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J Public Health Dent. 1986 Summer;46(3):152-5.

The effects for recall patients of a comprehensive sealant program in a clinical dental public health setting.


The preventive outcomes of a comprehensive sealant program in a dental public health treatment center for low SES children are reported. The Linn County (Iowa) Dental Health Center implemented a comprehensive sealant philosophy in 1978. Since then, virtually all pits and fissures in primary and permanent teeth for all new and recall patients have been sealed. The comprehensive sealant philosophy was formulated following a previously reported Dental Health Center study documenting the negative outcomes of unmet treatment need as a result of the lack of continuity of care for this specific low SES target population. Sealants were evaluated for all recall patients seen over a two-month period. The sealants had been placed six months to six years before the two-month examination period. Ninety-five percent of the sealants were intact for the recall patients. Only 3.3 percent of the sealants were in need of repair or resealing--a procedure easily incorporated into the preventive recall appointment. Only 1.5 percent of the teeth were carious, and to a minor extent. To maintain the total sealant treatment philosophy on repaired and newly erupted teeth for recall patients in the dental public health setting requires on the average approximately five additional minutes per recall appointment. Low SES children are at highest risk to dental caries, but are still not guaranteed access to ongoing preventive services. Sealants are of much greater importance than the usual prophylaxis-fluoride regimen for low SES children displaying more episodic than preventive dental behavior. Comprehensive sealant programs should be considered for all dental public health clinical treatment programs for children.

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