Non-Invasive Dental Treatments (Perfect For the Anxious Patient)

By Jennifer Heller, DDS & Nicole Elger, DMD May 5, 2021

If you missed last month’s article on “Tips for Taking an Anxious Child to the Dentist”, you may check it out HERE.

For those of you that missed it, we left you with a cliffhanger in our last article! If your child has been told they have a cavity, you may be thinking, “my kiddo had such a rough time just getting his teeth cleaned! How in the WORLD is the dentist going to be able to do a filling?” Fear not!! We have an AMAZING service that we offer that is a non-invasive treatment option called Silver Diamine Fluoride! Silver Dia-what??? Let’s just call it SDF (much easier!).

This MAGICAL LIQUID is our new best friend in the office and has given us a treatment option for our patients that we have always been searching for! SDF can:

  1. TREAT OR STOP cavities that have already formed.
  2. PREVENT new cavities from forming.
  3. Requires NO NUMBING.
  4. Can be used for CHILDREN AND ADULTS.
  5. Makes sensitive teeth LESS SENSITIVE.
  6. Is very QUICK to apply.  

SDF is an ANTIMICROBIAL and since cavities form and get bigger due to bacteria, it works wonders for teeth.

Although we have offered this treatment option in our office for only a couple of years, it was used in healthcare as early as 1846!! In 1924, the Father of Dentistry, G.V. Black (his statue is in Chicago! Maybe you’ve seen him?) wrote about the use of silver nitrate in dentistry. Before the use of silver in medicine, it was used as an antimicrobial in drinking vessels in 600-530 B.C.! (It’s use as an ANTIMICROBIAL wasn’t completely understood at that time, but they did find that water kept in silver drinking vessels did not spoil). The first official product containing silver and fluoride together was developed in 1970 in Japan, however, it wasn’t until 2015 that a similar product hit the US market.

You may think “Why doesn’t my dentist just have me swish with this amazing stuff?!” Well, the only negative to SDF is that it will stain the decayed area of the tooth black and can temporarily stain the gum tissue around the treated tooth for about a week or so. For this reason, we rarely treat front teeth and keep it in the areas where people can’t easily see (i.e. back teeth). We are able to minimize the staining during the treatment but we are always very clear with our patients as to what can be expected.

That cavity that we diagnosed at your child's visit will get BIGGER and, left untreated, can have the potential for becoming sensitive or even painful which could create a poor dental experience for your child (and we are ALL about positive experiences here 😊).  So, if we treat your child's tooth with SDF and keep a close eye on it along with you and your child doing an AWESOME job of keeping it clean, we may be able to STOP the cavity from growing. At the very least, we will slow it down until she can cooperate for a filling or even long enough for her to lose that baby tooth naturally! If the tooth does end up needing a filling, we even sometimes have the option of not needing to use the dental drill at all and without any numbing because the SDF also decreases any sensitivity!

Untreated cavities can also spread to the tooth next to it. Yikes. Thankfully, we can EASILY apply SDF to PREVENT that spread from happening. How cool is THAT!?  We LOVE having this treatment option for parents to choose from! Now we can better help you to fend off and fight cavities!

SDF also treats sensitivity! Oh, and it is NOT just for kids! Many of our adult patients are seeing the benefits of SDF.

Keep in mind that SDF may not be an option for your child’s dental treatment. Only your child’s dentist can determine if SDF is the right choice! We believe that the least-invasive treatment options are the best options, when possible. We love to avoid unnecessary numbing and sedation when possible for children (and adults!) so that we can continue to promote a LIFETIME OF HEALTHY TEETH by providing POSITIVE experiences in the office.  

Are you interested to know if your child, or you, may be a candidate for SDF?  Give us a call today!

Jennifer Heller, DDS & Nicole Elger, DMD

Jennifer Burge Heller Family Dental is currently accepting new patients! Their office is located at 1329 E. Empire Street in Bloomington. Learn more by visiting them online at or by calling 309-454-1425. Get social with Dr. Jennifer Heller and Dr. Nicole Elger on Facebook HERE and on Instagram at @pleasefloss_dds

Croll TP and Berg JH. Delivery methods of silver diammine fluoride to contacting proximal tooth surfaces and history of silver in dentistry. Compendium. Feb 2020;41(2):84-89.
Crystal YO and Niederman R. Evidence-Based Dentistry Update on Silver Diamine Fluoride. Dent Clin North Am. 2019 January;63(1):45–68.