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What is Dental Public Health?

Most people know about dentistry from going to a dental office.  Fewer people may know about dental public health, one of the nine areas of dentistry recognized by the American Dental Association.  Dental public health helps improve the oral health of entire communities by:

  • Preventing oral diseases.
  • Promoting ways to help people improve their oral health.
  • Protecting the public’s oral health through laws and regulations that make sure people can safely get dental care. 

Dental Public Health in Ohio

Listed below are some examples of the dental public health work done by the Oral Health Program at the Ohio Department of Health:

  • We use data to understand the amount of oral diseases that our residents have and to learn whether their oral health is getting better.  Sometimes we collect these data through surveys; other times, we use data that has been collected by others in the state or elsewhere in the U.S. 
  • We evaluate whether Ohioans are able to get dental care when they need it.  We ask people what keeps them from getting the care they need.
  • We map where dentists and dental clinics are located to see if there are gaps in where people can get dental care, and we work to increase the number of dentists and dental hygienists who work in areas that don’t have enough.
  • We educate the public and other health care workers about ways to prevent oral diseases.
  • We work with others in the state to design programs to help improve the oral health of Ohioans across the lifespan.
  • We use the latest research to guide us in deciding the best ways to prevent oral diseases among Ohioans.

Dental Public Health Associations

There are three major dental public health organizations in the U.S.  Each offers many resources, such as newsletters, guidelines and publications.  They sponsor conferences and webinars on dental public health research, education and programs.

 

Last Reviewed: 5/18/17