Smart Mouths Smart Kids

Oral Health Screening in Schools 

Oral health screenings are an important tool for identifying the oral health needs of students who might not have access to oral health services.  The value of these screenings - to identify potential oral health needs that may hinder learning - has not diminished during the current COVID-19 pandemic. However, the feasibility of conducting screenings is highly affected by remote and in-person learning scenarios as well as school- implemented health and safety procedures.

While oral health screenings are not mandated by the state, they are an important component of whole-child health. This Oral Health Screening Form is a resource for school nurses, and other school-based health or oral health providers, to support the identification of children with oral health needs who need a connection to dental care.

Smart Mouths Smart Kids

SMSK is a toolkit that helps potential partners assess the feasibility of initiating school-linked oral health services and to design and build a sustainable oral health program.

Smart Mouths Smart Kids (SMSK) is a toolkit for dental and medical professionals, school nurses, teachers and administrators, dental and medical educators, parents, stakeholders, and partners.

The purpose of this toolkit is to encourage communities to establish sustainable preventive oral health programs in their schools, and to develop relationships with dental providers that will assure dental homes for children.

SMSK is the result of a collaborative agreement between CDPHE and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Dental sealants are:
  • Plastic coatings that are painted onto the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars) for the prevention of tooth decay (cavities).

  • A protective shield to keep germs and pieces of food out.

  • A proven preventive oral health strategy for children.

  • Can last from five to 10 years, in conjunction with good oral hygiene.

  • Best applied when first permanent molars erupt into the mouth at about age 6 and second permanent molars erupt at about age 12.


Who should receive sealants
  • All children, but especially those with limited or no access to a dental provider. According to the 2011-12 Children’s Oral Health Screening Survey:

    • Children at schools with the highest percentage of students eligible for the free and reduced-price lunch (FRL) program had a higher prevalence of tooth decay than children at schools with a lower percentage of students eligible for the FRL program.

    • Hispanic children had a higher prevalence of tooth decay than white children.


The benefit of school-based sealant programs
  • Children can receive quality dental care, including sealants, at their local schools.

  • Programs generally target schools that have 50 percent or more of their students in FRL programs.

  • Without sealant programs, tooth decay may result in pain and other problems and lost school time that affects learning in school-age children.

  • Sealants can prevent approximately 60 percent of cavities.


Sealant providers


Regional oral health specialists

Community contacts for oral health education and promotion, and prevention of cavities

Please contact the following local public health agencies:


Other organizations


Dental insurance


Other states