Eruption pattern of permanent molars: implications for school-based dental sealant programs.
Dental caries remains a prevalent, chronic disease of childhood. The preponderance of dental caries is located on the pit and fissure surfaces of teeth, an area where dental sealants are most effective in preventing this malady. In the school year 1987-88, 4,879 Ohio schoolchildren participated in an assessment of dental health. Grades chosen for this assessment included 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, and 11. This study focuses on eruption of first and second permanent molars in development of a timing strategy for placement of occlusal sealants in a school-based program. An eruption score was developed for the determination of the first or second molar eruption status for each child. The data were analyzed for grade, sex, race, locale, fluoridation status, and percent of children on free or reduced-cost lunch programs. Analyses were performed on 2,215 children in grades 1-3 and 1,840 children in grades 6-8. Fifty-seven percent of first graders had all first permanent molars sufficiently erupted for sealant placement on the occlusal surface. Likewise, 23.6 percent of sixth graders had sufficient occlusal exposure on the second molar. Females showed an earlier eruption pattern than males for both first (P less than .05) and second (P less than .001) molars. Black children preceded white children only in the eruption of the second molar (P less than .001). This study provides dental public health decision makers with state-specific information on the earliest time to initiate a school-based occlusal sealant program.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)