What is Silver Fluoride and What Is It Used For?

Silver fluoride is a dental product that has many advantages. We'll tell you when it's used and what it's used for.
What is Silver Fluoride and What Is It Used For?

Last update: 11 October, 2022

Fluoride has beneficial effects on the mouth, as it helps to prevent tooth diseases. In this article, we’ll tell you about silver fluoride, a particular combination of the element that’s used in dentistry to treat cavities.

Silver fluoride is mostly used in children to treat baby teeth that have been destroyed by cavities. However, it can also be used in adults in some specific situations. Read on and find out what benefits it provides, what it’s used for, and what its disadvantages are.

What is silver fluoride?

Silver fluoride is a compound that arises from the combination of fluoride with silver. It’s also called silver amino fluoride, silver diamine fluoride, or FDP. It’s a topical medication that comes as a colorless liquid.

In 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classified FDP as safe and effective for use in the treatment of tooth sensitivity. However, even though the use of silver fluoride for the treatment of cavities isn’t mentioned in the product’s indications, dentists can take advantage of its properties and use it “off-label.”

There’s evidence in favor of applying it twice a year to stop the progression of the disease. In addition, this product is 20 times less expensive than other non-invasive methods used for the same purpose.

A child at the dentist.
Fluoride varnish treatments in children are safe, as the doses applied are minimal. It even protects children’s teeth for several months. However, results improve if the process is repeated at least every 3 to 4 months.

How does it work?

Silver has antibacterial properties that combine with fluoride’s ability to remineralize enamel. The union of the two compounds is used to stop or slow the progression of tooth decay. Moreover, it can be used on both baby and permanent teeth, and in the crown and root zone.

At the same time, when silver diamine fluoride is applied to decayed tooth elements, it hardens the softened tooth structure. The action of FDP not only stops decay, but also provides additional protection against the proliferation of new bacteria.

Silver fluoride can be applied as soon as decay is detected. It’s applied with a small brush that “paints” the damaged tooth surface. Sometimes, to achieve better results, several applications are necessary. Therefore, it’s a non-invasive, painless, quick, and easy-to-perform treatment. Then, it’s important to perform a follow-up and periodic control to determine if there’s a need to complement the treatment with other additional or alternative therapies.

The benefits and use of silver fluoride

The use of silver fluoride in dentistry is a non-invasive and painless method, which consists of giving a few brush strokes of the liquid on the affected teeth. This makes it a very useful therapy to treat cavities in patients who present difficulties at the time of care or who have medical conditions or disabilities, whose physical limitations don’t allow for longer procedures.

Know some benefits of this therapy:

  • It’s an easy, safe, and effective procedure.
  • It helps to a good formation of the dental pieces.
  • Silver fluoride reduces tooth sensitivity.
  • It also reduces the amount of bacteria in the mouth.
  • It can be used anywhere, not only in the dental office. For example, in daycare centers, nursing homes, or schools.
  • It’s an economical treatment.
  • It’s ideal for young, fearful, or restless children.
A little girl eating ice cream and experiencing tooth sensitivity.
The use of silver fluoride helps reduce tooth sensitivity and decreases the amount of bacteria in the mouth.

The disadvantages of silver fluoride

Silver fluoride is a safe product, so adverse effects aren’t common. However, its use could affect the aesthetic appearance and leave a bad taste in the mouth, among other aspects that can be negative. Learn more about the disadvantages of this procedure below:

  • It can leave black stains on the tooth surface affected by cavities. It should be noted that healthy enamel will not be affected.
  • Oral tissues can be stained, although in these cases, the pigmentation of the mucosa, which is renewed, will be temporary.
  • It may permanently stain other surfaces, such as the child’s clothing, a blanket, or a toy.
  • It may leave a metallic taste in the mouth. However, this is temporary.
  • Don’t use if the patient has active sores or canker sores.
  • It shouldn’t be used if the cavities are very deep and have reached the dental pulp.
  • It could cause allergic reactions if the patient is allergic to silver or other metals.

The importance of prevention

Silver fluoride is a very effective, economical, and easy-to-use product. In addition, it’s well tolerated by children in dental care. However, despite this, it’s always best to avoid the need for its use.

Therefore, it’s essential that parents take responsible care of their children’s oral health from an early age. Proper oral hygiene, a healthy diet, and regular visits to the pediatric dentist are key to taking care of the mouths of little ones. This way, you’ll be able to avoid cavities and, with them, the need to resort to silver fluoride.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Horst, J. A., Ellenikiotis, H., Milgrom, P. M., & UCSF Silver Caries Arrest Committee. (2016). UCSF protocol for caries arrest using silver diamine fluoride: rationale, indications, and consent. Journal of the California Dental Association44(1), 16.
  • del Carmen Pariona-Minaya, M. (2020). Uso de fluoruro diamino de plata para tratamiento de lesiones de caries activa. Odontología Activa Revista Científica5(3), 61-66.
  • de Mora, E. P., Guevara, A. H., Martínez, M. H., & López, N. E. G. (2021). Fluoruro diamino de plata. Lo que necesitamos saber. Científica dental: Revista científica de formación continuada18(4), 7-13.
  • Zhao, I. S., Gao, S. S., Hiraishi, N., Burrow, M. F., Duangthip, D., Mei, M. L., … & Chu, C. H. (2018). Mechanisms of silver diamine fluoride on arresting caries: a literature review. International dental journal68(2), 67-76.
  • Hasbun Andino, S. V., & Mariela Michelle, M. S. (2021). Efectividad del fluoruro de diamino de plata en la prevención de caries en una dentición temporal (Doctoral dissertation, Santo Domingo: Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE)).
  • Martínez Vidal, R. I., Mendoza Faúndez, C. A., & Valdés, P. (2021). Uso del fluoruro para prevención y tratamiento de la caries en odontopediatría. Una revisión narrativa.
  • Contreras, V., Toro, M. J., Elías-Boneta, A. R., & Encarnación-Burgos, M. A. (2017). Effectiveness of silver diamine fluoride in caries prevention and arrest: a systematic literature review. General dentistry65(3), 22.
  • Crystal, Y. O., & Niederman, R. (2019). Evidence-based dentistry update on silver diamine fluoride. Dental Clinics63(1), 45-68.
  • Orellana-Centeno, J. E., Morales-Castillo, V., & González-Osorio, M. (2019). Fluoruro diamino de plata: Su utilidad en la odontología pediátrica. Avan C Salud Med7(2), 57-60.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.