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Dental Public Health Activities: Descriptive Summaries

New Mexico School-Based Prevention Program

Practice Number: 34001
Submitted By: Office of Oral Health, Public Health Division, New Mexico Department of Health
Submission Date: May 2002
Last Reviewed: June 2018
Last Updated: June 2018
Best Practice Approach Example New Mexico School-Based Prevention Program
 

The New Mexico Department of Health (DOH), Office of Oral Health (OOH) administers a school-based dental sealant program that provides oral health education, dental screenings, and dental sealant applications on first and second molars. The dental sealant program was developed to provide preventive services for school children to reduce tooth decay, since many low-income children have limited or no access to preventive dental care. In rural areas, all elementary school children are eligible to participate in the dental sealant program. In urban areas, the services are limited to the first, second and third grade students. The program is supported by state staff and by contracted private dental providers.  Program services are offered at no cost to the parents or guardians and to participating schools. Elementary schools qualify for the program if they have at least 50% or more of its student population on the free and reduced school lunch program. FY 12 the State of New Mexico allocated an estimated $681,499.00 general fund for the state dental sealant program.  For the 2012 school year: 6,254 students participated in the program with a total of 19,075 molars being sealed.

Lessons Learned:

  • It is critical to have good communication with schools to ensure that there is adequate space for the equipment, students are present for the services, and consent forms have been collected by the schools.  
    • Clearly communicate the program’s expectations to each school; be sure the school nurse understands the program’s requirement for space (many schools have limited space) and the length of time needed to complete the sealant services.  
    • Always have back-up equipment.  Since the program requires traveling to schools that are located one to two hours from the home office, time is wasted if there is a need to return to the office for replacement equipment.
    • Remain flexible with scheduling screening and treatment days and how to set up in each school.

Contact Person(s) for Inquiries:

Rudy Blea, Program Director, Office of Oral Health, Public Health Division, New Mexico Department of Health, 1190 St. Francis Drive, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 87502, Phone: 505-827-0837, Email: rudy.blea@state.nm.us

Sonia Garcia Lopez, MS, DDS, Dental Case Manager, Office of Oral Health, Public Health Division, New Mexico Department of Health, 1190 St. Francis Drive, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 87502, Phone:505-827-0247, Email: Sonia.garcia-gomez@state.nm.us

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