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. Our goal is to engage national oral health advocates and policymakers in a long-term effort to integrate these services into the ten largest U.S. school districts. We believe that schools can serve as vital conduits for oral health care resources.
To date, the Alliance has laid a solid foundation for collaboration between school districts and national oral health experts. We have conducted research, key informant interviews, and in-person meetings with seven of the top ten districts’ most important oral health stakeholders. 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.