Sealant Work Group begins its crucial work

By the CDHP team

Dental sealants are protective coatings that are generally applied to children’s molars, and public health experts endorse School Sealant Programs (SSPs) because the evidence shows they achieve a “large reduction” in tooth decay. The Children’s Dental Health Project (CDHP) is convening a national Sealant Work Group (SWG) this fall to provide recommendations for the effective design and operations of SSPs, aiming to help these programs expand to reach more children who are at high risk of tooth decay.

SSPs face a variety of challenges — from financial sustainability to data collection — and many of these challenges were examined in CDHP’s 2014 report, which was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report urged the creation of a work group to offer guidance to SSPs on the design and operations of sealant programs.

The 12 members of the newly convened SWG will examine these kinds of challenges and develop actionable recommendations to help SSPs reach more high-risk children, thereby reducing disparities in the prevalence of dental disease. The SWG will be chaired by Matt Crespin, a nationally recognized expert on SSPs and associate director of the Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin. CDHP has chosen four advisors who will provide the SWG with guidance on clinical guidelines for sealant programs.

The SWG’s recommendations will be released in the fall of 2016. The SWG includes experts with diverse perspectives. In addition to Crespin, the SWG’s members are:

  • Donna Behrens, RN, MPH, BSN, project advisor for the School-Based Health Alliance in Washington, DC

  • Virginia (Ginny) Spellman Black, MPH, BSN, RN, school nurse in Columbus, Ohio

  • Mary Pat Burgess, RDH, MBA, acting oral health director for the Chicago Department of Public Health

  • Richard A. Champany, DDS, MPH, dental health consultant to the Navajo Nation

  • Terri Chandler, RDH, executive director and CEO of Future Smiles in Las Vegas, Nevada

  • Jodie Hostetter, RDH, BSDH, sealant program coordinator for the San Antonio (TX) Metropolitan Health District

  • Ana Karina Mascarenhas, BDS, MPH, Dr. PH, professor at the College of Dental Medicine of Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

  • Daniel Romo, DDS, dental director at Eisner Pediatric & Family Medical Center in Los Angeles, Calif.

  • Bob Russell, DDS, MPH, Oral Health Director, Iowa

  • Armando E. Soto-Rojas, DDS, MPH, associate professor and director of Seal Indiana, Indiana University School of Dentistry

  • Merry Jo Thoele, MPH, RDH, Oral Health Director, Minnesota

“School sealant programs help to improve children’s oral health outcomes and reduce inequities in the prevalence of dental disease,” said Crespin. “By offering SSP managers and state oral health leaders fresh recommendations, we hope to expand the impact of this prevention strategy.”

The SWG project, Achieving the Triple Aim in School-based Sealant Programs, is funded by the American Dental Hygienists' Association/Institute for Oral Health, Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation, Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation, Future Smiles, Oral Health America, and Washington Dental Service Foundation.

“We are excited about the SWG’s potential to help programs extend their good work, and ultimately improve children’s oral health,” said Patrice Pascual, executive director of CDHP. “Research shows that poor dental health interferes with children’s ability to attend school and to concentrate while they’re in the classroom. Sealants are a one strategy for helping all kids reach their full potential.”

The SWG meetings will be facilitated by Lori Kepler Cofano, RDH, BSDH, who has worked with CDHP on similar projects.

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