Fluoride Treatments Prevent Cavities and Fortify Enamel
Stopping cavities in their tracks without a dental filling
As parents, we do our best to help our children avoid cavities. We teach them great oral hygiene and schedule regular dental appointments for them, some of which include a silver diamine fluoride treatment to further protect them from cavities.
Despite our best efforts, though, our children sometimes develop cavities anyway. After all, baby teeth have less protective enamel than adult teeth, making them more vulnerable to decay; plus, young kids are still learning to brush and floss their teeth properly. Once your child gets a cavity, a dental filling is often the next step. But what if it didn’t have to be?
Although you may not have heard of it before, silver diamine fluoride is a new treatment that can stop cavities in their tracks. It can even help repair them! If this is your first time hearing about silver diamine fluoride, also known as SDF, you likely have a lot of questions about it. How does it compare to the fluoride treatments you’re used to, and how does it work? We’ve put together a guide on this treatment to help you understand more about it and whether it’s right for your child.
Overall benefits of fluoride
Fluoride is a natural mineral that has several incredibly beneficial effects on your oral health. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel and even helps remineralize damaged tooth enamel. Strengthening your tooth enamel also slows down demineralization, helping to prevent cavities. It also helps to prevent cavities by playing an active role in fighting bacteria.
And while fluoride can’t repair or stop cavities once they’ve formed, it can reverse early signs of tooth decay, remineralizing the area and preventing a budding cavity from forming in the first place. This is why it’s so common in toothpaste and why it’s added to public water supplies. It’s so effective at preventing cavities that the CDC estimates fluoridated water alone has reduced cavities by 25% in people of all ages.
A more concentrated fluoride treatment called a fluoride varnish is often applied to children’s teeth to strengthen them and protect them from cavities. It’s effective enough to reduce nearly 40% of cavities in primary teeth, making it easy to see why it’s such a popular treatment for children.
Additional benefits of silver diamine fluoride
Learning the differences between SDF vs. fluoride varnish means knowing the differences between them. While a fluoride varnish can’t treat cavities that have already formed, silver diamine fluoride is designed to treat cavities by stopping them in their tracks and remineralizing the area to repair the damage they’ve done. The targeted use of silver diamine fluoride also means that it’s applied to the cavity itself rather than to all your child’s teeth.
These factors add up to some seriously massive benefits, as SDF can save your child the discomfort and stress of undergoing a dental filling. There’s no need for anesthetics or loud drilling sounds that might make your child anxious.
Avoiding a dental filling also saves more of your child’s natural tooth structure, which is always better for their long-term oral health. Plus, since silver diamine fluoride is only applied directly to the decayed area, it’s incredibly easy to apply—even easier than it is to apply a fluoride varnish! It’s so quick and easy to apply to your child’s teeth that the process can often be done immediately, during the same visit where the problem is noticed.
All of this makes it an even simpler and less stressful process for your little one to undergo, ensuring that they have as positive an experience as possible with their treatment. Another factor that makes silver diamine fluoride such an appealing option, especially when compared to a dental filling, is its extremely low cost. It’s affordable for basically any budget, which is a huge benefit for many parents.
Why SDF works so well
The unique combination of silver and fluoride is what makes SDF so effective, as their respective benefits complement each other perfectly. The silver has antibacterial properties, so it kills the bacteria and halts the development of the cavity. It also prevents the accumulation of more bacteria into a biofilm over the area, protecting the vulnerable area from further decay while the fluoride does its job of strengthening tooth enamel and remineralizing the area. This combination allows silver diamine fluoride to stop the spread of decay and naturally repair the tooth.
How the treatment is done by your dentist
The application of silver diamine fluoride is incredibly quick and simple. Dr. Naik will clean and dry off the decayed tooth, isolating it from nearby teeth to prevent the SDF from getting on them. Then, she’ll simply use a very small brush to apply the liquid silver diamine fluoride to the decayed area. She’ll dry the SDF to make sure it stays in place, and that’s it! The entire process takes just a handful of minutes.
After the procedure, you’ll simply need to ensure that your child avoids eating or drinking anything for a while. The dentist will let you know exactly how long. Depending on the size, the cavity itself may stain black, which is a sign that the silver diamine fluoride is doing its job. Other areas that contact the silver diamine fluoride may be temporarily stained white or brown, but the stain will go away in just a few weeks.
What happens after your child has received treatment?
Once your child’s treatment is complete, you’ll schedule an appointment in a few weeks to ensure that the silver diamine fluoride has done its job by stopping the cavity in its tracks. The treatment may need to be reapplied in six months to a year. Or Dr. Naik may still recommend a dental filling if the cavity has already done damage to your child’s tooth.
We understand that you may not have heard of this treatment before and want you to feel confident that your child is receiving the best treatment possible; so as always, feel free to ask Dr. Naik any questions you may have! She’ll be happy to sit down with you to answer them and discuss the pros and cons of different treatment options.
Silver diamine fluoride is a quick, effective, low-cost, and incredibly simple way to stop cavities while causing as little stress as possible for your child, making it a treatment option that’s worth considering. If you have any questions about silver diamine fluoride or other cavity treatment or prevention options and you live in or near Flower Mound, TX, feel free to schedule an appointment with Dr. Naik at any time.