First-grade and second-grade students in Lincoln County recently participated in a state funded program that may spare them the experience of having cavities drilled and filled in a dentist’s office, and could help to ensure better dental health into their adult years.
The School Dental Sealant Program is presented by the Oregon Department of Human Services to eligible schools, including those in Lincoln County School District.
During its recent visit to Lincoln County, the Dental Sealant Program screened 256 first-graders and second-graders at Oceanlake and Taft elementary schools in Lincoln City, Crestview Heights School in Waldport, Sam Case Primary School in Newport, and Toledo Elementary School. Of these students, 185 received dental sealant on their molars. The total value of sealants provided was $26,418.
Dental sealant is a thin liquid-plastic applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth by a registered dental hygienist. The thin coating flows into the natural deep pits and grooves of the molars, which are difficult to reach with a toothbrush, and seals out decay-causing bacteria. The procedure is painless and requires no anesthetic. Each child’s “appointment” takes 15 to 30 minutes.
According to state health officials, 85 percent of tooth decay in permanent teeth occurs on the chewing surfaces of molars. These teeth usually come in during a child’s first- or second-grade years. Even though it is recommended that children begin regular dental visits at the age of 1, many children are unable to visit a dental office.
Approximately one-third of Oregon children have untreated decay, and some 16,000 school hours are lost each year due to dental pain and the associated dental visits. State officials say preventive dental measures done at the right time can improve oral health throughout a child’s lifetime.