Purpose of this topic
To support local decision making on facilitating access to dental services and promotion of good oral health.
Accessing dental services
Schools are not required to provide access to dental services for students during school hours.
Facilitating access to dental services is a local decision made independently by each school.
However, if schools wish to facilitate access to dental services, there are a range of options they can promote and/or provide.
Public dental services
Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV) aims to improve the oral health of all Victorians, including school aged children, through providing access to public dental care. In particular, children from at-risk or vulnerable cohorts may have priority access to public dental care and/or may be exempt from paying fees.
Schools may wish to promote the more than 80 community dental clinics located throughout metropolitan Melbourne and rural Victoria, where many children are eligible to receive free public dental care. For a list of public dental clinics, see: List of community dental clinics
For information on eligibility criteria for children and young people, see: DHSV site Who is eligible?
Mobile dental services (private dental providers)
Some schools may wish to facilitate access to private dental services (i.e. ‘mobile dental vans’). These services are generally provided on the school grounds and are privately run and operated.
If schools wish to engage with a private dental service provider, they will need to undertake the following steps:
- Identify and engage an appropriate dental service based on the recommended considerations outlined in the table below, and
- Enter into a School Council Health Services Licence Agreement with the dental service provider.
Identify and engage an appropriate dental service provider
Schools must see evidence of the following documentation (ideally at least five days prior to the service attending the school):
Check and confirm an visiting dental practitioner is a registered practitioner with the Dental Board of Australia.
Ask to see a registration certificate from the the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency or any dental professional providing the service.
Ask to see evidence that the provider has public liability and professional indemnity insurance and check that it is current.
Working with Children Check (WWCC)
Schools are bound by laws that require a WWCC for adults undertaking child-related work in a school, and must adhere to Department policies regarding suitability checks for employees, visitors and volunteers. See: Suitabiity Checks for Schools Volunteers and Visitors
Schools should ask to see the Victorian Radiation Use Licence for any providers taking x-rays.
Child Dental Benefits Schedule
Some students may be eligible to receive dental services under the Child Dental Benefits Schedule
Private dental service providers may promote their services as 'free' to patients by relying on this funding source. Limits to the benefits apply and schools should consider how service providers inform families of service costs.
Schools will also need to ensure the following arrangements have been considered prior to the dental service arriving at the school:
- supervision: schools need to ensure there is appropriate supervision for children who will be visiting the dental service. See: Duty of Care
- consent: for any student accessing dental services on school grounds, the school must seek consent from parents/carers prior to them receiving treatment. For a copy of the Department’s health services consent form, please contact Legal Services
- accreditation: schools should ascertain whether the visiting dental practitioner is accredited and ask to be provided with a copy of the provider’s accreditation certificate. While it is not mandatory for private dental providers to be accredited with the National Safety and Quality Health Standards, schools can consider accreditation as an indicator of a quality provider.
For questions or further advice on the above recommended considerations when engaging with a mobile dental service provider, schools should contact Dental Health Services Victoria on: 03 9341 1732 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Enter into a School Council Health Services Licence Agreement with the dental service provider
Where a school is enabling an external provider to attend school premises to deliver regular or ongoing health services, the Department’s Legal Division recommends the use of a licence agreement. The School Council Health Services Licence authorises the non-exclusive use of an area of the school by an external provider of health services and is available from the Legal Division upon request.
For a copy of School Council Health Services Licence template or information regarding this process, please contact Legal Services
Mobile dental services for students with special needs
DHSV has two special mobile units offering free general dental care for students:
with physical or intellectual disabilities attending special development schools in the metropolitan and rural areas.
These are the only mobile dental services that are publicly funded, offering free general dental care for eligible students, every one to two years. For more information, see: Other resources
Promoting good oral health practices
Oral health is essential to overall health and wellbeing. Oral diseases can cause pain and discomfort and can negatively affect general health and quality of life.
Schools can promote and support good oral health through programs like the Healthy School Achievement Program. The Achievement Program takes a structured, whole-school approach to embed health and wellbeing into the school culture. The Achievement Program works with Dental Health Services Victoria to support schools to promote good oral health practices for the whole school community.
The table below includes simple strategies schools could implement to promote good oral health.
Leadership and commitment
- schools should utilise a whole-school approach to health and wellbeing, with consistent practices in place to support and promote good oral health
Healthy physical environment
- have tap water available at all times
- promote healthy food and drink choices
- increase availability of everyday food and drinks and limit 'occasional' and 'select carefully' food and drinks
- ensure students wear mouth guards while participating in contact sport, to protect against dental injuries
- create a place where students can practice dental hygiene when required
Teaching and learning
Support staff and educators
- provide staff with the tools and resources and practical strategies on a regular basis to support support oral health at school and home
- consider families, students and staff as key partner in developing and supporting oral health initiatives
- provide staff and families with tools and resources and practical strategies on a regular basis to support oral health and school and at home
- consult students about healthy eating and oral health initiatives via relevant representative structures (e.g. junior school council)
- encourage staff to work with local health professionals , services and other organisations to increase their capacity to deliver and promote health eating and oral health initiatives
- establish links with oral health services, oral health professionals and organisations to promote access to dental health checks and treatment
Other external resources