The importance of in-school dental care

January 11, 2022

Next month is Children’s Dental Health Month!  This is a particularly exciting month for OHP as it is a national celebration of OHP’s mission: To change the lives of our community’s children through access to excellent oral health services and education. Did you know that OHP offers school-based dental services across Brown County?  In Green Bay Area Public Schools (GBAPS) alone, OHP offers school-based clinics at over 20 schools and the number is growing!

“Having dental care on-site is a game-changer for families and students.  Families are reassured that their child is getting the proper dental care that they need and the students don't have the "fear" of going to the dentist.  Since it is a part of school, they trust it because they trust the school. The students come back very proud of getting their teeth cleaned and new hygiene products to take home to continue their dental care.”
Fort Howard first-grade teacher

School-based dental care.

 Why is it important to provide dental services right at the schools? 

Patient having his teeth looked at by OHP dentist

Howe student has his teeth looked at by an OHP dentist.

  • Students will experience fewer barriers to access such as transportation or work schedules.
  • Students will miss less time away from classes in order to receive dental care. They can simply walk to the clinic on-site and return to class.
  • OHP team members are able to catch dental concerns before they become dental emergencies. Students are seen in school-based and then, if necessary, referred to one of OHP’s clinics for ops.
  • Students receive preventative dental care and develop good dental habits like getting their teeth checked and cleaned every six months. OHP has changed its school-based dental schedule and now visits schools every six months to help develop these healthy habits.
  • Students are learning to navigate and actively seek dental care. If students are experiencing dental pain, they can talk to their school nurse or social worker who can ensure they have the proper paperwork on file to be seen during school-based clinics.
  • Through school-based services, OHP’s work and mission have been more widely spread amongst district staff personnel. OHP’s presence in the buildings is a reminder that its services are available to all students who qualify. OHP team members have been able to build positive relationships with school staff and the larger school community, which has allowed OHP to be present during events such as the back to school registration nights and family nights in order to collect authorization and dental history forms, as well as inform parents of their services.
“While serving as the school social worker at Nicolet Elementary School, I saw the impact that dental needs had on student learning. The Oral Health Partnership dental clinic provided critical preventative care while allowing for minimal class time missed. Parents were relieved to have a dental service in the area that did not require insurance and helped with low coverage of this need. Students had increased confidence and attendance, reduced pain, and countless other benefits that are more difficult to measure. Programs that reduce barriers are best for families and students, and I was so grateful to have access to refer families to this service.”
Former school social worker at Nicolet
Student getting their teeth cleaned at a Green Bay school

Student gets their teeth cleaned at Danz Elementary in one of OHP’s fixed-site clinics.

GBAPS and OHP partnership

In addition to providing space for OHP to operate school-based dental clinics, GBAPS is so committed to the school-based program that OHP has been able to install permanent dental equipment in several schools! These schools have a room dedicated solely to the clinic. In some cases, they even have their logo posted outside of the clinic doors creating a greater awareness for students and staff alike.

Before COVID, OHP started partnering with local schools to offer a ToothBrush Program. This program provides toothbrushes, storage bins, cleaning supplies and toothpaste to teachers, allowing students to brush their teeth at school after eating the school breakfast and lunch. OHP also provides fun and child-friendly resources to teachers to use with their students to teach the importance of proper dental hygiene.  

The greater Green Bay community is fortunate to have Oral Health Partnership offering school-based dental care, ensuring that all students have equitable access to quality dental exams, treatment, prevention and education.  As their services and outreach continue to grow, so does their impact, improving the lives of children across our community.