Dental Health Services
Oral Health Promotion Goals
Goal #1 - Increase access to school-based Oral Health Disease Prevention Programs for targeted dentally at-risk children in Ottawa County.
Goal #2 - Reduce dental disease for children that are provided dental services on the Miles of Smiles mobile dental unit.
Goal #3 - Provide Ottawa County elementary schools and Head Start Centers with oral health education and resources.
Goal #4 - Increase access to care for at risk- adults in Ottawa County.
Kindergarten Oral Health Assessments
In 2023, the State of Michigan created the Kindergarten Oral Health Assessment Program (KOHA) to improve school readiness and success, identify children with unmet dental needs, and refer them for treatment. The goal of the KOHA program is to guarantee every first year student receives a free dental screening before starting the school year. The screening should be completed within six months of the first day of school.
- Printable Kindergarten Oral Health Assessment Form | Printable Kindergarten Oral Health Assessment Form (Español)
Frequently Asked Questions
Why was Michigan Public Act 261 signed into law?
Dental cavities remain the number one chronic childhood disease in the United States and are responsible for 51 million missed school hours nationally each year. Children with poor oral health are three times more likely to miss school due to infection and pain linked to dental cavities. Oral health problems can make it difficult for children to eat, speak, sleep or even socialize. All of this is fully preventable with access to a dentist and education on good oral hygiene. Public Act 261 ensures that children in Michigan have access to dental care that will help them succeed.
Who needs to have a school dental health assessment?
Any Michigan child entering their first year of school.
What is assessed during the dental health assessment?
The assessment takes approximately two to three minutes to complete and will identify any sign of possible dental health related issues. The assessment is not intended to take the place of a child’s routine dental visit.
Is there a difference between a dental exam and a dental assessment?
The KOHA form asks if a child received a dental exam or assessment. This language is for dental providers. Only a dentist can complete a dental exam. Dentists, dental hygienists, or dental therapists can complete a school dental health assessment. Only one dental provider needs to complete the assessment. The assessment is not intended to take the place of a child's routine dental visit.
- How is proof of the assessment provided to the school?
How will students benefit from having a school dental health assessment?
School dental health assessments will identify students who may have dental health related issues and connect them to follow-up care. This is particularly important for students in families who may experience barriers to obtaining routine dental care.
What if a child does not have a dentist? How can an assessment be completed
The Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) will provide free dental health assessments. Staff from OCDPH will complete the assessment form and return it to the parent at the time of the assessment.
What if a child has a scheduled dental appointment between April and August?
If a child has a routine dental visit scheduled with their dentist between April and August, the assessment and form can be completed at that appointment.
Do older students need to have a school dental health assessment too?
The KOHA Program only includes children entering their first year of school. However, it is highly recommended that all children see a dentist at least once a year.
What if a parent cannot afford to take their child to the dentist?
The OCDPH Miles of Smiles mobile unit provides preventive and restorative dental services for financially qualifying uninsured and Medicaid Healthy Kids Dental (HKD)-insured children in Ottawa County. OCDPH also has a partnership with My Community Dental Centers (MCDC) to ensure healthy mouths, regardless of insurance status or income. HKD is available to children who have Medicaid and are under the age of 21. A parent or guardian can enroll at Michigan’s Healthy Kids Dental Program.
What if the assessment identifies that a child has cavities?
If a child has one or more suspicious areas, they will need to be examined by a dentist to make a treatment plan. The person who completes the child’s dental health assessment will be able to refer the child for follow up care.
How can our school assist with implementing this law?
Schools should notify parents about the need for school dental health assessments, the dates and times of school-sponsored events and OCDPH dental health assessment clinics where the assessment can be completed. Schools can also assist by encouraging parents to complete their child’s assessment before the start of school. School districts are required to compile and submit a school summary of assessments to MDHHS by November 1st of each year, beginning with the 2023-2024 school year.
If you are interested in hosting a school dental health assessment event at Kindergarten Round Up or another back-to-school event, please contact Kacie Elzinga at (616) 494-5540 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are other screenings required for children entering school for the first
Yes. Michigan Public Health Code Act 368, Part 93 requires a child entering their first year of school have a hearing and vision screening and provide proof of the screening to the school.
