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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

This is a photo of Dr. Paul Casamassimo, Don Sabol and Barbara Carnahan

Pictured are Dr. Paul Casamassimo, DDS, MS; Don Sabol, MPA, Quilty Award Recipient,
and Barbara Carnahan, RDH, MS, Oral Health Program Manager, Ohio Department of Health

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is pleased to announce that Don J. Sabol, MPA, Medicaid Health System Administrator, Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) has been selected to receive the 2019 Dr. James F. Quilty, Jr. Award for Champions of Oral Health. Don was recognized for his efforts to improve the oral health of persons served by Medicaid.

Dr. Paul Casamassimo, DDS, MS, Dental Consultant, ODM, and Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University College of Dentistry, nominated Don for the award. He cited several examples of how Don’s work has made a positive impact on the oral health of persons served by Medicaid. For instance, the range of dental services that can be provided to beneficiaries has expanded to include silver diamine fluoride (used to prevent the start or spread of tooth decay); improvements have been made in the use of non-hospital pharmacologic services; and better reimbursement is now offered to dentists who care for persons with special needs and emergency patients.

Dr. Casamassimo stated in his nomination that for many years, Don “has provided a thoughtful and assertive liaison between the Ohio Dental Association and ODM, facilitating the critical relationship between providers and payer of services.”  He notes that Don has been responsible for many administrative improvements such as coverage, efficiency of billing and reimbursements, clarification of the state’s Medicaid Manual, and working to ensure that denials and appeals receive fair and rapid attention. These efforts are critical to ensuring that dentists who participate in Medicaid experience fewer bureaucratic obstacles and confusion and increase the likelihood that dentists will continue to serve this population.

Under Don’s leadership, ODM assembled a team of representatives from the private and public sectors to participate in a project of the Dental Quality Alliance of the American Dental Association. Ohio is one of only three states participating in this project. This partnership is working to achieve sustainable improvements in Ohio’s Medicaid system and the oral health of persons served.  

Chris Moore, Director of Dental Services, Ohio Dental Association, offered a letter of support for Don’s nomination, noting that Don is an “honest, hardworking and professional civil servant who has been an true voice and advocate for Ohio’s poorest citizens and the dentists dedicated to their care, ” and that “Don is seen by the dental profession as a trusted and reliable authority on our state’s Medicaid dental program.”

Marla Morse, Program Director, Oral Health Ohio (OHO), a statewide oral health advocacy group, also provided a letter of support for Don’s nomination. She noted that Don and ODM are key partners in supporting the strategic work of OHO. For example, Don assisted OHO through providing important data on the barriers that Medicaid-eligible children have accessing dental care. These data helped inform OHO’s work to invest money and other resources into pilot studies in communities facing the largest oral health disparities.

Don is only the second civil servant to receive the award since its inception in 1992.  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.