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Researchers from New York University’s College of Dentistry found that silver diamine fluoride (SDF), an inexpensive liquid, is as effective as traditional dental sealants in preventing tooth decay in elementary school students. This discovery suggests the potential for integrating SDF into school-based cavity prevention and treatment programs, improving dental care accessibility and reducing expenses.

SDF offering alternative dental care to tooth decay

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) supports school sealant programs to prevent tooth decay in children, a prevalent chronic issue causing pain and academic disruptions. Dental professionals apply protective coatings on children’s teeth to combat decay, endorsed by CDC.

SDF provides an alternative method for dental care by being applied directly to teeth, eliminating decay-causing bacteria and aiding in tooth remineralization to prevent further decay. Initially used for treating tooth sensitivity, SDF is now acknowledged for its ability to prevent cavities.

Dr. Richard Niederman, a professor of epidemiology & health promotion at NYU College of Dentistry and senior author of the study, said that An increasing amount of research indicates that SDF, being more expedient and cost-effective compared to sealants, has the potential to both prevent and halt cavities. This could lead to a decrease in the necessity for invasive drilling and filling procedures.

SDF and sealants can prevent 80% of cavities

The CariedAway study, conducted by NYU researchers, compared the efficacy of SDF and sealants in preventing dental cavities among around 4,100 elementary students in New York City. This study is significant due to the prevalence of dental cavities in children, particularly those who don’t visit dentists regularly. The treatments involved either sealants or SDF with fluoride varnish administered twice a year, although some visits were affected by COVID-19-related school closures.

A study conducted in 2023 revealed that a single application of SDF or sealants prevented approximately 80% of cavities and stopped the advancement of 50% of existing ones within two years. Further research over the subsequent two years confirmed that both treatments remained effective in cavity prevention, emphasizing their viability for this purpose.