About Smile Squad
Overview and management of Smile Squad
The Smile Squad school dental program is the Victorian Government’s school dental program providing free dental care to Victorian government school students. All students attending government schools are eligible for Smile Squad – they do not need a healthcare card, Medicare or access to the Child Dental Benefits Scheme.
All Smile Squad services are free. There are no out of pocket costs for students or families for examination and any necessary follow up treatment.
The program is led by the Department of Health, coordinated by Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV) and supported by the Department of Education and Training. The Department of Education and Training has entered into an agreement with the Department of Health for Smile Squad on behalf of schools. This eliminates the need for schools to enter into a licence agreement with Smile Squad providers, which schools are required to do when engaging private dental providers.
The objectives of the Smile Squad program are to:
- improve access to oral health care and education for children, resulting in better health outcomes into adulthood
- minimise future demand and cost to Victoria’s health system by preventing the need for higher-cost, more complex interventions (including avoidable hospital admissions) in the future
- ease cost of living pressures on families and save them the inconvenience of having to visit the dentist.
The program is delivered by dental agencies within each school’s local community. Smile Squad is being rolled out in stages and will reach all Victorian government schools by the end of 2023. Further information about the roll out can be found on the Smile Squad website – refer to .
Services provided to schools
Smile Squad provides free oral health examinations and follow up treatment, with no out of pocket costs for families.
Annual oral health examinations
Each school will be visited by Smile Squad who will provide a free oral health check-up to each student.
Services provided include an examination, x-rays when required, oral health and dietary advice, coaching and prevention interventions including the application of fluoride varnish.
In some circumstances, schools may receive a separate visit for the application of fluoride varnish 6 months after the oral health examinations.
Examinations and fluoride applications will usually be delivered in a room on the school site using mobile dental equipment – for example, portable chair and portable examination tools.
Follow up treatment
Free follow up treatment will be provided to all students who need it.
Services provided include teeth cleaning, fissure sealants, root canals, restorations (fillings), extractions and all other treatment required. Cosmetic procedures or orthodontics will not be provided.
Follow up treatment will take place in a van on the school site, with a fully functioning single-chair dental clinic set up.
More complex treatments (including root canal treatment, complex restorations and complex or surgical extractions) may need to occur at the local community dental agency.
All Smile Squad examinations and treatments are free. Smile Squad may utilise the Child Dental Benefits Schedule for some services, however, remaining costs will be covered by Smile Squad, so there are no out of pocket costs for students and families.
Oral health promotion
Smile Squad will provide dental packs to schools to distribute to students prior to the Smile Squad visit. The dental pack includes a toothbrush, tooth paste and oral health education material to promote dental health to students.
Preventative components such as the provision of dental packs, education on diet and teeth brushing, and the application of fluoride varnish will complement and build on existing prevention and oral health initiatives in preschools, maternal and child health settings and in primary care.
The Smile Squad workforce
Smile Squad staff are equipped with the necessary qualifications to provide a wide range of dental care in a variety of settings, including schools. All Smile Squad clinicians are registered with the Australian Health Practitioners Registration Association.
The Smile Squad workforce is comprised of the following.
Dental therapists and oral health therapists
Dental therapists and oral health therapists are trained to provide oral health examinations and many of the follow up treatments included in Smile Squad. They provide the following services for children and young people:
- oral health assessments
- diagnosis, treatment and management of dental conditions
- preventative services.
Oral health therapists have an additional qualification in dental hygiene and can carry out tasks such as complex scaling and teeth cleaning.
Dentists specialise in the treatment of conditions affecting the mouth, teeth, jaw and gums. They provide assessment, diagnosis, treatment, management, and preventive services. Dentists will provide more complex treatments such as root canals or complex extractions.
In some circumstances, tertiary students completing a Bachelor of Oral Health, Bachelor of Dental Science or Doctor of Dental Surgery may provide services under the full supervision of oral health therapists or dentists.
Dental assistants support oral health therapists, dental therapists and dentists during examinations and treatment. Dental assistants prepare for and clean up after procedures and provide assistance during procedures, such as passing instruments and operating suction equipment. Dental assistants are also responsible for scheduling appointments, updating patient records and other administration tasks.
Smile Squad workforce management and suitability checks
DHSV supports the management of the Smile Squad workforce by:
- providing a comprehensive on-boarding program that includes the provision of practical resources, advice and ongoing support
- ensuring the service is delivered in accordance with department requirements
- supporting a child safe environment in accordance with the Child Safe Standards.
The Department of Education and Training has worked closely with the Department of Health and DHSV to verify qualifications, registrations and accreditations of the Smile Squad workforce. DHSV has undertaken work to ensure that all dental professionals working for Smile Squad are appropriately qualified and have the requisite knowledge, skill and expertise to perform their roles and are suitable to work with children. DHSV has also ensured all Smile Squad service providers hold appropriate public liability and professional indemnity insurance and a current radiation use licence.
This means that schools do not have to check documentation regarding licenses, registrations and insurances, including Working with Children Checks (WWCC), when Smile Squad visits.
All Smile Squad staff are expected to:
- perform services in a skilful, efficient and courteous manner
- comply with all relevant school’s wellbeing and safety policies and school procedures, particularly in relation to the Child Safe Standards
- hold a valid WWCC prior to entering school premises
- not share any confidential information, unless compelled to do so by law
- only examine and treat students where consent has been obtained as per the chapter in these guidelines
- be appropriately qualified and have the requisite knowledge, skill and expertise to provide Smile Squad services
- comply with all COVID-19 obligations required by the Department of Health and the Department of Education and Training, including vaccination requirements.
Reviewed 12 August 2022