ForsythKids is a first-of-its-kind, long-term longitudinal program. The program directors have high aspirations for ForsythKids and hope that it will become the preeminent U.S. source for oral health.
The program monitors both the process and outcome variables to ensure that children are receiving the best quality care – and most importantly that ForsythKids is improving oral health! To evaluate the process variables ForsythKids staff examines the number of communities, schools and children who are enrolled in the program, and in particular, children who are of greatest need, as determined by participation in free/reduced lunch program. The outcome variables are improvement in oral health, measured by incidence of new cavities in both primary and permanent teeth. These assessments are carried out twice per year. In evaluating the effectiveness of multiple treatments, a change in the incidence of dental decay is measured as the difference in the proportion of decayed or filled primary teeth at the first visit compared to that at the visit being evaluated. The financial sustainability is calculated based upon expenses and income from private philanthropy, government funding and other sources.
Forsyth Director of Clinical Research, J. Max Goodson DDS, PhD conducts a rigorous and comprehensive scientific evaluation of the effectiveness of the school-based oral health program. Dr. Goodson co-directs a clinical research partnership between Forsyth and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). He analyzed the first three years of the pilot demonstration program for ForsythKids and found that two rounds of preventive care virtually eliminated new cavities and prevented tooth loss. These results are especially significant when reviewed from the program's baseline. At start up 77 % of children enrolled in the program had untreated cavities and 13% had acute infections or abscesses and our initial studies have shown that after receiving two rounds of preventive dental services, children enrolled in the Forsyth program are virtually free of new tooth decay.
When viewed next to the goals set by Healthy People 2010, a national health promotion and disease prevention initiative managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the ForsythKids program has already met and exceeded those goals.