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Selecting Supplies and Equipment

Selecting Supplies and Equipment

Portable Dental Equipment

The other and most widely used equipment option for school-based dental sealant programs is portable dental equipment. The type and amount of portable dental equipment needed depends upon the size of the program (e.g., the number of students receiving dental sealants), the number of dentists and dental hygienists applying sealants, and the type of sealant material used (e.g., self-cure, light-cure).

Portable equipment allows for a great deal of mobility, making it possible to take preventive oral health services directly to students in their schools. It is relatively inexpensive to purchase, does not require special utilities or construction to operate, and is easily transported by car or other vehicle.

Like other mobile oral-health-care-delivery systems, portable equipment is not without its drawbacks. Some of these include

  • More time and effort is required to pack and unpack supplies and equipment each time the school-based dental sealant program moves to a new school.
  • Available space for implementing the program may be difficult to find in the school; may be in high-traffic locations such as hallways, gyms, or auditoriums; or may be located far from classrooms, requiring students to be escorted to and from the program site.
  • Environmental issues such as the lighting, temperature, and humidity in the designated room or space are more difficult to control.
  • Biomedical-waste-disposal arrangements must be made each time the program moves to a new school.
  • Moving equipment from school to school increases the likelihood that equipment can be damaged.

School-based dental sealant programs typically use multiple pieces of portable dental equipment. Most programs purchase portable equipment from a variety of manufacturers.

Portable dental equipment may vary more in cost and quality than traditional dental equipment. School-based dental sealant program administrators, therefore, must be informed consumers. Be sure to ask equipment manufacturer about warranties, training, maintenance requirements, parts availability, timeliness of repair, issues with making minor repairs on site, and availability of loaner units when necessary repairs are being done. Other important issues to discuss that are relevant to transporting equipment from school to school are differences in weight among the brands or models and availability and durability of packing cases or systems.

Before purchasing equipment, program directors may wish to ask manufacturers for contact information for recent customers and to ask these customers about their experience with the equipment. Also, manufacturers often exhibit at public health conferences, where potential purchasers can test equipment and determine its weight and size and whether staff will be able to lift it.