Aim: To screen the possible antimicrobial activity of a range of clinically used, silver-based compounds on cariogenic organisms: silver diamine fluoride (SDF), silver fluoride, and silver nitrate.
Materials and methods: Preliminary screening disk-diffusion susceptibility tests were conducted on Mueller–Hinton agar plates inoculated with Streptococcus mutans, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Actinomyces naeslundii, organisms known to be cariogenic. In order to identify which component of the silver compounds was responsible for any antibacterial (AB) effect, and to provide controls, the following were also investigated at high and low concentrations: sodium fluoride, ammonium fluoride, ammonium chloride, sodium fluoride, sodium chloride, and sodium nitrate, as well as deionized water as control. A volume of 10 μL of a test solution was dispensed onto a paper disk resting on the inoculated agar surface, and the plate incubated anaerobically at 37°C for 48 hours. The zones of inhibition were then measured.
Results: Silver diamine fluoride, silver fluoride, silver nitrate, and ammonium fluoride had significant AB effect (p < 0.05) on all three test organisms, although ammonium fluoride had no effect at low concentration; the remaining other compounds had no effect.
Conclusion: Silver ions appear to be the principal AB agent at both high and low concentration; fluoride ions only have an AB effect at high concentration, while ammonium, nitrate, chloride and sodium ions have none. The anticaries effect of topical silver solutions appears restricted to that of the silver ions.
Clinical significance: Silver compounds, such as SDF, silver fluoride, and silver nitrate have AB effect against cariogenic organisms and these may have clinical impact in arresting or preventing dental decay. Sodium fluoride did not have AB effect under the conditions tested.
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