Silver Diamine Fluoride to Treat Cavities in Children

Silver Diamine Fluoride to Treat Cavities in Children

Cavities in young children are common. In fact, almost one-third of children ages 2 - 5 years in the United States are affected by tooth decay. While these baby teeth will eventually fall out, it is still very important to treat cavities and keep teeth healthy, just like you would for permanent teeth, because of the important roles they play including serving as a foundation for permanent teeth.

However, if your child is very young or has health, mental, or physical challenges, performing dental work can be difficult or upsetting to the child. So what treatments can be done to ensure dental health when traditional fillings aren’t an option?

Silver Diamine Fluoride for Children

Silver diamine fluoride is a liquid that dentists can brush directly onto a cavity to stop the decay and fight future cavities. The liquid is very low toxicity, quick, painless, non-invasive, affordable, and can stop tooth decay and help prevent recurrent decay.

Here are some benefits of using silver diamine fluoride (SDF): 

  • SDF helps stop tooth decay

  • SDF helps relieve tooth sensitivity

  • Less expensive than traditional restoration methods – fillings / crowns

  • The process is quick – can be brushed on within 30 seconds


While silver diamine fluoride is a great option to stop tooth decay, there are some things to consider before treatment.

Treatment with SDF does not eliminate the need for all dental fillings or crowns as it does not restore tooth form or function, so large holes that trap food may still eventually require additional filling. SDF also does not stop decay that has progressed to the nerve of the tooth.

Another consideration when thinking about silver diamine fluoride treatment is that the process stains the decayed area of the tooth black. Silver diamine fluoride blackens the brownish decay on a tooth, causing a dark spot where the cavity is. This makes silver diamine fluoride a better option for a back molar or a baby tooth that will fall out.

Here are the other potential downsides to using silver diamine fluoride: 

  • Cavities treated with SDF will stain BLACK permanently and almost immediately. THIS IS A GOOD THING!​ That means it is working and the cavity is being arrested. SDF will not stain healthy tooth structure.

  • Not to be used by anyone with a silver allergy, stomatitis, ulcerative gingivitis 

  • There is the possibility the tooth may need to be restored if tooth decay not arrested

How do I know if silver diamine fluoride is right for my child?

The best way to know if this treatment is the right option for your child is to speak with your pediatric dentist at Barnes, McDonnell & Parsons Pediatric Dentistry.

The recommended treatment can vary based on the severity of the cavity, as larger cavities may still require fillings. Your pediatric dentist may also recommend more than one treatment of silver diamine fluoride to fully treat a cavity.

While proper dental care techniques and nutrition are the best ways to avoid tooth decay, it is important to know what options you have in the event of a cavity. If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our Ormond Beach or Port Orange pediatric dentists, please call us or request an appointment online.

Barnes, McDonnell & Parsons