History of Aspen to Parachute Dental Health Alliance

The Aspen to Parachute Dental Health Alliance (APDHA) was established spring 2008 by a collaborative effort of health and human service agencies, public health departments, dental professionals and community members representing Garfield, Western Eagle (El Jebel area), and Pitkin counties. Community health data indicators and reports showed significant need to improve access to dental care for the indigent and working poor population in the region and the need for an action plan.

The APDHA’s mission is to create a comprehensive dental health system that promotes education, prevention and access to all residents in Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle counties.

Family Visitor Programs volunteered to serve as the Alliance’s fiscal agent to start. The APDHA filed for its own non-profit status and was given the designation in early 2012. Initially, the APDHA focus was to improve access to care by establishing a dental health clinic serving the uninsured. The other primary focus was to serve children, by expanding the Garfield County School Dental Health Program. In 2010, the APDHA secured funding from Pitkin and Garfield counties and the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) to hire a regional oral health specialist. When Mountain Family Health Centers announced the addition of a dental health clinic at its Rifle location in 2011, the Dental Health Alliance decided to shift from establishing a clinic to supporting the two most vulnerable populations in oral health identified by the United States Surgeon General, which include children and seniors.


Despite being a young organization the Alliance has achieved some major milestones in oral health, one of Colorado’s Winnable Battles in public health. In 2011, the APDHA added dental services and oral cancer screening services for the senior population. The same year APDHA was selected as the state-wide launch for Cavity Free at Three’s (CF3) Call to Action. The program goals included increasing the number of dental providers trained in CF3, increasing the number of dental providers accepting Medicaid and the Colorado Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+), and finally, expanding the number of children who have a dental home by age one.

In 2013, APDHA hired an executive director to provide leadership, program evaluation, and strategic direction. One strategic planning outcome identified by the Alliance board was to expand and provide school-based dental services to serve vulnerable school populations in the Eagle River Valley (Gypsum to Vail) starting in 2014. The other primary goal is to continue to build support to increase access to oral health care in the region.

Click here for the APDHA 2013 Annual Report

  • In 2015, the APDHA added Bright Start Smiles, a new program, which is being funded by Dental Delta Foundation of Colorado. Bright Start Smiles provides preschool screenings in Pitkin County and it provides prenatal clients enrolled at Community Health Services in Pitkin County with an oral evaluation, oral cancer screening, cleaning, fluoride varnish, and oral health education.
  • This year in 2016, APDHA is a collaborative partner with Mountain Family Health Centers, Garfield County Public Health, Roaring Fork School Based Health Center, and Family Resource Center of the Roaring Fork School District to bring a pilot virtual dental home project, Smiles Dental Home to the region. The pilot program will have five sites serving children and seniors.
  • The Aspen to Parachute Dental Health Alliance (APDHA) was established in 2008 serving Garfield, Pitkin, and Western Eagle (El Jebel) counties.
  • In 2010, funding was secured to hire a Regional Oral Health Consultant, a registered dental hygienist to provide technical support and assistance to the Smiles for Students program, and to increase capacity and oral health resources in the region.
  • APDHA added dental hygiene and oral health cancer screening services for the senior (Older Adult, 60+) population in 2011.
  • APDHA moved from fiscal sponsorship by Family Visitor Programs, a Glenwood Springs nonprofit organization, to become its own 501c3 in 2012.
  • In 2012, the APDHA was selected by Caring for Colorado Foundation as the Cavity Free at Three launching organization in the state.
  • APDHA hired its first executive director in 2013 to provide leadership, program evaluation, and strategic direction for the organization.
  • This year in 2014, the APDHA expanded its Smiles for Students program to at-risk schools in the Eagle River Valley (Gypsum to Vail).