This program is designed for Certified Dental Assistants (CDAs) and Dental Hygienists (RDHs) who are interested in exploring community dental health. Community Dental Health Coordinators (CDHC) are health care workers who help promote oral health in underserved communities. A CDHC is essentially a Community Health Worker (CHW) with an emphasized skill set related to oral health. Working under the direction of a Dentist and in partnership with a community clinic, CDHCs will provide oral health education, prevention intervention, provide low level dental care, and help patients navigate an often complex public health system to receive adequate oral health care. CDHCs will be working in the communities, peoples’ homes and other locations under the same concept and realm of a CHW. The CDHC will also establish an emergency triage system and an organized oral health referral system with the Community Clinic or Federally Qualified Health System and dentists they will be working with.
CDHCs work in Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), Indian Health Service and Tribal clinics, and other safety-net facilities. The role of the CDHC is emerging as a valuable member of the dental health care team. The State of New Mexico plans to expand the number of CDHCs working as patient navigators, preventive specialists, and oral health screening workforce in the community health center and private practice environment to reduce barriers to access (socio-economic, cultural, geographic, educational, and psychological), while increasing the capacity of community dental health programs and private practices.