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WMCHC Dental Hygiene Practitioner Makes History in New Mexico

During her sabbatical from the Together for Health Dental Center (TFHDC) in Honesdale, Wood became the first licensed CDHC in the United States.

The role of the CDHC is to bring mobile dental health services such as cleanings, fluoride treatments, sealants and x-rays to under-served communities. The American Dental Association created the CDHC as a pilot program in 2006 to assist communities where residents have either limited or no access to dental care.

Wood expressed her reaction when the American Dental Association initially approached her, “When I was offered the assignment, the first person I spoke to was my husband and the second was our Executive Director,” she said with a laugh. Aware Wood’s absence would have a monumental affect both personally and professionally, her spouse, John and Wayne Memorial Community Health Center’s Frederick Jackson each gave their blessing and encouraged her to pursue the opportunity.

According to the American Dental Association’s (ADA) CDHC project manager, Lucianna Sweis, “New Mexico is the only state currently recognizing the CDHC in the dental practice. As yet, there are no training programs or CDHCs employed in the state.” Sweis explained it was the hope of the ADA that through demonstrating the knowledge and skills gained by CDHC training as well as speaking to New Mexico state legislators and college administrators, Wood’s time spent in Silver City would help pave the way for future CDHCs in the State.

When Wood applied for her CDHC licensure in New Mexico, she was informed that hers would be the first ever issued, “I looked at my license and the number was 00001; which is pretty cool,” she exclaimed. Because the process was so new, it took from April until July for the credentialing to be finalized. In the interim, Wood attended 56 dental outreach programs covering schools, senior centers and even spoke at a local block party and visited the community pool. In all, she educated over 1400 community members on basic oral hygiene and preventative dental care.

Wood appreciates more than ever the need for accessible care on a national level, “I have always wanted to bring dental services and my knowledge to others. I realized that the people here in Northeast PA have the same barriers and concerns that limit them from seeking dental care as the people in New Mexico,” she stated. “The experience has opened my eyes to the bigger picture of public health issues and concerns in the whole United States.”

Now with Wood back home, The Together for Health Dental Center is working towards expanding the CDHC’s role throughout Wayne, Pike and Lackawanna counties. Plans include offering on-site services to Head Start Programs, primary care physician offices and nursing home facilities.

For more information on the TFHDC or the CDHC program specifically, call 570-251-6534 or visit www.wmh/WMCHC. TFHDC is a part of Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers, a federally qualified health center clinically affiliated with Wayne Memorial Health System, Inc.

WMCHC Together For Health Dental HygienistPhoto: The Together For Health Dental Center’s Senior Dental Hygienist and Community Dental Health Coordinator Lori Wood, RDH, PHDHP, CDHC, a resident of Equinunk, is shown in New Mexico at the Hidalgo Medical Services Center’s fitness and nutrition program entitled “Jump into Summer”. Wood hosted a dental information booth for children and parents as one of several outreach programs during a four-month assignment with the American Dental Association. Left to right are Wood, John Babyal, Angel Baybal and Eshmiah Baybel.


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