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ADA Community Dental Health Coordinator Pilot Program Enters Second Year

Highlighted by special two-day kickoff event in Tempe, Ariz

Contact Information:

Telephone: 312-440-2806
E-mail: mediarelations@ada.org (Journalists) or Contact ADA (All Others)

CHICAGO, March 24, 2010—The American Dental Association's (ADA) Community Dental Health Coordinator (CDHC) pilot program will welcome its second group of students, while the initial student group moves on to six-month clinical internships, the second phase of their training.

The three-year pilot program, funded by the American Dental Association (ADA), trains student classes of six each at its three U.S. program sites to become community health workers with a special focus on dental skills, and work in underserved communities, helping residents improve their oral care. In most cases, it is expected that CDHCs will return to work in their home communities, eliminating the social and cultural barriers that otherwise could impede their effectiveness. The CDHC’s primary functions are oral health education and disease prevention. CDHCs are trained to perform limited preventive procedures and to help patients needing dental care "navigate" the system, linking them with dentists to provide that care.

Rio Salado College hosts CDHC kickoff event March 26–27

Participants in the kickoff event at Rio Salado College in Tempe, Ariz., on March 26 and 27 will include six new students from each of the three pilot-program sites, and current students who are moving into the internship phase of their training, CDHC educators and ADA leaders.

Program pilot sites are Temple University in Philadelphia, which focuses on urban areas; the University of Oklahoma, where CDHCs will concentrate on remote rural communities; and the University of California at Los Angeles, in conjunction with Salish Kootenai College in Montana, whose graduates will work in Native American areas.

The kickoff event will provide current students from the University of Oklahoma and UCLA, who began their training a year ago, an opportunity to share their experiences as they prepare for their six-month internships. The initial student class from the program’s most recent site addition, Temple University, will meet enrollees affiliated with the two other schools at the event. They will receive laptop computers, an orientation to their online instructional training as well as a program overview.

"We look forward to seeing these individuals return to their communities as trained community health workers and members of the dental team, playing an important role in resolving barriers to help improve residents' dental care," said Raymond F. Gist, D.D.S., ADA president-elect. "That’s what the Community Dental Health Coordinator’s program is all about." Although the CDHC is a new position, it is modeled on the community health worker, a demonstrated member of the public health team that focuses on health education, prevention, disease management and increasing access. Because the CDHC will function much like a community health worker, the ADA believes that they, too, will have a positive impact on the oral health of their communities through education and outreach.