Geographically, the city of Rochester, New York is located in the center of the County of Monroe and is surrounded by a ring of suburban and semi-rural towns. Disparities between these two areas are striking. Demographically, the majority of people who reside in the city are Black, Hispanic or Non-White, while over 80% of the residents living in the suburbs are White. Not only are there marked disparities between the racial and ethnic composition of the city and surrounding suburbs, there are also marked differences in the rates of poverty, homicide and unintentional injury. The City of Rochester is divided into 10 sectors, each with its own unique challenges and consequences. The center of these sectors, known as the "crescent," is one of the poorest areas of the community. Residents living in this area are profoundly affected by high rates of unemployment, enrollment in public assistance, crime, substance abuse, fractured families, and domestic violence.
The city has the twelfth highest rate of child poverty in the United States and the highest child poverty rate among all New York State school districts, including New York City. Correlated with higher rates of poor health, late detection and other inequities, poverty in Rochester represents a significant challenge to the improvement of overall health and well-being.
The Smilemobile, a fully equipped dental clinic on wheels, was first pioneered in 1967 by Eastman Dental Center. The Smilemobile's community service mission has continuously focused on disadvantaged communities by providing 100% of its service to underserved populations in the Rochester and surrounding rural areas. Fifteen of the 38 elementary schools in the Rochester City School District are serviced by the Smilemobile program. Comprehensive care, including x-rays, cleanings, fluoride treatments, sealants, restorations, stainless steel crowns and simple extractions, was provided to over 5,400 urban and rural pre-school and school-aged children -– including nearly 87% on Medicaid and Child Health Plus -– over the last two years.