Noninferiority of Silver Diamine Fluoride vs Sealants for Reducing Dental Caries Prevalence and Incidence: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Ryan Richard Ruff, Tamarinda J. Barry Godín, Richard Niederman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Importance: Dental caries is the world's most prevalent noncommunicable disease and a source of health inequity; school dental sealant programs are a common preventive measure. Silver diamine fluoride (SDF) may provide an alternative therapy to prevent and control caries if shown to be noninferior to sealant treatment. Objective: To determine whether school-based application of SDF is noninferior to dental sealants and atraumatic restorative treatment (ART) in the prevalence of dental caries. Design, Setting, and Participants: The Silver Diamine Fluoride Versus Therapeutic Sealants for the Arrest and Prevention of Dental Caries in Low-Income Minority Children (CariedAway) study was a pragmatic noninferiority cluster-randomized clinical trial conducted from February 2018 to June 2023 to compare silver diamine fluoride vs therapeutic sealants for the arrest and prevention of dental caries. Children at primary schools in New York, New York, with at least 50% of the student population reporting as Black or Hispanic and at least 80% receiving free or reduced lunch were included. This population was selected as they are at the highest risk of caries in New York. Students were randomized to receive either SDF or sealant with ART; those aged 5 to 13 years were included in the analysis. Treatment was provided at every visit based on need, and the number of visits varied by child. Schools with preexisting oral health programs were excluded, as were children who did not speak English. Of 17741 students assessed for eligibility, 7418 were randomized, and 4100 completed follow-up and were included in the final analysis. Interventions: Participants were randomized at the school level to receive either a 38% concentration SDF solution or glass ionomer sealants and ART. Each participant also received fluoride varnish. Main Outcomes and Measures: Primary study outcomes were the prevalence and incidence of dental caries. Results: A total of 7418 children (mean [SD] age, 7.58 [1.90] years; 4006 [54.0%] female; 125 [1.7%] Asian, 1246 [16.8%] Black, 3648 [49.2%] Hispanic, 153 [2.1%] White, 114 [1.5%] multiple races or ethnicities, 90 [1.2%] other [unspecified], 2042 [27.5%] unreported) were enrolled and randomized to receive either SDF (n = 3739) or sealants with ART (n = 3679). After initial treatment, 4100 participants (55.0%) completed at least 1 follow-up observation. The overall baseline prevalence of dental caries was approximately 27.2% (95% CI, 25.7-28.6). The odds of decay prevalence decreased longitudinally (odds ratio [OR], 0.79; 95% CI, 0.75-0.83) and SDF was noninferior compared to sealants and ART (OR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.80-1.11). The crude incidence of dental caries in children treated with SDF was 10.2 per 1000 tooth-years vs 9.8 per 1000 tooth-years in children treated with sealants and ART (rate ratio, 1.05; 95% CI, 0.97-1.12). Conclusions and Relevance: In this school-based pragmatic randomized clinical trial, application of SDF resulted in nearly identical caries incidence compared to dental sealants and ART and was noninferior in the longitudinal prevalence of caries. These findings suggest that SDF may provide an effective alternative for use in school caries prevention. Trial Registration: Identifier: NCT03442309.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)354-361
JournalJAMA Pediatrics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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