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The Minnesota Collaborative Rural Oral Health Project (MN-CROHP)

Dr. Naty Lopez, from the School of Dentistry in the University of Minnesota, spoke with Dr. Chiraz Guessaier about a recently implemented program aimed at encouraging new graduates to practice in rural areas.

Dr. Lopez is Associate Professor in Dental Public Health and Assistant Dean of Admissions and Diversity in the U of MN School of Dentistry. 


The “Minnesota Collaborative Rural Oral Health” project is a 5-year training program funded by the US Dept. of Health and Human Services to help address the lack of access to oral health care in rural populations as well as lack of oral health care providers in these areas. Important partners include: preceptors from the Minnesota Dental Association who are willing to be mentors and role models, Minnesota Department of Health (Oral Health Unit), the public school system, especially the school nurses and the university’s extension officers.

The program is based on fundamental elements such as interprofessional training and the utilization and incorporation of mid-level providers, like dental therapists, which will allow for the integration of oral health care into the health care delivery system. In this way, oral health care instructions can be shared with new mothers and their infants at “well-baby checkups” as well as taught to elementary school children. Students also learn how to deliver care in a culturally-sensitive manner.


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