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Central New Mexico Community College to Offer Community Dental Health Coordinator Program this Fall

August 01, 2014

Contact Information:

Rhys Saunders
Robert Raible

Chicago – Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque is offering a new certificate program that aims to improve access to dental care for people who need it most. 

The college is currently accepting students for the Community Dental Health Coordinator (CDHC) program, initiated by the American Dental Association (ADA). The first entering class will accept only registered dental hygienists and certified dental assistants.  

Classes start Aug. 24. 

CDHCs play a vital role in improving access to dental care in underserved communities by providing dental health education and basic preventive services, and by helping patients navigate the public health system to receive care from dentists.  They help people bridge such barriers as poverty, geography, language, culture, and a lack of understanding of oral hygiene. 

“This is truly exciting. Central New Mexico is the first college to offer a CDHC program since the ADA-sponsored pilot program was completed,” said ADA President Dr. Charles Norman. “CDHCs are an integral part of a complex set of solutions needed to address the nation’s dental health crisis.”

CDHC students will learn interviewing skills, dental health teaching and learning skills, screening and classification, as well as palliative care skills before entering internships with dentists in New Mexico communities.    

“We are proud that New Mexico was the first state to have the CDHC established in law, and excited to be the first to roll out a permanent educational program,” stated Mark Moores, New Mexico Dental Association Executive Director.  “We look forward to the positive impact that the CDHC will have on the oral health of New Mexicans.”  

The ADA pilot has graduated 34 CDHCs currently practicing in eight states. Several CDHCs have taken visiting assignments to demonstrate the value of this innovative dental worker for government and public health officials in additional states. A notable example is CDHC Lori Wood, who worked at the Esperanza Health Clinic in Silver City, N.M., last year.  Ms. Wood’s New Mexico “sabbatical” allowed officials from Central New Mexico and other colleges to experience not only the CDHC’s value to the community, but also how the position provides career opportunities in health care.  

The ADA is working to help additional schools in New Mexico and other states integrate the model into their curriculums. 

For more on the program, please contact the college’s Department of Health Wellness and Public Safety at 505.224.4111 or visit the college's website.

About the ADA

The not-for-profit ADA is the nation's largest dental association, representing 162,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA's state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer dental care products. The monthly The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) is the ADA's flagship publication and the best-read scientific journal in dentistry. For more information about the ADA, visit For more information on oral health, including prevention, care and treatment of dental disease, visit the ADA's consumer website