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Rural Health Information Hub

Formerly the
Rural Assistance Center

Outreach and Education Model

Rural communities are developing outreach and education programs that use curricula, tools, and media to increase community member knowledge and awareness of oral health. Community outreach and education programs may occur in dental clinics as well (see Dental Clinic Model). Rural oral health programs that focus on outreach and education may partner with Area Health Education Centers, local health departments, schools, day care centers, tribes, and Head Start programs. Examples of rural oral health outreach and education activities include:

  • Hosting a dental booth at a community health fair
  • Identifying champions providers in peer groups to increase awareness of oral healthcare challenges in their communities
  • Working with community health workers  to conduct education on oral health self-care and preventive care in order to reduce emergency department visits
  • Providing teachers with access to ongoing technical assistance on pediatric oral health issues
  • Educating providers about the importance of oral examinations of infants and toddlers
  • Conducting outreach to hard-to-reach populations such as migrant farm workers
  • Working with the Women, Infants, and Children and Head Start programs to include a dental education component

Implementation considerations

Rural oral health programs use culturally appropriate outreach and education strategies. Educational materials may be translated into different languages. Outreach may occur at churches, stores, and community centers.

Resources to Learn More

Community Health Access Project Pathways Model
Manual
The Community Health Access Project implemented the Pathways Model, which employs community health workers who connect at-risk individuals to evidence-based care through the use of individualized care pathways designed to produce healthy outcomes. While this program did not focus on oral health education, it could be adapted to focus on oral health.
Organization(s): Community Health Access Project

Into the Mouths of Babes Toolkit
Toolkit
The Into the Mouths of Babes program trains medical providers to deliver preventive oral health services to high-risk children.
Organization(s): North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

Oral Health Education Materials for Children
Resources
This website provides oral health education materials for children in first through fifth grade.
Organization(s): Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services - Oral Health Program

Smiles for Life: A National Oral Health Curriculum
Curriculum
Smiles for Life is a national comprehensive oral health curriculum. This curriculum is designed to enhance the role of primary care clinicians in the promotion of oral health for all age groups through the development and dissemination of high-quality educational resources. The curriculum contains educational modules for physicians, nurses, and physician assistants.
Organization(s): Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Group on Oral Health, DentaQuest Foundation, Washington Dental Service Foundation, Connecticut Health Foundation

The State of Oral Rural Health
Report
This document gives an overview of oral health problems in the U.S and highlights five rural health programs and that are using outreach and education models for improving access to dental care for rural populations.
Author(s): Fos, P. & Hutchison, L.
Organization(s): Texas A&M Health and Science Center
Date: 2003