Wellbeing, as per the World Health Organization (WHO) is characterized as a condition of finish physical, social and mental prosperity, and not only the nonattendance of infection and ailment. This definition highlights the totality of health, and that ill health can occur even in the absence of diseases, injuries or infirmity. This is where public health comes in, identifying health problems and potential health problems even in the absence of an apparent disease or injury.
Public health deals with preventing disease and promoting health by identifying risk factors, social factors, environmental factors that could lead to disease processes and tackling them through health education, community diagnosis and interventions.
The field of medicine is ever expanding and Dentistry is not left out of this rapid evolution. With an increasing global focus on public health, the field of dental public health is equally arising and coming into prominence.
What is Dental Public Health?
Dental public health is a field of dentistry that deals with promotion of oral health, and the prevention and control of oral diseases. The specialty was first recognised by the American Dental Association (ADA) in 1950. It has over the years grown in importance and scope and is currently recognised as an important branch of dentistry that focuses on populations and communities, rather than individual clinical patients.
Who provides Dental Public Health Services?
Dental public health services are provided by dental public health specialists, general dental practitioners, family dentists, dental hygienists.
What are the Functions of Dental Public Health Practitioners?:
Dental public health as mentioned earlier is primarily involved in promoting dental health and preventing, as well as controlling oral diseases. It has a wide scope which includes preventative service provision, policy development, health promotion, monitoring of services. But what are the main functions of dental public health specialists?
Promoting healthy eating:
Majority of oral diseases have been linked to the nature of food we eat as well as our eating habits. Several foods leave unhealthy residues on the teeth and in the mouth which go on to initiate several disease processes. Sugary foods, drinks, acidic foods and drinks, hot food, tobacco, alcohol etc are all examples of food that have effect on oral health if not handled properly. This is where dental public health comes in, to promote healthy eating. Examples of such measures include reduction of intake of such food, promoting proper teeth brushing and mouth cleaning after eating certain food, drinking plenty of water, etc.
Teaching effective oral hygiene practices:
Oral hygiene practices are the first line in promoting oral health and preventing oral diseases. Dental public health teaches those effective practices towards improved oral health. Examples are brushing twice a day, methods of teeth brushing, dental scaling and polishing once a day etc
Promoting the use of topical fluoride for preventing and control of dental caries:
Dental public health promotes the use of fluoride toothpaste for tooth brushing. Fluoride has been found to be the most important chemical agent for preventing dental caries and other oral diseases. Promoting use of fluoride tooth paste, fluoridisation of water are important duties of dental public health specialists
Facilitating early access to preventative dental services:
Beyond health promotion, individuals need to have access to specialised preventive dental services to enable them improve their oral health. Public health specialists recommend these services as well as where they can be accessed. An example of Dental services providers offering preventative dental care among other services is http://www.tigersmiledental.com/. Examples of Preventative care offered in this clinic include regular cleaning, dental examinations, X rays, oral cancer screening, oral hygiene education.