University of Cincinnati Blue Ash is offering the first program to train community dental health coordinators in Ohio.

A community dental health coordinator (CDHC) is a member of the dental team who provides oral health education and reaches out to the community. The goal of a CDHC is to help populations who are at risk for dental disease navigate the health care system.

Certified dental assistants and registered dental hygienists are eligible to attend the program at the University of Cincinnati, and it is open to those who may be working in a private practice or public health setting.

The training will equip CDHCs to help the public navigate what dental services are necessary, where those services are located and how to access those services through culturally competent “case management” strategies.

CDHCs are also trained to help reduce patients’ anxiety, provide oral health education and describe dental procedures. They often can help reduce hospital emergency department visits for oral health issues by helping connect patients with a dental home and also work to improve compliance with oral hygiene recommendations. CDHCs often work in a multispecialty care facility, a community clinic or within a primary care medical site.

The program is using a curriculum developed by the American Dental Association and is receiving technical assistance and support from the ADA.

In 2006, the ADA established the community dental health coordinator pilot program to help break through the barriers that prevent people from receiving regular dental care and enjoying optimal oral health.

In 2016, The ODA Foundation awarded the first ever ODA Foundation Community Dental Health Coordinator Scholarship to Tiffaney Hamm, who at the time worked as a program manager for the City of Cincinnati Health Department at Oyler Community Learning Center, which includes a self-sustaining dental clinic inside the school. Hamm earned a certificate in Community Dental Health Coordination from Rio Salado College via distance learning.

“I chose to go through the program because I saw a need of working with our families to help remove barriers for learning for our patients,” Hamm said. “Once I connected with our patients and their families, I realized that there were often times other issues that were preventing them for their oral health care. Insurance, language barriers, transportation, custody issues, lack of knowledge or understanding, etc. I knew that our school couldn’t be that different than other pockets of the population – I felt there was a need.”

Hamm said the training was beneficial because it provided training beyond oral health education.

“The class allowed me to collaborate with other people in the profession and learn more about the various strategies that they used to overcome some of the barriers,” she said. “It helped teach me communication techniques and provide me with a foundation of social issues that needed consideration when working with different populations.”

Hamm said she thinks the role of community dental health coordinators are an important part of the dental team.

“Working in public health, and in a community learning center, I have learned that it takes a village,” she said. “The role is needed to help build relationships and trust with the patients and their families. It allows the doctors, and the front office staff time to do what they need to do to run a practice – but helps the patients with connections and resources that they may not have access to.”

Hamm now works as director of enrichment at the Oyler Community Learning Center, where she still plays a role of collaborating with families to remove barriers for learning and lifestyle needs. She and her team help with housing, childcare, health care including dentistry, food stability, clothing needs, enrichment programming, post-secondary support and more.

The Community Dental Health Coordinator Program at the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash will be an online curriculum with synchronous online meetings on a monthly basis. The program will take place from Feb. 13, 2023 until Sept. 1, 2023.

Certified dental assistants and registered dental assistants can find more information and register at The deadline to apply is Feb. 1, 2023.

The ODA Foundation plans to again offer a CDHC scholarship. Watch the ODA Today for more information.