Local dentists and dental hygienists will soon go on a sealant spree.

As part of Sealant Saturday, a statewide public dental health event, they will seal up children's back teeth for free in hopes of preventing future cavities, said Julie Polito, a dental hygienist and co-director for York's event.

The event is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Dental Hygienists' Association and Dentsply Professional of York.

February is Children's Dental Health Month, so giving free dental exams, sealants and education to children age 6 through 16 is a good way to stress the importance of oral health, she said.

This year's event will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22, at York County School of Technology, 2179 S. Queen St. in York Township.

No appointment is necessary, and kids will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis, Polito said.

How it works: Sealants are made from a resin material that seals off the grooves in a tooth's chewing surface so that bacteria can't get in as easily, she said. The procedure doesn't require injections or anesthesia, and a sealant can last for more than 10 years and is usually less than half the cost of a filling.

During the events, dentists will use sealants on permanent molars and premolars that have no cavities, she said.

They will also provide topical fluoride and, in the case of cavities, recommend further treatment.

The event is meant for kids who are uninsured or underinsured, but its ultimate purpose is to serve children in the community who are in need, Polito said.

"We won't turn anybody away," she said.

Why it matters: Across the state, 586 children were treated last year, and 101 sealants were given during York's four-hour event, Polito said.

"It was awesome," she said. "We had a great, great turnout last year."

This year, 21 dental hygiene educational and community health clinics will provide free dental exams for children in Pennsylvania.

In her third year with the York event, Polito said offering children these free services can make a big impact on their dental and overall health.

"This is probably the most rewarding part of my career ... I look forward to it every year," she said.

— Reach Mollie Durkin at mdurkin@yorkdispatch.com.