Dental Public Health (DPH) is that part of dentistry providing leadership and expertise in population-based dentistry, oral health surveillance, policy development, community-based disease prevention and health promotion, and the maintenance of the dental safety net. DPH and the private practice model of care delivery together bear the responsibility of assuring optimal oral health for all Americans – individuals and populations.
Having been an ADA recognized dental specialty since 1950, Dental Public Health (DPH) is unique among the specialties in that it is not primarily a clinical specialty; it is a specialty whose practitioners focus on dental and oral health issues in communities and populations rather than individual patients.
DPH has been defined in many ways, from “the science and the art of preventing and controlling disease and promoting dental health through organized community efforts” to “a non-clinical specialty of dentistry involved in the assessment of dental health needs and improving the dental health of populations rather than individuals.” While these definitions capture some of what DPH does, they fail to completely define the scope of what DPH professionals do and how they fit into the matrix that is today’s dental profession.
This module is intended to increase awareness of dental public health and how diverse oral health stakeholders contribute to the enhancement of the infrastructure that supports it at the federal, state and local levels. These stakeholders include local and state dental associations, academia, other health care professionals, foundations and advocacy organizations.