An Assessment of Global Oral Health Education in U.S Dental Schools

In Journal of Dental Education, Janet Sung and Joan Gluch assess how global health education is currently incorporated into pre-doctoral dental training in the U.S.  In 2015-2016, the authors surveyed 64 accredited U.S dental schools regarding their global health education and competencies, and received responses from 52 of those schools. Most dental school curricula covered social determinants of oral diseases and conditions, how to identify barriers to use of oral health services, and how to work with patients who have limited dental health literacy. But other key areas of global health curricula were rarely covered, including global dental infrastructure, data collection design, and vertical (disease-specific) vs. horizontal (cross-sectoral) approaches to health improvement. Despite current dialogue on the addition of global oral health competencies to dental curricula, only 41% of the responding schools were currently planning to expand their global oral health education. Based on these results, the authors conclude that it may be most feasible for dental schools to add recommended global oral health competencies to their curricula by incorporating content into already established courses.