ADA dental health coordinator project moves forward

The ADA's Community Dental Health Coordinator (CDHC) pilot program has added its third group of students, while the second student group has moved on to the internship phase of their training.

The first group is now practicing in clinics, schools, and other public health settings, the ADA announced.

The pilot program, funded by the ADA, trains students at a number of U.S. program sites to become community health workers with a special focus on dental skills, who will help people in underserved communities improve their oral health. In most cases, CDHCs return to work in the same communities from which they were recruited, eliminating the social, language, and cultural barriers that otherwise could impede their effectiveness, according to the ADA.

The CDHC's primary functions are oral health education and disease prevention. CDHCs are trained to perform limited preventive procedures and help patients needing dental care from dentists navigate the system, linking them with dentists to provide that care.

In their initial phase of training, students complete 12 months of online coursework administered by Rio Salado College in Tempe, AZ. Upon successfully completing the didactic portion of their training, the students begin six-month internships.

Cohort 3 program pilot sites are Temple University in Philadelphia, which focuses on urban areas; the University of Oklahoma, where CDHCs concentrate on remote rural communities; and AT Still University Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health's Mesa, AZ, campus, whose graduates will work in American Indian communities.

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