Dental care has improved significantly over the past few decades, but despite this, dental caries or tooth decay is still a problem. Tooth decay is one of the most common diseases worldwide and is most often treated by drilling and filling the tooth. It is a process our kids dentists Dr. Igor Khabensky DDS and Dr. Tracy Kim DDS would prefer to avoid when treating children, and especially those who may already be a little anxious or nervous when seeing a pediatric dentist.
Silver diamine fluoride or SDF is an alternative dental caries and tooth decay treatment. We might use this new pediatric dentistry treatment as a preventive measure, applying it to healthy tooth surfaces.
Silver diamine fluoride consists of silver, fluoride, and ammonia in a water-soluble solution. The silver helps to kill bacteria, while fluoride helps to harden or remineralize tooth enamel that is weakened by decay; strengthening tooth enamel makes it more resistant to decay. The presence of ammonia helps the solution to remain concentrated, increasing its effectiveness in fighting cavities.
Dr. Tracy might suggest applications of silver diamine fluoride if we feel your child is more at risk of developing tooth decay.
We may also suggest this treatment if they have already had problems with cavities or when we think treatment will benefit their oral hygiene.
There are several ways silver diamine fluoride could benefit your child’s oral hygiene, which include:
Silver diamine fluoride received approval from the Food and Drug Administration in 2014 but has been extensively used around the world for decades. Read more about SDF here: American Dental Association
Japan first approved its use more than 80 years ago. Before silver diamine fluoride was approved for use, dentists commonly used fluoride varnish, but this lacks the antibacterial qualities of SDF. Treatment may be unsuitable if your child has a silver allergy, any mouth ulcers, or if they have significant tooth decay. If a cavity has exposed the dental pulp in the center of a tooth, treatment with silver diamond fluoride could be too uncomfortable for a child because of ammonia in the solution.
There are very few side-effects to using silver diamine fluoride to protect teeth, and the most common is only aesthetic as teeth treated with SDF can become stained. When silver diamine fluoride is painted onto a tooth, the silver in the solution oxidizes, leaving behind a dark stain on any portion of tooth enamel that is damaged.
Tooth staining isn’t a problem when treating a child’s primary or baby teeth as these teeth will fall out when they are ready and are replaced with adult teeth. If you are especially concerned about the aesthetic appearance of your child’s baby teeth, we can discuss using dental crowns to cover staining. When treating adult teeth with silver diamine fluoride, the staining may be permanent, which is why this treatment isn’t generally used for adults with signs of tooth decay.
Silver diamine fluoride does not stain healthy tooth enamel, but it may temporarily stain other surfaces in the mouth, such as the lips and gums. Although staining may persist for up to a couple of weeks on these soft tissues, it soon disappears as the tissue cells are shed and replaced. When treating children’s teeth, we do take tremendous care to avoid silver diamine fluoride contacting their gums and lips as much as possible, reducing the risk of staining.
Silver diamine fluoride effectiveness lies in its ingredients. Silver is well-known for its antibacterial properties, and it has low toxicity, which makes it perfect for use in children. Fluoride is another ingredient well-known for its usefulness in fighting tooth decay, and it is antimicrobial too. Using fluoride helps to increase the rate at which tooth enamel is remineralized by saliva.
Additionally, fluoride helps to increase enamel hardness, making it more resistant against enamel erosion in the future. Tooth enamel erosion occurs when teeth are exposed to acids found in foods or which are produced by the harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay.
Application is very straightforward, quick, and painless, and of course, we will take every precaution to make sure your child feels safe and comfortable and relaxed in the dental chair. There are three steps to the application, which are:
We may request a follow-up appointment with your child several weeks later, just to check treatment is effective. Sometimes another application may be necessary, but usually, SDF is applied annually.
For more information about Silver Diamine Fluoride treatment we offer in our Pediatric Dentistry Center call us. Our dentists are among the top dental specialists in Brooklyn, NY. We provide the latest and most effective treatments for kids and teens.
Pediatric Dentistry Center
2148 Ocean Ave, Ste 401A
Brooklyn, NY 11229