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Dental Public Health

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. Such positions could be located within health agencies, voluntary organizations, research settings, health care delivery, or financing systems. The program culminates in a certificate of completion that meets educational requirements established by the American Board of Dental Public Health for specialty certification.

Program Location and Duration

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).

Admission Requirements

Each year, up to two qualified dentists are admitted into the residency program. Applicants must have completed a dental degree (DDS or DMD) from a U.S. dental school accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation or a Canadian school accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada. Applicants who are graduates of a school of dentistry outside the U.S. or Canada must be deemed to have equivalent education. For more details, please see the International Dentists section below.

In addition, the applicant must have completed at least one academic year of advanced training in public health and obtained a graduate degree, a Master of Public Health (MPH) or comparable degree, from an institution accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Courses for the MPH or comparable degree would include biostatistics, epidemiology, health care policy and management, environmental health, and behavioral sciences. If the applicant’s public health training was completed in an institution outside the U.S., satisfactory completion of two or more years (full-time equivalent) of advanced education in an area related to the practice of dental public health is required. The same content areas described above apply to course work completed by public health graduates from outside the U.S.

International Dentists

Dentists who have completed their dental training outside the U.S. or Canada can apply for the CDC Dental Public Health Residency Program. However, their education and degrees must be evaluated by a credentialing organization to determine equivalency to the DDS or DMD degree awarded by a U.S. dental school.

The information for three credentialing organizations is provided below. When you send your documents to one of these agencies, ask for a course-by-course evaluation.

  • American Association of Collegiate Registrars (AACRAO)
    One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 520
    Washington, DC 20036
    Telephone: 202-293-9161
    Web site:
  • Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc. (ECE)
    P.O. Box 514070
    Milwaukee, WI
    Telephone: 414-289-3400
    Web site:
  • World Education Services (WES )
    Bowling Green Station
    P.O. Box 5087
    New York, NY
    Telephone: 212-966-6311
    Web site:

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Score

TOEFL scores are required for applicants who received both their dental and public health degrees from institutions with a language of instruction other than English. The Computer Based Test (CBT), Internet Based Test (iBT), or the Paper Based Test (PBT) will be accepted. The following are the minimum required scores based on test type:

CBT – minimum total score of 213

iBT – minimum total score of 80

PBT – minimum total score of 550

The Residency Training Plan

Instruction within the program follows an individualized training plan focused on competency objectives developed by the American Board of Dental Public Health. These competencies are tested through the formal examination for certification in the specialty of dental public health and address the practitioner’s ability to—

  • Plan oral health programs for populations.
  • Select interventions and strategies to prevent and control oral diseases and promote oral health.
  • Develop resources, implement, and manage oral health programs for populations.
  • Incorporate ethical standards in oral health programs and activities.
  • Evaluate and monitor dental care delivery systems.
  • Design and understand the use of surveillance systems to monitor oral health.
  • Communicate and collaborate with groups and individuals on oral health issues.
  • Advocate for, implement, and evaluate public health policy, legislation, and regulations to protect and promote the public’s health.
  • Critique and synthesize scientific literature.
  • Design and conduct population-based studies to answer oral health and public health questions.

Each resident develops a training plan based on prior education and experience. The plan addresses competencies to be developed or refined during the training program, activities designed to achieve these improved skills, and methods or criteria for evaluating progress. Both a supervised field experience and an applied research project must be included in the plan. While the plan accommodates individual differences and considers current issues, it emphasizes applying fundamental public health principles to prevent dental disease and promote oral health.

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