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J Public Health Dent. 1993 Fall;53(4):241-5.

Community-based sealant programs in the United States: results of a survey.

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Department of Oral Health Care Delivery, Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, Dental School University of Maryland 21201.


The appropriate use of pit and fissure sealants could reduce substantially the majority of occlusal caries among US school-aged children. The 1986-87 national oral health survey conducted by the NIDR showed that less than 8 percent of the children 5-17 years of age had sealants on their teeth. The purpose of this national study was to document the current status of community-based sealant programs and to identify general program characteristics. Data were gathered through a mail survey to all state dental directors and site visits to four selected comprehensive community-based programs. Twenty-nine states were currently conducting sealant programs. The vast majority of these programs had formal quality assurance systems and companion health education components. Eight states indicated that sealant programs had been terminated within the last two years. Medicaid reimbursement for sealants was available in 42 states, with a mean reimbursement rate of $10.71 per sealant. Reimbursement rates ranged from $3.00-$20.00 per sealant. State practice acts almost uniformly permitted the placement of sealants by dental hygienists (n = 48), but less frequently by dental assistants (n = 15). Approximately 43 percent of state practice acts did not require a dentist to be present physically when auxiliaries place sealants in public/community sealant programs. All respondents indicated that there was a need for additional programs in their state. No structural factors--for example, level of Medicaid reimbursement for sealants or state practice act requirements for auxiliary supervision--were found to be associated with the presence of community-based sealant programs. Nationally, only a small percentage of children appeared to be receiving sealants in community programs.

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