School dental programs

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

  • This strategy can help promote healthy childhood environments and improve access to health services. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve these outcomes are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program overview

  • Partnerships between dental practices and schools that provide K-12 students with dental care
  • May offer sealant treatment and other preventative dental care
  • Provided by dental professionals, often from federally qualified health centers via mobile vans as well as other private and public entities
  • Often serving school districts with high proportions of low-income children and districts in rural areas

Evidence and impacts


Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps

  • Lower incidence of cavities
  • Sealant treatments reduced future incidence of cavities

Best practices in implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • Programs should prioritize safety of children in a school environment and during medical procedures
  • Integrating oral health care curricula into schooling and/or programs like HeadStart can improve outcomes
  • Programs should identify and prioritize school districts that are in greater need and ensure minimal loss of class time for students
  • Partnerships with local health officials and community health workers can improve case management, referrals, enrollment, and access to other dental and health care services