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Modules

Module 3: Caries Risk Assessment

3.2 Caries Risk Assessment

Oral Health Screening

To conduct an oral health screening, a medical provider needs adequate lighting, gloves (preferably non-latex), and a tongue depressor or mouth mirror. A dental chair is not needed.

For children ages 3 and under, knee-to-knee positioning is preferred for conducting the oral health screening. Use the following procedure.

  • Explain to parents the process and their role.
  • Position the child in a parent’s lap so that the child is facing the parent.
  • Sit opposite the parent so that your knees are touching the parent’s knees.
  • Lower the child’s head onto your lap.
  • If necessary, have the parent hold the child’s arms.

Video: Oral Health Screening

This video shows the positioning of a child for an oral health screening using knee-to-knee positioning. Joanna Douglass, B.D.S., D.D.S., describes what to look for when conducting the screening and shows how to perform the lift-the-lip technique.

Used with permission from Joanna Douglass, B.D.S., D.D.S., University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine. 2008.


Another approach for positioning the child is to lay the child on the examination table on his or her back and ask the parent to hold the child’s hands. It is important to approach the child from behind the head to ensure a clear view into the oral cavity. When facing a child who is sitting on a parent’s lap, it is difficult to get a complete view of the oral cavity.

Exam Table Screening

Used with permission from Joanna Douglass, B.D.S., D.D.S., University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine.