Association‌ of‌ State‌ &‌ Territorial‌ Dental‌ Directors
3858‌ Cashill Blvd.,‌ Reno,‌ NV‌ ‌89509
Phone‌ 775-626-5008‌‌

National Center on Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety

Dental Hygienist Liaison Project

Because of the importance of oral health during pregnancy and early childhood, in 2011 the National Center on Health, working in partnership with the American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA), created the Dental Hygienist Liaison (DHL) project. Under the DHL project, one dental hygienist from each state volunteers to help promote oral health for pregnant women and children enrolled in Head Start. The DHL project continues as part of the Office of Head Start currently funded through the National Center on Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety (NCHBHS). The National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center is the project lead for NCHBHS oral health activities and works in partnership with ASTDD, which coordinates the Dental Hygienist Liaison Project.

Role of the Dental Hygienist Liaison

DHLs promote oral health in Head Start by:

  • Providing a communication link between NCHBHS and Head Start agencies in their states
  • Collaborating with state organizations such as oral health programs, Head Start collaboration offices, and Head Start Associations
  • Providing oral health presentations at state conferences and meetings
  • Offering strategies to improve access to oral health care for pregnant women and children enrolled in Head Start
  • Working with oral health professionals to establish partnerships with local Head Start programs
  • Sharing information about the importance of oral health and regular oral health visits, good nutrition and oral hygiene practices, and oral-injury-prevention strategies with Head Start program staff
  • Serving on Head Start committees (e.g., Head Start health manager networks, Head Start health services advisory committees) and oral health advisory boards and coalitions to promote the oral health of Head Start participants

ASTDD descriptive report for the DHL Project

2023 DHL Annual Report

Something to Smile About! Head Start and Dental Hygienist Liaison Project 2021 NOHC Roundtable Slides

DHL Resources

Information about DHL Project

Information about Head Start

Oral Health Social Media Campaign

2021 Social Media Campaign for Head Start Parents and Caregivers: Features messages and graphics for use on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. All of this content is accessible here Visitors are encouraged to start by downloading the Social Media Toolkit, which contains all of the sample messages and instructions for using the videos/graphics that are stored on this web portal.

Key Contacts

Approved Educational Materials

Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center (ECLKC)

ECLKC is a central repository for materials for Head Start staff and others who work to support health and wellness for pregnant women and children enrolled in Head Start programs. The materials listed on the oral health page of the ECLKC website are approved for sharing with Head Start staff and families. DHLs are encouraged to save this site as a favorite and refer to it often when responding to questions from Head Start staff and families. These materials cover a wide variety of oral health topics such as dental visits, fluoride, nutrition, oral health care, oral hygiene, and safety and emergency first aid. There are also numerous materials developed to help support Head Start staff in their efforts to improve the oral health of Head Start families and meet the requirements of the Head Start Program Performance Standards related to oral health.

NCHBHS Presentations

These presentations, which have been approved by the Office of Head Start for NCHBHS oral health staff to use, cover topics such as engaging families, partnering with parents, dental public health, and promoting oral health during pregnancy. You may use the presentations as a whole or delete slides and/or combine slides from multiple presentations. You may not add any new content to the slides without approval. To download files, select the desired folders and click the download arrow in the upper right corner of the screen.

2024 DHL Meetings and Webinars

Minimally Invasive Dentistry for the Pediatric Population- We are all aware of the challenges that Head Start families face in accessing appropriate dental care. We live in fast changing times where we have newer technologies that can add more "tools to the dental care toolbox" to help in those efforts. In response to requests from state DHLs to learn more about SDF, Haley Buckner, a Registered Dental Hygienist and the Professional Relations Manager for Elevate Oral Care shares her passion and expertise on the latest trends in minimally invasive care, prevention, prevention-related products, and caries risk assessment protocols. Haley will review the topic of early childhood caries and its prevalence, discuss risk assessments and how those impact prevention recommendations, and explore the various in-office preventive options available for high-risk pediatric patients. DHLs will be equipped to engage with Head Start programs and collaborate effectively with state partners, fostering better dental health outcomes for vulnerable pediatric populations. (April 2024)

Orientation to the Health Manager Orientation Guide (HMOG)- The Health Manager Orientation guide is a new, online resource to help health managers determine what needs their attention, how to structure their work, and ways to continue to grow and learn. The oral health chapter of HMOG will quickly become a DHL's best friend when providing oral health support to health managers. During this session, participants will learn about the role of the Head Start health manager and the core areas of health, behavioral health, and safety that health managers may support. Key tasks of management and oversight of health services supported by the health manager will also be identified. Dental hygienist liaisons will become familiar with the guide and identify how they can use it to support the work of the health manager.  (January 2024)

Archived DHL Webinars