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Delta Dental grant enhances state SEALS program

Delta Dental continues their generous support of dental initiatives in Wisconsin with a gift of $90,000 to Marshfield Clinic. delta dental logo

This grant will be used to redesign the current software application used to evaluate school sealant programs. The updated software supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Sealant Efficiency Assessment for Locals and States (CDC SEALS) program in Wisconsin.

SEALS software helps states and communities evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of their school dental sealant programs. Sealants are thin plastic coatings applied to the tiny grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, where most tooth decay in children and teens occurs. Sealants protect the chewing surfaces from decay by keeping germs and pieces of food out.

The new software program the Clinic will design will make recording, sharing and analyzing data more efficient, said Amit Acharya, B.D.S, M.S., Ph.D., Dental Informatics Scientist and principal investigator for the project.

"The software used now is just a snapshot in time; we want to create a mechanism for tracking the children in the program from year to year," Dr. Acharya said. "We want the data to show that the effort put into this successful program is valuable."

Access to dental care is a serious problem in Wisconsin. The state's Seal-A-Smile program works to reduce oral-health problems among school-age children.

"Tooth decay is the single most common childhood problem, five times more common than asthma," said Dr. Acharya. "Sealants can protect children from preventable dental decay,"

The SEALS redesign project is an initiative to improve the data collection and reporting functionality found in the current CDC SEALS application.

"The Wisconsin Oral Health Program is proud to be partnering with Marshfield Clinic Research Institute (MCRI) in the development of a comprehensive tool to capture treatment and needs of Wisconsin children in our school-based sealant programs," said State Dental Director Jeffrey Chaffin, D.D.S. "These kids often have severe dental needs, and the ability to monitor their needs and treatment will improve the efficiencies of the program. MCRI has the unique resources to help us achieve this goal."

Marshfield Clinic has a long relationship with Delta Dental. MCRI​'s Biomedical Informatics Research Center (BIRC) has experience on similar software design projects, which led to the work on the SEALS project.

"The Wisconsin Seal-A-Smile program has become one of the most highly recognized and effective sealant programs in the country," said Dr. Frederick Eichmiller, vice president and science officer at Delta Dental of Wisconsin. "We are very fortunate to have a world-class dental informatics team we can call on to build the data management system to serve this program. Wisconsin's Seal-A-Smile program continues to be an excellent example of state, private, and public health collaboration and this project will make it even better."

Delta Dental's contribution for the project is a great asset in helping provide quality dental care.

"Delta Dental continues to be an amazing partner and we are grateful for their generous support of our dental efforts," Teri Wilczek, chief Development officer.

The project team at BIRC will collaborate on this project with Delta Dental of Wisconsin, Children's Health Alliance of Wisconsin and the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services.