Data sourcesPubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, the Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature database (LILACS), the Brazilian Library in Dentistry (BBO), Cochrane Library and grey literature.Study selectionTwo reviewers selected randomised clinical trials (RCTs) that compared the efficacy of SDF application with other active treatments or placebo in arresting carious lesions.Data extraction and synthesisThree authors extracted data using customised extraction forms, and risk of bias was assessed by two independent reviewers. Meta-analyses were performed on studies classified at 'low' or 'unclear' risk of bias, where similar outcomes were recorded in primary teeth, and that compared SDF to active treatments.ResultsEleven studies were included; five studies were at 'low', two at 'unclear' and four studies at 'high' risk of bias. Eight were conducted with primary teeth, two with permanent first molars and one conducted on both. Six studies used 38% SDF, two 30% SDF, one 12% SDF, one compared 38% SDF to 12% SDF and one used Nano Silver Fluoride (NSF).ConclusionsSDF is more effective than active treatments or placebo for carious lesion arrest in primary teeth. The body of evidence was of high quality for primary teeth. However, there was not enough high quality evidence to draw conclusions about carious lesion arrest in first permanent molars.