Chapter 1Getting Started

The SMILES Dental Project® aims to eliminate barriers to care and ultimately improve access and outcomes for patients. This chapter provides information about the model of integrating dental hygienists in communities to provide dental care in nontraditional settings such as schools, mental health centers, nursing homes and other community agencies.

The tools in this chapter are best used to start planning your model in your community. It is important to note that because each community is different, there is not a one-size-fits-all method for implementing the Virtual Dental Home model. The most successful organizations conducted extensive planning and built strong community partnerships and strong clinical care teams before they began serving patients in the community sites.

The University of the Pacific has had great success addressing the needs of Californians with barriers to traditional models of care through their Virtual Dental Home demonstration project. To read more about the model that influenced Colorado’s SMILES Dental Project®, visit the  University of the Pacific website.