Carlsbad Pediatric Dentist

Silver Diamine FluorideCarlsbad, CA

Silver diamine fluoride (SDF) is a liquid substance used in dentistry for the prevention of tooth decay and cavities. SDF consists of silver, water, fluoride, and ammonia, each responsible for its own set of functions. It was approved by the FDA in 2014 for its use in pediatric dentistry across the United States. Although it can be found on the market, it is most effective and safe when used by a dental professional in-office.

At CarlsbaDDS, we offer silver diamine fluoride treatments for patients experiencing toothaches or symptoms related to tooth decay. Our team can help prevent and treat cavities using SDF, teaching parents and children how to maintain healthy teeth going forward. To learn more about a procedure or schedule an appointment, call 760-730-3456 today.

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    What is Silver Diamine Fluoride?

    Dental caries, or cavities, are the leading cause of dental problems in children living in the United States. According to the CDC, 13.2% of children aged 5-19 years old have untreated dental caries. Going without treatment can cause a variety of oral complications such as infection, abscesses, and pulp damage. Silver diamine fluoride (SDF), a liquid substance made of silver, water, fluoride, and ammonia, helps prevent and treat dental caries.

    The silver compound is incorporated to help kill bacteria. Water provides a liquid base for the substance, enabling it to mix well. Fluoride helps with remineralization as it helps the teeth rebuild their own materials. Ammonia keeps the mixture concentrated so that it works most effectively for a longer period of time.

    Application Process

    In its liquid form, SDF can be applied directly to the surfaces of the teeth for maximum results. To apply the solution, a dentist places cotton or gauze near the affected teeth to keep them dry. A vacuum suction tool removes moisture from the teeth before applying the solution to the affected areas.

    SDF treatment can last for up to a year with adequate care and maintenance. However, patients with severe conditions, extensive decay, or restorations may require treatments every six months. The duration and frequency of treatment depend on the patient’s case and will be discussed during the consultation appointment.


    The benefits of SDF treatment far outweigh the risks. SDF greatly reduces, often eliminating, cavity development after a cavity forms. SDF can also be used for the prevention of cavities when applied to healthy teeth. The solution is extremely effective in killing harmful bacteria that eat away at the teeths’ surfaces and keeps them from harming surrounding teeth.

    Another major benefit of SDF treatment remains its non-invasive aspect. It requires no special dental tools or equipment, a suitable treatment for those with special health care needs or who may have dental anxiety. Often, SDF is used as an alternative to fillings and can take the edge off for patients who dislike the sound and feel of drilling.

    Good Candidates For Treatment

    Typically, SDF treatment is used in children for the prevention and treatment of cavities as well as those who may not qualify for dental restorations. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, SDF does not provide function to decayed teeth as do restorations. Therefore, treatment is generally recommended after all cavities have been filled or restored.

    Viable candidates for SDF treatment include those with healthy teeth as a preventative tool, those with treated cavities, those with minimal restorations, those with special health care needs, those with dental anxiety, those with extensive decay. Patients with allergies or sensitivity to fluoride are not good candidates for SDF treatment. Certain medications and conditions may also limit a person’s candidacy.

    Safety Measures For Children

    Since its adoption in dentistry, SDF treatment has shown promising results, especially for its use in children. According to a NIH article, it meets the US Institute of Medicine’s 6 quality aims of being:

    • Safe: clinical trials that have used it in more than 3,800 individuals have reported no serious adverse events
    • Effective: arrests approximately 80% of treated lesions
    • Efficient: can be applied by health professionals in different health and community settings with minimal preparation in less than 1 minute
    • Timely: its ease of application can allow its use as an intervention agent as soon as the problem is diagnosed
    • Patient centered: is minimally invasive and painless, meeting the immediate needs of a child or adult in 1 treatment session
    • Equitable: its application is equally effective and affordable; with the medicament costing less than $1 per application, it is a viable treatment for lower income groups.

    Schedule a Visit Today

    Silver diamine fluoride consultations and treatments are available at our office. The CarlsbaDDS Pediatric Smiles team looks forward to treating your child and helping them achieve and maintain healthy growing teeth. Call our office at 760-730-3456 to learn more or schedule an appointment.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Silver Diamine Fluoride

    Are there any side effects with silver diamine fluoride?

    SDF treatment is considered safe with few side effects. The one common side effect that some patients may experience is black staining around the area where SDF was used. Patients with a silver allergy, oral ulcerations or canker sores, advanced gum disease, or major tooth decay should not undergo SDF treatment.

    Who is qualified to perform SDF treatment?

    Licensed dentists are the most qualified to perform SDF treatment. Properly trained licensed dental hygienists and registered expanded function dental auxiliaries (EFDAs) may also apply SDF under supervision of a licensed dentist.

    When is SDF treatment recommended?

    SDF treatment is recommended for young patients, children with severe cavities throughout their mouth, uncooperative or fearful children, special needs patients, and elderly patients with severe decay and sensitivity. It is not recommended for patients with silver allergy, oral ulcerations or canker sores, advanced gum disease, or major tooth decay that exposes the soft tissue of the teeth beneath the enamel.

    What are the advantages of SDF for oral hygiene?

    SDF treatment helps stop and prevent cavity development, kills bacteria, and provides a more clean, healthy oral cavity after treatment. It is more comfortable and less invasive as the treatment is done without the use of drilling or other hard equipment. That helps patients with dental anxiety or who have trouble sitting in a chair for long periods of time.

    How much does SDF treatment cost?

    The average cost of SDF treatment is $75 per application, about $20-$25 per tooth. However, SDF may be covered by dental insurance. We encourage patients to contact their insurance provider to better understand what their plan covers.

    What can dentists do to prevent black staining or discoloration from SDF?

    Dentists often use Vaseline or a topical cream on the affected area before applying SDF to prevent staining. They will then polish the area to ensure it is clean and free of plaque. Most patients will not experience staining or discoloration unless they are at risk. We generally do not treat patients who are at-risk with SDF.

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    Contact Us

    CarlsbaDDS Pediatric Smiles is located at 1285 Carlsbad Village Drive Carlsbad, CA 92008.

    (760) 730-3456