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ADA Launches Community Dental Health Coordinator Program to Provide Dental Care in Underserved Areas
Date:3/16/2009

CHICAGO, March 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Coursework begins today as the American Dental Association (ADA) launches a pilot program in several states to deliver needed dental care to underserved people in urban, rural and Native American communities. The program, developed by the ADA over the past several years, creates a new dental health team member, the Community Dental Health Coordinator (CDHC).

CDHCs are drawn from the communities they are intended to serve, and supported by a dental team working under the supervision of a dentist.

They can help people in an underserved community in many valuable ways. As members of a community, they serve as role models by empowering their neighbors to take an active role in their oral health care such as brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing and eating a balanced diet--critical to breaking the cycle of dental disease. They are able to link patients to existing community-based, public health assistance programs and Medicaid. CDHCs are also trained to provide a range of preventive care services, such as fluoride treatments and placement of sealants.

Most importantly, the CDHC is trained to identify serious dental conditions that require immediate attention and will get patients to a dentist.

"We celebrate the roll-out of this program which the ADA and our partners have worked on meticulously over the past years," said ADA President Dr. John S. Findley. "This outreach effort is one of several ways that the ADA is addressing access to oral health issues."

CDHC Training

The ADA developed the CDHC curriculum over the past several years. Broadly described, it consists of a 12-month period of academic course work, followed by a six-month field internship. Today, students in several states begin the academic portion of their training, which is provided via the Internet.

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SOURCE American Dental Association
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