The Basic Screening Survey for Third-Graders
What is the Basic Screening Survey?
Every five years, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) screens third-graders for cavities. MDH-trained dental hygienists look inside kids' mouths and note any signs of tooth decay or cavities. MDH will also check if kids have dental sealants, and measure their heights and weights.
The Basic Screening Survey provides a snapshot of the oral health of Minnesota’s kids, and information about trends in overall health, growth and development.
The next screening is expected to happen in the 2022-2023 school year. The screening was slated for the 2020 school year but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2015 data can be found at the MN Public Health Data Access Portal - Oral Health in Minnesota.
MDH also conducted a Basic Screening Survey for older adults in 2016, assessing oral health among adults 65 years and older who were living in skilled nursing facilities. View the screening findings and learn more about oral health of older adults in Minnesota.
Why is children's oral health important?
Cavities are almost entirely preventable, yet they continue to be the most common chronic childhood illness in America.1 If not treated, tooth decay (which causes cavities) can cause pain, infection and tooth loss. It can also create problems with eating, speaking and learning.
Taking care of teeth helps kids be healthy. It is also important for school readiness. It’s estimated 51 million school hours are lost each year because of oral health problems. The number of missed school days is greater for children from low-income families.2
When and where is the screening happening?
MDH-trained dental hygienists will conduct the screening at about 70 elementary schools across the state. Schools were selected through random sampling, with factors to ensure diverse representation of communities across the state. The sample includes both urban and rural schools, ethnically diverse schools and schools with high free-and-reduced price lunch eligibility.
How will data be used?
The Basic Screening Survey data can help pinpoint unmet health needs that could be barriers to health, learning or development. MDH analyzes the data every five years to see trends and any statistical differences by demographics.
Findings from the basic screening survey will be used to help inform and improve policies and programs. Data will likely be released in 2024. Continue to check back for updated information and sign up for oral health email updates.
If you have questions about the Basic Screening Survey, please contact Prasida Khanal, email@example.com, 651-201-3538.
1Children’s Oral Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
2Altarum Institute. Issue Brief: Oral Health is Critical to the School Readiness of Children in Washington, D.C. Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.