The evolution of state-based dental sealant programs in Oregon within the context of the state health care transformation process

Laurie L. Johnson, Eli Schwarz, Kenneth D. Rosenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Context: The 2007 Oregon Smile Survey of first, second, and third graders found that, since the first (2002) Smile Survey, all major measures of Oregon children's oral health had worsened. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 2 interventions proven effective in preventing dental caries (cavities) in a population: community water fluoridation and school dental sealant programs. Repeated attempts at the state level to mandate water fluoridation had failed. State government therefore moved to increase the number of school dental sealant programs. Objectives: The objective of this article is to demonstrate how 2 interventions and subsequent statewide collaboration addressed the deterioration of children's oral health from 2002 to 2007. Design: An 11-year observational study to increase the number of schools in Oregon with dental sealant programs in the state of Oregon during health care transformation. Interventions: (1) Providing state general funds for a state school dental sealant program and (2) establishing an incentivized sealant metric for the Coordinated Care Organizations contracted to serve the Medicaid population. Results: In school year (SY) 2006-2007, only 26% (n = 92) of the state's eligible elementary schools had dental sealant programs. By SY 2013-2014, the use of state general funds increased the number of schools served to 78% (363 schools). By SY 2017-2018, with the establishment of the sealant metric, state and local programs served 92% (n = 473) of the eligible early elementary grades and 65% (n = 172) of the newly eligible middle school grades. Conclusion: Providing state general funds and establishing a sealant metric increased the number of schools served by school dental sealant programs and may have contributed to recent improvements in oral health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)461-470
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Public Health Management and Practice
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • dental sealants
  • public health
  • school dentistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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