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School Oral Health Programs

School Oral Health Programs

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School oral health programs are a proven way to keep students' teeth healthy. They bring free cavity prevention services directly to students in school. These local programs are a great way to reach Oregon's students who may not otherwise be able to see a dentist. Each dental service provided in schools is a chance for a dental provider to look inside students' mouths and find dental problems before they become worse. Parents/guardians are given information about their student's oral health. All dental services provided in schools require a signed permission form from a parent/guardian.

School dental services + good oral hygiene at home = healthy mouth!

School Oral Health Programs help families by providing:
  • Less time away from the classroom and work,
  • Free services, and
  • Familiar space

Visit Caring for Your Teeth for more information about keeping your teeth and gums healthy at every age.


Dental Sealants & School Dental Sealant Programs

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Children usually get their first set of permanent molar teeth (back teeth) in first and second grades. There will be two on the top and two on the bottom. The second set of permanent molars usually come in around sixth and seventh grades. Most cavities (90%) happen in the back teeth, but dental sealants can protect those teeth from cavities. School dental sealant programs can reduce cavities by 50%.
Dental sealants are a coating that flows into the deep pits and grooves of the back teeth. Sealants “seal out" bacteria and food that cause cavities. Since dental sealants only protect the back teeth from cavities, it is very important for your child to keep brushing twice a day, floss each day, use fluoride, and visit their dentist regularly.
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has a process to certify local school dental sealant programs before dental sealants can be provided in a school setting. The certification process lets schools and families know that dental sealants will be placed safely based on a set of standards that OHA requires. Visit the Certification for School Dental Sealant Programs webpage to learn more about this program.
When a school dental sealant program visits a school, a registered dental hygienist will look inside students' mouths. This screening only takes about one minute per student. Placing dental sealants takes about 15 minutes per student.
In addition to dental sealants, some school dental sealant programs may offer other dental services such as fluoride varnish, silver diamine fluoride (SDF), and more. For more information about offered dental services, visit the School Dental Sealant Program webpage for more information.

Kindergarten Screenings and Oral Screenings

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Oregon's school districts are required to collect dental screening information for students seven years of age or younger who are beginning an educational program for the first time (including pre-kindergarten). You can find more information on the Oregon Department of Education webpage.
Additionally, every five years, the OHA administers the Oregon Smile & Healthy Growth Screening. This is a statewide effort which provides local communities and the state with a better understanding of our childhood population health status and identify health concerns which would otherwise be missed.

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Fluoride Varnish

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Fluoride varnish helps to protect teeth against cavities. It is a safe coating of fluoride brushed onto the teeth. After the fluoride varnish is brushed on, students can eat soft foods and drink healthy beverages.
Fluoride varnish is safe for any age beginning when you can see the first tooth. Licensed dental providers and medical providers can brush fluoride varnish on your child's teeth in:
  • Schools (during school dental sealant events and at school-based health centers)
  • Dental offices
  • Some medical offices (specifically pediatric doctors)
Ask your child's doctor, dentist, or school dental/health provider about fluoride varnish for your child. Fluoride varnish works best if your child has two to four applications per year. 

Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF)

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Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) can stop cavities from getting bigger and prevent cavities from starting. It is a clear liquid that is brushed onto cavities in very small amounts. Areas on the teeth that have cavities turn black from the SDF. The gums and healthy areas of the teeth may be temporarily stained. This is normal and the temporary staining goes away in a day or two. SDF will need to be applied more than once, usually within a few months to work. SDF may need to be applied several times on some cavities. The cavity will still show on the teeth but will stop growing. Some dental professionals may suggest a filling be placed over the cavity.
Using SDF to stop cavities is easier for children and parents/guardians. There is no need for local anesthetic (numbing shots). SDF can be placed by dental hygienists, dental therapists, and dentists. Here are some places where a child might receive SDF:
  • Schools (during school dental sealant events and at school-based health centers)
  • Dental offices

Tooth Taxi

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The Tooth Taxi is a mobile dental van staffed by a dentist and other dental professionals. It has offered dental services provided by the Dental Foundation of Oregon since 2008. The Tooth Taxi travels to schools all over Oregon and provides dental screenings, cleanings, sealants, X-rays, fillings, minor oral surgery, and in-classroom oral health education. You can find more information at

Oral Health Services at School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs)

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School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs) provide a large range of health services and are important to Oregon's communities. Many SBHCs include dental services. Some SBHCs offer dental services onsite while others may refer you to a dental provider in your community.
More information can be found on the Oregon SBHC website.


Please contact or call the School Oral Health Coordinator at 971-412-0531 (voice/text).