Schools served by SEAL Minnesota

Schools/children served by SEAL Minnesota grantees by:

Dental sealants can prevent tooth decay and cavities

Dental sealants are a thin plastic coating applied to the chewing surfaces of molar teeth to protect against tooth decay and cavities. Other teeth with pits and grooves such as premolars can be sealed. Dental sealants may also stop the tooth decay process in teeth that show signs of decay (change in color, glossiness, or surface structure), but do not yet have a cavity.

Evidence-based clinical guidance from the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry strongly recommend dental sealants for all children, especially when their first permanent molars appear (see American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Report: Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for the use of pit and fissure sealants [pdf]). First permanent molars appear between the ages of 5 and 7 years. Second permanent molars appear between the ages of 11 and 14 years.

SEAL Minnesota provides equitable care to children enrolled in public schools

SEAL Minnesota is a statewide school sealant program provided through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to:

  • Increase the number of high-need schools in Minnesota served by dental sealant programs.
  • Increase the number of Minnesota children ages 6 to 14 receiving dental sealants on one or more of their permanent molars through school sealant programs.

Challenges to access including dental workforce shortages, time away from school, lack of dental insurance, and transportation may prevent children from getting necessary dental care. School sealant programs (SSPs) provide equitable care to children enrolled in public schools where they live, learn, and play by increasing access to preventive oral health services including oral health screenings, dental cleanings, fluoride varnish, dental sealants, oral hygiene instruction, dental referrals, and case management. SSPs may also distribute oral hygiene products such as toothbrush kits.

When programs at a sufficient capacity target high-need public schools, overall state rates of tooth decay in children should decrease over time. This is measured during the 5-year Basic Screening Survey for Third Graders.

High-need public schools for the purposes of this program are defined as elementary or middle schools with a physical location (1) in a rural area (defined by rural urban commuting area-zip code), and/or (2) in a Dental Health Professional Shortage Area, and/or (3) has 50% or greater student free/reduced price meal program eligibility (a measure of the concentration of low-income households in a school environment).

SEAL Minnesota grantees increased schools served by 27 percent

During the 2019-2020 school year, eleven providers were awarded grants under SEAL Minnesota to provide dental sealants and other preventive care services to children in Minnesota public schools.

In total, SEAL Minnesota grantees reached 206 schools, 186 were KG-12 public schools (of 1,644 total public schools) and 20 were other school types such as private or church-affiliated schools, alternative learning centers, and schools within juvenile detention centers. In general, it is more cost-effective for SSPs to provide services to all participating schools within a geographically bound service area, rather than selecting schools solely based on public school status, rural location, or high free/reduced price lunch eligibility.

In 2019-2020, SEAL Minnesota grantees increased the total schools served by SSPs by 27% from baseline (108 schools during 2016-2017 and 147 schools during 2019-2020). On March 18, 2020, statewide school closures occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This affected school sealant providers’ ability to perform dental services in schools.


Schools served by Minnesota SEAL grantees by need-based criteria, 2019-2020


Source: Minnesota Department of Health, Oral Health Program. SEAL Minnesota.

SEAL Minnesota grantees provided services in 178 public schools meeting the target age criteria for sealant placement (out of 1,404 KG-8 public schools) (12.7%). Of those, 147 met the definition of high-need (of 1,116 possible high need schools) (13.2%):

  • 28 were in high free and reduced price lunch (FRPL) eligibility schools only (out of 412 schools) (6.8%).
  • 81 were in rural localities only (out of 602 rural schools) (13.5%).
  • 124 were in schools located in Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas (Dental HPSA) (out of 915 schools) (13.6%)
  • 147 were in schools with high FRPL eligibility, rural, or within a Dental HPSA (out of 1,116) (13.2%)

Children screened by Minnesota SEAL grantees by oral health assessment, 2019-2020


Source: Minnesota Department of Health, Oral Health Program. SEAL Minnesota.

During 2019-2020, 6,107 children received an oral health assessment. Of those children screened:

  • 6.2% had an urgent dental need
  • 21.1% had treated decay
  • 35.3% had untreated decay
  • 52.5% were referred to a dentist for treatment

SEAL Minnesota grantees, also provided the following services to children:

10,241 children attended chairside and or group education sessions. 95.5% of children received fluoride varnish. 39.2% of children received a dental sealant.