Silver diamine fluoride (SDF) is a clear liquid that can be used to help prevent cavities from growing, particularly in children.

By combining fluoride’s ability to remineralize teeth with silver’s antibacterial properties, SDF can strengthen your teeth and prevent cavities from growing and spreading to other teeth. Read on to learn more about SDF, its benefits and risks, and more.

SDF is a liquid that dentists use to help prevent cavities from growing and spreading.

This dental treatment can be used on people who don’t want to or can’t get traditional restorative treatment, such as children and people with special needs. Typically, it’s used on children aged two to eight. ‌

SDF is a popular method of treating children’s cavities because:

  • It is inexpensive.
  • It doesn’t require the dentist to actually remove cavities.
  • It can be reapplied after two to four weeks at the back of the mouth
  • It’s easy to apply

How Does SDF Work?

The fluoride in SDF boosts tooth strength by remineralizing the enamel, or top layer of your teeth. Meanwhile, the silver in SDF kills the bacteria responsible for wearing your teeth down.

In addition to treating children’s cavities, SDF can also treat tooth sensitivity in adults. It does so by strengthening your dentin, which is the sensitive part of the tooth that is under the enamel.

How Is SDF Applied To Teeth?

SDF is applied to your teeth in the following way:

  1. Cotton is placed near the teeth to keep them dry.
  2. A vacuum is used to remove moisture.
  3. A microbrush is used to apply SDF to the cavity on the tooth. The area is then rubbed for three minutes.


SDF is safe to use. In fact, it has less fluoride than one application of fluoride varnish, which is also often used to prevent cavities.‌

In general, SDF only has the following side effects:

  • Gum irritation, although this usually goes away within a couple of days
  • Metallic taste in your mouth
  • Low prevalence of gum and tooth pain
  • Irreversible dark stains in the areas where it’s applied, particularly on cavities. Gums and other parts of the mouth can get stained as well, although these stains will eventually go away, unlike the stains on your teeth. SDF can also temporarily stain skin and clothes that come in contact with the solution.

You should avoid using SDF if you have:

  • Silver allergy
  • Lesions or tooth decay that’s opened up the soft tissue inside your tooth (pulp), since using SDF can make the infection spread to surrounding areas.‌

Make sure to talk to your dentist about your medical history and what you expect from SDF before you decide to use it. If you’re not comfortable with the idea of you or your child developing irreversible dark stains in the areas where SDF is applied, it may not be for you.

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