Sealants for Smiles!
Sealants for Smiles (SFS) is helping children maintain good oral health while in school. Cavities and pain from poor oral health can be detrimental to learning, so SFS works to improve the quality of life for school children.
Cavity prevention services are targeted to children in Montana, primarily ages 6 to 9. Local dentists, hygienists, and other volunteers teach children in schools about oral health practices and provide cavity prevention by applying dental sealants and fluoride varnish. Children receive free tooth brushes and toothpaste. SFS also provides assistance with follow-up care for children most in need and helps families apply for public insurance.
This program visits schools in which at least 50% of the children qualify for Free or Reduced Lunch, as reported by the Office of Public Instruction. Most of these schools are in rural and frontier areas with limited access to dental care.
SFS major partners and funders include Sprout Oral Health, Montana Public Schools, Montana Dental Association, the Colleges of Nursing at Montana State University and University of Montana, Indian Health Services, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Montana Healthcare Foundation, Montana Office of Medicaid, Montana School Nurses Association, and Montana Primary Care Association.
In 2016, SFS provided care to 10,453 children in 81 schools across Montana, expanded reach through American Indian Services, and launched a school nurse fluoride varnish program. This program allows children to receive dental care and not miss school. Another goal of SFS is that children with dental abscesses receive treatment within 24 to 48 hours.
Overall, this program has seen much success. This success has been attributed to school leaders and nurses that bring SFS into their schools, to using local dental providers when possible to boost community support and to establish continuing care for children, and to a custom-built electronic dental record which supports data quality and management. Strong communication helps ensure partners know their respective roles, and the 560 volunteers statewide allow programs to employ only 2 staff.
Caity Kirk of Sprout Oral Health says, “To be sustainable and successful, it is important to recognize and include all stakeholders. To improve community health, it helps to involve all aspects of the community.”
For more information on Sealants for Smiles, call (406)548-5020 or visit their website at http://www.montanasmiles.org/.
Having sealant is very important for tooth health. Sealant application is a simple and fast process that helps prevent tooth decay, which can cause pain, infections, and difficulty speaking and learning. Although the fluoride in toothpaste and in drinking water protects the smooth surfaces of teeth, the back teeth need extra protection.
Sealant keeps germs and food out of the grooves of the teeth. It has been found that it is more affordable to have preventative tooth care than it is to receive costly treatments for tooth decay. Good oral health is important for overall health because the mouth is the entry point for the digestive and respiratory tracts, and bacteria in the mouth can get into these body systems, causing various diseases. Good oral health is possible through regular brushing, flossing, and sealant.
For more information on the importance of oral health, visit these websites: