Managing Early Childhood Caries with Atraumatic Restorative Treatment and Topical Silver and Fluoride Agents

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017 Oct 10;14(10):1204. doi: 10.3390/ijerph14101204.


Early childhood caries (ECC) is a significant global health problem affecting millions of preschool children worldwide. In general, preschool children from families with 20% of the lowest family incomes suffered about 80% of the ECC. Most, if not all, surveys indicated that the great majority of ECC was left untreated. Untreated caries progresses into the dental pulp, causing pain and infection. It can spread systemically, affecting a child's growth, development and general health. Fundamental caries management is based on the conventional restorative approach. Because preschool children are too young to cope with lengthy dental treatment, they often receive dental treatment under general anaesthesia from a specialist dentist. However, treatment under general anaesthesia poses a life-threatening risk to young children. Moreover, there are few dentists in rural areas, where ECC is prevalent. Hence, conventional dental care is unaffordable, inaccessible or unavailable in many communities. However, studies showed that the atraumatic restorative treatment had a very good success rate in treating dentine caries in young children. Silver diamine fluoride is considered safe and effective in arresting dentine caries in primary teeth. The aim of this paper is to review and discuss updated evidence of these alternative approaches in order to manage cavitated ECC.

Keywords: child; dental caries; dentine; fluoride(s); minimally invasive dentistry; primary teeth; silver compounds; therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Dental Atraumatic Restorative Treatment*
  • Dental Caries / economics
  • Dental Caries / epidemiology
  • Dental Caries / therapy*
  • Fluorides*
  • Fluorides, Topical
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds*
  • Silver Compounds


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