U.S. school based sealant programs: Review of their most common characteristics
In the United States, dental caries is the most common chronic illness in children, occurring five to eight times as frequently as asthma. 11 Dental caries is an unmet health need, disproportionately affecting minority groups and individuals with low socio-economic status.15,34,36 School-Based Sealant Programs were developed to target children at risk, to provide dental services in a closer geographic area, to offer low cost preventive dental services, and to educate families about oral health and prevention.1 There is scientific, evidence based literature that shows the effectiveness of dental sealants preventing dental decay. 13
Currently, there is no central source for cataloging School-Based Sealant Programs (SBSPs). Information is scattered around publications and documents. For instance, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) does not have information about all the existing SBSPs.
This literature review determined which are the most common characteristics of SBSPs in the U.S. and determined the extent to which these programs provide sealants to children of low socio-economic status. The method utilized was an electronic database search. Pubmed and EBESCO host databases were searched with Mesh terms like “dental school sealant programs”, “community dentistry”, “school based sealant programs” and “oral preventive programs”. Results were organized in terms of location, population served, providers, funding source and data shared.
The searches produced 77 studies, from which 40 were included in this work. Only 18 U.S. states were represented in the results; however these findings are very consistent with the Best Practice Approach – School Based Sealant Programs3. Most of the SBSPs provide their services to children from low income families, and utilized the lower labor cost providers permitted by their state regulations. The author intends that this thesis work will become an aide in the development of future programs, and as evidence for the sustainability of these programs.
0573: Public health