Innovation in School-Based Oral Health Services

About the Innovation in School-Based Oral Health Services Initiative

Future Smiles girl brushes her teeth.Tooth decay is the most prevalent and preventable chronic disease of children in the United States, and lower-income and minority children experience higher-than-average rates. In 2015, the School-Based Health Alliance set out to increase children’s access to oral health services in schools with our “Innovation in School-Based Oral Health Services” initiative, supported by the DentaQuest Foundation.

Project Description

Through an online learning collaborative and in-person meetings, the Alliance will engage seven of the largest U.S. school districts in the development and advancement of promising practices and innovative strategies in school oral health services. In addition, the Alliance will partner with national oral health experts to: (1) define the core components of school oral health, (2) identify standardized measures of outcomes, and (3) identify and distribute successful policy, finance, and sustainability strategies for school oral health programs.

As we move forward with DentaQuest’s broader Oral Health 2020 initiative, we hope to not only improve oral health outcomes for children in these districts, but also spread the policy and program innovations throughout the nation to achieve greater health equity for all children and adolescents.

Project Updates

The School-Based Health Alliance Announces a New School Oral Health Resource (Winter 2018)

The School-Based Health Alliance is pleased to announce the launch of the School Oral Health Resource Library. With the help of our partners – Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors, Children’s Dental Health Project, National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center, and Oral Health America—this library serves as an access point to resources from reputable oral health organizations and programs. This platform simplifies and streamlines the search and identification of relevant resources for all who are engaged in school oral health at the national, state, and local levels.

Read more about the resource library.

The information and tools are organized around eight components of school oral health: education; screening and risk assessments; preventive care; care coordination; cleaning, exams and treatments; integrated services; data and program evaluation; and sustainability.

The School-Based Health Alliance wants to continue to grow this resource. School oral health programs and professionals are encouraged to submit additional tools and resources. To submit resources, please use the New Resource Submission Form. If you have any questions, please email Nataki Duncan at

To learn about the current resources in the library, the Alliance is sponsoring a webinar featuring two of the national contributors – Smart Mouth Smart Kids and the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center. Please join the webinar, “Introducing the School Oral Health Resource Library: A Tool to Strengthen and Connect the Oral Health Community to Resources”, on January 25, 2018 at 2 pm EST to explore the School Oral Health Resource Library and the resource submission process. Register here today!

Keeping the Community Feeling Alive: Alliance Conducts “Booster Visits” (Winter 2016/2017)

The School-Based Health Alliance is on the road, visiting school district teams at their home bases. Dubbed “booster visits,” these trips are an opportunity for school district leaders and their team of stakeholders to review the Model for Improvement, the PDSA cycle, and their work plans.

Read more about the booster visits.

The visits are planned in conjunction with the school district, allowing for a customized agenda that may include bringing in other experts on a topic of choice, such as data collection, school engagement, or policy and sustainability. The booster visits are also a way to reconnect with our incredible teams, and meet their partners and stakeholders.

National Partners Create Online Oral Health Resource Library (Winter 2016)

In its first year of working towards the goal of incorporating oral health into the primary education system, the School-Based Health Alliance heard from the field that it was challenging to find information related to school oral health. Tools, information, and resources were scattered throughout the web. A dedicated web-based access point for all available resources related to children’s oral health and school oral health services was needed.

Read more about the web-based resource library.

Together with our national partners ‒ the Association for State and Territorial Dental Directors, the Children’s Dental Health Project, the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center, and Oral Health America ‒  the Alliance built an online resource library. The library is organized around the key components of school oral health and allows visitors to link directly to the sources of content. The library is currently in beta version with an expected launch in Summer 2017.

Alliance, Oral Health 2020 Network Host National Convening (Fall 2016)

In September 2016, the School-Based Health Alliance and the Oral Health (OH) 2020 Network hosted a national convening focusing on the OH 2020 goal of incorporating oral health into the primary education system.

Read more about the national convening.

The initial part of the three-day convening focused on emerging and promising practices in the field, barriers to incorporating oral health into schools, and building consensus around a definition for school oral health. The Alliance believes that a uniform definition for “school oral health” will allow for future standardization of data collection and outcome measures, which will demonstrate value and ensure quality in oral health programs.

The second half of the convening allowed members of the School Oral Health Learning Community to share innovative ideas to improve consent and utilization of school oral health programs, develop action plans, and strengthen connections to the broader OH 2020 Network.

Alliance, National Oral Health Partners Develop Draft “Core Components of School Oral Health”

The School-Based Health Alliance along with its collaborating oral health partners, the Association for State and Territorial Dental Directors, the Children’s Dental Health Project, the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center, and Oral Health America, have developed a draft document outlining the core components of school oral health.

Read more about the school oral health core components.

The draft document was presented to participants at the Oral Health 2020 Network national convening where they were discussed, debated, and ultimately agreed upon by the attendees.

The core components include:

  • Education
  • Screening & Risk Assessment
  • Preventive Care
  • Care Coordination
  • Cleaning, Exams & Treatment
  • Integrated Services

The final Core Components of School Oral Health will be released in Summer 2017.

The Learning Community Welcomes Five New Districts (Spring 2016)

Through support from The Duke Endowment, the Alliance announced that five new school districts have joined the School Oral Health Learning Community. The newest teams from North and South Carolina bring the total number of participating districts to 12.

Read more about the five new districts.

Districts supported by the Duke Endowment include:

  • Montgomery County School District, NC
  • Clarendon County School District One, SC
  • Clarendon County School District Two, SC
  • Dillon School District Four, SC
  • Allendale School District, SC

Alliance Launches School Oral Health Learning Community (Spring 2016)

The School-Based Health Alliance is excited to announce that all seven school districts invited to participate in the Innovations in School Oral Health Services initiative have accepted. These seven school districts make up the School Oral Health Learning Community, a collaborative effort to increase consent rates and use of school oral health services in their school districts.

Read more about the seven school districts.

Members of the School Oral Health Learning Community include:

  • Los Angeles Unified School District, CA
  • Clark County School District, NV
  • Houston Independent School District, TX
  • Chicago Public Schools, IL
  • Miami-Dade County Public Schools, FL
  • Hillsborough County School District, FL
  • New York City Public Schools, NY