Oral Health

A student has his teeth examined by dentist

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Cavities (tooth decay) are one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood in the United States. About 1 in 5 (20%) children aged 5–11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth. The percentage of children and adolescents aged 5–19 years with untreated cavities is twice as high for children from low-income households (25%) compared with children from higher-income households (12%).1

Poor oral health can have a detrimental effect on children’s quality of life, their performance at school, and their success later in life.2 Cavities are preventable and ensuring that students have the preventive oral health services they need in school is important in helping them stay healthy and ready to learn. Dental sealants prevent cavities for many years. Children aged 6–11 without sealants have almost three times more first molar cavities than children without sealants.

Addressing Oral Health in Schools
girl with tooth pain

School sealant programs are an effective way to reach millions of children in a school setting with dental sealants to prevent cavities. These programs have been shown to increase the number of children who receive sealants and are especially important for reaching children who are at greater risk for developing cavities and less likely to receive private dental care.

Programs that offer oral health care to students should: