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Dental Health

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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 Dr. Canise Bean, DMD, MPH has been selected to receive the 2017 Dr. James F. Quilty, Jr. Award for Champions of Oral Health. Dr. Bean, Professor, Division of General Practice and Materials Science, The Ohio State University College of Dentistry was recognized for her efforts to improve access to dental care for underserved Ohioans through the Oral Health Improvement through Outreach (OHIO) Project and the Dental H.O.M.E. (Health Outreach Mobile Experience) Coach Program.

Under Dr. Bean's leadership and management, the OHIO Project has enabled senior dental students to provide care to underserved communities since 2002. She established a network of nearly 30 community-based clinical settings where students each spend 50 days providing clinical services and learning about the complex issues of access to dental care for this population. More than 1700 students have participated in the program since its inception, resulting in 166,618 patient encounters and 377,734 procedures. Equally important is the heightened awareness among students of the consequences of inadequate access to dental care. As a result of this experience, many students have been inspired to pursue a career in public health and commit to serving this population through voluntary and philanthropic activities throughout their careers. 

The Dental H.O.M.E. Coach Program is a mobile pediatric dental clinic that is used to provide dental care to children with little or no health insurance who live in Franklin County (the Columbus area). All senior dental students are assigned to the program, and provide clinical services on-site at local schools. More than 2800 children receive care through this program throughout the school year.

Dr. Bean was honored for her commitment to ensuring and expanding access to care and her "dogged pursuit of equity for poor children in the area of oral health." 

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.