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Rural Health Information Hub

Outreach and Education Model

Outreach and education programs use curricula, tools, and media to increase community member knowledge and awareness of oral health. Community outreach and education programs may occur in a variety of settings, including dental clinics (see Dental Clinic Model).

Examples of rural oral health outreach and education activities rural communities are conducting include:

  • Hosting a dental booth at a community health fair
  • Identifying champions in peer groups to increase awareness of oral healthcare challenges within communities
  • Working with community health workers to conduct education on oral health self-care and preventive care in order to reduce emergency department visits
  • 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

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.

Example of Rural Oral Health Outreach and Education Programs

The Regional Oral Health Pathway program educates participants on oral health self-care through community presentations.

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. Rural programs have had success using community health workers (CHWs) in outreach and education models. For more information about CHWs, see the Rural Community Health Workers Toolkit.

Resources to Learn More

Mouth Healthy
Collection of educational dental resources that providers can share with their patients. Covers sealants, nutrition, and offers a locator tool for finding a dentist.
Organization(s): American Dental Association (ADA)

Open Wide: Oral Health Training for Health Professionals
Series of four online modules designed to help health and early childhood professionals working in community settings promote oral health for infants, children, and their families.
Organization(s): National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center

Oral Health: Educational Resources
Collection of educational materials and training programs, offered by public health dental hygienists, targeted for all ages and vulnerable populations. Topics covered include basic oral health, hygiene, fluoride, dental disease and injury prevention, and professional dental care practices.
Organization(s): North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health

Smiles for Life: A National Oral Health Curriculum
Offers a comprehensive oral health curriculum and educational resources designed to enhance the role of primary care clinicians, dentists, dental hygienists, and pharmacists in the promotion of oral health for all age groups. Includes resources for patient education.
Organization(s): Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Group on Oral Health