Unfortunately, too many children in the Monadnock Region were going without regular dental care and consequently were living with dental disease. Thus, in 1996, Cheshire Smiles, a project of The Council for a Healthier Community, was conceived and began providing access to dental care for children in kindergarten through third grade in public schools throughout Cheshire County.
At one time, Cheshire Smiles was one of only a handful of school-based dental programs in New Hampshire. Dental professionals and members of the hospital and school communities supported Cheshire Smiles in its infancy and their support continues today. Cheshire Smiles has become a model for some of the 20-plus public health school-based dental programs in the state.
Currently, Cheshire Smiles' public health hygienists visit 23 schools throughout Cheshire County. They provide screenings and classroom education to all students in preschool - third grade, and screenings and sealants at several middle schools. Children who do not receive routine dental care are offered in-school preventive care, which may include a dental cleaning, oral hygiene instruction, flouride treatments and sealants. They also provide referrals to local dental offices and to Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene's Family Resource Counselor for assistance with NH Medicaid applications.
In project years 1-16 (through 2012-2013:
- 22,118 children received screenings
- 4,726 children were seen for preventive visits
- 8,979 teeth were sealed