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Senate Passes Oral Health Screening Bill

The Senate yesterday passed House Bill 83S unanimously, 21-0. 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.

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.

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 signed into law by Governor Carney, would be effective for the 2024-25 school year.

House Bill 83S – Oral Health Screening in KindergartenCurrrent Status – House Passed 34-0-7. Senate Passed 21-0. Sent to the Governor.
House SponsorsWilliams, Baumbach, Griffith, Heffernan, Johnson, Lambert, Morrison, Neal, Osienski, Wilson-AntonSenate SponsorsMcBride, Gay, Hansen, Hoffner, Mantzavinos, Pinkney, Sokola, Sturgeon, Walsh // Hocker, Wilson
House Yes VotesBaumbach 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 YearickSenate Yes Votes Brown Gay Hansen Hoffner Huxtable Lockman Mantzavinos McBride Paradee Pinkney Poore Sokola Sturgeon Townsend Walsh // Buckson Hocker Lawson Pettyjohn Richardon Wilson
House No Votes – NoneSenate No Votes – None
House Absents or Not VotingHeffernan, Smith, Neal, Osienski, Phillips, Moore, Wilson-AntonSenate Absent or Not Voting – None

“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.”

“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.”

“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. Nick Conte.

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