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Home Home Oral Health More Low-Income Kids Need Dental Sealants: CDC
More Low-Income Kids Need Dental Sealants: CDC
News - WebMD Oral Health
Jupiter, FL Dentist

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Oct. 18, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Treatments that seal a child's back teeth can prevent most cavities, but many kids -- particularly those living in poverty -- don't get them, U.S. health officials said Tuesday.

Dental sealants are liquid plastic coatings painted on chewing surfaces of teeth. When dried, they quickly harden to form a shield on the teeth, which can last for years.

Sealants can cut cavities by 80 percent for up to two years, and by 50 percent for up to four years, a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.

"Unfortunately, most kids don't have them -- 40 percent of kids have dental sealants, but 60 percent don't," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said during a Tuesday media briefing. "Kids without dental sealants have almost three times more cavities that those who do have sealants."

Poor children are more than twice as likely as kids in more affluent families to have untreated tooth decay, the report found. And that's why the CDC wants sealant treatments offered in schools across the country.

"School-based sealant programs can be a win-win," Frieden said. "Governments, schools, parents and kids all come out ahead. Dental sealants are simple, quick, easy and completely painless, there are no unwanted side effects and the benefits start immediately."

School programs are especially important for children from low-income families, because they are less likely to receive dental care. Sealant programs target schools with a lot of children who have free or reduced-cost meal programs, Frieden explained.

Cavities can be prevented by providing sealants around age 6 for the permanent first molars and around age 12 for the second molars, Frieden said. A dental sealant can guard against cavities for up to nine years, the report said.

Frieden added that progress has been made with dental sealants in the past decade. In that period, the number of children from low-income families who had dental sealants increased nearly 70 percent.

"This prevented about 1 million cavities, but still, poorer children are 20 percent less likely to have sealants than children from higher-income families," he said. "Every tooth that gets sealant saves more than $11 in dental costs."

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