School-based Dental Sealant Program
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) School-based Dental Sealant Program (SDSP) is part of a comprehensive state-wide Oral Health Program to promote evidenced-based prevention strategies in order to achieve optimal oral health for all Minnesotans. Funding for Minnesota’s Oral Health Program is provided by grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
- 2013 School-Based Sealant RFA (PDF: 528KB/21 pages)
- Minnesota School-based Dental Sealant Program Manual
(PDF: 508KB/41 pages)
School-based dental sealant programs target 6-8 year olds. After losing their state funding, one oral health program was asked by a local health department:“Can we also apply sealants on molars of other age groups (those children who lost their sealants and/or never received sealants)? Would there be any benefit from doing that?”
- Placing sealants on children older than 7 and replacing "lost" sealants does no harm, and may provide some protective benefit. The reason to target
6-8 year olds for sealants has to do with resource allocation based on highest risk.
The greatest risk for occlusal decay is in the first 18 months following eruption, with risk declining afterwards, all things being equal. Thus, dedicating efforts to 6-8 year olds will produce the best cost benefit (cost efficiency) ratio. Teeth that have not yet decayed by age 8 are likely in kids with lower risk of decay, so applying sealants will produce a less robust cost efficiency. This does not address the situation if the 8 year olds have incipient occlusal decay. These kids can't be included in the group of unsealed-without-decay, as they are on the path to decay and sealants would be highly beneficial.
Likewise, some studies have indicated that even sealants that appear to have been lost (hence the quotation marks) are actually retained within the fissures and are affording protection. So the benefit of replacing sealants is less than that of sealing newly erupted, never before sealed teeth.
So the question you ask is more an economic question of resource allocation than a clinical question. If funding is tight and allocations must be made, it's likely that the priority ranking that will produce most efficiency would be: targeting 6-8 year olds first, then never-before sealed first molars in kids closer to 6-8, then never sealed older kids, then finally resealing kids with lost sealants.
The Minnesota Department of Health Oral Health Program concurs with this response because it reflects current evidence-based knowledge of the science behind dental sealants when used in public health settings.
American Academy of Pediatrics
ASTDD-OSAP Infection Prevention and Safety Project
Task Force on Community Preventive Resources:
MI Paste Video:
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Once children have their permanent teeth, dental sealants provide the protection for the back teeth, or molars. Dental sealants cover the deep grooves in permanent molars so that decay is much less likely to start. Sealants are applied when children get their first molars between five to seven years of age and when they get their second set of permanent molars around the age of eleven to fourteen.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) is a great resource. DHS has established a call center where you can get information about programs and eligibility. The DHS call center can be reached at: 651-431-2670 or 800-657-3739.
United Way 2-1-1 and Portico Healthnet are partnering to offer 24/7 information and referral assistance to individuals and families who may be eligible for Medical Assistance. The eligibility rules for Medical Assistance coverage changed on March 1, 2011, and more people are now able to qualify. For more information, call United Way 2-1-1 at 1-800-543-7709 (statewide, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Callers needing further assistance will be transferred to Portico Healthnet. Portico staff will:
- Answer your questions about Medical Assistance & MinnesotaCare
- Help you understand your options for health care
- Assist you with applications for health coverage programs
- Give you information about low-cost clinics and other health care resources in your area
Individuals who do not qualify for Minnesota Health Care Programs (MHCP) can get information about low-cost clinics and prescription assistance.
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