With summer coming to an end and students returning to the classroom, now is the perfect opportunity to highlight an initiative that many children and parents in Ohio will have the opportunity to benefit from during the school year.
School-based sealant programs have been a proven way to provide access to dental care to Ohio children since the 1980s. Sealants are a cost-effective preventive intervention that provides a defense against tooth decay. These programs are especially effective in treating vulnerable populations that are less likely to have regular dental care, such as children who are eligible for free or reduced-cost lunch programs.
A sealant is a thin, plastic coating applied to the pits and fissures of the back teeth that keeps food and germs from causing tooth decay in these deep grooves. The process of applying sealants is quick and painless; once the tooth is clean, a special gel is placed on the surface, the tooth is washed and dried, and then the sealant is painted on the tooth. The entire application takes only a couple minutes. Sealants are especially effective when applied to students in second and sixth grades, when most children are likely to have their permanent first and second molars erupt. By strategically applying sealants to these new teeth, we are able to provide a defense against tooth decay to those molars most vulnerable to tooth decay.
In order for a child to have dental sealants applied, a consent form must be signed by a parent/guardian and returned to school.
We encourage all parents and children to understand the positive effect dental sealants have had in preventing cavities. Untreated oral problems affect our ability to communicate, to work, to learn, to eat, and our appearance. In Ohio and across the country, dental carries (tooth decay) is the single most common chronic childhood disease - more common than both asthma and hay fever.
School-based sealant programs are a valuable tool in combating at least one of the barriers to oral health -lack of access to care. By providing high-quality services in school settings, we are reaching children in an environment that is comfortable and convenient to them. Most importantly, we are affirming our commitment to healthy children.
Sandy Oxley, co-chair, COHAT
CEO, Voices for Ohio's Children
Lindy Cree, co-chair, COHAT
President, Dental Center of Northwest Ohio