A critical element in each community system is the dental coordinator. The dental coordinator acts as the liaison between community dental professionals, regional center personnel, caregivers and the individuals they serve. This includes but is not limited to:
- Integrating oral health into each regional center system. This has included developing and using a system of screening, triage and referral and then tracking and following-up on consumers screened.
- Recruiting and retaining community dentists who are willing to provide services to people with special needs. This is possible because of the relationship between the dental coordinator and the dental professional. They have been successful because they match the individual to the dental office, they provide support services and information for the dental office and they ensure that no one provider is overwhelmed by either the number of referrals or the complexity of the individuals they are being asked to treat.
- Training residential care providers, regional center case managers, physicians, nurses, occupational and physical therapists and personnel at community organizations about oral health care and prevention of dental disease for people with special needs.
- Advocating for inclusion of dental information in regional center processes, forms and questionnaires; developing brochures; writing oral health articles for newsletters; and gathering materials to be included in each regional center library.
- Conducting dental desensitization training with caregivers and regional center staff.
- Assisting with the development and maintenance of hospital dentistry services by acting as a liaison between hospitals, dentists, anesthesiologists and the regional center to maintain hospital referral and scheduling protocols. After dental procedures in the hospital, they train the individual or caregiver on implementing a proper oral hygiene routine to maintain good oral health and minimize the need for frequent operating room visits.
- Coordinating the Adopt A Home™ Project. The goal of this program is to recruit and coordinate dental professionals to adopt a care home and provide oral health care training to consumers and caregivers in that home. Dental professionals have included students from local hygiene schools, dentists, hygienists and nurses.