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Great news! I got a cavity.

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

I’m probably the only person ever to be happy to be told they have a cavity.

The reason? Quizzify has been advocating for Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) treatment of cavities for 5 years. And recently I got a chance to try it. My current dentist, unlike my previous one, went along with my idea readily. Dentists will usually go along with the SDF proposal from the patient. Rarely will they actively recommend it, due to the much lower pricing, which you'll see momentarily. And that's exactly what happened here.

My dentist found a "small cavity," and said: "OK. We'll make an appointment to fill it."

I asked: "You have SDF, right? Perhaps we could just apply it right now?"

She said: "Yes, we are happy to do that, but no one ever asks for it."

"Um, could that be because no one knows it exists?" OK, so I didn't actually say that, but that's what I was thinking.

It's not like this is some wacky alternative treatment that you have to go to Tijuana for. Quite the opposite, the FDA has designated SDF as a “breakthrough therapy,” the only dental innovation to be recognized as such. Quizzify Nation is quite taken with it as well, judging from the testimonials (“real quotes from real people with real names”). More “behavior change” is accomplished with our SDF questions than anything else in our quizzes, for four reasons:

1. Immediate savings

2. Painlessness

3. Duration of treatment

4. The incidence of cavities

I can vouch for each of these personally.


Immediate savings

Savings for the patient is immediate. In my case, is despite the fact that my wife’s employer still doesn't cover it. They would have been perfectly happy to pay half of my $180 to fill a cavity but don’t cover the $39.92 cost of SDF at all.

Nonetheless, as you can see, I saved myself $50.98, and very graciously saved my wife’s employer the other $90 as well.


Duration of Treatment and Painlessness

We tell Quizzify Nation that SDF takes 5 minutes. Turns out we’re lying. Here’s how little time it took: I was hoping to video the procedure, but by the time I got the video going, the procedure was over. 2 minutes, tops. And, yes, zero pain. It’s a topical solution. It works like this:

Literally, it requires one or two drops of this solution.


Incidence of Cavities

I myself hadn’t had a cavity in ten years, which is typical of adults. However, kids get cavities with alarming frequency (as I did). There is quite literally no official or even unofficial count of cavities, but just multiplying the number of dentists in the US (about 200,000) by 3 cavities a day for 200 days a year yields 120,000,000 cavities annually, or roughly 1 for every 3 people.

Meaning that if you have 1000 employees, you are about to make 333 employees very happy this year by using Quizzify to teach them about SDF and changing your dental benefit so that you are (for example) reimbursing $50 per cavity regardless of how it is treated. Employees could actually make a little money this way by getting their cavities fixed.

Some small number of cavities can’t be treated with SDF because they are too far gone. Part of the dental benefit might be that if you get two checkups a year, fillings are 100% covered too. Few fillings will be needed but if an employee is that conscientious and still gets a cavity, they shouldn’t be limited to $50.

And technically it won’t be 333 employees because many people, kids in particular, get multiple cavities that are filled in trip(s) subsequent to the checkup. With SDF, though, they shouldn’t need any extra trips. The cavities can be treated during the checkup itself, minimizing lost work time.

Speaking of children, as you can see from the testimonials or this article, SDF is an especially good idea for employees’ children. Many young children require sedation or general anesthesia to fill cavities.

One would think dentists would want to publicize the SDF option for children’s cavities, right? Especially because the American Association of Pediatric Dentists guidelines require pediatric dentists to mention SDF to parents as an alternative to fillings, right?

And yet, almost none of them do. Dental is the "Wild West" of healthcare, where no one is responsible for keeping these people ethical. That's why they don't offer this, and that's why you are reading about SDF for the first time here.


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