Since 2005, the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program (a partnership between the University of Kentucky and RMHC of the Bluegrass) has offered Eastern Kentucky’s children free professional dental services and education aboard a state-of-the-art mobile clinic. Centered in Hazard, KY (Perry County) the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile cares for under-served children in their own neighborhoods and schools.
The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile is designed specifically for the purpose of providing quality pediatric dental care and education and includes two dental chairs and professional staff as well as volunteer support. Services are provided at 15 elementary schools in Perry and Knott Counties, 20 Head Start centers in Perry, Knot, Leslie, and Letcher counties, and at a variety of community events. Each school year, the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile provides preventative dental services to over 2,000 children receive preventative dental services each school.
Number of pediatric patients: 2, 401
Number of visits provided: 6,041
Number of patients ages 2 – 5 diagnosed with urgent (pain) needs: 480
Number of patients ages 6 – 8 diagnosed with untreated cavities: 1,633
Number of preventative dental sealants placed on permanent teeth: 1,500
When the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program started in 2005, baseline data showed that the children of eastern Kentucky had the second highest rates of untreated tooth decay in the nation! Nearly 7 out of every 10 elementary children had tooth decay. The consistent preventive efforts of the program have brought untreated decay rates down a total of 16% and urgent dental needs (pain, infection) have been cut in half!
While dental disease is itself a discrete health concern, like many other chronic diseases, it has broader health impacts. Poor oral health has been linked to increased risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. Poor oral health in children has been shown to result in decreased academic performance and can adversely affect behavioral and social development. In Perry County the school superintendent noted that the two schools with the lowest tooth decay rates were the two schools that had the highest standardized test scores in the county!
Children who receive these frequent, fun dental visits at their own school have significantly less dental fear than their parents’ generation. The individualized and classroom education also provide knowledge of the importance of oral health and making good nutrition choices.
Top Site Locations (Eastern, KY)
- Head Start centers in Perry, Knott, Leslie, and Letcher Counties
- Perry and Knott County elementary schools
- Give Kids a Smile Day Event (Wal-Mart, Perry County)
- Black Gold Festival (Perry County)