Skip to main content

What is Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF)?

  • SDF is a liquid medication for tooth decay.
  • SDF stops the cavity from growing by killing bacteria. We call this “arrested tooth decay”.
  • Arrested tooth decay turns dark brown or black, right away or over time (see photos below).
  • Healthy areas of teeth treated with SDF will not stain and will remain a natural tooth color.
  • Like other fluorides, SDF also strengthens the tooth to prevent new decay and is used to treat tooth sensitivity.

An example of teeth after using SDF application.


How is SDF treatment done?

  • Teeth are dried and a small amount of SDF is brushed on areas of active tooth decay.
  • Great care is taken to avoid SDF touching the gums, skin or clothing (to avoid staining.)
  • When decay is treated, the dark color shows that the SDF is working.
  • Early treatment can prevent more damage to the tooth.
  • SDF may be a first-stage or long-term treatment.
  • A filling or other treatment may still be recommended if the SDF treatment is done after a cavity has already damaged the tooth.
  • After the initial SDF application, reapplication of SDF is recommended within 2-8 weeks for best results at stopping decay. For 6-12 months thereafter, a recommendation for reapplication may be advised.

Who should receive the benefits of SDF treatment?

  • Very young children who cannot yet cooperate for dental care.
  • Children with decayed baby teeth that will soon be lost.
  • People whose treatment will be delayed or need to be completed over a long period of time.
  • People with dry mouth from medications or chemotherapy.
  • People for whom other dental treatments are too challenging or not possible.

Individuals should not receive SDF treatment if they have:

  • A silver allergy
  • Painful sores or raw areas in the mouth
  • Concerns about staining of the decayed teeth

Please ask your dental provider if you have any questions about SDF treatment.

This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice of your health care providers. If you have any questions, talk with your doctor or others on your health care team. If you are a Gillette patient with urgent questions or concerns, please contact Telehealth Nursing at 651-229-3890.