Skip to main content

Allied Health Professional Model

Allied health professionals support rural oral health programs by providing oral healthcare services, including:

  • Education
  • Referral
  • Screening
  • Support services

According to the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions,

“Allied Health professionals are involved with the delivery of health or related services pertaining to the identification, evaluation and prevention of diseases and disorders;”

Allied health professionals include:

  • Dental hygienists
  • Dental assistants
  • Health educators
  • Dental laboratory technicians

Some states have proposed the creation of a new allied health professional training program for mid-level dental providers called dental therapists to perform certain procedures. Dental therapists have practiced in the United States and other countries such as New Zealand, Canada, Hong Kong, and Thailand. The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium introduced dental therapists to care for Alaska Natives in tribal villages in 2005. In 2009, Minnesota authorized the training and practice of dental therapists.

Implementation considerations

Allied health professionals may support school-based programs (see School Based Model), mobile dental services programs (see Mobile Dental Services Model), dental clinic programs (see Dental Clinic Model), and dental home programs (see Dental Home Model).

Resources to Learn More

American Dental Assistants Association
This website provides information about the American Dental Assistants Association and the American Dental Assistants Association Foundation.

American Dental Education Association
ADEA is the premier association serving the dental education community. Dental education is a broad and varied field that educates individuals as general dentists, specialists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, and dental laboratory technicians.

American Dental Hygienists Association
This website provides information about the American Dental Hygienists Association and other resources about oral health.

The Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions
This website provides information about the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions as well as links to other relevant websites.

Breaking Down Barriers to Oral Health for All Americans: The Community Dental Health Coordinator
Describes a pilot program by the American Dental Association to create Community Dental Health Coordinators. This is a new type of community health worker trained in disease prevention, patient education, and patient navigation for underserved locations.
Organization(s): American Dental Association
Date: 10/2012

A Review of the Global Literature on Dental Therapists
Reviews the different ways that countries around the world use dental therapists in the oral health workforce.
Author(s): Nash, D., Friedman, J., & Mathu-Muju, K.
Organization(s): W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Date: 4/2012