Assessing the Effectiveness of a School-Based Dental Clinic on the Oral Health of Children Who Lack Access to Dental Care: A Program Evaluation

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This program evaluation examines the effectiveness of a school-based dental clinic. A repeated-measures design was used to longitudinally examine secondary data from participants (N = 293). Encounter intensity was developed to normalize data. Multivariate analysis of variance and Kruskal–Wallis test were used to investigate the effect of encounter intensity on the change in decay, restorations, and treatment urgency. A Pearson’s correlation was used to measure the strengths of association. Encounter intensity had a statistically significant effect on change in decay (p =.005), restorations (p =.000), and treatment urgency (p =.001). As encounter intensity increased, there was a significant association with the decrease in decay (−.167), increase in restorations (.221), and reduction in referral urgency (−.188). Incorporating dental care into a school-based health center resulted in improved oral health in underserved children while overcoming barriers that typically restrict access. The collaboration of school nurses with the school-based dental clinic was an important element for maximizing student access to dental care.