of the tooth. The application takes about a minute, but young patients who have trouble staying still for extended periods may be able to do it in less time.

Is It Right For Children?

There have been no serious adverse effects or health hazards associated with SDF, and it has been reported as a safe, albeit short-term, therapy option. While it is most commonly used on children with severe early childhood caries (SECC), it is also a valid non-invasive option for patients unable to comply during treatment physically. SDF is not a long-term fix because SECC often (and eventually) necessitates care through restorative operations. The progression of deterioration can be temporarily halted by SDF, giving time for more extensive treatment to be administered.

When and why do dentists recommend SDF?

Many of these stem from the relatively low cost of the treatment. The average price of having a cavity drilled and filled is over $200. Silver diamine fluoride treatment costs less than $100 and may be covered by insurance. Because of its low cost, SDF is a fantastic choice for persons on a limited budget.

SDF is an effective cavity treatment for kids. This method of pediatric dental care is gaining popularity. The benefits of treating cavities significantly exceed the minor cosmetic concern of discoloration when children's teeth are still developing.

How beneficial are SDF for children?

Result-oriented and highly efficient.

To achieve optimal results, many dentists opt for SDF. Research shows that using it will prevent 80 percent of cavities from progressing in just a minute.

A 12-month study found that SDF was 89% more effective than other therapies for preventing cavities.


There are no known major adverse effects besides staining, according to a large number of research and trials. ‌

Easy and fast.

SDF is a fast and painless alternative to more typical dental procedures, including filling cavities. Therefore, it may be an excellent option for kids, especially very young kids who experience situational anxiety. ‌
Also, certain people with intellectual or developmental problems may benefit from this option.

Capacity to ward against tooth decay.

If you already have cavities, SDF will stop them from becoming worse and may even prevent new cavities from forming.


Your child's pediatric dentist in Tinley Park is the best person to advise you on whether or not silver diamine fluoride therapy is appropriate for your child. Since this method of therapy is still relatively novel, it is crucial to find a dentist near you whose staff has received extensive education and training in it.