Oral Health Information for School Nurses & Teachers

An estimated 51 million school hours per year are lost because of dental problems. Oral health problems can also result in failure to thrive, impaired speech development, and reduced self-esteem. Students may have trouble concentrating and learning and be unlikely to score as well on tests as children who are not distracted by pain. more

School Nurses and teachers can promote oral health by educating students and parents about good health habits and about the services available in school-based oral health programs. Teachers can also help interested students pursue oral health careers.

What School Nurses Should Do

Oversee and undertake a dental survey of students to be performed by parents for 2021 considering the challenges of COVID-19 and schools.

  • Use the Rhode Island School Dental Survey. Request edit access by clicking lower right- response should take one business day. ┬áMake a copy and SAVE to your google drive. Place your school name and district at the top where indicated.
  • Email link your edited survey to parents to complete. In addition to collecting data, this will provide helpful information for those who may not have a dentist
  • When complete, download the spreadsheet. Report aggregate data only for grades K, 3, and 6 (if 6th grade is surveyed) to the Department of Health using the online 2020-21 RI School Dental Survey Reporting FormMORE
  • Reach back to parents who indicate their child has need and they may not have a dentist. Use the RIDOH Find Dental Care link to find a dentist or Find a Dentist on the UHC RIte Smiles page.
  • Watch a 15-minute video for more information about this process. Contact us if you need help with the online reporting form or in finding a dentist.
  • Traditional dental screenings by school dentists will resume for schools in the 2021-22 school year as routinely required. Resources will be updated at that time. Schools wishing to do traditional screenings in 2020-21 may do so but are encouraged to do the survey as well.

Learn more about SEAL RI! school-based dental program that provides oral health education and access to preventative services, such as cleanings and dental sealants.

Use the provided Dental Trauma Decision Tree to screen oral injuries and refer to additional clinical care as necessary.

What Teachers Should Do

The classroom provides a great opportunity to teach children about the importance of oral health and how to stay healthy. Many websites have activity sheets and enjoyable experiments to help children learn about the importance of good oral health. These include:

  • Oral Health Educational Tools and Resources (2005) is divided into four main sections: Resources for Teachers, Resources for Families and the General Public, Resources for Young Children through Teens, and Oral Health Story Books for Children.
  • Classroom Ideas & Resources is provided by the American Dental Association to help teachers plan dental health-related presentations, lessons, hands-on activities, and more.
  • Healthy & Ready to Learn; Manageable health conditions can keep kids from doing well in school and set them back for life. Children's Health Fund is committed to identifying and treating these Health Barriers to Learning so that every child has a chance to succeed in school and in life.