Community Dental Team

Collaborative, competent care and health equity for all

We are excited to share that this section is being updated to provide you with a How-to Guide/Toolkit regarding integration of collaborative practice dental hygienists into community health settings. Content describes ways in which oral health and other health care professionals can collaborate to become a "21st Century Community Dental Team." Team members include oral health professionals, medical-health professionals, community health workers, school staff, and multiple community partners.  Check back regularly to find additions and upgrades to the website.  

Integration and coordination of medical and dental health approaches to reach optimal/total health. 

Inter-professional collaboration is a driving force behind state-of-the art health care delivery. (Fried, 2014).  "Restructuring the oral health delivery system to accommodate the medically underserved will require reconfiguration of the dental team.  To a large extent, increasing access to oral healthcare will depend upon developing inter-professional relations." 

When "professional teams work collaboratively, they value one another's perspectives and contributions, they understand and appreciate true teamwork, they communicate effectively, and share an ethical code that is premised on just and high quality care."

Community Dental Team Toolbox

The Community Dental Team toolbox contains information on utilization and practices pertaining to professionals working as a "Community Dental Team", to include community health workers, collaborative practice dental hygienists, dental therapists and medical/health-care colleagues.

                                    A great place to begin your search is by viewing the Collaborative Dental
                           Hygiene Practice "Coffee Talk" videos, found in the dropdown (below). 

                           Click HERE to download a Collaborative Agreement template (Dental Hygiene)

     Click HERE to download an in-depth document titled Collaborative
                           Practice Authorization For Dental Hygienists In Community Settings


Definition of the 21st Century Dental Team

The 21st Century Dental Team is a partnership between a team of health providers and clients using a collaborative and coordinated approach to shared decision making around health and social issues. Restructure of the traditional oral health care team will result in increased access to oral healthcare, with health equity as the goal. In the future, the formation of an interprofessional team of dental, medical, and other providers will further enhance this goal.


(Source: Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO)

Team Member Roles in the 21st Century Team

Team Member Role Definitions

The illustration above depicts the inter-relationship of the professions
comprising a 21st century dental team

The dentist is the fundamental nucleus of the professional dental team committed to leading and supporting team members toward achievement of a shared goal, which is to provide accessible comprehensive patient - centered care.

Dental Hygienist
The dental hygienist, the team's preventive oral health care specialist, reaches out to serve and empower patients to achieve optimal oral health through preventive, therapeutic and educational services. The dental hygienist practicing collaboratively in alternative settings is committed to eliminating barriers to oral health care.

Advanced Dental Therapist
This mid-level dental team member is unique, with competence in preventive, therapeutic, surgical and restorative dental services and holds a professional commitment to providing much-needed care to underserved populations.

Dental Assistant
The dental assistant being central to dental team success ensures adeptness and efficiency to the team's delivery of quality patient care, whose role and effectiveness helps expand outreach possibilities. 

Community Health Worker/Navigator
The community health worker/navigator is the dental team's trusted and most connected patient advocate effective in ensuring health care needs are met because of their close understanding of the community in which they serve.  

Administrative Staff
Office managers and administrative assistants are the dental team's organizers, budgeters, schedulers, insurance filers, and key communicators whose networking capabilities promote a clinic's ability to extend their community services.

Medical Team
Bridging professional strengths through effective collaboration leads to improved health outcomes. From physician, pharmacist, physician's assistant, nurse practitioner, nurse, nursing assistant, physical and occupational therapist, to patient care coordinator and beyond... linking systemic health to oral health requires well-connected inter-professional care. 

Click HERE for video from the Oral Health Summit II (August 2017 at Normandale Community College) of 'Moving Towards Value-Based Care: Implications for the Oral Health Workforce' presented by Margaret Langelier from the Oral Health Workforce Center (OHWFC).

The Minnesota Model: Advanced Dental Hygiene Practice Timeline

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Click HERE

Collaborative Dental Hygiene Practice Coffee Talks


                               Coffee Talk Screen Shot

Learn how YOU can:
*Expand the number of dental hygienists who provide more people with access to preventive and therapeutic services and help in finding a dental home. 

*Practice in a "collaborative agreement' with a licensed dentist, in settings such as schools, Head Start centers, long term care, mobile dental units, etc. as specified by law and when a dentist is not present or on site. 


(August 2018) 


Coffee Talk 1   "State of the Union" (7:47) Click HERE to view the video

Coffee Talk 2   "Unraveling the Mysteries - Part I" (8:58) Click HERE to view the video 


(January 2019)

Coffee Talk 3   "Unraveling the Mysteries - Part II" (10:36) Click HERE to view the video 

Coffee Talk 4   "Good News and Addressing Challenges" (10:09) Click HERE to view the video

(March 2019)  

Coffee Talk 5   "Looking to the Future" (10:41) Click HERE to view the video 

Collaborative Practice Authorization for Dental Hygienists in Community Settings

 Click HERE to download a Collaborative Agreement template (Dental Hygiene)

Because of many barriers to oral health care for underserved populations, it has become more evident that dental providers, like dental hygienists, need to provide services in non-traditional settings in order to access those in need.  Collaborative practice authorization in community settings allows dental hygienists to provide their scope of practice to more people and to arrange for follow up care as needed.  With an increase in utilization of this model it is anticipated that more people will access preventive services and be guided in finding a dental home.