For more information, contact:
Kacie Elzinga, RDH, BSDH
Oral Health Team Supervisor
To schedule a free dental health assessment at OCDPH (April-August), call:
English (616) 396-5266
Español (616) 393-5780
The MOS mobile unit provides on-site preventive and restorative dental services for financially qualifying uninsured and Medicaid insured Ottawa County residents. Services are provided at schools, Head Start Centers, Ottawa County Department of Public Health clinics, migrant camps and sites for dentally underserved children and adults. The 40 foot mobile unit is equipped with a waiting area, laboratory, two operatories, digital x-ray and a wheel chair lift.
Funding for the MOS program is provided by state grants and foundations, local foundations, donations and county support. Available dental services for children are made possible by a volunteer network of more than 100 dentists, hygienists and Grand Rapids Community College dental hygiene students. MOS has received several commendations for its innovative approach to address major health problems and increase access to direct patient care for qualifying Ottawa County children.
To determine eligibility, please call (616) 393-5694 or (800) 467-5905.
SEAL! Michigan is a school-based sealant program targeting second, sixth, and seventh grade children. All services are provided within qualifying schools using portable dental equipment. This prevention focused program offers:
- classroom oral hygiene education
- screenings by a registered dental hygienist who will determine if the student has teeth that require dental sealants
- sealant placement
- follow-up checks to determine the retention of dental sealants
- referrals for students that require further dental services.
A dental sealant is a white liquid that is painted on the grooves of the back teeth (molars) and hardens to prevent or seal out decay. Sealants have been proven to reduce tooth decay by more than 70 percent, resulting in lower dental treatment costs and healthier children.
To determine eligibility, please call (616) 494-5540.
Tooth decay is the most common (five times more prevalent than asthma) and preventable chronic disease of childhood. Children as young as 12-18 months can experience early childhood caries (tooth decay). The Fluoride Varnish Program services Early Head Start and Head Start children, ages 0-4, in Ottawa County. The program provides dental screenings and fluoride varnish to these children.
Fluoride varnish is a protective coating that is painted on teeth to help prevent new cavities and to help stop cavities that have already started. The “paint on” fluoride varnish is sticky, so it adheres to the teeth easily and makes the outer layer (enamel) of the teeth more resistant to decay. The American Dental Association (ADA) considers fluoride varnish to be a safe and effective as part of a caries prevention program.
Oral Health Education
This program has been designed to educate school children grades K, 1st, 2nd and 3rd about the importance of proper oral health habits and provide programming that will motivate them to practice these habits throughout their lifetime. Program materials are disseminated to the teachers of K, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade classes in Ottawa County Schools via email. The program supplies the education materials to the teachers to properly educate their students on oral healthcare. Interactive materials are utilized that make it fun for the students to learn. The dental health materials will allow the teachers to help their students become aware that with proper personal and professional care, their teeth can last a lifetime.
The Oral Health Promotion Program's legislative involvement has assisted in securing continued funding for Ottawa County dental programs. Statewide involvement in legislative efforts has successfully impacted legislation resulting in an expansion of dental services to at-risk, underserved populations. The Oral Health Promotion Program also assisted in the creation of the Michigan Oral Health Coalition and participated in the development of the "Strategic Plan for Oral Health in Michigan”.
- Michigan Donated Dental Services (DDS) Program - Provides comprehensive dental treatment to individuals who have no other means of obtaining necessary dental treatment. Click for eligibility requirements and application
- My Community Dental Centers - The Ottawa County Department of Public Health partners with My Community Dental Centers Inc. (MCDC) to provide greater access to dental care in Ottawa County. The center, located at 801 South Beacon Boulevard in Grand Haven, provides quality dental care to all children and adults enrolled in Medicaid, Healthy Kids Dental, Healthy Michigan Plan and private dental insurance. MCDC also offers MyDental Program (MyDP) for people without dental insurance, which provides reduced fees based on household income. New Patients may register by calling (877) 313-6232 or visit www.mydental.org