Silver Fluoride Study
Indigenous children and adolescents experience profound levels of preventable dental disease. These impact on Indigenous children and young people’s ability to eat, speak, socialise and learn.
The project - A silver fluoride intervention to improve the life trajectories of Indigenous young people and reduce dental disease across the life course - is bolstered by strong leadership and engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from VIC, SA, NSW, NT, QLD and WA.
Over the course of 5 years, the study will promote a better understanding of the potential benefits of silver fluoride for the management of dental caries and improved social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth aged 2 to 18 years.
In this study, we plan to arrest active dental disease in Indigenous children and adolescents through an intervention involving silver fluoride (AgF) and monitor changes that are a direct consequence of improved oral health.
AgF is an antibiotic liquid; the fluoride helps replenish the fluoride reservoir in tooth enamel to ensure robust crystalline structure, while the silver acts as an anti-microbial agent. AgF application is a much less invasive alternative to needles, and drilling and filling, with many cost-benefits. There is particular utility among Indigenous children and young people with dental fear, who may not have access to timely or culturally safe dental service provision.
The MRFF-funded study will utilise a two-arm, parallel cluster randomised controlled trial design. The intervention group will receive AgF intervention at the start of the study, with the delayed intervention group receiving the AgF intervention 12-months after study commencement. Each state/territory will have two clusters, with the total sample size being 1140.
Effective interventions to reduce dental disease among Indigenous children and adolescents are rare, and certainly not included in the current suite of management recommendations for the health and wellbeing of this vulnerable population. Our results may provide evidence for decision makers to make informed resource allocations in Indigenous oral health.