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Community Dentistry

According to the modern approach to medicine, there is a range of states of health and illness having biological, medical and social causes. Only by knowing how to integrate all these aspects will a good doctor succeed in improving his patients' health.
Dentistry, similarly to all other fields of medicine, adopts this approach. The field of community dentistry, which is recognized as one of nine specializations in dentistry in Israel , engages in deepening the understanding of the social, mental, community, behavioral, environmental, cultural and economic aspects - beyond the biological and clinical aspects.
Community dentistry operates at three levels:
  1. Diagnosis of the etiological reason for a disease
  2. Practical treatment of the disease
  3. Preventing disease and promoting health.
The reason:
In order to gain an in-depth understanding of the sources of health and sickness, we must understand, among other things, the relevant community aspects. Without such understanding, it is impossible to provide optimal care.
A good dentist must, at the outset, make his diagnosis, which must relate to his patient's environment = diagnosis of community aspects.
For example:
If the reason for the caries is related to eating habits, then certainly these habits are not “particular” to the individual patient, but rather, are usually shared by the entire community in which he lives.
The treatment:
Optimal treatment must take into account the social environment in which the patient lives.
According to community dentistry's approach, one should not wait until patients come to dental clinics for treatment. Since one of its objectives is to increase the utilization of the existing services, the logical step is to organize community outreach programs. When organizing these community programs, it is important to define the target populations, to set objectives, to identify potential obstacles, encourage active community participation during all stages, to monitor and evaluate.
For example:
A patient living in an environment that neglects its health will not take care of himself until a social norm of dental care is established.


Preventive dentistry:
One of the fundamental principles of community dentistry is that preventive medicine, health education and the promotion of good health in all existing channels should always be the foundation for every community activity. Past experience indicates that the majority of the improvement in dental health, similar to all fields of medicine, has been achieved by preventive medicine.
The chief factor in the dramatic drop in caries in recent decades is attributed to the addition of fluoride to water and to tooth paste.
The Vision of the Department of Community Dentistry
The Department of Community Dentistry in the Faculty of Dentistry of the Hebrew University and the Hadassah Medical Organization adopts the definitions of the World Health Organization regarding health, the promotion of health and public health, and is committed to their implementation.
The Faculty of Dentistry of the Hebrew University and the Hadassah Medical Organization espouses the approach of comprehensive dentistry, which believes that a good dentist must know how to combine an understanding of the biological background, medical clinical knowledge and expertise with an understanding of the social-community framework.
The Institute of Dentistry Sciences is in charge of teaching the biological field, while the clinical departments are responsible for imparting the clinical skills and knowledge. The Department of Community Dentistry, which is recognized by the Scientific Council for Specialization in “Public Dentistry”, is entrusted with the social-community field. The Department is responsible for imparting the knowledge and skills in this field to its colleagues in the Faculty, to the future generation in dentistry, and also to those specializing in public dentistry.
The Department also plays an important role in the national public sphere. This role receives even more emphasis since no other academic department in this field exists in Israel . The Department is, therefore, for the most part, the supreme professional academic authority on a range of subjects in dentistry in Israel : both on central issues pertaining to primary prevention and on practical treatment issues such as: insurance methods and the determination of manpower needs. The Department also plays a central role in gathering the epidemiological information needed to assess the existing health status and for the planning of the services that will be needed in the future.
Objectives and Ways to Achieve them
To cultivate a future generation of dentists who will understand the community contexts of all components of the profession. With this in mind, we are educating dentists who will know how to implement methods of preventive dentistry, to formulate community programs, and to engage in educating individual patients and/or groups in health; to educate a future generation of experts in public dentistry who will know how to advise health authorities in the State and who will know how to plan, carry out and evaluate community activities relating to dentistry; to establish a national dental epidemiological database from which it will be possible to estimate the states of health and illness, to evaluate the associated variables, to compare the situation in Israel with other countries, and to issue recommendations for the promotion of oral health in the future; to advise health officials at all levels in the country: schools, municipalities, the government, universities and more, with respect to public dentistry.
Activities in the Community
The Department engages in the consultancy, planning, implementation and assessment of the community programs of the Jerusalem Municipality .
Over the years, the Department has been conducting epidemiological surveys in dentistry in the Israel Defense Forces.
The Department is directly involved in the activities of the geriatric dental clinic of the “Yad Sarah” Organization in Jerusalem (which is affiliated with the Department).
Every year the Department sends its dentistry students and the students in the dental hygiene program out to the community programs in a variety of populations, focusing on distressed communities, elementary schools, and geriatric institutions in Jerusalem . Initial clinical treatment is also administered at the geriatric institutions in the community, in addition to preventive treatments.

Dental Hygienists

The Department is proud of its leading role in the establishment of the dental hygiene profession in Israel and its continued development. For more than 25 years it has been responsible for the two-year program towards receiving a license of "Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) from the Ministry of Health, and also offers continuing education courses. The course includes all the requisite theoretical subjects, as well as the clinical skills needed for this profession. Our Department emphasizes the potential community roles of the dental hygienist in general and in his or her roles in preventive dentistry and oral health education in particular.
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