Oral Health Information for Teachers & Schools

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

Teachers and schools 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 Nurse Teachers Should Do

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

  • Use the Rhode Island School Dental Screening Form (English) (Spanish) to document results for students screened by the school dentist.
  • Make a copy of the Rhode Island School Dental Screening Form to notify parent/guardian of student who may have a dental problem and need dental care.
  • Report aggregate data only for grades K, 3, and 6 (if 6th grade is screened) to HEALTH. All RI school nurse teachers (SNT) should have information on the web link to the RI School Dental Screening Reporting Form. If you are a School Nurse Teacher and if you do not have information about the online reporting form, please contact Junhie Oh, Oral Health Epidemiologist.

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 BASICS (Building Active Strategies to Inform Children in School) is a health education program for children in elementary and middle school. The bilingual program consists of brochures for children, lesson plans for classroom use, and a parent's guide to each topic.
  • Healthy Teeth is an oral education database built upon the science of oral health and designed for elementary grades 3 - 6. It features animated graphics, easy-to-understand text, simple classroom experiments, and more.

School-Based Dental Programs

Rhode Island's school-based dental programs provide oral health education and access to preventive services, such as cleanings and dental sealants. more