Dental screenings

Health Screenings and Immunizations > Dental screenings

Dental programs (e.g. school oral health education, fluoride, sealant programs, dental screenings) are very effective ways to provide preventive oral health services to children and to help reduce oral health disparities by preventing, identifying and treating oral health issues early.

The role of the school nurse is to advocate and lead efforts to implement programs in schools that support preventative dental care and are essential to identifying children in need of dental care.

Key Considerations:


  • Collaborate with state dental directors, state education agencies and local school administrators to understand region-specific recommendations for school dental programs (e.g. dental screenings, school sealant programs).
  • Collaborate with school administrators and school oral health providers to follow the school’s policies and procedures for wearing masks, hand hygiene, grouping (cohorting, alternate schedules, staggered schedules) and transporting students to support physical distancing.
  • Develop protocols to include:
    • Routine cleaning and disinfecting the area between students. Refer to List N external icon on the EPA website for EPA-registered disinfectants that have qualified under EPA’s emerging viral pathogens program for use against SARS-CoV-2.
    • Staffing to support movement of students within the school community for the screening event.
      • Maintain appropriate physical distancing between students.
    • Sharing of screening findings with families, and notification and follow-up for identified urgent and prioritized dental needs.
    • Collection and coordination of data for screening program adhering to FERPA & HIPPA guidelines.
  • Refer to your school or school district’s policy for obtaining parental consent for dental screenings or dental sealants.
  • Include protocols and plan to have available the correct amount and types of equipment and supplies to support providing dental screening or services (school sealant program).
    • Any supplies and equipment (e.g. pen light, flashlight, disposable tongue depressor) that are exposed but not used during an assessment or procedure should be considered contaminated and should be disposed of or cleaned properly after completion of the procedure (e.g. dental sealants).
  • Wear personal protective equipment including a surgical mask, eye protection (goggles or a face shield that covers the front and sides of the face), and gloves when performing screenings. A gown or protective clothing should be worn if there is likely to generate splashing or spattering of blood or other body fluids.
  • Ensure the space used during the dental program has adequate light, ventilation, electric outlets and access to a sink for handwashing and cleaning of equipment .

NASN Resources

Considerations for School Nurses in Return to School: Dental Screening

Oral Health Self Assessment

CDC Resources

Considerations for School Sealant Programs During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic

Summary of CDC COVID-19 Guidance for Dental Services

Other Resources

School Nurses: The Key to Good Oral Health During COVID-19 Association of State & Territorial Dental Directors