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Postponing a Filling with Silver Diamine Fluoride

By Dr. Whitney Garol, The Smile Shop

What do you do when a little one needs a filling? There are a couple of options depending on a child’s ability to sit for the length of a dental procedure. If your child isn’t quite able to sit for a filling, there is a newer dental material that may help called silver diamine fluoride (SDF). SDF is not a permanent fix for a decayed tooth, but it provides an alternative for young patients who are not able to sit for treatment. SDF slows the progression of decay and allows time for the child to mature so the affected tooth can have complete treatment later on.

How it works

SDF is used as a topical antibacterial agent on a decayed tooth to help slow or stop the growth of decay as well as help with areas of sensitivity (Horst). No dental anesthetic or numbing is needed for the procedure. After the tooth is dried off, the material is applied with a small brush to the decay. This allows time for the child to grow and develop to then be able to cooperate for a filling.

After its application, you will visibly be able to see that the SDF is working. SDF is light activated to cure the material, and light will turn the decay black. It won’t turn the whole tooth black, just the decayed part of the tooth. The black color will stay on the tooth until a permanent restoration can be placed.

An option to consider

Not all dental cases are recommended for treatment with silver diamine fluoride; for example, front teeth aren’t typically treated with SDF due to aesthetics. But is an option you can certainly discuss with your dentist when looking for short-term alternatives to filling a cavity.

About Dr. Garol
Dr. Whitney Garol attended Galena High School, then the University of Nevada, Reno where she graduated with distinction, receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in biology and a minor in psychology. Dr. Garol graduated magna cum laude with a doctor of dental medicine degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine. Always having a passion for treating children, she decided to further her training with a pediatric dental residency at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. At one of the premier children’s hospitals in the nation, she received extensive training to provide excellent dental care to infants, children and adolescents. She is a board candidate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry and active member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. 



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