A liquid that can heal a cavity? You're joking, right?
Nope, it's not a joke!
Sometimes, advancing medical and dental procedures take a step back in time. That is the case with a relativity new procedure to the United States, Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF). Although SDF has been used successfully in countries like Japan for more than 80 years, it was recently approved by the FDA and available to US practitioners since April of 2015.
What is SDF you ask? Allow me to explain....
SDF is a clear liquid approved by the FDA that is composed of 24-27% silver, 8.5-10.5% ammonia, 5-6% fluoride, and water. The silver kills the bacteria, fluoride strengthens the remaining tooth structure and the rest of the solution makes the cavity hostile to bacteria. In short, it stops the progress of the cavity in its tracks. SDF does not eliminate the need to properly remove the broken down tooth structure and fill or crown the tooth, but it can buy some much needed time, especially in children. It can be a very valuable tool to buy time for youngsters with cavities who are too young to receive treatment in a traditional dental setting, Several situations where SDF can be used in children are:
- patients with severe early childhood cavities including "bottle rot"
- young children who have difficulty cooperating to treatment
- special needs patients
- patients with too many large cavities to treat in one visit
While it has multiple advantages, SDF is not a silver bullet (pun intended). Although the liquid goes in clear, it turns cavities dark brown or black. Additionally any skin, lip or gum tissue that touches the liquid will have a temporary, harmless brown stain that cannot be washed off. Even with it's drawbacks, SDF can be used successfully as a non-invasive tool for slowing or stopping cavities.