1. Hayman, Laura L.
  2. Lewis, Judith A. PhD, RNC, FAAN

Article Content

Jackson, D. M., Jahnke, L. R., Kerber, L., Nyer, G., Siemens, K., & Clark, C. (2007). Journal of School Health, 77, 1-6.


Dental disease is a leading cause of school absenteeism for U.S. children; recent national data indicated that more than 51 million school hours are lost each year because of dental-related illness (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000). It is also well known that children in families with incomes below the federal poverty level have twice as many carious lesions as higher income children and are less likely to receive treatment (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000; U.S. Government Accounting Office, 2000). This report by Jackson and colleagues describes the creation and evolution of a mobile school-based dental program for children and provides selected data indicating the potential of this model for addressing the unmet need for dental care in children from impoverished communities. The St. David's Dental Program, a collaboration of community partners in central Texas, was initiated in 1998 for children in 2 counties in central Texas. An ultimate goal is to expand oral healthcare services to all children (and families) in Title I schools throughout the calendar year. Evaluation data for the 1998-2005 time period are provided and support the potential for sustainability. The program provided 132,791 screenings for oral health treatment and 38,634 encounters for dental sealants and treatment. Excluding donated services, the program provided $2.1 million worth of services at a cost of $1.2 million in 2005. Factors central to the program's success included sustained funding for general operating costs, well-compensated clinicians to deliver care, and experienced human service workers to manage program operations. The development of strong relationships with school districts and individual school staff also contributed to the program's success. This model, a collaboration of community partners and a merging of private and public health dentistry, has potential for dissemination to other low-income communities, and it offers one innovative mechanism for addressing the oral healthcare needs of vulnerable children and families.


Laura L. Hayman




U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health. (2000). Oral health in America: A report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: Author.


U.S. General Accounting Office. (2000). Oral health: Dental disease is a chronic problem among low-income populations. GAO/HEHS-00-72. Washington, DC: Author.