Health and Science
Tue January 8, 2013
Report Shows Wisconsin Schools Doing Well On Dental Care
A national report says states are not fully using public health programs designed to prevent cavities in low income children. Wisconsin, however, is doing better than most.
A report by the Pew Center on the States says between half and three quarters of Wisconsin schools with high need populations offer clear plastic coatings for molars prone to decay. Bill Maas is a dentist who worked on the Pew Center report. That report gives Wisconsin and four other states a grade of "A" for helping low income children get dental sealants to reduce the chance of costly, painful cavities, “We hope that nobody thinks that this is Pew's endorsement that those programs are perfect or are doing as much as they could do We certainly want to recognize those states that have been leaders."
Wisconsin does offer grants for school-based sealant programs. State health officials say most of the anti-cavity protection occurs in the second grade. Maas says protection is also needed in later years when adolescents get their second molars, "We know from national surveys that the second permanent molar is every bit or more as cavity prone as a first molar. So it’s great to have programs that reach kids in second grade and keep them from getting a cavity in their first permanent molar but if we don’t follow up with programs when the second molar comes in then we're going to be faced with teenagers also cavities that could have been prevented."
The report says the average cost of sealing a molar is one third the cost of filling a cavity. It says with increased use of sealants, states can reduce the amount Medicaid spends for dental care.