The ADA has signed an agreement with Temple University, Philadelphia, to train new dental team members as part of a pilot program to improve oral health in underserved communities.

According to an announcement from the ADA, participants in the progam will become Community Dental Health Coordinators (CDHCs), members of the dental health team who work in communities where residents have limited access to dental care.

The role of the CDHC is to provide a limited range of preventive dental care services including screenings and fluoride treatments. The CDHC will also help patients navigate the health system, aid them in accessing care from a dentist or an appropriate clinic, and engage in educational activities to improve community members’ oral health habits.

Over the next 2 years, Temple will recruit and train CDHCs from urban locations in Philadelphia, returning them to their communities to work as dental team members under the supervision of dentists. The ADA funds the program, which will train six students each year.

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

"Our aim is to ensure that the coordinator is able to bridge the gap between local cultures and health care systems. 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," said Amid I. Ismail, BDS, MPH, MBA, DrPH, dean of Temple University’s Kornberg School of Dentistry.