1.3 Principles of Programs Funded by the Office of Oral Health

Children in lunch lineOOH offers grants to school-based dental sealant programs that enable them to provide dental sealants to children (with parental consent) at no charge in participating schools. (See module 4 for details on the quality-assurance aspects of the program.) OOH strives to ensure that programs:

  • Use a community-based approach to dental caries prevention
  • Target children at high risk for dental caries
  • Operate efficiently
  • Provide high-quality services
  • Appropriately select schools based on need
  • Provide education and/or literacy intervention pertinent to the service being delivered
  • Provide appropriate case management or care coordination for any child with urgent oral health needs
  • Submit periodic progress reports and expenditure reports

Using a Community-Based Approach

OOH’s school-based dental sealant program employs a community-based public health approach to preventing dental caries. The program was developed based on best practices and requires those who operate dental sealant programs to work with the community (e.g., schools, private dental offices, safety net clinics). Although program goals are accomplished one child at a time, OOH focuses on the health of the population and on reducing disparities.

Targeting Children at High Risk for Dental Caries

Programs apply dental sealants primarily to the most decay-prone teeth and tooth surfaces (i.e., the pits and fissures of permanent molar teeth) of children at high risk for dental caries. For the purpose of OOH-funded programs, children at high risk are those eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) that provides free and reduced price school meals or Medicaid or who attend a Title I school. Maryland has two categories of Title I schools:

  • Targeted assistance programs. Thirty-five percent or more of students eligible for the NSLP. Assistance is targeted to students identified as having the greatest needs. All high-risk school programs start out as targeted assistance programs.
  • Schoolwide programs. Forty percent or more of students eligible for the NSLP. Programs target all students in these schools.