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Dental sealants (Medicaid children)

Dental sealant service use among Medicaid eligible children by:


Dental sealants can prevent tooth decay and cavities

A dental sealant is a thin plastic coating most commonly applied to the biting surfaces of premolars and molars (8 back teeth) to prevent tooth decay and cavities. Other teeth with pits and grooves 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 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 Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for the use of pit and fissure sealants: a report of the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry [pdf]). First permanent molars (also known as “6-year molars”) appear at ages 5 through 7 years. Second permanent molars (also known as “12-year molars”) appear at ages 11 through 14 years.


Child and Teen Checkups (C&TC) Program offers oral screenings, dental disease prevention, and referrals for yearly well-child care health and dental visits to children enrolled in Medicaid and other Minnesota Health Care Programs

Child and Teen Checkups (C&TC) is Minnesota’s Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) Program—a federal program required in every state to provide children enrolled in a Medicaid or public health insurance program with yearly well-child care health and dental visits.

Children eligible for Minnesota’s C&TC services include all children under the age of 21 enrolled in a Medicaid or Children Health Insurance (CHIP) expansion program (Medical Assistance) or MinnesotaCare (collectively called Minnesota Health Care Programs).

The following is based on data from the CMS-416 Report, which records dental sealant service use among children ages 6 to 14 years enrolled in Medicaid and other state health insurance programs. This data includes paid, unpaid, and denied fee-for-service claims and encounter data for at least one dental sealant placement on a permanent molar tooth among children enrolled in a Minnesota Health Care Program for at least 90 continuous days during the federal fiscal year (October 1 through September 30). Minnesota Health Care Programs pays for dental sealants only on permanent molar teeth (4 furthest back teeth, not wisdom teeth).

Dental sealants are provided by any oral health professional for whom placing a sealant is within their scope of practice (e.g., dentist, dental hygienist with a collaborative agreement). For more information visit: About the Data: Child and Teen Checkups Program (CMS-416) Report.


Many children are not receiving recommended dental sealants

During federal fiscal year 2015, about 1 out of 10 Minnesota C&TC eligible children (13 percent) ages 6 to 14 years had at least one dental sealant placed on a permanent molar tooth. This includes the 6 to 9 year old first permanent molar group (15 percent) and the 10 to 14 year old second permanent molar group (11 percent).

1 out of every 10
C&TC eligible children (6 to 14 years) (12.7%)

Have at least one dental sealant on a permanent molar tooth
FFY 2015


There is no major difference in dental sealant rates by race and ethnicity

Permanent molar dental sealant placement among Child and Teen Checkup (C&TC) eligible children by race and ethnicity, federal fiscal year 2015

Source: Minnesota Department of Human Services. Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (CMS-416) Report.
Race and ethnicity Number of C&TC eligible children
(6 to 14 years)
Number of C&TC eligible children
(6 to 14 years) with
at least one dental sealant placed on a permanent molar tooth
Percent C&TC eligible children
(6 to 14 years) with at least one dental sealant placed on a permanent molar tooth within race and ethnicity groups (row percent)
95% Confidence Interval
White 107,811 12,237 11.5% 11.2 to 11.5
African American or Black 46,913 6,306 13.5% 13.1 to 13.8
American Indian/
Alaska Native
7,692 826 10.8% 10.0 to 11.4
Asian or Pacific Islander 15,773 2,194 14.1% 13.4 to 14.4
Hispanic/Latino 31,635 5,114 16.2% 15.8 to 16.6
Mixed Race 13,237 1,064 12.1% 11.6 to 12.7

Data include Child and Teen Checkup (C&TC) eligible children enrolled in a Minnesota Health Care Program for at least 90-continuous days during the federal fiscal year (FFY) (October 1 through September 30). Total eligible children (6 to 14 years) enrolled during FFY 2015 with a known single race and ethnicity or mixed race = 223,061 Unknown or missing race and ethnicity (not shown in this chart) = 3,426 with at least one dental sealant of 27,535 eligible.

A dental sealant is a thin plastic coating applied to the biting surfaces of molars (back teeth) to prevent tooth decay and cavities. Data is based on all unduplicated counts of paid, unpaid, and denied claims submitted for reimbursement from fee-for-service providers, managed care plans, Indian Health Services, and Federally Qualified Health Centers that contract with the Minnesota Department of Human Services. This chart represents percent dental sealant placement within race and ethnicity groups (row percentages). See About the Data: Child and Teen Checkups Program (CMS-416) Report for more information.

Regardless of race and ethnicity, dental sealant rates for C&TC eligible children ages 6 to 14 years remained low in federal fiscal year 2015.


Dental sealant rates by county

Child & Teen Checkup Eligible Children (6 to 14 years) Dental Sealant Placement, federal fiscal year 2015

County map image Child & Teen Checkup Eligible Children (6 to 14 years) Dental Sealant Placement and link to PDF of the same

Child and Teen Checkup eligible children include all children enrolled in a Minnesota Health Care Program (Medical Assistance or Medicaid, MNCare) for at least 90-continuous days during the federal fiscal year (FFY) (Oct. 1 through Sept. 30). Total eligible children (6 to 14 years) enrolled during FFY 2015 = 246,770. A dental sealant is a thin plastic coating applied to the biting surfaces of molars (back teeth) to prevent tooth decay and cavities. Data is based on all unduplicated counts of paid, unpaid, and denied claims submitted for reimbursement from fee-for-service providers, managed care plans, Indian Health Services, and Federally Qualified Health Centers that contract with the Minnesota Department of Human Services. See About the Data: Child and Teen Checkups Program (CMS-416) Report for more information.

During federal fiscal year 2015, C&TC eligible children in Olmstead County (18 percent) had the highest dental sealant rate and C&TC eligible children in Rock County (6 percent) had the lowest dental sealant rate.