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Oral Health Risk Assessments for Children

posted on Tue, Nov 11 2014 2:56 pm by Network for Public Health Law

The Network was recently contacted by a manager at a company that provides dental health services in rural areas who asked for information on guidance or policy on mandatory oral health risk assessments for kids entering kindergarten.

The Network researched the question and found three states that require (or used to require) an oral assessment.

In 2005, California enacted a requirement that kindergarten or first grade students show proof of an oral health exam. However, in 2009, that requirement was made optional. In contrast, in Iowa, elementary and high school students must undergo an oral health exam.  More information on the requirement is available from the Iowa Department of Public Health. Illinois law requires children in kindergarten, second, and sixth grades to have a dental exam; details on the Illinois requirement can be found on the website of the Illinois State Board of Education.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay is the most common chronic infectious disease among children in the United States, and can lead to serious health complications. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says that, oral health risk assessments “…can assist clinicians with decisions regarding treatment,” and “…should be a routine component of new and periodic examinations by oral health and medical providers.”