Allied Health Professional Model
Allied health professionals support rural oral health programs by providing oral healthcare services,
- 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
- Community dental health coordinators
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. As of 2021, dental
therapists are authorized to work in 13 states, and 12 additional states are actively exploring the
authorization of dental therapy.
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).
There is promising
evidence that expanding the scope of services delivered by allied health professionals increases access
to oral healthcare, increases the availability of oral health professionals in communities that are medically
underserved, and reduces cavities.
Resources to Learn More
Dental Health Coordinator
Describes a new type of community health worker — a community dental health coordinator — to help
address the oral healthcare needs of people in underserved locations. Includes information on training for this
Organization(s): American Dental Association (ADA)
Dental Therapy: A Plan for Implementation, Outcome, and Cost Evaluation
Outlines a plan with examples for evaluating dental therapy programs (DTP) that can be customized and
incorporated early in DTP development. Plan focuses on the implementation efforts and outcomes rather than on
the training of dental therapists. Discusses oral healthcare disparities in the U.S., limited access to dentists
particularly for children, and the importance of dental therapists as mid-level practitioners who can improve
access by providing basic oral healthcare.
Author(s): Rog, D., Love, C., & Hawkins, J.
Organization(s): Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Westat
the Dental Workforce
Provides an overview of Pew's work to expand the dental workforce by licensing dental therapists to improve
access to treatment in rural communities, with a focus on children.
Organization(s): The Pew Charitable Trusts