Falling Short

Most States Lag on Dental Sealants

Falling Short
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Quick Summary

Pew’s 50-state report finds that most states are not doing enough to use a proven strategy for preventing tooth decay, unnecessarily driving up health care costs for families and taxpayers. 


Introduction: Grading the States 

In both 2010 and 2011, the Pew Children’s Dental Campaign released reports grading all 50 states and the District of Columbia on children’s dental health, relying on eight evidence-based policies that cover prevention, financing, and workforce issues. However, this year, Pew’s 50-state report focuses on prevention, examining states’ efforts to improve access to sealants for low-income kids.

Pew’s grades are based on four indicators that should be a key part of any state’s prevention strategy:

  1. having sealant programs in high-need schools,
  2. allowing hygienists to place sealants in school-based programs without requiring a dentist’s exam,
  3. collecting data regularly about the dental health of school-children and submitting it to a national oral health database, and
  4. meeting a national health objective on sealants.

Overall State Grades

In the map below, states were given specific points for each benchmark, and grades—on a scale of A to F—were based on the total points earned. Learn more about how each state performed in our state fact sheets.


Pew’s assessment reflects the states’ policies that existed as of July 1, 2012.

Report Assets

State Fact Sheets
January 8, 2013
Mary McNamara | 202.540.6580
Children's Dental Policy
Sealants, Dental Health