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Dentists: Watch for updated oral health assessment form as part of Kindergarten Oral Health Care Requirement

February 28, 2023
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Quick Summary:
An updated, streamlined oral health assessment form is circulating again in 2023 after some interruption during the first years of the pandemic. The assessment can be a complete examination and treatment plan or a more basic oral health evaluation. Dentists will typically receive the form from the child's parent or guardian and complete section 2. Learn more about the Kindergarten Oral Health Care Requirement and what to expect on the assessment form.

As part of the Kindergarten Oral Health Care Requirement, every child in public school in California must have an oral health assessment completed by a licensed dental professional by May 31 of their first year in school — generally kindergarten or first grade. This requirement has been in place since 2007, after landmark legislation sponsored by CDA was signed into law with the short-term goal of identifying children suffering from untreated dental disease and the long-term goal of helping caretakers establish a dental home for their children.

As dentists, organizations and educators work together to promote the importance of early dental care and prevention, CDA reminds dentists and dental professionals to watch for the oral health assessment form – updated in July 2022 – and be ready to complete section 2.

School districts did not consistently distribute the form during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the form is circulating again in 2023 through a collaborative effort involving the state Office of Oral Health and the superintendent of public instruction.

Dentists typically receive the form from the child’s parent or guardian, who will complete section 1 and return the form to the child’s school. 

Assessment helps identify children who need further examination, treatment

The actual required assessment can be a complete examination and treatment plan performed by a dentist or a more basic oral health evaluation, such as a screening, which can be performed by a dentist, hygienist or an extended function registered dental assistant with supervision.

The dentist or dental professional who performs the assessment fills out just five boxes on the updated form – most significantly, noting the presence of visible, untreated decay or caries experience, including untreated decay or fillings along with the level of treatment urgency.

California public schools then give the collected forms to their respective local department of public health in accordance with the bill’s reporting requirements, and the data is then submitted to the Office of Oral Health through an online portal.

Read more on CDA’s website about the Kindergarten Oral Health Requirement and dentists’ important role in identifying children who need further examination and treatment, which in turn helps the state and policymakers identify barriers to receiving care. Included are links to the oral health assessment form and a Q&A for dental professionals.

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