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How to Collect Oral Health Data

One of the most common ways to learn about the oral health of a community is to do an oral health screening survey. This survey can measure the amount and type of oral diseases that people have, such as tooth decay, gum disease or cancer of the mouth. It can also tell you if people can get dental care when they need it, and what types of problems they have trying to get dental care.

An oral health screening survey finds obvious dental disease. The screening is not a thorough dental exam. It can be done not only by dentists and dental hygienists but also by non-dental health care workers, such as school nurses (depending on what oral health data you want to collect.)                                                                     


This photo shows a child getting a dental screening at school.

Basic Screening Surveys

The Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD) worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to produce The ASTDD Basic Screening Survey of Children. The Oral Health Program at the Ohio Department of Health led the development of the first edition of this tool in 1999. Each set of this tool contains a CD, DVD and reference guide for training. The ASTDD also offers The ASTDD Basic Screening Survey for Older Adults, which includes a CD of the survey manual and a DVD for training.

A Note about Dental Screening in Schools

Some schools conduct oral health screening. This screening is different from screening surveys in that it is conducted to identify students who need to be referred for dental care. They are much like screening to detect vision or hearing problems. The Oral Health Program has produced guidelines for how to conduct oral health screening in schools.


Last Reviewed: 02/05/2018