The analysis of data collected during the planning and implementation of a school-based dental sealant program provides valuable information on the program’s overall performance and offers insight into areas needing improvement. Data analysis answers questions about the quality, cost-effectiveness, and significance of the program. Data shared with the state health department enables more accurate dental-sealant-surveillance reporting and needs assessment, which may enable additional funding opportunities. These issues are addressed in more detail in Step 10, Program Evaluation.
Data analysis can generate information on
- General demographics (e.g., age, gender, race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status).
- The program’s effectiveness in reaching populations at high risk for oral disease that lack access to care (e.g., populations with high level of untreated tooth decay, urgent oral health needs, emergent oral health needs, presence of dental sealants and restorations).
- The program’s effectiveness in targeting teeth that would benefit from sealants (e.g., grade levels targeted).
- The program’s effectiveness in reaching the target population (e.g., percentages of returned consent forms, students assessed, sealants placed).
- Services delivered (e.g., assessments, sealants placed, surfaces sealed, sealant retention, referrals, delivery of oral health education).
- Quality of services delivered (e.g., referrals that result in dental visits, retention rates).
- Costs (e.g., total cost, cost per assessment, cost per student who received sealants).
How the analysis is conducted depends on the way in which the data were collected. Data recorded in electronic format are more easily analyzed than paper-based data. SEALS and DentSeal software provides an interface for inputting data and automatically generates reports in
many of the areas listed above.