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About Us

Click on the WELCOME button on the left menu to see important news about our program and links to new resources.

Our mission is to promote and improve the oral health of Ohioans. We do this by:

  • Supporting programs that prevent oral diseases, such as community water fluoridation and school-based sealant programs.
  • Working to help Ohioans of all ages get the dental care they need.
  • Monitoring the oral health of Ohioans through collecting, analyzing  and sharing oral health data.
  • Helping other health professionals, such as physicians and nurses, improve the oral health of their patients.
  • Working to ensure that oral health is seen as an essential part of health.


What is Dental Public Health?

About 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 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.


What We Do

Click on the fact sheets listed below to learn more about some of the main activities of the Oral Health Program.


Champions of Oral Health

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is pleased to announce that Marla Morse, Program Director, Oral Health Ohio (OHO), has been selected to receive the 2021 Dr. James F. Quilty, Jr. Award for Champions of Oral Health. Marla was selected to receive the award to recognize her efforts to educate the public, health professionals and policy makers about the importance of oral health and its impact on overall health and her work to advocate for legislative changes and increases in reimbursement for oral health services to improve access to dental care. According to Susan Lawson, Director of Oral Health Services and Julie DiRossi-King, Chief Operations Officer, Ohio Association of Community Health Centers (OACHC), who nominated Marla, “Under Marla’s leadership, she has reignited and grown OHO and accomplished so much in so little time. Because of her leadership, access to oral health care is stronger for the most vulnerable among us!”

Some of Marla’s accomplishments include:

  • Leading the development of the 2021-2022 State Oral Health Plan and engaging stakeholders in its implementation.
  • Developing a program for Head Start to address the prevalence of dental caries-related pain in young children and continuing to work to find avenues to address the needs of these children.
  • Planning the first statewide oral health summit which featured state and national speakers and had attendees from three states.
  • Participating in a nationally driven effort to expand quality efforts through the Dental Quality Alliance of the American Dental Association in a novel state-centered multi-stakeholder learning academy.
  • Partnering with the Ohio Dental Association and other stakeholders like the OACHC to successfully advocate that the Ohio Department of Medicaid reimburse for the application of silver diamine fluoride.
  • Leading an innovative and inclusive effort to look at value-based care and its relevance to Ohio that has brought together many stakeholders as a unit to open a discussion of possible ways to improve access through innovation.
  • Leading OHO’s collection and analysis of state data to look at oral health of Ohioans through the Ohio Department of Medicaid and other sources so that OHO’s efforts are driven by evidence.
  • Participating in efforts to pass legislation that allows for a second dental prophylaxis for Medicaid-eligible women up to one year postpartum.
  • Acquiring more than $300,000 in private foundation funding to advance the work of Oral Health Ohio. 

Marla’s nomination received widespread support:

  • Eric DeWald, President/Secretary of The HealthPath Foundation of Ohio noted, “Marla has championed oral health through building trusted relationships and delivering inspiring service to those who seek her help. She does this on an individual and organizational level. Marla teaches and influences others about the importance of oral health care and preventative care which has helped to advance legislation, inform health planning at the state and local level and participate in numerous working groups to improve care and access to care for Ohioans.”
  • Dr. Paul Casamassimo, DDS, MS, Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University College of Dentistry wrote in his letter of support that Marla’s “energy fires the group to improve oral health of our citizens at professional, legislative, payer, and agency levels. She is at almost every possible venue, representing oral health and the coalition with well-researched, responsible, and compassionate perspectives. She has challenged prevailing thought on how we approach oral health and disease and brought issues of health equity to the table in ways we cannot ignore.”
  • OHO Board member, Dr. Homa Amini, DDS, MS, MPH, Clinical Professor in Pediatric Dentistry, The Ohio State University and Nationwide Children’s Hospital wrote that Marla has “single handedly revived the work of the group in this position since joining the coalition; she has relentlessly promoted access to dental care for all Ohio citizens and advocated for inclusion of oral health in overall health.”
  • Finally, Dr. Vinod Miriyala, DDS, MPH, CAGS, Five Rivers Health Center and Centerville Pediatric Dentistry wrote, “It is a privilege to know such as person who is not an oral health professional but has immense passion for oral health and brings different perspectives and people together.”

Recipients of the award are presented with a plaque and their names are engraved on a plaque perpetually on display at ODH. Please see a description of the award and a list of past recipients.