A team at the University of Sheffield dental school led by Academic Clinical Fellow Laura Timms is preparing to make an information video aimed at children aged 3-10. The topic of the video is Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF), a technique that helps arrest dental decay.
Laura has just won a grant of £5460 awarded jointly by the RCS (Eng) Faculty of Dental Surgery (FDS) and BSPD for her proposal to make a video to help explain the SDF technique to children and their parents. The video will be made by children who will be recruited to act as filmmakers and presenters and use fun activities to share information on SDF.
The University of Sheffield Dental School began introducing SDF towards the end of 2019. With significant waiting lists for general anaesthetics and very young children needing treatment and suffering toothache, the possibility of applying SDF to arrest caries in primary teeth seemed an attractive option. In some cases, use of SDF avoided the need for a general anaesthetic.
SDF is widely used overseas and at the International Association of Paediatric Dentistry (IAPD) meeting in 2019, Laura attended sessions on the technique. She remembered the simplicity of application from a student elective trip in Cambodia in 2014 and considered how useful it could be for some of her patients. She decided to research SDF and with colleagues in Sheffield and Newcastle wrote a paper published (1) in May this year, examining why SDF is not being used more widely in the UK.
SDF stains teeth black but in her experience, parents often welcome a treatment which stops the decay and may avoid extractions under general anaesthetic. Discussion with the child and parent is vital, she says.
Working with Connect Trainees she led a research project exploring paediatric dentists’ attitudes to SDF and in May she delivered a webinar on the topic to the group. Soon afterwards, she heard that she had been awarded the RCS/BSPD research pump-priming grant for the educational video.
Sheffield has an established reputation for child-centred research and the plan that she evolved with colleagues was to recruit children to help script, film and edit the video. It will be used to explain the treatment to families and also to recruit children to further research to help understand their thoughts and feelings on the technique.
Laura added: “I also want to get the views of dentists and dental therapists on SDF. It’s an easy and simple treatment with the right case selection and if it prevents children suffering with the pain of toothache and needing hospital treatment, it can only be a good thing.”
Professor Helen Rodd is a Sheffield-based Consultant in Paediatric Dentistry and one of Laura’s supervisors along with Profs Paul Hatton, Chris Deery, and Zoe Marshman. She also happens to be a member of the RCS FDS Board and was of course excluded from judging Laura’s grant entry.
She said that the impact of Covid-19 and the move to minimising Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGPs) meant that SDF was more valuable than ever for treating very young children and keeping them out of pain. She welcomed warmly the news of Laura’s grant.
Sarah McKaig, President of BSPD, commented: “We are very proud of Laura. Her work on this technique will help us understand the wants and needs of children and their families as well as the attitudes of dental practices.”