About the Division of Oral Health
A nation where all people enjoy good oral health that contributes to leading healthy, satisfying lives.
To prevent and control oral diseases and conditions by building the knowledge, tools, and networks that promote healthy behaviors and effective public health practices and programs.
- To prevent and control dental caries (tooth decay) across the life stages.
- To prevent and control periodontal (gum) disease.
- To prevent and control oral and pharyngeal (throat) cancers and their risk factors.
- To eliminate disparities in oral health.
- To promote prevention of disease transmission in dental health care settings.
- To increase state oral health program capacity and effectiveness.
The CDC’s Division of Oral Health (DOH) works to improve the oral health of the nation and reduce inequalities in oral health by—
- Helping states improve their oral health programs.
- Extending the use of proven strategies to prevent oral disease by—
- Encouraging the effective use of fluoride products and community water fluoridation.
- Promoting greater use of school-based and –linked dental sealant programs.
- Enhancing efforts to monitor oral diseases, such as dental caries (tooth decay) and periodontal infections (gum disease).
- Contributing to the scientific knowledge-base regarding oral health and disease.
- Guiding infection control in dentistry.
Strong state-based public health programs are critical to the nation’s oral health. Despite national improvements in oral health, significant dental disease exists across all age groups, and for some racial and ethnic groups. Those with low incomes, particularly children in low-income families are also affected.
A cornerstone of CDC efforts is to support state health departments to improve basic state oral health services. CDC funding includes support specifically to—
- Ensure program leadership and staff support.
- Monitor oral diseases and their risk factors.
- Develop a state oral health plan.
- Develop and work with state oral health coalitions and other partnerships.
- Develop and evaluate disease prevention programs, such as community water fluoridation and school-based dental sealant programs.
CDC provides support for all states, even those not yet funded, by providing—
- Training and resource development and technical assistance provided through CDC partnership with national organizations such as the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors and the Children’s Dental Health Foundation.
- Information and tools developed by the CDC in working with the funded states.
- Quarterly Web conferences held to share lessons learned from the funded states.
- Resources on the Oral Health Resources Web site, including—
- A collection of state oral health plans and burden of oral disease documents.
- Links to surveillance data.
- Other information on state oral health programs.
CDC supports research to examine prevention strategies by—
- Evaluating how effective interventions are in preventing and controlling oral disease.
- Identifying the most efficient ways to deliver interventions.
- Reviewing the published scientific evidence in a systematic way to determine successful interventions.
Examples of such research include identifying factors potentially connected to decisions by communities on whether or not to fluoridate and evaluating different strategies for providing dental sealants through schools.
CDC monitors the occurrence of oral diseases and conditions, the use of preventive measures (e.g., dental sealants), and other factors that can influence oral health, such as dental visits.
CDC leads the nation by helping states and territories collect oral health data and by developing new methods for oral health surveillance. CDC scientists are currently working with other leading experts to develop self-report measures for use in the surveillance of periodontal disease at the state and local levels. These self-reported measures of periodontal (gum) disease in adults will soon be tested in a national survey.
We also bring together oral health data from many sources and make this information widely available to public health professionals and consumers through CDC Web-based systems.
Come learn with us. The aim of the CDC Dental Public Health Residency Program is to produce skilled specialists in dental public health who can work collaboratively with their public health and dental colleagues in an array of health settings to achieve improved oral health for populations. This formal training program for dentists is located in Atlanta, Georgia. The program usually starts in July of each year and extends over 12 months (full-time) or 24 months (part-time). Learn more about the requirements and how to apply on our Residency Page.
The program in dental public health is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation [and has been granted the accreditation status of “approval without reporting requirements”]. The Commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education. The Commission on Dental Accreditation can be contacted at (312) 440-4653 or at 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60611. The Commission’s Web address is: https://www.ada.org/en/codaexternal icon.
Infection Control Guidance to Dental Practitioners. Good infection control practice in dental offices is essential to ensuring the public’s safety and maintaining its confidence. CDC provides national leadership on infection control for the entire dental health care workforce.
Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings—2003 (MMWR 2003;52[RR-17] provides guidance to dental practitioners nationally and globally and are accepted as the standard of care by most state dental licensing boards. These recommendations provide direction for the public, policy makers, and dental industry.
In addition, CDC staff investigates disease transmission in dental offices and identifies emerging problems.
CDC provides technical support to state programs that oversee community water fluoridation by providing training for managers of state community water fluoridation programs; engineering technical support; and, creating the Water Fluoridation Reporting System (WFRS) for managing state water fluoridation programs.
CDC also promotes the appropriate use of other fluoride products to prevent tooth decay. One example is the Brush Up on Healthy Teeth educational material that encourages using the correct amount of fluoride toothpaste for children.