What is Dental Public Health?
The goal of the Advanced Graduate Education Program in Dental Public Health is to improve the oral health of populations through the education of dental public health specialists. Graduates of the program will work to:
- Stimulate research in dental public health with emphasis on disease surveillance, health services research, program evaluation, causes of oral diseases, and systemic/oral health interactions.
- Improve access to dental care for underserved populations and the quality of care for all populations.
- Encourage the development and maintenance of community dentistry programs.
- Increase the use of preventive dentistry in dental care delivery systems.
- Prepare dental providers for research, academic, and administrative careers in Dental Public Health.
The Dental Public Health Residency (Certificate) is a two-year program qualifying graduates to take the American Board of Dental Public Health specialty examination. Residents work in the four knowledge areas of the specialty which include:
Epidemiology and research methods
Health promotion and disease prevention
Program administration and health policy
Oral health services delivery systems and dental care financing
The residency is often combined with advanced degree programs offered at Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM). There are four advanced education programs offered in Dental Public Health (DPH):
MMSc Program: This three-year track leads to a master of medical sciences (MMSc) degree in oral biology with a certificate in Dental Public Health awarded concurrently with the Faculty of Medicine of Harvard University upon successful completion of all requirements. This track is suitable for dentists seeking to obtain a master’s degree and DPH certificate in order to take the specialty board exam.
DMSc Program: This track leads to a doctor of medical science degree in oral biology with a certificate in Dental Public Health awarded by the Faculty of Medicine of Harvard University and requires a minimum of four years of study. The course requirements and the depth of the research experience are substantially greater for DMSc candidates - the degree is consistent with the expectations for a Harvard doctoral-level degree. Dentists in this track obtain the DPH certificate and are qualified to take the specialty board exam. This is an excellent option for dentists whose primary aim is to pursue a career in academics or research.
Certificate Program: This is a two-year program for dentists with an accredited master’s degree in public health (MPH) or equivalent degree.
MPH and Certificate Program: This track requires applications to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health for the MPH degree program and to the Harvard School of Dental Medicine for the DPH certificate. Acceptance to both schools is required. The first year is spent obtaining an MPH at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. This is followed by the two year DPH residency.
Candidates for the dental public health DMSc, MMSc, or Certificate programs must hold a DDS, DMD, or MD degree - or the equivalent, such as a BDS.
For the degree-granting tracks, the first year consists of formal courses in the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and Harvard T.H. School of Public Health, leading to the master of public health or master of medical sciences degree. In the DMSc track, course work extends into the second year.
The second year for MMSc (third year for DMSc) and the first year for Certificate candidates consist of a supervised residency emphasizing experiences at the community, state, or national level in health policy and program administration. The relationship between research data and health policy is stressed. This residency meets the requirements of the American Board of Dental Public Health and is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the Council on Dental Education of the American Dental Association.
The third year (fourth for DMSc and second for Certificate) is a continuation of the residency and emphasizes research in public health at HSDM linking with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, The Forsyth Institute, and other departments of Harvard University. A major research project is required under the guidance of a faculty mentor. For the DMSc candidates, the research component requires a qualifying exam, appointment of a thesis committee, and a doctoral thesis and defense.
Dental Public Health Advanced Education Graduate students take courses and work predominantly with the resources and faculty of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Kennedy School of Government, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, The Forsyth Institute, and Cambridge Health Alliance.