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Rural Health Information Hub

Dental Home Model

The dental home model of care is a comprehensive approach to providing a regular source of care to communities with limited access to oral health care. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry adopted the dental home as a policy in 2001 and defined it as:

“…the ongoing relationship between the dentist and the patient, inclusive of all aspects of oral health care delivered in a comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated, and family-centered way.”

The dental home model emphasizes overall wellness through improved oral health status, increased collaboration among providers, and the promotion of health education. Rural communities are designing dental homes for both adults and children.

Examples of Rural Dental Home Programs

The Michigan Community Dental Clinic program has been replicated in rural communities. This network of public health clinics serves adults and children on Medicaid as well as low income, uninsured individuals. This program is striving to expand the clinic system to establish dental homes for persons unable to obtain care in private sector settings.

For other examples of the dental home model, see the following programs in the Rural Health Models and Innovations section:

Implementation Considerations

The dental home model emphasizes wellness, prevention, and disease management. The staff that may support dental homes include dental hygienists, dental assistants, nutritionists, and health educators. The services provided through dental home programs may include screenings, referrals for other services, and outreach to identify people who are at greatest risk of oral disease. Because of the services provided and the outreach component, the dental home model requires collaboration across other providers, agencies, and organizations in the community.

Resources to Learn More

Policy on the Dental Home
Document
Describes the development and support of the dental home model promoting high quality, professional dental care that is cost effective for all infants, children, adolescents, and persons with special healthcare needs.
Organization(s): American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD)
Date: 2018

Policy on Workforce Issues and Delivery of Oral Health Services in a Dental Home
Document
Presents background information on the inequities in the oral health of disadvantaged children in the U.S. Addresses access to care and workforce issues. Highlights the benefits of a dentist-directed dental home to support optimal oral health for children.
Organization(s): American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD)
Date: 2019