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School-Based Oral Health Services​

Strengthening School Oral Health Services and Growing the School Oral Health Learning Community

From 2015 to 2020, the DentaQuest Foundation funded the School-Based Alliance’s work in school-based oral health.  We set out to increase children’s access to oral health services in schools, targeting the ten largest U. S. school districts, creating the School Oral Health Learning Community, launched in 2016. The Duke Endowment supported six additional school districts in North and South Carolina at the beginning of the initiative. The Arkansas Children’s Hospital supported three school districts, and they joined the School Oral Health Learning Community in Year 2 of the initiative. Together, we created a learning community where we focused on increasing consent and innovative policy and program innovations to achieve greater oral health equity for students.

Kids hold toothbrushes in front of a school-based health clinic


School Oral Health Resources Library: Created In 2018

School Oral Health Resource Library  With our partners’ help – 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 engaged in school oral health at the national, state, and local levels.

White Papers

School Oral Health: An Organizational Framework to Improve Outcomes for Children and Adolescents depicts the shared vision of the school oral health field, starting with a framework for how communities can organize the partners, policies, programs, services, and curricula necessary to achieve better and more equitable oral health outcomes. The work comes from key thought leaders in children’s oral health: public health professionals associations and academic and advocacy organizations such as the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD), the American Association for Community Dental Programs, the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center, and the World Health Organization.

During the initiative, the work focused on developing innovative strategies to achieve higher rates of positive consent for oral health services in each school district, many of whom have reported less than the national average for consent rates. Without higher consent rates, there was a concern for program utilization and children getting the care they need and the impact on sustainability. Confronting the Consent Conundrum: Lessons from a School Oral Health Learning Community showcases several ideas that resulted in increased positive parental consent for school oral health services.

A girl brushes her teeth image

School Oral Health Playbook

The Playbook guides individuals and communities to help improve oral health services and outcomes for the school-age population. It provides links to school oral health strategies, champions, models, resources, and programs. The Playbook meets you where you are and helps you on your journey to improve school-age children’s oral health.

The School-Oral Health Playbook organizes the material around three areas:

  1. Why we need increased oral health services for all our children;
  2. How one might start a program or improve on existing efforts; and
  3. What programs exist, and what lessons can we learn from their successes and challenges.

Oral health and overall health are connected. When the mouth is healthy, the body is more likely to be healthy, too.