The Rock Dental Clinic (RDC) began in 1995 after a community needs assessment led by New London Hospital revealed the widespread, unmet dental needs of area school children. Access to dental offices was identified as a critical health need by the community because dentists provided limited care to the uninsured and underinsured children or children enrolled in Medicaid. A team of dentists, hygienists, school nurses, NLH staff and other health care providers was formed to address the need.
In order to assess the scope of the problem, the team decided to screen all second grade students in the Kearsarge Regional School District (the towns of Warner, Bradford, Newbury, Sutton, New London and Wilmot). The screening took place in April 1995 and confirmed the findings of the original health assessment, which showed 20% of the children had 60% of the decay. Research done by the team showed that decay can be virtually eliminated with routine dental hygiene and professional care. This provided the funding to establish and support the Rock Dental Clinic (RDC) through the year 2000. Additional funding for the program has been provided by the New London Hospital Auxiliary with proceeds from the 2000 Decorators' Showhouse and some smaller community grants.
RDC functions as a mobile dental health screening program. It is staffed by a Registered Dental Hygienist who coordinates the program and provides all services. Consent forms are required from the parents of all participating students. The hygienist does a visual inspection of each child's mouth, noting decay, hygiene and possible problems. Results of and recommendations from the hygienist are sent home to parents. Using a formula that combines the screening results and information about the child's access to professional care, the hygienist determines which children are eligible for further RDC services. Additional RDC services include fluoride rinses, cleanings, fluoride treatments, and personal oral hygiene and dental care to the students. A local dentist provides annual chart reviews.