New No-Drill Treatment is Approved for Seniors

Nobody looks forward to having a cavity drilled by a dentist. Now there’s an alternative. The FDA has approved an antimicrobial liquid that can be brushed on cavities to stop tooth decay without pain or drilling. It is called Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) and it’s gaining popularity as a quick, inexpensive approach to caries management. While SDF treatment may not eliminate the need for restorative dentistry, it is effective at preventing further decay.

PBS Video: New method of treating tooth decay using Silver Nitrate Flouride may make the pain and expense of traditional treatments obsolete.

SDF has been used in other countries since the 1960’s, and was recently approved by the FDA for use in the United States. SDF kills the bacteria that causes plaque and promotes the remineralization of teeth. Medical studies show SDF can halt the progression of cavities, prevent them and repair teeth.

Compared to the traditional procedure of drilling a cavity and filling it, SDF is superior in many ways:

  • Inexpensive treatment
  • Painless and involves no drilling
  • Provides immediate relief tooth sensitivity
  • Effective cavity prevention
  • Quick treatment time
  • Hardens softened dentin making it more acid and abrasion resistant

Note that SDF will cause black staining of tooth decay, but this can easily be masked with conventional tooth colored dental filling for aesthetic purposes.

Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) is particularly helpful in treating elderly patients who have dental phobias or may not be able to tolerate surgery for invasive cavities involving multiple teeth. SDF is also FDA approved to treat sensitive teeth, so it can help adults, as well as children, with this problem.

The application procedure is safe and quick. SDF is applied as follows: after the patient’s teeth are cleaned, a protective ointment is placed on the gums around the teeth to be treated. SDF is then brushed onto the cavities. It is allowed to air dry for two minutes and the treatment is finished. There is no lasting unpleasant taste, odor or discomfort. SDF is so safe and effective it can applied by our Registered Dental Hygienists.