To evaluate the effectiveness of Bengal Smiles, a school-based dental sealant programme and assess outcomes related to the U.S. Healthy People 2020 oral health objectives.
A needs assessment identified high caries prevalence in Idaho children and supported the need for a school-based dental sealant programme at a local Title 1 school. Children (n=54) ages 6-12 were screened by dental hygiene students for suspected dental caries, sealant placement and need for referral for dental treatment. Sealant retention and sealant caries rates were computed at 12 months (n=32) using descriptive statistics. Caries rates were analysed with a t test for paired samples, while a chi-square test was used to determine a difference in referral treatment rates before and after the intervention of administrative staff who contacted parents of children in need of dental treatment.
Bengal Smiles participants had a 16% decrease in suspected dental caries; however, there was no statistically significant difference in caries rates (P=.21) at baseline and 12 months. Sealant prevalence increased 370%. Sealant retention outcomes were 74% fully retained with 0% caries, 13% partially retained with 25% caries and 13% no retention with 25% caries. At 12 months, 50% of participants referred for dental treatment accessed care. The intervention of contacting parents had no statistically significant effect on increasing dental treatments (P=.75).
School-based sealant programmes eliminate disparities in accessing oral health care and contribute to attaining U.S. Healthy People 2020 oral health objectives.