NHC’s Community Dental Program Brings Oral Hygiene Services to Schools Around Portland

Outside of our clinics, Neighborhood Health Center’s (NHC) Community Dental Program takes dental hygiene services on the road to meet patients where they are in the community.  From school-age children in schools to parents in transitional housing, the Community Dental team responds to the need for affordable, accessible dental services by providing care in a variety of non-clinical settings.

The Community Dental Program has been around since 2011, a year after NHC opened, and has evolved from one hygienist providing Head Start screenings into a dynamic team of six providing preventive oral health services in a variety of community settings. The Community Dental Team partners with community schools and programs serving low-income, socially and medically vulnerable populations.  The program helps community members identify oral health problems early, provide oral health education, and connect individuals to a dental home, especially those identified with ongoing oral health problems.

Team members visit schools in Washington and Clackamas Counties to teach school-age children about proper oral hygiene and provide a hands-on opportunity to learn about their health.  Team members also provide presentations and informational events for civic service programs and school districts on the importance of integrated, community dental programs.

The program also provides short-term case management, such as referrals to dental clinics and resources, and insurance enrollment and navigation assistance to ensure community members feel supported in taking control of their health.

Twelve years after its creation, the Community Dental Program now regularly serves 20 schools in six districts, families in four Head Start programs and WIC, and Parrott Creek Child & Family Services, a treatment and transitional housing facility in Clackamas County. We also provide oral hygiene supplies to make it easier for community members to use their new oral hygiene knowledge to keep their teeth healthy.

Learn more about the NHC’s dental program by visiting our dental services page.