Dental public health is a field of dentistry that focuses on improving oral health and preventing dental diseases within populations and communities. It combines principles of public health and dentistry to address oral health issues at a population level, rather than individual patient care. Dental public health professionals work to promote oral health, prevent dental diseases, and improve access to dental care for communities.
Dental public health seeks to reduce demand on healthcare systems by redirection of resources to priority areas. Countries around the world all face similar issues in relation to dental disease. Implementation of policies and principles vary due to the availability of resources. Similar to public health, an understanding of the many factors that influence health will assist in the implementation of effective strategies.
Dental public health is essential in addressing oral health disparities, promoting preventive oral health measures, and ensuring that communities have access to dental care. By focusing on population-level approaches, dental public health aims to improve oral health outcomes and enhance the overall well-being of individuals and communities.
Dental-related diseases are largely preventable. Public health dentistry is practiced generally through government-sponsored programs, which are for the most part directed toward public school children in the belief that their education in oral hygiene is the best way to reach the general public. The pattern for such programs in the past was a dental practitioner’s annual visit to a school to lecture and demonstrate proper tooth-brushing techniques. In the 1970s, a more elaborate program emerged. It included a week of one-hour sessions of instruction, demonstration, and questions and answers, conducted by a dentist and a dental assistant and aided by a teacher who had previously been given several hours of instruction. Use was also made of televised dental health education programs, which parents were encouraged to observe.
Here are some key aspects of dental public health: