Thumbs up for school-based dental sealant programs

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 wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo
wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo

New research findings demonstrate that school-based dental sealant programs, in which students receive preventative oral care while at school, are cost-effective in protecting at-risk children’s permanent teeth from decay.

As described in a paper to be published early next year in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Professor Christine Scherrer from Kennesaw State University in Georgia, and a team that included researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Oral Health, performed an extensive review of published studies examining school-based dental sealant programs.

Dental sealants are resin-based material applied to the chewing surfaces of children’s permanent teeth to protect the enamel from decay.

As part of a school-based dental sealant program, licensed dental providers, with parental permission, apply the sealants on students’ teeth for free during the school day. The program typically bills public or private insurance where available, to cover some of the cost.

Professor Scherrer found that the financial savings resulting from, for example, fewer future cavities and parents not having to miss work in order to take their kids to the dentist, outweighed the costs of running school-based dental sealant programs.

“A dental filling for a cavity costs several times as much as a sealant, so this is a situation where the preventative sealant program could save money and avoid the pain and inconvenience of tooth decay,” Scherrer said.

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