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Dental Sealants Could Seal the Deal on Cavity Prevention

Oct 25, 2016

By Dean George

Dental sealants are estimated to prevent up to 80% of cavities in permanent molars for two years after application. Fifty percent of molars remain protected for up to four years and the sealants can remain effective on teeth for up to nine years.

Children from low-income households are less likely to get sealants than children from more affluent families. Riddle: Even though the number of children from low-income households getting sealants is much better than a decade ago, why are there are still 60% of children aged 6-11 from low-income families, or approximately 6.5 million kids, not getting dental sealants?

A dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating applied on the surface of teeth. They are usually applied to the back chewing teeth (molars) to prevent tooth decay. The sealant forms a protective shield over a tooth’s enamel, bonding in seconds into the tooth’s grooves and fissures.

“Tooth decay is one of the greatest unmet treatment needs among children,” notes Susan O. Griffin, PhD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in an October 18th online Vital Signs report.

Children without sealants are three times more likely to get cavities in their first molars than those with sealants.

As previously reported in Dental Wire, studies show that a child’s oral health can affect both grades and school attendance,  and that children from low-income families suffer more from cavities than students from middle income and affluent households. That makes participation in the dental sealant programs available to many schools critical – and more disheartening that more low-income parents aren’t taking advantage of them.

“The bottom line is that school-based dental sealant programs protect kids’ teeth, and they save money,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden. “They are extremely effective, but they are underutilized.”

School-based sealant programs (SBSPs) focus on providing care for children prone to cavities and those who are less likely to get preventive dental care. Often these are schools with a large percentage of children receiving free or reduced-cost meal programs.

If sealants were applied to the 6.5 million children without them, CDC estimates it could save $300 million in costs by preventing 3.4 million cavities over four years. 

“We can help millions more kids prevent cavities by starting or expanding programs that offer dental sealants in schools,” Frieden said.”A recent rigorous review showed that school-based sealant programs save money within two years.

These programs are a “best buy” and “win-win” for everyone, he said.

Source: Medscape Medical News,
Photo source:,

Copyright 2016, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC 

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