Hundreds of Baraboo and Portage students received free dental screenings and sealants during the past school year.
The Sauk County Seal-A-Smile program screened 496 Baraboo students, sealed 198 students’ teeth and applied a fluoride varnish to all students in the 2018-19 school year, according to the Baraboo School District.
Jessie Phalen, Sauk County public health nurse manager, said the local program has offered free dental services for the past decade to Sauk County school districts that have at least 35% of their students on free or reduced price lunch. It’s part of a partnership with the Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin, the state Department of Health Services and Delta Dental of Wisconsin.
Last year, the program saw pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade students in Baraboo, Phalen said, noting it’s not meant to replace regular visits with a dentist. The program will expand next school year to West Kindergarten Center, according to the district.
An affiliate of Wisconsin Seal-A-Smile, Seals-On-Wheels Oral Health Program provided almost $30,000 worth of services to Portage middle school students this year, said Assistant District Administrator Peter Hibner. It screened and applied a fluoride varnish to roughly 120 students and sealed almost 300 teeth for 98 students. Eighteen children had “early dental care needs” addressed.
“The intent is to get services to people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access them,” Hibner said.
Portage schools had been working with Cindy Seubert of Seubert Family Dentistry for years before transitioning recently to Seals-On-Wheels. Seubert “was instrumental” in bringing free dental care to Portage children, Hibner said.
Seals-On-Wheels provides screenings, cleanings, fluoride and sealants for pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade students — whether or not they have insurance — in southern Wisconsin districts, according to its website. Medicaid contributes to the cost of toothbrushes and other supplies.
According to the Children’s Health Alliance, 80% of cavities in back teeth can be prevented by dental sealants and 20% of third-graders in the state have a preventable but untreated dental disease.