5 Benefits of SMART Fillings

No one loves the sound of the dental drill. Luckily for kids, today’s advancements in non-invasive dentistry offer drill-free cavity treatment options. One such option we love at Great Beginnings Pediatric dentistry is SMART fillings. These fillings, short for “Silver Modified Atraumatic Restorative Treatment,” offer a minimally invasive dentistry approach. Below, board certified pediatric dentists Drs. Rachel Rosen and Christi Walsh explain how these fillings differ from traditional composite fillings and cover 5 benefits of SMART fillings.


SMART fillings offer a painless alternative to traditional drill-and-fill cavity treatment options. SMART stands for Silver Modified Atraumatic Restorative Technique. So what makes SMART fillings so smart? Instead of using a drill first to remove the decay, this treatment option paints on materials that arrest the decay and help the tooth to remineralize. This technique involves the use of two different compounds:

Together, this 1-2 approach offers a non-invasive cavity treatment option, removing the need for a dental drill.

How do SMART fillings work?

First, the pediatric dentist treats the decay by painting SDF onto it. The SDF gets to work killing the bacteria that causes decay almost immediately. In fact, SDF can treat some decay by itself! However, SDF treatment, unlike a SMART filling, often requires multiple visits and leaves behind dark staining on the treated tooth.

A SMART filling helps address these concerns by adding a second step to the SDF treatment. Specifically, it places GIC over the SDF. The GIC helps treat the cavity in two key ways. First, it creates a seal over the treated area, so no oxygen can reach and feed the treated decay. Second, GIC releases low levels of fluoride to help the tooth remineralize. Finally, as an added benefit, GIC covers the dark color of the SDF, leaving a more natural-looking tooth!

And best of all, this can be done without the use of numbing shots or dills! Because the dentist does not need to use a drill for this cavity treatment, they also do not have to us a needle to numb the area either. As a result, kids love this noninvasive cavity treatment option!

5 Benefits of SMART Fillings

Now that we explained the basics, let’s look more in-depth at the five benefits to SMART fillings.

young girl gives thumbs up to show happy about 5 benefits of smart fillings

1. Minimally Invasive: Unlike traditional fillings that often require extensive drilling and removal of healthy tooth structure, SMART fillings focus on preserving as much of the natural tooth as possible. This approach helps maintain the integrity and strength of the tooth. It also helps the child avoid the dental drill and numbing needles for a bit longer.

2. Largely Painless: SMART fillings don’t require numbing shots or drills, so patients suffer less discomfort. Also, the application is as simple as painting on the compounds in a matter of minutes!

4. Reduced Risk of Sensitivity: Due to their noninvasive nature, SMART fillings often result in less post-operative sensitivity compared to traditional fillings.

5. Buy Time: SMART fillings are a great option to “buy time” for patients who are pre-cooperative or cannot tolerate traditional dental treatment due to age. Many times pediatric dentists use these restorations until a more definitive restoration can be tolerated by the patient.

Cons of SMART Fillings

So why don’t we use SMART fillings all the time to treat all cavities? Well, like all good things, SMART fillings do have some limitations. The limitations to SMART fillings include the following:

  • Durability: While SMART fillings are effective, they may not be as durable as some alternative options. Depending on the size and location of the cavity, SMART fillings may require replacement or additional maintenance over time. As a result, dentists often prefer to reserve SMART fillings to treat decay in baby teeth while utilizing more traditional composite fillings in permanent teeth.
  • Limited Application: SMART fillings are only suitable for small-sized cavities that are in the first tooth layer. In addition, they are not recommended for teeth subjected to high bite force. Thus, in cases of extensive decay or structural damage, alternative treatments such as a composite filling or crown may be more appropriate, even for a baby tooth.
SMART Fillings at Great Beginnings Pediatric Dentistry

SMART fillings represent a promising advancement in dental care, offering patients a minimally invasive and cost-effective solution for managing cavities. While they come with several benefits, including preservation of natural tooth structure and reduced chair time, it’s essential to weigh the potential drawbacks, such as durability and application limitations.

If you’re looking for a positive dental home for your child with today’s most exciting dental advancements available, we’d love to welcome you to Great Beginnings Pediatric Dentistry! Located in Northeast Ohio, we’re a short drive from Chagrin Falls, Streetsboro, Hudson, and Solon, Ohio.

This blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not medical or dental advice. If you’re interested in SMART fillings for your child, consult with your pediatric dentist. They are the only ones able to determine if this noninvasive cavity treatment option is right for them.

Scroll to Top