The researchers will use the more than $400,000 NIH grant to survey school sealant program directors and state oral health directors around the United States to determine how they are using school-based sealant programs and then dive into data on children’s teeth.
However, most of these programs are in elementary schools and what we don’t know is how it looks different in a middle school. The new research hypothesis is that perhaps children’s first molars are in better shape because they’re more likely to get sealed in these school-based programs and the second molars, those that typically come in between the ages of 11 and 13, are not.
Researchers will use data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which details children’s teeth including those that have sealants, have decay, and that is missing, in addition to demographic data.
Once the research team has analyzed the CDC data and survey results, they will build a simulation model to see what the likely benefit would be of increasing school-based sealant programs for middle schoolers.
Once the simulation model is built, the team will be able to estimate the impact of increasing the number of middle-school-based sealant programs on children’s teeth. If their results support the belief that more school-based sealant programs will cost-effectively improve children’s oral health, the goal is to apply for funding to help implement more programs.
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