State officials say a dental sealant program, which recently got a $1.5 million boost from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant, could set the foundation for good dental health.
The West Virginia Oral Health Program will receive $310,600 annually for five years.
The program stems from 2009 efforts by the Appalachian Regional Commission, Claude W. Benedum Foundation and Marshall University, explained Jason Roush, state dental director for the West Virginia Oral Health Program.
Roush said the state's oral health plan made sealant programs an objective in 2010.
"WVDHHR has been a partner in these efforts since 2009 and this is an opportunity for statewide expansion and sustainability," Roush said. "This program is the first step in that direction."
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, dental sealants are "thin plastic coatings that protect the surfaces of children's back teeth from tooth decay."
A report released earlier this year from The PEW Center on the States gave a C to West Virginia for dental sealants.
The report said 25 percent to 49 percent of the state's high-need schools had sealant programs and the goal is to reach 75 percent or more.