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

DHL 2021 Annual Report

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

Dental Hygienist Liaisons in the News

  • Dental Hygiene Liaisons: Your State's Perfect Partner
    Three dental hygienist liaisons tell their stories of how they are making an impact in their communities and throughout their states. (November 2019)
  • ADHA Access Article, December, 2019
    In this special edition of Access on Nutrition, three dental hygienist liaisons were featured on how they provide nutrition education in their states (pages 8-9).
  • ADHA Access Article on DHL Project May/June 2019
    The dental hygienist liaison (DHL) project was featured in the digital version of the May/June issue of Access. The article and DHL project handout can be found on pages 17 and D8. The American Dental Hygienists' Association granted ASTDD permission to post this issue on their website.

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.

2023 DHL Meetings and Webinars

Oral Health Messaging for Children's Dental Health Month - This webinar will identify four oral health messages Head Start programs can use to celebrate National Children's Dental Health Month (NCDHM). For each message, you will learn about strategies and resources to promote children's oral health in Head Start programs during NCDHM. You will also learn more about the Final Rule on Mitigating the Spread of COVID-19 in Head Start Programs (January 2023)

Archived DHL Webinars