Much like the technology world, Dentistry is constantly changing and improving. One of the newest advancements is actually old news to the rest of the world. In October 2016, the FDA cleared the use of a product called Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) for use in the United States. Why is this old news to the rest of the world? Well because they have been using it for a hundred years. We are excited to discover its benefits here in Telluride!
So what is this new but old product? Silver Diamine Fluoride is exactly what its name implies, a mixture of Silver ions with a high concentration of Fluoride. The FDA has cleared this product to decrease tooth sensitivity, but what really makes this product exciting for us, is it’s off label use, to prevent and arrest cavities! Which means it can stop a cavity in its tracks!! The silver acts as an antimicrobial agent and the Fluoride hardens the softened parts of the tooth caused by the bacteria.
SDF can be applied to both children and adults to help control the spread of cavities. However with most things in life, this isn’t a magic bullet and has some downsides. The biggest is that it stains any part of the tooth that is a cavity a black/brown color. In addition, if a patient can move forward to restore a tooth traditionally with a filling, that is still the best treatment. So who is SDF for? Mainly uncooperative children, patients who may not be able to afford to have all their needed treatment done at once, elderly patients who have difficulty to access to care, or patients who have a high cavity risk and are trying to prevent further spread of cavities.
SDF is easy to apply and usually takes less than five minutes. To prevent any temporary staining, we apply a small amount of Vaseline to the lips and cheek. Then we isolate the area where SDF will be applied. Once the area is dry, SDF is applied in small drops to the desired area and allowed to sit for 1-3 minutes, then rinsed off. A white restoration may be applied to cover back staining if the area is visible. This restoration usually can be applied without the use of drilling or anesthetic. A second application 2-4 weeks later can increase the successful stop or prevention of the cavity. SDF is relatively cheap compared to other dental treatments and is covered by many insurances.
The Elevated Dental team is excited about this product as we discover uses that can apply to our individual patients. A great example is a small cavity starting under a crown, which can prevent full replacement of that crown. Another exciting use is to strengthen, desensitize and stop root surface cavities. We have also had the opportunity to apply it to some children who are too young or not cooperative with having a tooth drilled on. By stopping the cavity now, we can buy some time to allow the child to age and become more cooperative. My son being one of them! We are watching these cases closely for success.
Feel free to ask us about this product and if it may benefit you!