Original Theory & Research

Assessing School-Based Oral Health Interprofessionalism through Public School Nurse Perceptions



INTRODUCTION The need for oral health resources in the school setting is an integral part of the overall health of students. Studies have shown that not only do school nurses encounter dental emergencies in students, but they encounter children in pain more frequently than not due to oral cavity issues. Therefore, this study sought to examine the current knowledge and accessibility of oral health resources for nurses serving school-aged children. METHODS Guided by an ecological framework, this study surveyed South Carolina school nurses (n= 42) about their access to oral health resources, knowledge of their students’ dental health status and unmet needs, and challenges associated with receiving dental care. RESULTS Two-thirds of school nurses saw urgent dental cases at least once a semester. Three quarters of the school nurses made referrals to a dentist at least once a semester. Half of the school nurses offered an annual dental screening. As a part of continuing dental care, referral completion for school-aged children was a challenge due to social determinants. DISCUSSION This study directly aligns with the forthcoming 2020 Surgeon General Report on Oral Health, which includes a section on ‘Oral Health Integration, Workforce and Practice’. This study reveals how school nurses are on the forefront of addressing children’s health needs and their ability to contribute to the integrated oral healthcare workforce. CONCLUSION Overall, a need exists to continue to elevate school nurses as interprofessional oral health practice champions to improve the oral health of children in South Carolina public schools.


health services researchinterprofessional researchmedical-dental integrationdental health accessschool nursepublic health
  • Year: 2021
  • Volume: 4 Issue: 2
  • Page/Article: eP2141
  • DOI: 10.7710/2641-1148.2141
  • Published on 11 Apr 2021
  • Peer Reviewed