Providing Dental Services for HIDOE Students
The Hawaii Keiki – Hawaii Dental Service (HDS) Dental Sealant Program was developed in 2019 as a partnership between Hawaii Keiki: Healthy and Ready to Learn (HK) and the HDS Foundation. HK dental and nursing staff collaborate with the Hawaii Department of Education (DOE) to identify high need DOE elementary schools, and work with school administrators to organize dental screening and sealant days. The program launched in Oahu in 2020 and continues to expand with services now also offered in Maui and Kauai.
Dental assessment and sealants are provided at no cost to families and is supported by funds provided by the HDS. Parents must provide written consent to participate in this no cost program. The Program is school-based with screening and sealant application provided at the school to minimize the loss of class time.
The goal of the Dental Sealant Program is to improve the oral and overall health of children by increasing the number of children who receive oral health assessments, education and dental sealants within designated DOE schools.
In 2015, the Hawaii Smiles report documented that children in Hawaii have the highest prevalence of dental decay in the nation. In addition, more than 60% of children statewide did not have sealants on their permanent molars, increasing their risk for dental decay. Children with dental decay are known to miss more school days, have difficulty concentrating in school due to pain, and may also have difficulty eating and poor self-esteem compared to their peers without dental decay. Since the Dental Sealant program started in 2019 close to 1000 keiki have been screened. 61% of the keiki that were seen for a dental assessment needed and received sealants. The dental sealing team has sealed over 2000 teeth from 2019-2022.
Dental Sealant Program Staff
The Dental Sealant Program is staffed by licensed dentists and dental hygienists. The dental team is supported by the HK nurses in order to successfully provide each child with a dental screening followed by the application of dental sealants, as ordered by the dentist. All children receive individual oral health education, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss.
Children in need of additional dental services will be referred to their dentist and/or a provider in their community if they do not have a designated dentist.