There have been some articles about silver diamine fluoride as a possible way to care for cavities, especially in children and special needs patients of all ages, ranging from autistic people to nursing home patients. Dental professionals like it since it “breaks the decay”, according to a report. Also, it’s relatively low-cost compared to fillings. So, naturally, it begs the question: Can silver diamine fluoride be a replacement for a dentist filling a cavity?
What Is It?
Silver diamine fluoride comes in a liquid form and even one drop can take care of up to five teeth. It’s not in its purest form – the Food and Drug Administration allows for treatments that have 38% of it in the liquid. It’s also mainly approved for treating dental hypersensitivity, but this off-label use has been widespread. This is not something new either – silver nitrate had been used for over 1,000 years and it has been in heavy use in Japan for nearly that same amount of time. It’s in one form in the United States, called Advantage Arrest.
When the silver diamine fluoride is applied, the silver acts as a microbial, the fluoride mineralizes and It’s really important that the person applying the silver diamine fluoride be vigilant about protecting the surrounding area, since it can stain a lot and it is very hard to clean. There should be protection between the tooth or teeth and the tongue, either with cotton pads or plastic. This is why at-home use is out of the question, since it takes a very steady hand and a professional can do provide that. Trying to do this at home can be cosmetically disastrous and make you have to pay extra to have anything cleaned.
Definitely do not use this if you have an allergy to silver. Also, if you have oral ulceration, stomatitis (inflammation of the mucous membrane in the mouth), or ulcerative gingivitis, since it can make matter even worse. The staining warning bears repeating – it cannot be stressed enough.
So can this be a true replacement for a dentist filling a cavity? The cost reduction would make it a very tempting choice. The short answer, unfortunately, is no, it’s not for long-term use as a restorative, since it needs constant reapplication. It won’t keep the cavity from getting worse, it blackens the affected tooth, which really ruins any aesthetic value, and people have complained about a silvery aftertaste. Also, whoever applies this has to be VERY careful, since it will stain surrounding areas if it spills and clothes can also be ruined if one is careless. It’s best used as part of a longer process until the tooth can be truly restored.
So essentially, while this is a promising thing, consider this a stopgap to break up the restoration process. If you need dental work done and live in the Jacksonville area, come to a Dentist in Jacksonville, and the great staff will help take care of you and your family have the best oral hygiene possible.