As children and families prepare to begin months of virtual learning, hundreds of thousands of low-income children are dealing with another hidden consequence of closed schools — no access to dental care.

We know that school-based dental services have become a crucial way to connect low-income students, particularly students of color, with oral health care and education. And ensuring that every child — regardless of their background — has access to oral health care is a key to reducing the deep racial disparities in health care.

These school-based oral health (SBOH) programs include services such as assessments, sealant application, fluoride treatment, cleanings and diagnostics. For many students, these programs are their first encounter with a dental provider. For some, it is their only source of oral health care and only access point for health care in general.

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