Facilitators of Successful Programs
There are several facilitators of successful oral health programs in rural communities:
Collaborating with different organizations allows for the development of new ideas and resources that benefit
oral health programs. Some oral health programs work with a consortium of partners to identify and resolve
Successful oral health programs have dedicated and experienced staff, such as dentists and program
administrators, who are committed to the success of the program.
Having a strong foothold in the community is a major advantage for any organization leading or collaborating in
a rural oral health program. Patients may be more receptive to education or outreach activities if they are
conducted by an organization that they already know of and trust.
Residents of rural communities experience greater challenges accessing oral healthcare services. People may need
to travel a greater distance, taking multiple hours to see a dentist. It is important for oral health programs
to offer some flexibility, in the event an individual is late or misses an appointment. This helps to reduce
barriers to access.
When developing direct service rural oral health programs, it is important to work with providers and other
program staff who are committed to working in an underserved area.
Rural programs often train providers and other staff about poverty and other similar issues, with the belief
that an understanding of these issues will improve their relationships with the populations they serve. One
resource that has been used in rural programs is the Ruby
Payne Framework for Understanding Poverty.
For additional information regarding the key features that make programs successful, see Characteristics of Successful Programs in the
Rural Community Health Toolkit.