Gleason Students Smiling Brightly

Dental Prevention Program Offers Fluoride and Sealants
Posted on 02/06/2020
This is the image for the news article titled Dental Prevention Program Offers Fluoride and SealantsGleason students in K-8th recently only had to choose between bubble gum, cookie dough and watermelon and within minutes their teeth had received a flavored fluoride varnish and sealants to prevent tooth decay. The free services were made available in January and more than 100 students took the state of Tennessee up on the offer.

The Tennessee Department of Health’s school-based dental prevention program offers dental preventive services to children at select schools. The services include screenings and education, sealants, and a fluoride varnish. After each child is seen they receive a referral note to take home that explains the services and offers assistance to parents in finding a dental home if the child currently doesn’t have one.

Initially, Melony Sesti of Humboldt and Lauren Weiland of Medina provided general education to the students, talking about proper hygiene and nutrition and including a few graphic photos of what can happen with neglected teeth. Armed with this awareness, the students took home consent forms and those who returned them were scheduled to see one of the two hygienists in the coming days.

Information provided to families points out that sealants are thin plastic coatings applied to the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. They prevent tooth decay and also stop cavities from growing. It also notes that tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease. About 1 of 5 children aged 5 to 11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.

Typically, the visits can take several weeks to serve all the students, with 1 to 2 hygienists assigned to create awareness and apply fluoride and sealants. Sesti and Weiland set up two dental chairs in an empty classroom and had a display of rewards for students to choose from once their service was complete.

“We are not just about testing and data when it comes to children,” explained Principal Lee Lawrence on why he opened the doors of the school to the program. “We are about the total well-being of the child.”

The TN Department of Health has placed over 4 million sealants on children in schools across the state since 2001.