School-Based Oral Health


Over 30,000 Virginia children received dental care in school-based programs during the 2018-2019 school year.

Did you know that dental caries, or cavities, are the most common chronic disease of childhood in the US? 

Untreated cavities can lead to pain, infection, missed school time, and even trouble eating, talking, or socializing. Schools aren’t just a place for children to learn, they are a place that can address the health needs of Virginia students. Bringing dental care into schools allows children to receive much needed oral health care and education, and removes several access barriers, such as:

  • Transportation: children can stay at school for care, meeting patients where they are
  • Caregiver time: caregivers do not have to be present or take time off work to get their children to a dental clinic

School-Based Oral Health Program Learning Collaborative

In partnership with the Virginia Department of Health, the Department of Education, and the Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation, Catalyst staff lead a year-long learning collaborative for dental safety net clinic staff and school nurses to strengthen existing or build new school-based oral health programs (SBOHP). Participating teams learn best practices and evidence-based strategies from national and state experts in school-based health to support their SBOHPs. They also receive quality improvement tools and learn how to foster trusting partnerships between dental providers, school staff, and caregivers to deliver effective preventive dental care to students.

Eligible dental clinic staff can submit an application to participate in the 2023-2024 SBOHP learning collaborative. Click the button below for more information.

Doctor pediatrician examining cute smiling african girl, throat sick

School-Based Health Workgroup

The School-Based Health (SBH) workgroup consists of stakeholders across Virginia invested in improving the health of children through oral health programs in the school setting. The SBH workgroup identifies best practices for school-based health care, including dental sealants, and develops strategies to share resources and tools across Virginia.

The SBH workgroup meets quarterly to discuss relevant projects and opportunities. Time commitment is minimal outside of meetings.

School-Based Oral Health Resources