Effectiveness of silver diamine fluoride in caries prevention and arrest: a systematic literature review

Gen Dent. 2017 May-Jun;65(3):22-29.


This study aimed to evaluate the scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of silver diamine fluoride (SDF) in preventing and arresting caries in the primary dentition and permanent first molars. A systematic review (SR) was performed by 2 independent reviewers using 3 electronic databases (PubMed, ScienceDirect, and Scopus). The database search employed the following key words: "topical fluorides" AND "children" AND "clinical trials"; "topical fluorides" OR "silver diamine fluoride" AND "randomized controlled trial"; "silver diamine fluoride" AND "children" OR "primary dentition" AND "tooth decay"; "silver diamine fluoride" OR "sodium fluoride varnish" AND "early childhood caries"; and "silver diamine fluoride" AND "children". Inclusion criteria were articles published in English, from 2005 to January 2016, on clinical studies using SDF as a treatment intervention to evaluate caries arrest in children with primary dentition and/or permanent first molars. Database searches provided 821 eligible publications, of which 33 met the inclusion criteria. After the abstracts were prescreened, 25 articles were dismissed based on exclusion criteria. The remaining 8 full-text articles were assessed for eligibility. Of these, 7 publications were included in the SR. These included 1 study assessing the effectiveness of SDF at different concentrations; 3 studies comparing SDF with other interventions; 2 investigations comparing SDF at different application frequencies and with other interventions; and 1 study comparing semiannual SDF applications versus a control group. The literature indicates that SDF is a preventive treatment for dental caries in community settings. At concentrations of 30% and 38%, SDF shows potential as an alternative treatment for caries arrest in the primary dentition and permanent first molars. To establish guidelines, more studies are needed to fully assess the effectiveness of SDF and to determine the appropriate application frequency.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cariostatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control*
  • Fluorides, Topical
  • Humans
  • Molar
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds / therapeutic use*
  • Silver Compounds
  • Tooth, Deciduous


  • Cariostatic Agents
  • Fluorides, Topical
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds
  • Silver Compounds
  • silver diamine fluoride