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ADA launches Community Dental Health Coordinator Pilot Program at Temple University

Temple will recruit and train CDHCs from urban locations in Philadelphia over the next two years, returning them to their communities to work as dental team members under the remote supervision of dentists.

"We are delighted to welcome Temple's participation," said ADA President Dr. Ron Tankersley. "The pilot at Temple will help us understand the effectiveness of a dental health coordinator in underserved urban settings."

Dr. Amid Ismail, dean of Temple University's Kornberg School of Dentistry and one of the architects of the CDHC program, says the pilot program's plan is to place CDHC trainees in their own communities.

"Our aim is to ensure that the coordinator is able to bridge the gap between local cultures and health care systems," said Dr. Ismail. "The CDHC can help improve people's oral health habits and help patients navigate the social and bureaucratic barriers that prevent them from gaining access to available dental health services."

Two other program sites are already up and running. The University of Oklahoma is training CDHCs from rural areas and the University of California at Los Angeles, in conjunction with Salish Kootenai College in Montana, is training students from Native American communities.

The Community Dental Health Coordinator workforce model has been in development for several years. The 2008 ADA House of Delegates passed a resolution that committed funding for a five-year study of the CDHC.

Community Dental Health Coordinators will provide preventive dental care services—including screenings, fluoride treatments and temporary fillings.

By working in their own communities, CDHCs will be trained to help patients navigate the health system and access care by a dentist or an appropriate clinic and work to improve community members' oral health habits through education and awareness programs.

More information on the CDHC pilot program, a curriculum outline and frequently asked questions are available on ADA.org.