School sealant programs (SSPs) effectively provide preventive oral health services to children who are at higher risk of developing cavities and less likely to receive private dental care, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
However, many SSPs have been suspended as school districts have moved to virtual instruction and enacted other infection control practices because of the pandemic. To help schools resume their SSPs, the CDC has released Considerations for School Sealant Programs During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic.
These guidelines are intended to aid oral health programs that conduct SSPs, dental healthcare personnel (DHCP) who provide direct oral health services, and school administrators as they prepare to implement SSPs during the pandemic while protecting the health, safety, and well-being of students, teachers, staff, and DHCP.
Regardless of setting, the CDC said, dental healthcare facilities should continue to apply the updated Guidance for Dental Settings as well as the guidance found in the Framework for Healthcare Systems Providing Non-COVID-19 Clinical Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic as they make determinations for providing dental care.
Dental settings should balance the need to provide necessary services while minimizing risk to patients and DHCP, said the CDC, which added that it provides up-to-date information about infection prevention and control practices on its COVID-19 page.
Also, the CDC said, DHCP should stay informed and regularly consult with their state or local health department for region-specific information and recommendations and should monitor trends in local case counts and deaths, especially for populations at higher risk for severe illness.
As a reminder, the CDC continued, DHCP are licensed by their state regulatory body and should practice according to their state dental practice acts or other relevant regulations.