Module 4: What to Do and How to Do It
4.2 What is an Oral Health Risk Assessment?
Risk assessment, which can be conducted by primary care professionals, other health professionals, and early childhood professionals, is based on the premise that all infants and children are not equally likely to develop oral health problems. Thus, infants and children at high risk for tooth decay likely need more preventive oral health care and treatment than infants and children at lower risk. Oral health risk assessment involves identifying an infant’s or child’s risk or protective factors that may impact oral health.
The Risk-Assessment Checklist can be used to help assess an infant’s or child’s risk level for oral disease, especially tooth decay. The completed form should be kept in the infant’s or child’s health record.
If the professional checks more than one of the boxes in the “Risk Factors for Oral Disease” column, the infant or child should be considered at risk, and the professional should refer the infant or child to a dentist for an oral health examination and/or possible treatment.
Physicians and other non-oral-health professionals may also refer to the caries-risk assessment form developed by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry to help classify tooth decay risk in infants and children on the basis of biological, protective, and clinical findings.
After completing the risk assessment, professionals should fill out the oral health risk assessment results section of the Oral Health Risk Assessment, Screening, and Follow-Up Recommendations form, which should then be kept in the infant’s or child’s health record.