The following data summary includes annual dental treatment need and schools' complaince with the reporting requirements, organized by grade and school. Although dental screenings are required, a parent/guardian may elect not to have their child screened if written documentation is provided to the school that a screening has been performed by a dentist or dental hygienist within the current school year. The Oral Health Program encourages school administrators to utilize this information to identify and address potential dental disparities faced by children with their school districts.
Note:In accordance with Rhode Island Department of Health's small number policy, no sensitive or identifiable characteristics are available in the data.
Dental sealants are an effective prevention tool to decrease tooth decay and pain for children. Ninety percent (90%) of tooth decay in children and teens occurs on the chewing surfaces of molar teeth*. Dental sealants are thin protective plastic coatings that are applied to the grooves of molar teeth to protect the chewing surfaces by keeping germs and food from sticking and causing decay. They are placed on the first and second permanent molars, which erupt between the ages of 6 and 9 years, and 11 and 13 years, respectively. Dental sealants have been shown to prevent 80% of cavities in the molar teeth* and, therefore, are an ideal preventive measure to reduce the number of children with tooth decay.
School-based dental programs are utilized across the United States to address dental disparities and improve access to oral health services for vulnerable children. The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provides funding to school-based dental programs (SBDPs) through SEAL RI!. SBDPs provide dental services in schools while they are in session, including screening for dental sealant eligibility and returning to the school to place dental sealants for eligible children. SBDPs are a valuable resource for providing dental services for children from low-income families who are otherwise less likely to receive dental care.
If a SEAL RI!/SBDP already provides services in your school, please assist in promoting the program to parents/guardians to increase the number of children served. To learn more about how your school can help or about offering these services, please contact the SEAL RI! organization for your school district.
Sources Cited: *Griffin SO, Wei L, Gooch BF, Weno K, Espinoza L. Vital Signs: Dental Sealant Use and Untreated Tooth Decay Among US School-Aged Children. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016;65:1141-1145. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr. mm6541e1