1.1 Description and History of School-Based Dental Sealant Programs and Program Basics

Children Who Need Treatment Other Than Dental Sealants

When assessing the need for sealants, school-based programs typically identify children with treatment needs, such as untreated dental caries, and notify these children’s parents and the school nurse. (Throughout these modules, "parents" refers to a child’s parents, guardians, or other caregivers.) Ensuring that children receive appropriate oral health care may be the most difficult aspect of operating a dental sealant program. Ideally children would receive treatment at their dental home. In reality, many children who are screened have limited access to oral health care. In addition, some families may place a low priority on seeking oral health care for their children in light of competing demands.

Although school-based programs provide a health benefit, it is not the same benefit as that provided by dental homes. School-based programs usually cannot guarantee that the children they serve will receive needed treatment (other than dental sealants). Depending on program resources, programs may use a variety of approaches to help ensure that children receive necessary treatment, including sending screening reports home, making follow-up calls to parents, scheduling dental appointments, arranging transportation to clinics, and providing care directly.