Background: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has promoted Healthy People 2010, which is a set of national health objectives for the nation to achieve over the first decade of the new century (1). Texas has not yet met its target of 50 percent of 8-year-old children with dental sealants having been placed on their 6-year molars, which is one of the Healthy People 2010 goals. An assessment of the dental needs of children in Tarrant County, Texas, was initiated by the JPS Health Network (named after John Peter Smith). The JPS Health Network established the Healthy Smiles program to address the dental needs of the students in this county because a school based dental sealant program would be effective in reducing dental decay.
Methods: Approved Title One elementary schools in Tarrant County were scheduled for dental screenings, education, and fluoride and dental sealant applications. Students were given visual dental screenings and classified as to future dental needs. First grade students received fluoride varnish and second and third grade students received fluoride and dental sealants.
Results: For the 2010-2011 school year: A total of 28,322 students were seen by dental professionals from the JPS Health Network; 8,348 dental sealants were placed; and 11,825 fluoride applications were given by dental staff.
Conclusions: The JPS Health Network Healthy Smiles Program proved to be an effective way to deliver oral preventive care and dental education to a large number of low-income students.
Clinical implications: Dental caries prevention programs such as Healthy Smiles could help Texas reach its goals for improved oral health for the children of Texas.