Silver diamine fluoride bill passes through first Senate committee hearing

CDA-sponsored legislation, Senate Bill 1148 (Pan, D-Sacramento), which if passed would allow dentists who provide care in the Medi-Cal dental program to be reimbursed when they use silver diamine fluoride for dental caries treatment, passed out of its first committee hearing ­— the Senate Health Committee — in April and was due to be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee in late May.

With SB 1148, SDF will be placed in dentists’ tool belts as an option to treat dental caries as part of a patient’s comprehensive treatment plan. This option is particularly beneficial for patients who present challenges to receiving traditional treatment because of their age, behavioral issues or medical conditions.

The Medi-Cal dental program has been testing SDF in one of the Dental Transformation Initiative domains, but does not support its use outside of the few counties participating in the pilot. “While that program will provide good information when the pilot ends, we know that SDF is very effective and we should make it more widely available now,” said John Blake, DDS, CDA Government Affairs Council chair.

SDF is a topical medication made up of both silver and fluoride. Together, silver and fluoride can be used to stop the progression of tooth decay and stabilize the tooth until the dentist determines further dental treatment is needed. The main advantages of SDF include its ability to kill the cariogenic bacteria and arrest caries in the tooth, allowing treatment without requiring the use of local anesthesia or caries excavation, according to an article published in the January 2018 issue of the Journal of the California Dental Association. The Journal featured SDF in a two-part series in January and February.

CDA will continue to update members on the status of this legislation on cda.org and in the CDA Update. For more information about SDF, see the January and February 2018 CDA Journal at cda.org/journal.

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CDA is sponsoring new legislation that will allow dentists who provide care in the Medi-Cal dental program to be reimbursed when using silver diamine fluoride as a caries arresting agent. With the passage of Senate Bill 1148, SDF will be placed in dentists’ tool belts as an evidence-based option to manage dental caries when used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, particularly beneficial with patients who present challenges to receiving traditional treatment.