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Silver Diamine Fluoride and the Future of Kids' Cavities

By Caroline Jacobson on January 9, 2018 in Dental Health

Silver Diamine Fluoride

Silver diamine fluoride (SDF) may be the new answer to an old problem. Nearly 1/4 of 2-5 year-olds have tooth decay. And dental disease continues to be the most chronic childhood disease.

Enter SDF—a cavity-fighting, smile-saving superhero. Recently approved for use in the United States, this liquid can be painted on cavities to prevent and eliminate decay. Learn what Silver diamine fluoride means for the future of kids’ cavities:

The SDF Timeline

SDF made its premiere in Japan 900 years ago and has been used overseas for over 30 years. It was first cleared in the U.S. for adults 21 and older as a tooth desensitizer. But as SDF studies grew, researchers began to see how it could slow cavity growth.

Finally in 2017, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) released new guidelines, recommending silver diamine fluoride for the treatment of tooth decay.

Drug-Free, Drill-Free and Fast

Fillings are uncomfortable for kids. Between anesthesia and the actual procedure, filling a cavity can take up to 30 minutes. And it only makes matters worse for kids who are scared of the drill.

With SDF there’s no drill, no drugs and the deed is done in less than 5 minutes. This is especially helpful for kids with special needs.

What About the Cons?

The positives of SDF outweigh the negatives, according to the AAPD.  One downside is it darkens the decay on the tooth, turning its brownish tint to black. However, it doesn’t matter for baby teeth, as they’re going to fall out eventually. SDF is also cited for its unpleasant, metallic taste.

The Cost

Because it’s still relatively new, you may want to check if your insurance covers the cost. But it’s not all bad news. The out-of-pocket cost is much more affordable than traditional fillings.

Want to learn more about Silver Diamine Fluoride? Talk to your child’s pediatric dentist.