How and why Oregon’s Advantage Dental uses Bridges Out of Poverty to build dental health equity


Advantage Dental, headquartered in Redmond, Oregon, has developed innovative dentistry practices to build dental health equity throughout the state. Two of the models it used to define and design its practices are Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities (1999, 2009) and the later book Bridges to Health and Healthcare (2014).

Advantage Dental was founded in 1994 by a group of Oregon dentists concerned with the lack of access to dental care in rural Oregon. The model they created addressed this concern, as well as the need for affordable and effective dental insurance to groups of all sizes throughout Oregon. In 2009, when Advantage Dental acquired Hayden Family Dental’s Oregon Health Plan (OHP) contracts, Advantage Dental’s OHP recipients more than doubled from 58,000 OHP recipients to nearly 120,000. Since that time, this number has steadily grown to its current total of more than 330,000 recipients with OHP coverage.

Currently Advantage Dental has more than 300 owners; three dozen Advantage Dental clinics (and counting); approximately 90 employees located at the Advantage Dental headquarters in Central Oregon; and more than 380 workers statewide.

In April 2012 Cindy Shirtcliff and Terie Dreussi-Smith met at a national Bridges Out of Poverty conference in Salt Lake City. Terie, a co-author of both Bridges Out of Poverty and Bridges to Health and Healthcare, asked Cindy what she wanted out of the conference, and Cindy said she had come in order to apply Bridges to the practice of dentistry. Cindy is the regional manager community liaison for Advantage Dental, a dental services company with 240 dentists providing dental care in Oregon The two then began talking about how Advantage Dental in Oregon could use Bridges concepts and strategies in a comprehensive community approach to equitable dentistry throughout the state of Oregon.

To learn more about how “Bridges” concepts and ideas are being applied to increase dental equity in four areas: at-risk children/youth populations, vulnerable adults, regular patients, and integrated health practice, please click here to read the full article from Northwest Dentistry.