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Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Compared with their parents, many Americans now enjoy markedly better oral health. However, certain segments of the population (e.g., those who have low incomes, are members of racial or ethnic minority groups, or are older) have severe dental decay, much of which remains untreated. Healthy People 2010 objectives seek to eliminate these disparities, so that all Americans receive the benefits of good oral health. Community-based programs, such as community water fluoridation and school-based dental sealant programs, are cost-effective ways to achieve this goal. For example, if half of the children at high risk for tooth decay participated in school sealant programs, half of the caries that these children otherwise would develop would be prevented.


State Programs in Action: Ohio 

 School-based sealant programs in Ohio began in 1984, with a single demonstration program in one city. By 2000, 34 of Ohio’s 88 counties had programs. These programs target children who are at high risk for tooth decay and least likely to receive dental care.

As the program has expanded, the statewide percentage of 8-year-olds who have dental sealants has increased steadily, from 11% in 1987–1988, to 30% in 1998–1999, and most recently to 43% in 2007. Although this percentage still falls short of the Healthy People 2010 objective of 50% of the state’s 8-year-olds having sealants, children from all demographic groups in schools with sealant programs have achieved or exceeded the objective.

The Ohio program has shown that school-based programs could potentially reduce or eliminate racial and economic disparities by reaching children at high risk for tooth decay.

For more information and references supporting these facts, please visit www.cdc.gov/nccdphp


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