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What is dental public health?

Public health poster

Dental Public Health involves the science and art of preventing oral diseases, promoting oral health to the population rather than the individual. It involves the assessment of dental health needs and ensuring dental services meet those needs.

What do Dental Public Health professionals do?

Dental Public Health is the science and the art of preventing oral diseases, promoting oral health and improving the quality of life through the organised efforts of society.

The specialty of Dental Public Health aims to:

  • Improve oral health care through appropriate preventive, educational and treatment services by ensuring that all individuals and agencies are equipped with information for effective decision making.
  • Dental Public Health concerns itself with the environmental, social and behavioural influences on the oral health of the population and the availability of effective and efficient services to restore the dentally diseased to health and where this is impracticable to reduce disability and dependence.

It is an applied and not just a theoretical subject, which should stimulate research from allied subjects and apply the findings to practice. Many of the determinants of poor oral health with which Dental Public Health is concerned are not within the immediate field of influence of health services but their effects are.

What skills should I possess prior to applying to a Specialty Training Programme in Dental Public Health?

Most trainees enter Dental Public Health with a strong interest in prevention. The specialty is involved in dealing with uncertainty and problem solving so an enquiring and flexible mind helps. Not all change is improvement but all improvement is change, therefore experience of encouraging, supporting and enabling change may tell you how comfortable you are in deploying your skills to effect change.

What is involved in the Dental Public Health Specialty Training Programme?

The training is based with Public Health Wales and involves the undertaking of specific reports and projects. To meet the requirements of the SAC (Specialty Advisory Committee) approved training programme it is necessary for trainees to work with a variety of agencies and individuals both within and outside the NHS. A postgraduate qualification is required in the field of Dental Public Health.

On completion of specialty training what are my career options?

Consultants in Dental Public Health usually work with Public Health Wales and with Local Health Boards. Departments of Dental Public Health are also present in academic institutions.

Currently there is general involvement in work on behalf of the Welsh Government and Local Health Boards.

Nigel Monaghan - Training Programme Director, Dental Public Health Consultant, Public Health Wales

Ivor Chestnutt - Specialty Training Committee Chair, Professor and Hon. Consultant in Dental Public Health, Cardiff University

Gabby Boyland - Specialty Training Administrator, Postgraduate Dental Section, Wales Deanery

Where can I get further information?

Intercollegiate specialty fellowship examinations