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School Dental Screenings

All children newly enrolling in an Iowa elementary or high school are required to have a dental screening. This requirement was passed by the 2007 legislature and became effective July 1, 2008. The purpose of the dental screening requirement is to improve the oral health of Iowa's children. Dental screenings help with early detection and treatment of dental disease; promote the importance of oral health for school readiness and learning; and contribute to statewide surveillance of oral health.

Dental screenings are provided by an integrated network of health care professionals to supplement Iowa's dental workforce. Regional I-Smile™ coordinators, serving at the "hub" of this network, partner with schools to assist students who need a screening or require follow-up dental care.

The following are highlights of the school dental screening requirement:

  • The requirement applies to kindergarten and ninth grade students only.
  • A screening for kindergarten may be performed by a licensed dentist, dental hygienist, nurse, advanced registered nurse practitioner, or physician assistant.
  • A screening for ninth grade may be performed by a licensed dentist or dental hygienist only.
  • Screenings performed by out-of-state providers are allowed.
  • The Iowa Department of Public Health Certificate of Dental Screening is the only acceptable form.
  • A screening for kindergarten is valid from age 3 years to four months after enrollment date.
  • A screening for 9th grade is valid from one year prior to enrollment to four months after enrollment date.

2012 - 2013 Audit Summary

According to the Iowa Department of Education, there were 82,888 students enrolled in kindergarten (44,369)* and ninth grade (38,519). Valid audit documentation was submitted for 58,930 students, for a student compliance rate of 71.1 percent. This is an increase from the 2011-2012 rate of 70.5 percent. Out of the 1,195 Iowa schools with kindergarten or ninth grade students, useable audit data was submitted for 1,174 schools, for a school compliance rate of 98.2 percent. This was a noticeable increase from the 2011-2012 rate of 86.4 percent, partly due to the fact that preschools were not included in the total school count this year.

For those schools included in the 2012-2013 audit report:

    • 74.0% of students submitted a valid certificate

      o 73.9% of students submitted a Certificate of Dental Screening

      o <0.1% of students submitted a Certificate of Dental Screening Exemption

    • 14.5% of the students had treatment needs

      o 13.0% required dental care

      o 1.5% required urgent dental care

The link to the comprehensive audit report can be found in the Audit Documents section below.

*Preschools excluded