Objectives: To systematically review the literature on economic evaluations of dental sealants and examine the costs and effectiveness of caries prevention using sealants.
Methods: Of 21 full-text articles examined, a total of 13 were included in this study. These studies are grouped by the type of intervention as follows: (i) sealants compared with no sealants; (ii) sealants compared with other forms of caries prevention; (iii) resin-based sealants compared with glass-ionomer sealants; (iv) different sealing strategies in primary teeth; (v) different sealing strategies in permanent teeth; and (vi) sealants based on school- or clinic-based setting of delivery. All currency is reported in constant 2010 US$.
Results: Cost-effectiveness analyses differed due to varying study designs, assumptions, sealant delivery settings, outcomes, caries risk assessment and study durations. Findings varied on the cost-effectiveness of sealants compared with other caries-preventive strategies. Under the assumption of equal caries risk, always sealing primary molars appeared to be the most effective strategy, whereas risk-based sealing was the optimal strategy with differing caries risk. Studies that assessed sealing strategies in permanent teeth reported that risk-based sealing was more cost-effective than not sealing, but they differed on the cost-effectiveness of risk-based seal compared with non-risk-based seal. Sealants delivered in school settings had mixed results on costs but were as equally effective as sealants delivered in private practices.
Conclusions: The cost-effectiveness of sealants is dependent on the conditions of delivery. The list of cost-effectiveness ratios for each intervention can support policy makers to estimate expected returns on their investments in dental sealants.
Keywords: cost analysis; cost-benefit analysis; cost-effectiveness analysis; economic evaluation; pit and fissure sealants.
© 2017 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.