BACHC offers a new way to fight off tooth decay

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BELOIT - Tooth decay prevention just got easier with a new treatment being offered at the Beloit Area Community Health Center (BACHC).

The clinic has been using Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) for the past few months to help prevent cavities and tooth decay, Dr. Naheed Ahmad said. Approximately 25 patients have undergone the SDF procedure at BACHC.

Silver Diamine Fluoride is an FDA-approved liquid that helps prevent bacteria from growing in the mouth.

While the ideal way to treat teeth with decay is by removing the decay and placing a restoration, this alternative treatment allows dentists to stop decay with noninvasive methods.

"Chemically, the silver will kill the bacteria and fluoride hardens the teeth," Ahmad said.

She said SDF is typically used on patients who aren't cooperative, such as young children, older adults and people with special needs.

One example is a three or four-year-old who is getting cavities. The young child's parents may not be able to have their child see a pediatric dentist in Madison who would have to put them to sleep to get work done.

The liquid also helps prevent adults from needing new crowns.

Ahmad said the procedure is simple: dry the affected tooth, apply a small amount of SDF to the affected area, allow the SDF to dry for one minute and rinse the area with water. It's then effective for six months.

The side effects also are minimal, such as the application of SDF may cause discoloration of the decayed part of the tooth, an indication the decay in the tooth is arresting; if SDF comes in contact with skin, gums or clothes, temporary discoloration will occur; and if SDF is placed on a tooth that has a tooth colored filling or has lesions, discoloration may occur.

"A lot of times we will be using it in areas you can't see," Ahmad said. "If there is a concern about aesthetics, we'll put a filling over it as well."

Though SDF has been used to prevent tooth sensitivity for years, Ahmad said recent research has found it to also be effective against tooth decay. She said few local dentists are using SDF to prevent tooth decay, and the clinic is able to offer it for a lower price. The BACHC charges about $10, whereas other dentists may charge about $30.

"It's really helpful for children, especially those who might have fears of dentists," Ahmad said. "It's also helpful for public health, because we can treat a lot more patients."

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