Silver nitrate and silver diamine fluoride are becoming popular in dental offices because they can be used to KILL bacteria and halt decay.
We are a fluoride free practice, so we use silver nitrate.
The chemical and ionic structure of silver nitrate make give it an affinity for active bacteria, and it can actually halt decay. I use it is areas that are hard to reach, or in areas I want to arrest the decay- especially under large fillings that are deep, in order to prevent root canals and protect the nerve,
The one downside? It turns the decay BLACK. so you can not use it in visible areas. we can even use it between the teeth, where you are unlikely to see it.
The Canadian physician C. A. Douglas Ringrose researched the use of silver nitrate for sterilization procedures.
Much research has been done in evaluating the ability of the silver ion at inactivating Escherichia coli, a microorganism commonly used as an indicator for fecal contamination and as a surrogate for pathogens in drinking water treatment. Concentrations of silver nitrate evaluated in inactivation experiments range from 10–200 micrograms per liter as Ag+. Silver’s antimicrobial activity saw many applications prior to the discovery of modern antibiotics, when it fell into near disuse.