Basic Screening Surveys (BSS)

Recognizing the need for community level oral health status and dental care access data, the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD) developed the Basic Screening Survey (BSS).  The primary purpose of the BSS is to provide a framework for obtaining oral health data that is inexpensive and easy to implement; yet always consistent. By collecting data in a consistent manner, communities and states have the ability to compare their data with (1) data collected by other organizations or agencies using the same methodology and/or (2) data from previous surveys.

Before embarking on a screening survey, it is important to understand its limitations. A dental screening is not a thorough clinical examination and does not involve making a clinical diagnosis resulting in a treatment plan.  A screening is intended to identify definitive dental or oral lesions, and is conducted by dentists, dental hygienists, or other appropriate health care workers, in accordance with applicable state law.

The information gathered through a screening survey is at a level consistent with monitoring the nation health objectives found in Healthy People 2020 (, the United States Public Health Services's 10 -year agenda for improving the Nation's health.  Surveys are cross sectional (looking at a population at a point in time) and descriptive (intended for determining estimates of oral health status for a defined population).


The BSS model has two basic components:

  1. direct observation of an individual's mouth, and
  2. questions asked of, or about, the individual being screened.

The direct observation portion of the model is required while the questionnaire portion is optional.

NV BSS Head Start Screenings

Head Start Oral Health Survey - June 2003

The purpose of the survey was to establish baseline data, determine the oral health status and needs of children in Nevada in order to make data-driven decisions that also allow for meaningful program evaluation. The ASTDD BSS module was used to ensure that Nevada's results are comparable with other states that have utilized the ASTDD BSS. Data collected includes caries experience, untreated decay, dental sealant stats, treatment urgency, as well as socio-economic data including age, gender, race and ethnicity.

Head Start Oral Health Survey - July 2007

The first screening to collect oral health data on children enrolled in Head Start programs in Nevada was conducted in 2004. The methodology used for the screening was the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD) Basic Screening Survey (BSS). In May of 2007 the second such screening was completed. This report compares the 2007 findings with the Healthy People 2010 objectives for children two to four years of age; provides a high-level comparison between the 2004 and 2007 screening results, and summarizes the findings of the 2007 screening.

Rural Head Start BSS Survey - Spring 2017

In spring of 2017, the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health (DPBH), Oral Health Program partnered with the Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning and Development, Head Start State Collaboration Office to conduct another dental screening, this time for rural Head Start children. The Basic Screening Survey (BSS) protocol was again used to assess these children for caries, caries experience, untreated decay, and the need for urgent dental treatment. Children in 16 Head Start Centers in 11 Nevada counties were screened. This report describes findings for the 2017 survey, and compares results to rural Head Start Children screened in the 2004 and 2007 surveys.

Rural Licensed Childcare BSS Survey - 2020/2021

The Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, Oral Health Program through a grant from the Nevada Department of Education, designed an oral health surveillance project. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the oral health status of children (ages 3-5 years of age) receiving care from licensed childcare centers in rural Nevada. A similar project was completed by the Nevada Oral Health Program in 2017-2018 when the oral health status of children in rural Head Start programs was assessed. Aggregate results of this study will be compared to the reports from the 2017-2018 Head Start oral health assessment. Oral health promotion, early detection, and classroom education were novel elements that were included in this project that have not been included in previous state basic screening survey designs. Nevada Registry approved oral health webinars were offered to educators and to equip teachers with oral health information that could be shared with the children in their care. Classroom toothbrushing stations were also established within each center.

Nevada BSS Third Grade Oral Health Surveys

Third Grade Oral Health Survey - Oct 2009

During the 2008-2009 academic year, the Oral Health Program conducted a survey of third-grade students in Nevada. The primary purpose of the survey was to obtain population estimates for three oral health indicators: caries experience, untreated decay, and dental sealants. As a secondary benefit, the screenings direct impacted the students by educating them about healthy oral hygiene habits and information their parents or guardians of the need for dental care.

Seniors - Healthy Smiles for Healthy Living

Senior Oral Health Survey - Nevada 2005

At the beginning of the 20th century, four percent of the population (3.1 million) was age 65 or older. According to the Nevada State Demographer's projections, seniors age 65 and older will make up 13 percent of the state's population in 2005. The Healthy Smiles for Healthy Living Screening Survey was created for seniors 65 and older who reside in assisted living facilities statewide. Eleven facilities were included and visited over the course of five months. OHP staff collected prevalence data on caries experience, untreated decay, edentulism (loss of all natural teeth), and the need for urgent care. The survey results, presented in their report, serve as an initial estimate of the need for dental care among a cross-section of the senior population.

Special Needs Population - Basic Screening Survey

Special Needs Population BSS Processing Report - 2008

Preparation for the Basic Screening Survey (BSS) of the Special Needs Population began in May of 2005 when the State Oral Health Advisory Committee established a workgroup to look at improving services for special needs populations. In April of 2007 the Oral Health Screening Coordinator ) and the Oral Health Biostatistician met with the Special Needs Committee, a group of individuals interested in pursuing a BSS of the special needs population. The committee consisted of: four University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) School of Dental Medicine (SDM) faculty; one representative of the Nevada Dental Association (NDA); one member of the Govern's Commission on Mental Health Developmental Services; the Program Manager of the Nevada State Health Division Oral Health Program; and the Director of the Desert Regional Center (DRC), a facility that supports people with developmental disabilities in their efforts to live, work, and recreate in the community