Grant to Support Dental Hygiene Therapist Pilot Program

Dentistry Today


The Dental Trade Alliance Foundation (DTAF) has awarded Penobscot Community Health Care (PCHC), the largest Federally Qualified Health Center in Maine, a $25,000 grant to pilot a dental hygiene therapist program at its Dental Center. 

In 2014, Maine was the second state to pass a law allowing dental hygiene therapists to practice, but no one has attempted to navigate its certification and licensure requirements, PCHC says.

PCHC is looking to be the first dental center in Maine to pilot the model, prove that its efficiency and success can be similar to the experience of dental hygiene therapy in other countries, and further expand dental access while reducing the cost of care. 

“By using dental hygiene therapists in the PCHS Dental Center, we will be able to serve more patients, see them sooner and more frequently, and complete treatment plans more efficiently,” said Lori Dwyer, president and CEO of PCHC.


“The work of dental hygiene therapists frees up our dentists for more complex procedures, which all benefits the patient. It’s working in other countries and a few other states, and we’re excited to see it work here in Maine,” said Dwyer. 

PCHC also received a $7,500 discretionary grant from the Maine Health Access Foundation that will help evaluate the clinical and financial outcomes of the pilot project. This evaluation will be conducted by the Schmidt Institute, the research arm of PCHC and St. Joseph Healthcare. 

PCHC has posted the job opening for a dental hygiene therapist and is actively recruiting candidates while licensure and certification details are being finalized.   

In its 2019 round of awards, the DTAF also distributed $25,000 grants designed to support pilot projects in improving oral healthcare to:

  • Apple Tree Dental
  • The Viscardi Center/InfiniTech
  • Michiana Health Information Network
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
  • Regents of the University of Minnesota
  • KinderSmile Foundation
  • University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry
  • Kids Smiles
  • National Commission on Correctional Health

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