FDA-approved silver diamine fluoride treatment is an effective noninvasive alternative to combat tooth decay.

Silver diamine fluoride (SDF) is a liquid substance used to help prevent tooth cavities (or caries) from forming, growing, or spreading to other teeth. While the ideal way to treat tooth decay is by removing the decay and placing a restoration, SDF offers an effective, often less expensive alternative treatment that stops decay in a noninvasive manner.

SDF has been in use in Japan for more than 80 years and was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2014. SDF comprises two key components—silver and fluoride. The silver serves as an anti-microbial agent that strengthens the underlying protective dentin layer. Fluoride is the active ingredient that halts tooth decay and helps stop new decay from surfacing.

This is how it works.

Using SDF is relatively uncomplicated. The teeth are first brushed and rinsed without paste to prepare for treatment. Any debris, such as plaque, is removed. SDF is then applied to the affected teeth with a microbrush and the solution is allowed to cure for two minutes. Once the teeth have been treated, patients are advised not to eat or drink or at least an hour.

In the past, many dentists have used a fluoride varnish to help stop cavity progression. Varnishes often need to be applied four or more times per year. SDF has proven to be significantly more successful at reducing cavity development than varnish. SDF also requires fewer treatments over time, usually only once per year.

Who benefits from SDF, and what are those benefits?

While SDF is an effective alternative for almost all dental patients, since it’s not an anesthetized surgical process, it is especially helpful among children. This includes children whose cavities cannot otherwise be treated at one time, children with disabilities, or those unable to sit for longer cavity treatments.

The benefits of SDF are appealing for everyone:

  • Noninvasive
  • Painless application
  • Quick treatment time
  • Effective cavity prevention
  • May stop tooth decay
  • Relieves tooth sensitivity
  • Can be less costly than traditional treatments

Anything to be aware of when using SDF?

As with any dental or medical treatment, there are things to be attentive to with SDF, primarily matters of aesthetics. These include, but aren’t limited to

  • Decayed areas will stain black and dental fillings and crowns may discolor. (Stained tooth structures can be replaced with a filling or crown.)
  • If SDF makes contact with skin or gums, a harmless temporary brown or white stain may appear on the area. It will disappear in one to three weeks.

And, while every effort is made to ensure the success of SDF treatment, there is a possibility that the procedure will not stop the decay, and no guarantee of success is granted or implied. If the tooth decay is not arrested, the decay will progress. In that case, the tooth will require further dental treatments or restorations such as dental fillings, root canal therapy, or crowns.


SDF is a safe, noninvasive alternative to traditional cavity drilling procedures. It’s been shown to be effective to help stop cavity development after a cavity has formed and to prevent further decay. And it’s particularly appropriate for children. At Professional Endodontics, we’re very familiar with SDF and its applications. We invite you to contact us to learn more about SDF and see how we can help care for your patients.

About Professional Endodontics

Professional Endodontics has been exceeding the standard of care in Wayne and Macomb counties for over 50 years.  The team specializes in treating issues with the inside of the tooth and goes out of its way to provide a safe easy environment for patients. Each member of the practice is dedicated to providing excellence in patient care and values high-quality relationships with referring dentists and specialists.  Each endodontist at Professional Endodontics has been individually chosen as Hour Detroit Magazine’s Best Dentists.  Thanks to contemporary advances in endodontics, Professional Endodontics is able to use innovative technology to treat and save teeth that have suffered damage to the soft tissue within the roots of the tooth.

Professional Endodontics offers state-of-the-art facilities in Clarkston, Clinton Township, St. Clair Shores, and Southfield.  All locations offer the latest in advanced dental delivery systems, microscopy, and digital radiography.

6803 Dixie Highway
Suite 3
Clarkston, MI 48346
(248) 358-2910

29201 Telegraph Road
Suite 110
Southfield, MI 48034
(248) 358-2910

Clinton Township
Henry Ford Hospital Medical Pavilion
16151 19 Mile Rd, Suite 101
Clinton Township, MI 48038

St. Clair Shores
St. Clair Professional Plaza
23829 Little Mack, Suite 300
St. Clair Shores, MI 48080