Championing Oral Health in Schools
School-based health centers provide access to a wide range of services, including primary medical care, mental/behavioral health care, dental care, health education, substance abuse counseling, case management and nutrition education. There are a number of advantages to offering health services in schools. It makes it easier for students to receive care because they don’t have to travel to an appointment. Parents do not have to take off time from work to bring their child to the health care provider, and students do not miss hours of school time sitting in a provider’s office.
There is a variety of opportunities for dental practitioners and others interested in the oral health of children to participate in school-based oral health programs and activities. Below is information on venues and resources.
Resources on School-Based Oral Health
Become A Champion For Oral Health
Community Advocate - Become an Oral Health Champion!
Become a champion for oral health! Dental professionals can advocate for children’s rights for good oral health by speaking on their behalf during proceedings such as school and Head Start Board meetings. Who better to provide testimony about oral health and issues that can negatively impact oral health than a dental professional? Engaging in conversation with school administrators, school nurses and teachers about oral health issues and recruiting stakeholders who understand or may be sympathetic to your message are also good ways to advocate for children’s oral health. Don’t pass up an opportunity to begin a conversation that addresses an issue and provides potential solutions and desired outcomes.
Oral Health Education in Schools
Oral Health Education in Schools - Planning a dental health event at your local school? Check out these resources
Numerous opportunities exist for dental professionals to educate the public about improving and maintaining oral health. Events such as National Children’s Dental Health Month, Give Kids a Smile events, school career days, and school and community health fairs provide excellent opportunities for dentists to provide students, teachers and parents to learn more about dental health. Contact your local school administrator or school nurse to learn about upcoming health related events and offer your services.
Head Start Programs
Head Start Programs - Discover more about Head Start Programs and Training Available for Early Childhood Professionals
Head Start Centers are dedicated to promoting school readiness for families with low incomes and their children from birth through age five. In addition to education and cognitive-development services, Head Start programs provide comprehensive services, including primary health, oral health, nutrition and social services. Contact the local Head Start Center administrator to discuss needs and how you can be involved in providing services.
School Screening Programs
School Screening Programs - Learn about common practices used to identify the oral health needs of schoolchildren
School screening programs help Identify the oral health needs of students. Dental screenings that include education, topical fluoride application and necessary referrals can have a positive effect on the oral health status of children. An important component of a school screening program is providing referrals to a dentist to establish a dental home and provide early intervention and/or restorative treatment. Contact the local school administrator, school nurse or public health department to learn whether there are any school screening programs in your area, how you can participate in an existing school screening program or introduce a screening program in your locality.
Prevention Services - Read about the numerous types of prevention services provided in school-based oral health programs
Providing prevention services including sealants, fluoride mouth rinse and fluoride varnish can aid in optimal dental health for children. Contact local school administrators, school nurses and the local public health department to learn about existing prevention programs and ways you can participate. If no program exists, contact the school administrator, school nurse or public health department to discuss the potential of starting a program.
School-Based Oral Health Programs
Comprehensive Services - Best Practices for Portable and Mobile Dental Programs
Portable and mobile dental services provide onsite dental preventive and restorative care for students at their school. Portable/mobile dental care improves students’ oral health by removing barriers to access to care. To participate in a mobile program, contact the local school administrator, school nurse or public health department to identify local mobile dental program providers. To start a program, contact the school administrator, school nurse or public health department for guidance in developing a mobile program.
School-Based Community Health Centers
School-Based Community Health Centers - Information about Community Health Center's efforts to provide dental services to schoolchildren
School-based Community Health Centers provide a comprehensive range of dental services that meet the oral health needs of schoolchildren in the community health care system. They improve access to care by providing preventive and/or restorative care directly to children and adolescents in the school setting. Contact the local community health center to determine how best to participate in their school-based oral health program. Advocate for a school-based oral health program if none exists.
For more information please contact:
Sharon (Sharee) R. Clough, RDH, MS Ed firstname.lastname@example.org
Manager, Preventive Health Activities
Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention