Silver diamine fluoride instead of fillings: 5 things to know

Silver diamine fluoride, a liquid that can be applied to teeth to treat tooth decay, is gaining popularity as an alternative to fillings, according to The Washington Post.

Five things to know about the treatment:

  • Research shows the low-cost, pain-free treatment stops tooth decay in 60 to 70 percent of patients with one application. The treatment boasts 90 percent effectiveness when a second application occurs six months later.

  • It can treat decay that forms under existing dental work, such as bridges and crowns. This gives patients the option to forgo the expensive process of having their dental work removed, tooth filled and then dental work reinstated.

  • Silver diamine fluoride hardens the tooth's structure and makes it less susceptible to new cavities. Research has shown that it is an inexpensive and effective way to prevent cavities.

  • The treatment permanently turns the decayed area of the tooth black, but dental providers can cover the black spot with a tooth colored material for an additional cost.

  • Dental providers use silver diamine fluoride to treat patients who can't easily get a filling, such as those who are very young, older, incarcerated, living in nursing homes and staying at homeless shelters. In recent years, the treatment has been used more to treat older Americans, as Medicare doesn’t cover most dental procedures.

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