Silver Diamine Fluoride vs. Cavities

Brunette man sits in the dental chair with a white bib as a dentist looks into his mouth with dental tools

Did you know there’s a new antimicrobial liquid that has been used to painlessly stop the progression of cavities? It’s called silver diamine fluoride, or SDF, and it goes under the brand name Advantage Arrest. It’s been used in Japan for decades now, but was only recently introduced into the US in the last few years. Thanks to modern technology, anesthesia, and advanced dental techniques, fillings and root canal therapy are virtually painless. But in this article, we’ll delve into this fascinating non-invasive way of treating cavities.

How Does It Work?

With this new technique, a dentist can paint a layer of silver diamine fluoride onto teeth with tooth decay lesions to prevent them from getting worse. It is then allowed to dry, and the cavity is monitored over the next 6-12 months, reapplying as needed. This is a non-invasive procedure that is great for children who feel terrified at the notion of having a cavity removed and filled due to the noise and pressure of the drill. What’s more, in some ways, it’s more effective at preventing future decay than having a traditional filling. Silver diamine fluoride actually kills the decay-causing bacteria. Studies show that a second treatment applied 6 to 18 months after the first application dramatically reduced the likelihood of another cavity. In contrast, fillings do not have the same preventive effect.

What’s the Downside?

While it’s simple to apply silver diamine fluoride, it often leaves a stain over the cavity lesion. If this dark spot is on a baby tooth that will eventually fall out, or a back molar, it may not bother the patient. But many patients do not like the idea of dark spots on teeth that could be visible to others. Thus, many prefer a traditional tooth-colored filling. Moreover, as yet there are not many insurers in the United States that cover the costs, so patients will often have to pay out of pocket for the treatment.

Ask Us for Cavity Prevention Tips!

Though there are ways to treat cavities, the best action is to prevent their formation. To do so, be sure to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, to floss every day, to consume a healthy diet, and to visit us every six months. To learn more about silver diamine fluoride, or about how to prevent decay and cavities, contact our friendly Sullivan Family Dental team today!