Wide Gaps in US Kids Dental Sealants Program

With these protective films on, the tooth is successfully protected against bacteria, and thus dental decay is kept at bay. All children should receive dental sealants through school dental programs, but recent studies show there are huge gaps in the system…

On January 8, there has been published a report called Falling Short: Most States Lag on Dental Sealants, and the authors have assigned grades from A to F based on the sealant programs of each state. Some of the states have indeed made progresses and are now offering quite well set up dental sealants programs to children, but some are way behind the standards.

With proper dental sealant programs, the incidence of tooth decay can be successfully reduced even by up to 60%, and this fact has been proven by research in the field. Low income children especially are in the highest need of these kinds of programs.

Their parents do not have proper dental insurance, and thus they cannot access regular dental care. In families where the parents can afford to take their little one for regular checkups and preventative treatments such as sealants, things are looking much better.

The states that received grade A from the authors of the report, include the following: North Dakota, Wisconsin, Maine and Alaska. The “F” grade, as a sign of having the worst sealant kids dental programs have gone to states such as New Jersey, Montana, Wyoming, North Carolina, Hawaii and Washington DC.

Yet another factor that plays quite a big role in the availability and accessibility of such programs, is that dental hygienists are not allowed to provide sealants to kids. This automatically means that fewer kids will get dental sealants, since they cannot afford to see a dentist, and these programs become more and more expensive since the sealants can be provided exclusively by dentists.

It is important to mention that the states which received grading A for their dental sealant program, might do quite bad in other dental health program areas such as water fluoridation for instance. In general, there is room for improvement on almost all levels, when it comes to making dental care more affordable and accessible to children.