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 organize the dental screening of students as required by state regulations.

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:

  • Free Oral Health Education Resources (2020) The National Children’s Oral Health Foundation, through their website America’s Tooth Fairy, provides resources for teachers, including lesson plans, posters, and activity sheets.
  • 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.
  • Children’s Dental Health Books. This resource from the University of Maryland Health Sciences Library lists books about oral health for children under age 7.
  • Dentalcare.com Lesson Plans: ready-made oral health lesson plans including teaching guides, classroom experiments and more from Crest/Oral-B.