This policy supports local decision making on facilitating access to dental services and promoting oral health.
- Schools may facilitate access to mobile dental services (public and/or private) during school hours, on the school site.
- is the Victorian Government’s only school dental program, providing free dental care to all Victorian government students. Information for schools on the Smile Squad program can be found in the .
- If schools wish to facilitate access to a private dental provider, they are required to:
- identify and engage an appropriate dental service based on the recommended considerations as outlined in this policy and
- enter into a School Council Health Service Agreement with the dental service provider.
Schools play an important role in promoting and supporting good oral health and can do so by creating a healthy school culture and physical environment, supported by engaging teaching and learning programs.
Facilitating access to dental services is a local decision made independently by each school.
If schools wish to facilitate access to dental services on the school site, they can engage Smile Squad or a private dental provider.
is the Victorian Government’s only school dental program. It is being rolled out across the state over 2021 to 2023. A fleet of Smile Squad vans will visit government primary, secondary, P–12 and specialist schools across Victoria to provide free oral health examinations and necessary follow up treatment to all students. This includes teeth cleaning, fluoride applications, fillings and any other non-cosmetic, follow-up treatments.
- services provided to schools
- the process for implementing the Smile Squad school dental program
- requirements relating to:
- consent (including mature minor consent) for students to access the program
- recording attendance of students attending Smile Squad
- privacy and information sharing considerations.
The Victorian Government has ensured that all Smile Squad providers meet the necessary legal and safety requirements. This means that, unlike the requirements for private dental providers, when Smile Squad visits, schools:
- do not have to enter into a formal licence agreement with the provider
- do not have to check documentation regarding licences, registrations and insurances.
All Smile Squad staff have undertaken Working with Children Checks and meet all COVID-19 guidelines required by the Department of Health and the Department of Education and Training.
Mobile dental services (private dental providers)
Some schools may wish to facilitate access to private dental services (that is mobile dental vans). These services are generally provided on the school grounds and are privately run and operated (not through the Victorian Government’s free public dental program).
Engaging a private dental provider
If schools wish to engage with a private dental service provider, they must identify and engage an appropriate dental service based on the documentation outlined in the steps below and enter into a (staff login required) with the dental service provider.
Step 1 – Identify and engage an appropriate dental service provider
Schools must record evidence of the following documentation (ideally at least 5 days prior to the service attending the school):
- Registration – schools must confirm a visiting dental practitioner is a registered practitioner with the . Schools must ask to see a registration certificate from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency or they can obtain this information directly from the .
- Insurance – view 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, including those from a dental service. Refer to the department's policy on .
- Radiation protection – schools must obtain a copy of the provider's Victorian Radiation Use Licence for any providers taking x-rays.
- 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 will inform families of additional costs they may need to pay.
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 of children who visit the dental service. Refer to the department's .
- Consent – for any student accessing dental services on school grounds, the school must seek consent from parents/carers prior to them receiving treatment.
- Accreditation – 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. Schools should seek a copy of the provider’s accreditation certificate.
Step 2 – 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 health services, the department’s Legal Division recommends the use of a license agreement. The School council health services licence agreement – dentist authorises the non-exclusive use of an area of the school by an external provider of health services and is available on the .
Promoting good oral health
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 and the . 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 for the whole school community.
Below are some simple strategies schools could implement to promote good oral health.
Leadership and commitment
Schools may consider using 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
Encourage staff and families to role model healthy eating and oral health practices.
Teaching and learning
Incorporate learning activities into the curriculum focused on healthy eating and oral health practices.
Support staff and educators
Provide staff with the tools and resources and practical strategies on a regular basis to support oral health at school and home.
- Consider families, students and staff as key partners 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 (for example, junior school council)
- Encourage staff to work with local health professionals, services and other organisations to increase their capacity to deliver and promote healthy 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
Promote public dental services
Dental Health Services Victoria 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 50 community dental clinics located throughout metropolitan Melbourne and rural Victoria, where many children are eligible to receive free public dental care.
Reviewed 12 July 2023