In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Dental Public Health

  • Introduction
  • Books
  • Journals
  • Oral Disease Patterns
  • Oral Health and Social Inequalities
  • Oral Health and General Health
  • Aspiration Pneumonia
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Preterm Low Birth Weight
  • Oral Health Care Systems
  • Program Planning and Evaluation
  • Health Economics
  • Public Policy, Oral Health, and Oral Health Care
  • Social Sciences and Dentistry

Public Health Dental Public Health
Alyssa Hayes, Carlos Quiñonez
  • LAST REVIEWED: 11 August 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 November 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0059


Within the broader landscape of dentistry, the specialty of dental public health (DPH) has generally been defined as the science and art of diagnosing and controlling oral disease and promoting oral health through community efforts. Placing an emphasis on population health, DPH differs from clinical practice in that the latter tends to focus solely on the individual. As such, the practice of DPH is underpinned by various disciplines (e.g., epidemiology, health promotion, health economics, evidence-based practice, etc.), requiring those working in this field to have an understanding of these areas. In North America, one outcome of the rise of dentistry from the late 19th century onward was the certification of DPH specialists in the United States in 1950 and Canada in 1945. Coupled with the rise and demands of the developing welfare state, DPH specialists have become involved with all levels of government, specifically in efforts to organize and plan oral health-care delivery for the population. The following bibliography provides various resources (e.g., government documents, textbooks, journals, etc.) that provide insight into the practice of DPH. It attempts to include the most current resources but also includes resources that are considered classic to the field. While focusing on Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, other regions such as Europe and Scandinavia are also discussed where applicable.


The number of books on DPH is growing and those listed here represent key contributions to the field. Daly, et al. 2002 and Burt and Eklund 2005 provide students and professionals with a broad understanding of the field from British and American viewpoints, respectively. Pine and Harris 2007 provides a detailed overview of the practice of DPH. Complementary to these is Mason 2010, aimed at auxiliary dental professionals but equally useful. Finally, Cohen and Gift 1995 presents an in-depth discussion into the underlying social and behavioral concepts integral to disease prevention and health promotion from leading researchers in the field.

  • Burt, Brian A., and Stephen A. Eklund. 2005. Dentistry, dental practice, and the community. 6th ed. Saint Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders.

    This text highlights the development and practice of DPH unique to America and forms one of the core texts for North American specialty exams. The chapters on the financing, organization, and delivery of dental care in the North American context are very useful.

  • Cohen, Lois K., and Helen C. Gift, eds. 1995. Disease prevention and oral health promotion: Socio-dental sciences in action. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.

    This in-depth work discusses the socio-dental sciences and their importance in oral disease prevention and oral health promotion. Each contributor provides a critical account of a topic (e.g., behavioral aspects of oral diseases; social, psychological, and economic impacts of oral conditions and treatments), its application, and areas for future research.

  • Daly, Blanaid, Richard Watt, Paul Batchelor, and Elizabeth T. Treasure. 2002. Essential dental public health. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

    Covering similar material to Burt and Eklund 2005 on the history of DPH in Britain and how dentistry is included in national health care systems within the European Union are particularly useful. In combination with Burt and Eklund 2005, it provides a well-balanced and international understanding of DPH.

  • Mason, Jill. 2010. Concepts in dental public health. 2d ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

    The modular progression through the material and clear learning objectives provide readers with a general understanding of DPH. Successful dental professionals are interviewed and highlight various career pathways available to auxiliary dental professionals within DPH.

  • Pine, Cynthia, and Rebecca Harris, eds. 2007. Community oral health. 2d ed. London: Quintessence.

    This text presents detailed knowledge about the practice of DPH. The chapters on oral health systems are an excellent review of historical changes and the current international context of DPH.

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