School Smile Program

“I had two separate parents tell me that they took their kids to the dentist and their dentist told them that they had planned to do sealants on their children, but they had already been done by the School Smile program and that they looked great! It is really great when the parents know that their kids are getting good dental treatment at school and they didn’t have to take time off work or their child did not have to leave school to get it done. I am looking forward to working with the program again next year!” -School Office Assistant

Problem Statement: The 2009 and 2014 Sonoma County Smile Surveys showed that over 50% of kindergarten and 3rd grade students have already experienced dental decay. Approximately 1 in 5 children have untreated decay, and some children are disproportionately affected by dental diseases. It is estimated that 80% of tooth decay is found in 25% of children ages 5 to 17, primarily those from low-income households. Untreated dental disease can affect overall health, nutrition and learning.

Goal of the Program: To decrease tooth decay among low-income children by increasing the number of low-income children receiving preventive services and accessing dental care.

Primary Activities: Dental health education, dental screenings, fluoride varnish, dental sealants, and referrals for care for grades K-6 in 4 Sonoma County schools.

Outcome Highlights:

  • Over 15,000 children received dental education since the program inception
  • Over 10,500 children receive dental screenings
  • Over 6,900 fluoride varnished placed
  • Over 9,500 dental sealants placed
  • Over 1,700 children referred for treatment of dental decay

Contact Information:

Program Manager: Kathy Kane, RDHAP
Phone 707-544-6911 x 1091

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The Sonoma Smile Survey of 2009 assessed the dental health of 1,483 kindergarten and 3rd grade students and was repeated in 2014 with a sampling of 1,582 students. A key finding with both surveys was that most children in Sonoma County do not have dental sealants, a well-accepted clinical intervention to prevent tooth decay on molar teeth. Dental Sealants are thin plastic coatings that are applied to the chewing surface of the tooth. Sealants prevent 60% of decay at one-third the cost of filling a cavity.

The Delta Dental Community Care Foundation funds Community Action Partnership to deliver the School Smile Program, which is currently in its 7th year of implementation. The program is working with 4 schools this year and has worked with a total of 12 schools in Sonoma County. Targeted program schools are those with greater than 50% student enrollment in the Free and Reduced Lunch Program.

The program conducts classroom education sessions and provides dental assessments, fluoride varnish, sealants, referrals, and case management. The key component of the program is providing dental sealants to children with newly erupted molars. In its first three years, the School Smile Program provided 5,072 sealants to 1,506 children.

St. Joseph Health currently partners with CAP to support the program’s implementation and provide additional treatment to children who are referred for needed care. Participating dental providers and referral offices are all within Sonoma County. All program providers undergo yearly training and evaluation. Quality assessments are done on a yearly basis to ensure program integrity.

The Sonoma County School Smile Program’s goal is to achieve the Oral Health Objectives set by Healthy People 2020 that are listed below:

  • OH-9.1 Increase the proportion of school-based health centers with an oral health component that includes dental sealants. Target 26.5%
  • OH-12 Increase the proportion of children and adolescents (age 6-9) who have received dental sealants on their molar teeth. Target 28.1%

We are excited to announce that the School Smile Program, a school-based sealant program for Sonoma County’s low-income elementary schools, has been awarded Upstream Portfolio Tier 1 recognition. The Upstream Portfolio is coordinated by the Sonoma County Human Services Department and recognizes promising and evidenced-based practices in the community. Tier 1 is the highest level of recognition, which requires programs or strategies to have a rigorous evidence-base. School-based sealant programs are recommended by the Community Preventive Services Task Force.

If you are a dental provider or community clinic that would like to participate in the School Smile Program in the 2020-21 school year, please email Kathy Kane at

SSP Final Report 2018-2019
SSP Final Report 2017-2018
SSP School Oral Health Report Card 2017-18 ALL
School Smile Program Final Report 2015-2016
SSP Program Oral Health Report Card 2015-2016
School Smile Program Final Report 2014-2015
Sealants Pilot Report 2013-2014