Whether your child is just naturally prone to tooth decay or has a hankering for sugar-filled foods and the dental history to match, he or she may be in the market for cavity repair. Many dentists use the filling process—drilling out the decayed area, drying and cleaning it thoroughly, and implanting resin into the cavity to prevent further decay—to cure tooth decay that doesn't reach to the root. But an innovative new treatment, silver diamine fluoride (SDF), promises to stop tooth decay in its tracks without requiring dentists to drill or fill these childhood cavities. Read on to learn more about the benefits and potential side effects of SDF to determine whether this is a viable treatment option for your child's cavities.
What is SDF?
As the name implies, SDF is derived from silver and fluoride. When these ingredients are combined, the silver's antibiotic properties can kill off the bacteria that cause tooth decay, while the fluoride strengthens teeth and protects them from future damage. This liquid is applied directly to the cavity by a dentist; once it's fully dried, which usually takes an hour or so, your child can eat and drink as normal. Depending upon the degree of tooth decay, SDF can be applied only once or reapplied during each dental visit.
Why is SDF sometimes preferable to dental fillings?
Dental fillings can be traumatic for young children who are just learning to become comfortable with dentist visits. The last thing you want to do as a parent is to instill a lifelong fear of the dentist, especially if the filling is in a baby tooth that will fall out in the near future. Unfortunately, many people who eschew dental care as adults had unpleasant dentist experiences as children.
Choosing SDF over dental fillings can also be cheaper and more effective at preventing future cavities. While the areas of enamel surrounding the dental filling can become weak over time, often requiring the filling to be expanded or replaced, SDF actually strengthens teeth. Children who have significant cavity damage that may require treatment over a series of visits, special needs patients, or children with damage to their baby teeth that can't just be delayed until their permanent teeth arrive can all be excellent candidates for SDF treatment.
One potential downside to SDF is an aesthetic one. The silver in SDF can often turn the damaged portion of the tooth or teeth brown or black. Because of this, it's often not a good idea for a permanent, visible tooth, but can be great for molars or cavities in the back of the teeth that aren't immediately visible. Contact a dental clinic, like Centre Family Dentistry, for more help.