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

Programs in the United Statesreport cover

The first school-based dental sealant program in the United States reportedly started in the early 1970s in Tennessee. School-based programs became more common in the 1980s following the National Preventive Dentistry Demonstration Program’s report that documented favorable results from school-based dental sealant programs.3

A 1994 national survey conducted by the Ohio Department of Health and the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors identified 120 school-based dental sealant programs.4 As of 2009, according to the Pew Center on the States, 46 states and the District of Columbia were operating some form of school-based dental sealant program within their state; however, only 15 states provide sealants to more than 50 percent of high-need schools within their state. As of 2014, there were 4 states without school-based dental sealant programs.5

Programs in Maryland

OOH was awarded a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cooperative agreement in 2008 that stipulated the implementation of a dental sealant demonstration project, followed by the development of a statewide school-based dental sealant program. Since then, OOH has seen an increase from 5 counties operating school-based dental sealant programs in 2008 to 13 counties operating such programs in 2013.

Several local health departments in Maryland have been operating school-based dental sealant programs for many years. For example, the Baltimore County Health Department has provided sealants to approximately 19,000 children in second and third grade since the program’s inception in the 1995–1996 school year. The program began serving 6 Title I schools and now serves 42 Title I schools per school year. In 2003, the Baltimore County Health Department received a National Association of Counties award for its model sealant program.

Typically, Maryland school-based programs are operated through local health departments. Some counties opt to work with other community providers, such as federally qualified health centers, within their jurisdictions. Between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014, OOH-funded programs provided 11,374 dental sealants to 4,119 children in school-based or school-linked settings.

Between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014, OOH-funded programs provided 11,374 dental sealants to 4,119 children in school-based or school-linked settings.