Health Policy

Comparison of number and mean charge between dental sealants and one-surface restorations.

Kuthy, R.A.; Clive, J.M.
1992 Summer

Abstract

An important concern of the insurer is how sealants, if a covered benefit, will affect the premium. Important factors that may have an influence on determining the premium include the decline in caries rate coupled with the long-term cost to an insurer for sealants vs one-surface restorations. In this study of more than 1 million dentally insured children (aged 5-15), the mean charge ($) for sealants and one-surface restorations was determined, along with the frequency of these procedures, by patient age. For this group of children, 43 percent of one-surface restorations occurred between ages 12-14, whereas 32 percent of the patients received sealants at either 7 or 8 years of age. States varied substantially in the number of sealants as a percentage of the number of restorations. Only three states had more sealants placed than one-surface, posterior restorations. Three states had an annual increase in the ratio of sealant to restoration charge, while 13 states had an annual decrease. With the exclusion of a few states with a minimum number of sealants and restorations in 1988, the highest ratio of the cost of sealants to the cost of one-surface restorations was observed in New York (.60) and New Jersey (.56) and the lowest observed in Kansas and Utah (.37). The ratios for both New York and New Jersey were lower in 1988 than in the previous two years. The ratio of the number of one-surface, posterior restorations to the population served was approximately the same for each NIDR region in the contiguous United States. Alaska and Hawaii had a higher proportion.