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Rural Health Information Hub

Oral Health in Rural Communities – Models and Innovations

These stories feature model programs and successful rural projects that can serve as a source of ideas and provide lessons others have learned. Some of the projects or programs may no longer be active. Read about the criteria and evidence-base for programs included.

Other Project Examples

funded by the Health Resources Services Administration Cavity Free at Three
Updated/reviewed December 2019
  • Need: In Colorado, 31% of children have experienced dental decay by the time they reach kindergarten. With several frontier and rural counties in Colorado considered dental deserts, options for oral healthcare are limited.
  • Intervention: Cavity Free at Three (CF3) works to improve access to preventive oral health for pregnant women and young children. While CF3 is a statewide effort, 87% of the program's target counties are considered rural or frontier.
  • Results: CF3 has trained over 5,000 medical and dental professionals in performing preventive dental health. The percentage of children who received oral healthcare from a medical or dental provider before the age of 2 has progressively increased, and fewer Colorado children have cavities now than they did 10 years ago.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Oral Health Outreach Program
Updated/reviewed October 2019
  • Need: Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children in the United States.
  • Intervention: The Eastern Shore Area Health Education Center provides Oral Health education through the "Tooth Fairy's Helper" to elementary-aged children along the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
  • Results: Over 35,000 children have received oral health education through presentations in schools since 2006.
Capitol Dental Care's Virtual Dental Homes
Updated/reviewed November 2018
  • Need: Dentists in Polk County, Oregon who accepted Oregon Health Plan were booked out for months, causing patients with dental needs to have to wait for an appointment or travel to an adjoining county for dental care.
  • Intervention: Capitol Dental Care began a Virtual Dental Home teledentistry model to bring preventive dental care to 3 elementary schools and several Head Start programs.
  • Results: Through this program, over 700 students have received dental care in their schools.

Last Updated: 12/23/2019