Would you be interested in a career that combines education, community service and dental medicine? The field of dental public health and education aims to improve the oral health of the general population. Dental public health experts engage in dental care research, advocacy and education. Read on to learn if this could be the field for you.
Dental public health professionals explore effective ways to educate local communities about proper dental hygiene, care and disease prevention. Dental public health is just one type of dental specialty within the broader field of dental clinical sciences. Dental public health programs are generally available at the master's and doctoral degree levels. These graduate programs usually include significant research components and can teach you about dental medicine and dental health advocacy.
With a dental public health graduate degree, you might find a career as a dental public health administrator, a dental health education specialist or a researcher. Employment positions are available at government agencies, public health organizations and universities. Work often involves planning oral care awareness campaigns, setting up dental education classes and analyzing dental health trends in specific communities.
Those who are strong communicators with patient, empathetic personalities usually succeed in this field. You should also hold good organizational abilities, as well as excellent science and math skills. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that medical and health services management and administration positions were predicted to rise 16% from 2008-2018, which was greater than the average for other job sectors (www.bls.gov). According to PayScale.com, most public health administrators earned a salary between $35,037 and $88,676 as of November 2011.
To work as a dental public health administrator, educator or researcher, you'll generally need to earn at least a master's degree in dental public health. Required coursework includes studies in basic epidemiology, statistical methods, dental health administration, ethics and prevention of oral diseases. Programs often accept both dentists and dental hygienists who wish to assume a leadership role in the administration field. Some residency-based graduate degree and certificate programs only accept those who have already completed medical or dentistry school.
During a dental public health program, you'll practice strategies for promoting dental hygiene, as well as learn about dental health advocacy methods for underrepresented communities. These graduate programs usually include experiences in the field, working at a community clinic or health agency.
A master's degree program in dental public health can also teach you a number of teaching strategies. You'll learn how to host educational sessions with various groups of people, such as elderly or lower-income populations. You might also learn how to educate young children and give them the tools to develop good dental care habits like flossing, brushing and getting regular cleanings. A public health doctoral degree program with a focus on dentistry allows you to focus on research and attempt to solve important public health problems, such as unequal access to dental treatments.