Did you know tooth decay is the biggest threat to your little one’s smile? Although cavities are preventable, more than half of children over the age of 6 have had at least one. Decay is the most chronic condition in America. It’s even more common than childhood asthma. Good oral hygiene habits, a healthy diet, and regular dental care can keep dental caries at bay, but is there more you could do to safeguard their smile? Studies have found silver diamine fluoride (SDF) is just as effective as dental sealants when used to protect against decay.
What is Silver Diamine Fluoride?
SDF is a colorless liquid that’s currently approved by the FDA to treat tooth sensitivity. It is in the same category as fluoride varnish. Fluoride treatments are often used along with dental sealants to prevent decay. However, SDF has also been found to lessen the risk of cavities.
Researchers have discovered that SDF can remineralize dentin, which lies just below the enamel. It can increase mineral density in previously decayed tissues. Besides lowering the risk of cavities, it is also beneficial for pain and infections. It is an affordable method that’s noninvasive.
Silver Diamine Fluoride VS Dental Sealants
A dental sealant is a protective coating applied to the chewing surfaces of molars to create a barrier between cavity-causing bacteria and the enamel. Sealants are often recommended for children over the age of 6. Although they’ve been used for decades, silver diamine fluoride provides equally promising benefits.
A recent study involving 3,000 schoolchildren found that 50% to 80% of cavities can be prevented for 2 years or longer. A single dose of the topical treatment offers the same level of protection as dental sealants.
Besides preventing cavities, SDF offers other benefits, too. The synergistic effect of silver and the fluoride ions hinders bacteria and biofilm growth to promote healthy teeth and gums.
Although SDF is promising, there is a disadvantage. It may cause permanent staining when applied to already decayed dentin and enamel. Dental sealants don’t pose this concern; however, they must be applied regularly.
Promoting Cavity-Free Smiles
Nothing is more important than keeping your child’s smile healthy. Choosing the best treatments can be difficult, but you shouldn’t make the decisions alone. Your pediatric dentist will create a personalized plan to nurture the health and development of your child’s smile, including appropriate in-office treatments, like fluoride varnish or dental sealants.
In addition to visiting our office every 6 months for a cleaning and checkup, encourage a healthy smile at home. Besides brushing twice daily and flossing nightly, provide plenty of sugar-free foods and drinks to keep cavities away. Encourage your child to choose healthy snacks and drink plenty of water for a healthy mouth and body.
About Dr. Benny Tong
Dr. Tong earned his dental degree at the Buffalo School of Dental Medicine and has completed continuing education in many specialties, including pediatric dentistry. He regularly pursues additional education to provide the most up-to-date solutions. Request an appointment through our website or call (516) 862-4068.