Challenges in Implementing School-Based Oral Health Programs: Short- and Long-Term Impact of COVID-19

Published 05/10/2021

COVID-19 has disrupted K-12 learning and has limited children's access to oral health services and programs. School-based oral health programs (SBOHPs) are an essential access point for children to receive preventive oral health services. CareQuest Institute for Oral Health and the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD) surveyed state and territorial dental directors, and released a new report outlining the challenges COVID-19 has presented in providing and implementing SBOHPs.

Some findings from the survey include:

  • Only 25% of surveyed dental directors said they were planning for school-based sealant programs, and 16% were planning school-based fluoride varnish and BSS programs for the 2021-2022 school year.
  • Among dental directors, 65% were confident that they could provide additional support to schools-based programs to increase readiness to participate in oral health programs.
  • As a result of the pause and delay in school-based oral health programming during the pandemic, there may be an increase in children's oral diseases — especially among racial/ethnic minority students — in the coming years.

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