28 PA Code (regulations) 23.3(a)* states "Dental examinations shall be required on original entry into school and in grades three and seven."
Schools have two options for fulfilling this requirement, a mandated dental program or a dental hygiene services program. Specific information on each program can be found on the Links to the right.
Guidelines for the School Dental Health Program for Pennsylvania's School Age Children and Adolescents The intent of these guidelines is to assist schools in implementing school dental health programs. They provide directions for staffing, documenting and evaluating school dental health programs. These guidelines are currently undergoing revision.
Requirements for School Dentist
Article XIV of the Pennsylvania Public School Code requires that public school entities hire school dentists. Appointments shall be approved by the Department of Health. To request approval for a school dentist, the school entity must submit a request in writing on district letterhead and include: 1) name of the dentist as it appears on their license; 2) their license number and 3) date of decision to contract with this dentist. The letter is only required when contracting with a new dentist. The request must be mailed to: Division of School Health, 30 Kline Plaza, Harrisburg, PA 17104.
Use of Public Health Dental Hygiene Practitioners (PHDHP) in School Health Programs
The Pennsylvania Dental Law was amended by Act 51 of 2007 to include the definition and practice of a public health dental hygiene practitioner. While limiting their practice sites, the law does list schools as an allowable practice site for a PHDHP. The Department of State, Board of Dentistry, updated their regulations to provide clarity regarding PHDHP practice. 49 PA Code, Section 33.205b(c) states that a PHDHP "may perform dental hygiene services without the supervision of a dentist in the following practice settings: (1) Public and private educational institutions that provide elementary and secondary instruction to school aged children under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Education, and in accordance with all applicable provisions of the Public School Code of 1949, the regulations relating to the certification of professional personnel in 22 PA Code Chapter 49, and the regulations of the Department of Health."
The provisions referenced from the Departments of Education and Health require that dental hygienists may only function in schools as part of an approved dental hygiene program and must have attained certification from the Department of Education as an Educational Specialist- Dental Hygienist.
The PHDHP may sign the authorization forms for the Dental Hygiene Services Program, however, the school is still required to have a dentist of record.