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School-based Oral Health Programs

The Oral Health Unit of the Oregon Health Authority manages two School-based Oral Health Programs that are FREE for eligible schools - the School Fluoride Program (Tablets or Rinse) and the School Dental Sealant Program. These programs are most effective when used together. However, implementing even one of these programs can make a significant difference in the oral health of participating children.

School Fluoride Program

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Healthy People 2020 recommend fluoridated water as the most effective way to deliver fluoride to a community, reducing cavities in children ages 4-17 years by 29-51%. In areas that have not yet fluoridated, school fluoride programs reduce cavities by 20%-30% for the children who participate.

Eligibility

  • A school is eligible if at least 30% of the students are eligible for the federal Free-and-Reduced Lunch Program.
  • Students are eligible if they have parental permission.

There are two ways to receive fluoride – Tablets or Rinse.

School Fluoride Tablet Program

The School Fluoride Tablet Program is recommended for children who live in areas without optimum levels of fluoride in the water supply and who are not taking fluoride tablets at home. To check your water supply, go to My Water’s Fluoride. The tablets are taken daily, chewed for a half minute, swished for a half minute, and then swallowed.

School Fluoride Rinse Program

The School Fluoride Rinse Program is recommended for children who have other sources of fluoride, but who may still be at risk for cavities because of other factors (examples: poor nutrition, lack of access to dental care, low socio-economic status). The rinse is used once a week, swished for 1 minute, and emptied out into a cup.

School Dental Sealant Program

dental sealantThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Healthy People 2020 recommend school dental sealant programs as an effective way to reduce cavities in a community. School dental sealant programs can prevent about 40%-50% of tooth decay in the treated teeth.

Eligibility

  • A school is eligible if at least 50% of the students are eligible for the federal Free-and-Reduced Lunch Program.
  • Students are eligible if they have parental permission.

The Dental Sealant Program serves 1st-2nd graders or 1st-5th graders in very small schools. The dental team brings in portable equipment, screens the participating children, and applies sealants when appropriate. The screening takes about one minute per child and each child’s sealant placement takes just 15-30 minutes, so there is very little disruption of class time.