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CDC report backs school-based sealant programs

October 18, 2016

By Michelle Manchir

School-based sealant programs could prevent “most cavities” and  “lower treatment costs in vulnerable children” but are underutilized, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an October report.

Dental sealants prevent up to 80 percent of caries in school-age children, but about 60 percent of children ages 6-11 don’t get dental sealants, according to the CDC’s Vital Signs report.

The report provides information on what state officials, dental care providers, school administrators and parents can do to help more children get dental sealants and develop fewer cavities.

“Many children with untreated cavities will have difficulty eating, speaking and learning,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., in a news release. “Dental sealants can be an effective and inexpensive way to prevent cavities, yet only one in three low-income children currently receive them. School-based sealant programs are an effective way to get sealants to children.”

The CDC report includes detailed findings that underscore the benefits of dental sealants, including that school-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with them, and that applying sealants in school-based programs to the nearly seven million low-income children who don’t have them could save up to $300 million in dental treatment costs.

To read the full report, visit www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/dental-sealants.

The CDC report comes as the ADA in August published a systematic review and updated clinical practice guidelines in The Journal of the American Dental Association that give a clear indication to dental professionals as to the marked benefit of the use of sealants in preventing and managing caries in children and adolescents.

The guidelines and the systematic review of randomized controlled trials related to sealants are available online at JADA.ADA.org.

For more information about this and other ADA-developed scientific information, email science@ADA.org.

To help explain sealant benefits to patients, the ADA Catalog offers three illustrated handouts: the brochure “Dental Sealants: Protecting Teeth, Preventing Decay,” available in English or Spanish (W291); the mini-brochure “Seal Out Decay” (W191); and the “Sealants Quick Reference,” a two-sided card (W276). All three titles say what a sealant is and how it is applied, with before-and-after photos of sealant application.

These and other patient education materials can be ordered online at ADAcatalog.org or by calling the Member Services Center. Use promo code 16134 to get a 15 percent discount on orders placed by Dec. 30.

Furthermore, dentists can direct patients to MouthHealthy.org for updated information about the benefits of dental sealants.