Getting a cavity filled is no fun. There can be pain, shots, numbing and the harrowing sound of the drill.

But, a kinder, gentler way to care for kids with cavities is being tested. And the only tool required is a small paintbrush.

5-year old Skye is pretty happy for a kid who just had a cavity treated 30 minutes earlier. She’s part of a study testing Silver Diamine Fluoride or SDF, a treatment to stop cavities in children.

“So, this is a liquid that contains fluoride, silver and a high pH liquid and it’s going to stop the cavities from progressing in the teeth.” said Margherita Fontana, DDS, PhD, Professor of the School of Dentistry at the University of Michigan.

Instead of the dreaded drill, the tooth is brushed and dried. Then, the liquid SDF is painted on for ten seconds. There are minimal, if any, side effects.

“She was able to drink and eat something within minutes of walking out of the appointment and playing,” said Bethany Mattson, Skye’s mom.

“It makes my teeth feel sparkly,” said Skye Mattson, Study Participant.

About one quarter of kids aged two to five, have cavities. Half of kids aged six and eight do and it’s often higher in minority and lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

“It’s a very cheap alternative treatment and it opens the opportunity of access to care to a variety of different groups of the population who might benefit for treatments for cavities.” Fontana said.

The kids get treatments every few months for eight months total. Every time Skye visited, she got a treat of her own, a goody bag of toys. A sort of a silver lining to to her silver treatment.

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