Key Points

  • Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that are bonded to the pit-and-fissure surfaces of teeth to prevent dental caries.
  • School-based dental sealant programs generally provide sealants to children who are less likely than their higher-income counterparts to receive private oral health care. These children include those who attend Title I schools as well as those enrolled in federal programs such as the NSLP or Medicaid, or those who are uninsured.
  • In 2001, a systematic review conducted by the Task Force on Community Preventive Services found that school-based dental sealant programs are effective in reducing dental caries.
  • A number of variables (e.g., retention rate, length of study, caries risk of population) influence the extent to which sealants save money.
  • OOH offers grants to school-based dental sealant programs that enable them to provide sealants to children (with parental consent) at no charge in participating schools.
  • 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, and submit periodic progress reports and expenditure reports.