Background: To improve the oral health of low-income children, innovations in dental delivery systems are needed, including community-based care, the use of expanded duty auxiliary dental personnel, capitation payments, and global budgets. This paper describes the protocol for PREDICT (Population-centered Risk- and Evidence-based Dental Interprofessional Care Team), an evaluation project to test the effectiveness of new delivery and payment systems for improving dental care and oral health. Methods/Design: This is a parallel-group cluster randomized controlled trial. Fourteen rural Oregon counties with a publicly insured (Medicaid) population of 82,000 children (0 to 21 years old) and pregnant women served by a managed dental care organization are randomized into test and control counties. In the test intervention (PREDICT), allied dental personnel provide screening and preventive services in community settings and case managers serve as patient navigators to arrange referrals of children who need dentist services. The delivery system intervention is paired with a compensation system for high performance (pay-for-performance) with efficient performance monitoring. PREDICT focuses on the following: 1) identifying eligible children and gaining caregiver consent for services in community settings (for example, schools); 2) providing risk-based preventive and caries stabilization services efficiently at these settings; 3) providing curative care in dental clinics; and 4) incentivizing local delivery teams to meet performance benchmarks. In the control intervention, care is delivered in dental offices without performance incentives. The primary outcome is the prevalence of untreated dental caries. Other outcomes are related to process, structure and cost. Data are collected through patient and staff surveys, clinical examinations, and the review of health and administrative records. Discussion: If effective, PREDICT is expected to substantially reduce disparities in dental care and oral health. PREDICT can be disseminated to other care organizations as publicly insured clients are increasingly served by large practice organizations. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02312921 6 December 2014. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Advantage Dental Services, LLC, are supporting the evaluation.