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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) – Free and low cost dental services provided to kids and their parents have saved the state millions of dollars.

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More than 65 percent of county health offices provide School-Based Sealant Programs that offer preventive dental services at no cost to schools, parents or children.

In 2014, the programs provided sealants to nearly 37,000 children. Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings applied to the grooves on the chewing surfaces of molar teeth and are 86 percent effective in preventing tooth decay.

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Dental sealants performed by the department were analyzed for cost effectiveness by comparing the cost of receiving one dental sealant to the cost of one dental filling on an unsealed tooth.

Dental sealants are cost effective. Every $1 invested in dental sealants applied by county health department dental programs yields $1.88 in dental treatment savings, according to state health officials.

The Florida Department of Health says cost savings over three years for 36,955 children receiving one dental sealant is more than $2.3 million.

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