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School Entrance Oral Health Assessments
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Groundbreaking legislation effective January 1, 2007 requires children entering public school for the first time in either kindergarten or first grade to present proof by May 31 of the school year of having obtained an oral health assessment. That assessment may be completed during the first year of school or any time in the 12 months prior to school enrollment.

CSPD, working with the California Dental Association, has long sought such regulation as a means of identifying children in need of oral health services and promoting the importance of oral health as an integral component of school readiness and ability to learn.

Dentists should be aware of the following provisions of the bill:

  • Public schools will notify parents and guardians of the requirements imposed by law and provide a standardized form that can be used to record the results of the oral health assessment.
  • Parents and guardians may be excused from compliance by indicating the assessment imposes an undue financial burden, cannot be completed because of a lack of access to a dentist or other licensed oral health professional, or because they choose to withhold consent.
  • Assessments may be completed by any California-licensed Dentist, Registered Dental Hygienist, or Registered Dental Assistant acting under the direct supervision of the dentist.

It is important for dentists to understand the difference between a dental examination, which can be performed only by a licensed dentist, and an oral health assessment, which can be performed by a range of licensed dental professionals. An oral health assessment identifies obvious or suspected oral health conditions that require, or might require, examination by a dentist. A dental examination diagnoses dental conditions and forms the basis for treatment recommendations.

A dental examination conducted in a dental office during the first school year or in the 12 months prior to school enrollment more than meets the minimum standards of the assessment requirement.

The goal of this legislation is to establish a regular source of dental care (a dental home) for every child. The program will also identify children in need of further examination and dental treatment and will help in the identification of barriers to the delivery of dental care.

For additional information all located on this page, please use the appropriate links:

Questions concerning California Oral Health Assessments may be directed to CSPD Public Policy Advocate, Dr. Paul Reggiardo, at Reggiardo@prodigy.net or by phone at 714-848-0234.

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