A new treatment for small dental cavities in children’s primary teeth is gaining acceptance. Rather than removing the decayed enamel and filling the cavity, silver diamine fluoride (SDF) is topically applied. On top of the SDF treatment, fluoride varnish is topically applied. The SDF treatment arrests the decay before it goes deep and affects the pulp of the tooth. Because dental decay (caries) is common in childhood but can be caught early with regular exams, decay can be stopped before it becomes painful or initiates infection inside the tooth.
Silver diamine fluoride (SDF) was classified by the FDA in 2014 as a fluoride. A recent study at led by Jennifer Clemens, DMD, from the College of Graduate Health Studies at A.T. Still University Missouri School of Dentistry and Oral Health, indicates the SDF treatment is not only effective but acceptable to the parents of pediatric dental patients.
“It’s nice to have this alternative low-cost treatment for at-risk children and even adults in assisted living facilities with limited access to dental care,” says Dr. Jamie J. Alexander of Boynton Beach, FL. “Finding this low-cost treatment safe and effective for children is quite a boon for public health dentistry. In clinics seeing a great number of at-risk children, pain can be prevented, and teeth can be saved until it is time for the secondary teeth to come in. SDF treatment turns the treated area black. In my own practice,” continues Dr. Alexander, “parents will likely prefer composite fillings because they provide the appearance of healthy tooth enamel, but for our youngest patients, I won’t necessarily have to perform filling procedures when the carious lesions are spotted early. This will make treatment of preschoolers much easier. Of course, the downside of discoloration will have to be considered by parents when given the choice of treatments.”
“I’d like my adult patients to know that if they have any oral health concerns for their children or their elderly parents, I am a resource for information and sorting through the best approach to solve any oral health problems,” says Dr. Alexander. “You can schedule a consultation to discuss your concerns and discover alternatives for you and your family. SDF is just one of the hundreds of ways dentistry has evolved in recent years to prevent tooth loss, avoid dental pain, and enable dental treatment experiences that are more accessible and comfortable for patients. My practice is not in-network for dental insurance plans,” says Dr. Alexander. “But many of our patients have insurance and easily maximize their benefits with our assistance. I don’t want readers to think I run a large clinic or even specialize in pediatrics. I don’t. What I do is practice in a patient-centered, private setting with time to focus on serving each patient to the best of my ability. At all times, I want to be my best version of myself for you. I want to offer you the best dentistry has to offer today and help you make appropriate decisions that best suit you and your family.”