This Cavity-Fighting Liquid Could Be A Painless Alternative To Drilling

As a child, nothing was more terrifying than going to the dentist. Finding out you had a cavity meant getting it drilled and filled, and we all know how uncomfortable that feeling is. Luckily, it looks like there might be a new option to help fill cavities painlessly using an antimicrobial liquid.

The liquid, called silver diamine fluoride (S.D.F.), has been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for use as a tooth desensitizer for adults 21 and older, but dentists are increasingly using it off-label to halt and prevent cavities, according to the New York Times. With S.D.F, you don’t need to do any injections or drilling, making the process “better, faster, cheaper.”

S.D.F. has been used for decades in Japan, but it has now been available in the United States under the brand name Advantage Arrest for about a year.

All of this sounds too good to be true? There is one downside to the liquid: S.D.F. blackens the brownish decay on a tooth. This may not be an issue for kids, whose baby teeth will fall eventually out, but it could matter for adults who care about the looks of their smile.

Additionally, most insurance companies currently don’t cover the cost, although the out-of-pocket expenses are low, typically about $25.

Whether or not S.D.F. sounds right for you, it’s good to know there is a less painful — and expensive — option when it comes to dealing with cavities.