Through Community Dental Health Coordinators (CDHCs), ODA is looking to bring additional dental health education and disease prevention to underserved communities. CDHCs are similar to community health workers, helping to connect people to public health resources and dentists who can provide their needed treatment. Clackamas Community College is considering a CDHC training program with American Dental Association’s approved curriculum that could help underserved populations overcome language, cultural and anxiety barriers, navigate coverage options and find the care they need.
Dentists are working with physicians and others to co-locate dental care providers with primary medical care clinics, reducing barriers while also decreasing the number of people going to emergency rooms for dental care.
Oregon Dental Association’s Mission of Mercy is a traveling dental clinic offer free screenings and services donated by volunteer dental health care providers. Since it began in 2010, the program has provided $5.5 million in free dental care to nearly 9,000 patients.
The Dental Foundation of Oregon’s Tooth Taxi is a state-of-the-art dental office on wheels with a full-time dentist and staff providing free dental care and education to uninsured and underserved children throughout the state. Since it began in 2008, the Tooth Taxi has served more than 18,000 children.
Dentists are also finding ways to strengthen and expand the public/private safety net by fighting for adequately funded Medicaid programs that encourage provider participation and for adult dental coverage in the program, among other strategies.