Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF)

Procedure Purpose

SDF is used to arrest present decay on a tooth without removing any tooth structure.

What is SDF?

Silver diamine fluoride (SDF) is a safe and effective alternative to treating tooth decay. SDF is a liquid that can be applied directly to tooth decay without using a dental drill or local anesthesia. The silver in SDF kills the germs that cause cavities while the fluoride in it helps prevent, slow down or stop the decay.
SDF can also be used to help relieve tooth sensitivity and treat cavities on dental roots that may become exposed in adults.
SDF is especially beneficial to those who have trouble sitting still to allow the dentist to place a traditional filling.

The benefits of SDF:
  • Quick and easy for the dentist to apply
  • Less expensive than other cavity treatment options
  • Pain-free with the use of nitrous oxide
  • Helpful in treating young children and patients with mental or physical disabilities, who may have trouble during dental procedures.
The risks of SDF:
  • SDF causes black staining on the treated tooth. 
    • The staining does not stain the untreated, healthy surfaces of the tooth, surrounding teeth, or unerupted teeth. However, the staining of the treated decay will not fade over time. The stained, treated decay can only be treated with a filling later on if desired.
  • The gums next to the decay may also develop a stain or may be irritated but this is only temporary and a rare occasion. 
  • Some people may experience a temporary metallic taste during treatment.
  • SDF MUST be reapplied approximately every 6 months for continued benefit in stopping decay progression.


If your child cannot sit through treatment to get the filling completed, then it is recommended to place SDF on the tooth to prevent the cavity from getting any larger and/or to prevent the decay from spreading to the adjacent tooth.

SDF is used to stop the progression of dental decay/disease. SDF can be quick and easy to apply, is cost-effective, and is a noninvasive approach to treating cavities.

SDF needs to be applied semi-annually or per your dentist’s recommendation.

SDF can cause a permanent black stain on the carious lesion (cavity).

Follow-Up Instructions

  • Do not eat for 1 hour after treatment.
  • Do not brush teeth 24 hours after treatment.
  • SDF treatment does not necessarily prevent the need to place a regular resin filling in the affected tooth. A resin filling will likely be needed in order to restore function and aesthetics.

Possible side effects:

  • A cavity in the presence of SDF will turn that part of the tooth dark brown or black. This is an indication that the decay in the tooth is arresting (progression of decay has stopped). The decayed tooth will remain dark brown or black as long as the tooth is in the mouth and not restored.
  • If SDF comes into contact with skin and/or gums, temporary discoloration may occur.
  • Gum irritation may occur but will usually go away within a couple of days.

Accidents happen.

Whether an accident happens during our normal business hours or not, know that you can call us and have your child treated promptly.

Call our office at 757-703-1923. If it is after hours or on the weekend, one of our doctors or a team member will get back to you.

Our Locations

Virginia Beach, VA
Portsmouth, VA
Chesapeake, VA
5-Star Rating