Be sure to watch the Collaborative Dental Hygiene Practice Coffee Talk videos found in this Community Dental Team section. 

Click HERE to download an in-depth document titled Collaborative Practice Authorization For Dental Hygienists In Community Settings.

Dental Therapist/Advanced Dental Therapist

The Master of Science in Advanced Dental Therapy Program (MSADT) offered by the Minnesota State System is dental hygiene-based, building upon the foundation of baccalaureate dental hygiene education. Using a model that begins with a licensed dental hygienist assures that applicants are prepared with critical thinking and problem solving skills and judgment in collaboration with dentists that are necessary for advanced dental therapy practice.

Dental Therapy:

The following videos were produced by Normandale Community College.  Featured are Minnesota oral health stakeholders who describe their support for the new oral health care team member and address issues commonly raised by dentists and others who are considering inclusion of a dental therapist (DT) or advanced dental therapist (ADT) as part of their practice team.

Benefits of Dual Licensure: Dental Hygiene (DH) and Dental Therapy (DT)VIDEO

Thoughts on Dental Therapy (DT) and Advanced Dental Therapy (ADT)VIDEO

Employing a Dental Therapist (DT) or Advanced Dental Therapist (ADT)VIDEO

Alternative Settings Outside of a Traditional Dental OfficeVIDEO

Collaborative Management Agreements (DT and ADT)VIDEO

Click HERE to view An Advanced Dental Therapist in Long Term Care: Heather Luebben Case Study and video presentation.  Features a dual-licensed advanced dental therapist/dental hygienist's work as part of the care team at the Minnesota Veteran's Home, Minneapolis, MN.


Click HERE to view An Advanced Dental Therapist in Rural Minnesota: Jodi Hager Case Study.  Features a dual-licensed advanced dental therapist/dental hygienist's work as part of the care team at Apple Tree Dental's Madelia Center for Dental Health, Madelia Hospital in rural southern Minnesota.

This Dental Therapist is Filling a Gap in U.S. Health Care

Carol Kaufmann
July 28, 2017, TRUST MAGAZINE

This Pew Trust article (Trust magazine, July 2017) features care provided by Jodi Becker, a Minnesota dual-licensed Advanced Dental Therapist/Dental Hygienist.

Click HERE to access Highlights from the Approved Dental Therapy Education Standards from the American Dental Hygienists Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). August 2015

Click HERE to access "The Origins of Minnesota's Mid-Level Dental Practitioner:  Alignment of Problem, Political and Policy Streams" published in the ADHA Journal of Dental Hygiene that explores how Minnesota came to legislate a mid-level dental practitioner to its oral health workforce and highlights the roles of issue formation, agenda setting and politics in policymaking.

Click HERE to access "Dental therapy practice patterns in Minnesota: a baseline study" by Blue, C., Kaylor, M.B. 2016

Click HERE to access "The Dental Therapist Movement in the United States: A Critique of Current Trends" published by the Journal of Public Health Dentistry. 

Dental Therapy Toolkit: A Resource for Potential Employers

Developed for the Minnesota Department of Health Office of Rural Health and Primary Care by a partnership between Normandale Community College/ Metropolitan State University, the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, and MS Strategies. This project is part of a $45 million State Innovation Model (SIM) cooperative agreement, awarded to the Minnesota Departments of Health and Human Services in 2013 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.

Hiring a Dental Therapist or Advanced Dental Therapist:  Enhancing Your Oral Health Team - Toolkit.

Developed by Normandale Community College/Metropolitan State University and the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. The project was funded by the Otto Bremer Foundation to inform others about dental therapy and advanced dental therapy.

Community Health Workers/Navigators

Impoverished children and adults, people of color, immigrants and refugees, and many elders lack access to high-quality, affordable and culturally-competent oral care and suffer frequent, serious dental problems. Part of the solution to advancing health equity in Minnesota is integration of Community Health Workers (CHWs) into the oral health care system. 

Click HERE to view the "Success with CHWs: Oral Health Road Map", presented by the Minnesota Community Health Worker Alliance to address these challenges.

A Community Health Worker (CHW) is a frontline public health worker who has a close understanding of community needs and the persons they serve. This relationship enables the CHW to serve as a navigator or liaison between health and social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competency of service delivery.

A CHW builds individual and community capacity through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy.  Minnesota has six Community Health Worker educational programs.  

Community Health Worker Alliance website

Wellshare International: Minnesota Community Health Worker Peer Network               

Minnesota Department of Health- Community Health Worker (CHW)

Minnesota Department of Health- Community Health Worker Toolkit

Minnesota Department of Human Services- Community Health Worker (CHW)

Community Health Worker Integration: Issues and Options for State Health Departments

Resources Community Dental Team

Network for Public Health Law logo

Issue Brief:

Policy Options to Increase Access to Oral Health Care and Improve Oral Health by Expanding the Oral Health Workforce


Click HERE to access the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) summary report of workforce data.