Media Coverage

The Gazette: Iowa Receives 'C' Grade in Dental Health Report

Iowa scores right in the middle in a new report that grades states on preventing tooth decay.

The state was given a C grade for providing children with dental sealants, according to the report released Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Those clear plastic coatings, applied to the chewing surfaces of molars, are shown to prevent decay at one-third the expense of filling a cavity. Sealants are typically first applied to children’s molars when they are in second grade, shortly after their permanent teeth appear.

“We believe Iowa is definitely moving in the right direction in improving oral health,” said Suzanne Heckenlaible, executive director for the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation.


In Pew’s “Falling Short” report, Iowa earned seven out of 11 points in four benchmarks scored by the group.

That included having 25 to 49 percent of high-need schools with a sealant program. The goal is 75 percent or above.

The Iowa Department of Public Health funds sealant programs at schools with at least 40 percent free and reduced lunch rates.

Programs are in Linn, Jones and Washington counties in Eastern Iowa, among 21 counties statewide.

According to Pew’s report:
•Only five states earned an A, and just two – Maine and New Hampshire – received the maximum points possible.
•Although the eight states that received a B are performing relatively well, half did not have sealant programs in a majority of their high-need schools.
•Seventeen states earned C grades, and another 15 received a D.
•Five states—Hawaii, New Jersey, Montana, North Carolina, and Wyoming—earned an F, lagging far behind in prevention efforts.

Read the full article at

Children's Dental Policy
Access to Dental Care, Sealants, Children's Health

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