Evaluation of School-Based Dental Sealant Programs: An Updated Community Guide Systematic Economic Review


Systems and Industrial Engineering

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Context A recently updated Community Guide systematic review of the effectiveness of school sealant programs (SSPs) still found strong evidence that SSPs reduced dental caries among schoolchildren. This follow-up systematic review updates SSP cost and benefit information from the original 2002 review. Evidence acquisition Using Community Guide economic review methods, the authors searched the literature from January 2000 to November 20, 2014. The final body of evidence included 14 studies—ten from the current search and four with cost information from the 2002 review. Nine studies had information on SSP costs; six on sealant benefit (averted treatment costs and productivity losses); four on SSP net cost (cost minus benefit); and three on net cost to Medicaid of clinically delivered sealants. The authors imputed productivity losses and discounted costs/outcomes when this information was missing. The analysis, conducted in 2015, reported all values in 2014 U.S. dollars. Evidence synthesis The median one-time SSP cost per tooth sealed was $11.64. Labor accounted for two thirds of costs, and time to provide sealants was a major cost driver. The median annual economic benefit was $6.29, suggesting that over 4 years the SSP benefit ($23.37 at a 3% discount rate) would exceed costs by $11.73 per sealed tooth. In addition, two of four economic models and all three analyses of Medicaid claims data found that SSP benefit to society exceeded SSP cost. Conclusions Recent evidence indicates the benefits of SSPs exceed their costs when SSPs target schools attended by a large number of high-risk children.

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American Journal of Preventive Medicine

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