New Cavity-Fighting Liquid May Take the Pain Out of Dentistry


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Pretty much everybody hates going to the dentist. Even a standard cleaning can be a literal pain leaving your gums sore and sensitive for hours or days. But a new treatment is hoping to put all that pain behind us.

The treatment is a liquid called silver diamine fluoride, or S.D.F., reports the New York Times, that’s been available in the U.S. for nearly a year under the name Advantage Arrest. But to call the treatment new isn’t necessarily accurate as S.D.F has been available in Japan for decades.


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared S.D.F. for use as a tooth desensitizer for adults 21 and older, the Times reported, but also says studies show it can “halt the progression of cavities and prevent them, and dentists are increasingly using it off-label for those purposes.”

Silver diamine fluoride’s use has spread to hundreds of offices across the country, like in Oregon where Medicaid patients are receiving it, and at least 18 dental schools teach the treatment to pediatric dentists.

“Being able to paint it on in 30 seconds with no noise, no drilling, is better, faster, cheaper,” Dr. Richard Niederman, the chairman of the epidemiology and health promotion department at the New York University College of Dentistry, told the Times.

“I would encourage parents to ask for it,” he added. “It’s less trauma for the kid.”

The Times noted that one patient in Glendale, Ariz., used S.D.F. to “paint over” a cavity of her 4-year-old son. The fluoride cost $25. If the patient had opted to drill, it would have cost $151.

But the “paint over” is the major downside of silver diamine fluoride.

S.D.F. darkens the decaying spot on a tooth. If it’s a back molar, that might not matter much, but a front, visible tooth would likely not be a good candidate for the treatment in older patients.

But for children, S.D.F. could become the go-to treatment to help keep their teeth healthy and strong through their younger years and prevent future dental problems down the road…without the dreaded drill.


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