The School Sealant Program: An evaluation of the oral health education component

Yamini Gupta, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Dental caries is a common preventable childhood disease leading to severe physical, mental and economic repercussions for children and their families if left untreated. A needs assessment in Harris County reported that 45.9% of second graders had untreated dental caries. In order to address this growing problem, the School Sealant Program (SSP), a primary preventive initiative, was launched by the Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS) to provide oral health education, and underutilized dental preventive services to second grade children from participating Local School Districts (LSDs). To determine the effectiveness and efficiency of the SSP, a program evaluation was conducted by the HDHHS between September 2007 and June 2008 for the Oral Health Education (OHE) component of the SSP. The objective of the evaluation was to assess short term changes in oral health knowledge of the participants and determine if these changes, if any, were due to the OHE sessions. An 8-item multiple choice pre/post test was developed for this purpose and administered to the participants before and immediately after the OHE sessions. The present project analyzed pre and post test data of 1,088 second graders from 22 participating schools. Changes in overall and topic-specific knowledge of the program participants before and after the OHE sessions were analyzed using the Wilcoxon's signed rank test. Results. The overall knowledge assessment showed a statistically significant (p <0.001) increase in the dental health knowledge of the participants after the oral health education sessions. Participants in the higher scoring category (7-8 correct responses) increased from 9.5% at baseline to 60.8% after the education sessions. Overall knowledge increased in all school regions with the highest knowledge gains seen in the Central and South regions. Males and females had similar knowledge gains. Significant knowledge differences were also found for each of the topic specific categories (functions of teeth, healthy diet, healthy habits, dental sealants; p<0.001) indicating an increase in topic specific knowledge of the participants post-health education sessions. Conclusions. The OHE sessions were successful in increasing the short term oral health knowledge of the participants.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Gupta, Yamini, "The School Sealant Program: An evaluation of the oral health education component" (2008). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1454376.