The Intercountry Centre for Oral Health opened in Chiangmai, Thailand, in November, 1981. In 1984, as part of its mandate to promote new approaches to the delivery of oral health care, it initiated a demonstration project known as the Community Care Model for Oral Health. Logistic, financial and organisational difficulties prevented the full implementation of the original plan. Nevertheless, consideration of the strengths and weaknesses of the Model has provided valuable suggestions for adoption by national and international health agencies interested in adopting a primary health care approach to the delivery of oral health services. Important features which could be appropriate for disadvantaged communities include: integration into the existing health service infrastructure; emphasis on health promotion and prevention; minimal clinical interventions; an in-built monitoring and evaluation system based on epidemiological principles, full community participation in planning and implementation; the establishment of specific targets and goals; the instruction of all health personnel, teachers and senior students in the basic principles of the recognition, prevention and control of oral diseases and conditions; the application of relevant principles of Performance Logic to training; and the provision of a clear career path for all health personnel.