Silver Nitrate (AgNO3) in the Fluoride-Free Office

Silver Nitrate: A History

The use of silver in dentistry and homeopathic health is not new.  In fact, SN has been used for several years in dentistry.  (Fun Fact! The earliest known use of Silver Nitrate in a dental setting was in the year 1000 AD, in feudal Japan!) SN and its cousin, silver diamine fluoride are commonly used to halt decay and the growth of cavities.  Since we are a Fluoride Free office, we stick to the Nitrate and not the Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF). 

Silver Nitrate is most commonly used as an non-invasive treatment option espicially in children or elderly. 

What is Silver Nitrate?

Silver Nitrate (AgNO3) is a clear, odorless liquid that is astoundingly effective when it comes to finding, attaching to, and halting cavities (caries) in their path.  The silver ions within the liquid have antimicrobial properties, and are naturally drawn to carious bacteria.  The silver attaches and interacts with the bacterial DNA and cellular proteins almost instantaneously after application.  The bacteria can no longer survive once SN is applied, which leads to an immediate cessation and halting of carious growth. 

A secondary effect of AgNO3 is that it makes your teeth stronger. Dentin is the hard, bony tissue forming the bulk of your toot. The Dentin layer sits behind the Enamel layer and guards the blood vessels and nerves within the tooth itself. SN hardens carious, or cavity filled, dentin to the point where IT IS STRONGER THAN NATURAL HEALTHY DENTIN!

Silver Nitrate Compound

Does Silver Nitrate Work?

Short Answer, Yes! The ADA and its members have conducted several studies and independent experiments over the years showing the efficacy of SN in treatment and its ability to halt current and prevent future growth of existing cavities.  A link to a 2013 study is found here.

https://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Education%20and%20Careers/Files/Bass_Hood_River_Symposium.pdf?la=en

Silver Nitrate Trails

 

Why don’t other dentists use Silver Nitrate?

AgNO3 also has one big defect.  The reactions between the silver ions and UV light turns the dentin & enamel layer a dark grey or blue-black color.  This discoloration does not mean that your tooth is infected, it is the normal and expected reaction from application of Silver Nitrate on a cavity.  The discoloration does not mean that AgNO3 should be eliminated from the office.  Just like other Natural Medicines, every therapy has its place to be used safely and effectively.

 

How & When To Use Silver Nitrate Safely & Responsibly

As you can most likely guess, the discoloration caused by SN is an obvious detractor for any patient when it comes to using this type of therapy to halt carious growth.  We will recommend this alternative when faced with (but not limited to) the following scenarios.

  • The patient is unwilling or unable to accept a filling as part of their standard treatment plan. 
  • A young child with primary teeth has caries that are primarily limited to the back teeth or are interior facing and does not want to put under heavy sedation for the treatment.
  • The patient requests Silver Nitrate as an effective alternative to fillings and stop cavities from growing larger. 
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