The House yesterday passed House Bill 83S unanimously, 34-0-7. The bill, sponsorsed by Rep. Kim Williams and Sen. Sarah McBride, would ensure that enrolled kindergarten students in public and charter schools receive a free oral health screening.
“Oral health is so vital for our children’s health— not just physically, but mentally and socially,” said Rep. Williams. “Not only can this impact their attendance, but can lead to lower self-esteem, withdrawal from social interactions and cause an overall impact to their learning in the classroom.”
Rep. Williams explained that House Bill 83S “provides an opportunity to improve the oral health of our children early on by requiring public schools and charter schools to provide students with this important screening so that any potentially detrimental issues can be addressed sooner, rather than later.”
|House Bill 83 – Oral Health Screening in Kindergarten||Currrent Status – House Passed 34-0-7. Senate|
|House Sponsors – Williams, Baumbach, Griffith, Heffernan, Johnson, Lambert, Morrison, Neal, Osienski, Wilson-Anton||Senate Sponsors – McBride, Gay, Hansen, Hoffner, Mantzavinos, Pinkney, Sokola, Sturgeon, Walsh // Hocker, Wilson|
|House Yes Votes – Baumbach Bolden Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Harris Johnson Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Morrison Parker-Selby Romer Schwartzkopf Williams // Briggs King Collins Dukes Gray Hensley Hilovsky Morris Postles Ramone Short Shupe Spiegelman Vanderwende Yearick||Senate Yes Votes –|
|House No Votes –||Senate No Votes –|
|House Absents or Not Voting – Heffernan, Smith, Neal, Osienski, Phillips, Moore, Wilson-Anton||Senate Absent or Not Voting –|
This legislation stems from discussions during the past year and a half with multiple stakeholders including Dr. Nick Conte with the Smile Check staff. She also received input from the Departments of Education and Health and Social Services
“Healthy habits are best started at a young age. Having spent the past several months serving as a co-chair for the Dental Care Access Task Force, I have heard from experts up and down our state about how prevention is key,” said Sen. McBride, chair of the Senate Health Committee. “By ensuring that every one of Delaware’s kindergarteners will participate in at least one dental screening during their first year of school, we will set these students and their families on a path to better oral health.”
The screenings would be provided by the Bureau of Oral Health and Dental Services, Smile Check Program led by Dr. Nick Conte at no cost to the districts, to be completed by the last student attendance day of each school year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cavities, also known as tooth decay, are the most common chronic disease impacting children in the United States, with more than half of children aged 6-8 having at least one cavity in one of their primary teeth. Further, the CDC reported that children from low-income families are twice as likely to have cavities.
“This passing of this legislation is an important step toward ensuring children have access to the early detection of oral health problems in addition to creating an opportunity to educate families on the relationship between good oral health and overall wellness,” said Dr. Conte.
Rep. Williams explained that HB 83S would require notification be made to the parent or guardian and a copy of the oral health screening results sent home. A referral to a dentist, if required, will be provided by the Bureau of Oral Health and Dental Screenings.
The bill, once passed by both Chambers and signed into law, would be effective for the 2024-25 school year. HB 83S now heads to the Senate for consideration.