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Action for Dental Health

Tools to Start a CDHC Program

CDHC Education and Training


CDHCs are trained to interact, with cultural competence, in the dentally underserved communities in which they work. They understand the people, language, and barriers to oral health in those communities; in many cases they already know the people with whom they will work. The CDHC training focuses on community outreach, coordination of care, educational and social interventions in the community, and prevention.

CDHCs are trained to:

  • Work under a dentist's supervision, and within the confines of state dental practice acts, in clinics, schools, and other public health settings with people of similar ethnic and cultural backgrounds
  • Collect information to assist dentists in triaging patients
  • Address social, environmental, and health literacy issues
  • Provide dental health education and help people develop goals to enhance their oral health
  • Coordinate care in accordance with a dentist's instructions
  • Help patients navigate the complexities of the health care system
  • Provide limited clinical services, including:
    • Screenings
    • Fluoride treatments
    • Placements of sealants
    • Coronal polishing
    • Radiographs

CDHC Curriculum Outline

The CDHC curriculum was developed by experts in education, public health and dentistry to meet the seven core competencies.

The educational components of the curriculum are designed for online delivery, accompanied by a series of in-person sessions for student skill development and evaluation. The ADA developed the community health worker–related courses and the dental-related elements of the curriculum.

During the pilot phase of the training program, an advanced CDHC training model with additional courses was offered. Upon completion of the evaluation phase of the program it was determined that those additional courses were not essential to the CDHC training and not typically utilized in the field. As a result, the ADA is currently making available the basic CDHC training model.

Elements of the CDHC basic training model include:

  • Advocacy and Outreach
  • Communication and Cultural Competence
  • Interviewing Skills
  • Legal and Ethical Issues
  • Introduction to Dentistry
  • Screening and Classification
  • Prevention of Dental Caries
  • Prevention of Oral Cancer
  • Financing and Payment of Dental Care
  • CDHC Internship