A key indicator for measuring dental-sealant quality is retention rate. Sealant quality can be measured by checking short-term retention rates, 1-year retention rates, or both. Both measures serve important purposes.(portable dental turbine unit)
Short-Term Retention Checks
A sample of students who receive dental sealants as part of a school-based dental sealant program can be evaluated a few days or weeks after sealant application to ensure that the dental sealants are intact, adequately cover the occlusal pits and fissures, and have marginal integrity. The proportion of students checked and the frequency with which they are checked varies from program to program. Conducting short-term retention checks can be an effective way to evaluate staff performance, identify needed protocol changes, and determine the adequacy of material and equipment used. Short-term retention checks offer an opportunity to correct problems with sealant-application techniques, material, and equipment. This type of retention checks can be especially useful in evaluating the performance of a new operator.
Yearly Retention Checks
Yearly retention checks can begin in the second year of the program and should occur yearly thereafter for as many students as possible. One-year retention rates of properly applied sealants should be high, averaging between 80 percent and 90 percent.2,6
For programs that provide dental sealants for second- and sixth-grade students, retention checks typically involve checking third-grade students who received dental sealants the year before. Upon graduation from sixth grade, many students change schools, making retention checks difficult. If good tracking systems are in place, after the fourth year of a program sixth-grade students can also be checked, thus documenting 4-year retention rates of dental sealants that were placed when these students were in second grade.
To perform yearly retention checks, advance preparation is required. First, student records from the previous year need to be retrieved from storage. Using third-grade class lists, students who received dental sealants the previous year can be identified. New room numbers should be marked on student records before the program is next scheduled to operate in the school, and the records should be taken to the school when the program operates. If electronic records are being used, a list of third-grade students with room numbers will need to be generated.
As resources allow, retention checks should be completed on as many students as possible. A space should be available on the student record to indicate retention check results.