Dental Public Health in Your Community

"Dental public health is the science and art of preventing and controlling dental diseases and promoting dental health through organized community efforts. It is that form of dental practice which serves the community as the patient rather than the individual. It is concerned with the dental education of the public, with applied dental research, and with the administration of group dental care programs as well as the prevention and control of dental diseases on a community basis." 

— Burt BA, Eklund SA, Dentistry, Dental Practice, and the Community, 6th Edition, 2005, pg. 40

The Oral Health Section follows the three principles of public health – assessment, policy development and assurance. 

The Section’s goal is to eliminate disparities in oral health through prevention and education. To achieve this goal, the Section carries out best-practice based services, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which promote community fluoridation and school-based dental sealant programs as the two most effective public health measures to reduce dental decay.

The Section has a staff of public health dentists, hygienists and support staff who work in partnership with local health departments. They carry out population-based public health activities devoted to:

  1. Dental Disease Prevention Services — community water fluoridation, dental sealants and school-based weekly fluoride mouth rinse. 
  2. Dental Health Education and Health Promotion — instruction on dental hygiene and prevention and information to parents, teachers, health care providers and caregivers interested in maintaining oral health. 
  3. Dental Health Screening — oral health screenings and referral support. 
  4. Oral Health Monitoring Systems — dental health status data are collected during annual dental screenings of school-age children; these data are used to target dental preventive services to high-risk, school-age children and vulnerable adult populations. 
  5. Access to Care — including the nationally recognized collaboration with physicians in the Medicaid-funded Into the Mouths of Babes program, to inform parents if their child needs dental treatment, provider referral for dental care. 
  6. Dental Public Health Residency Training — providing training to qualified dentists who seek a specialty in dental public health dentistry.