Section of Population Oral Health


Professor of Dental Medicine and Health Policy & Management at Columbia University Medical Center
Chair, Section of Population Oral Health
Director, Division of Behavioral Sciences at the College of Dental Medicine
Chair, Section of Social and Behavioral Sciences; Director, Division of Behavioral Sciences
622 West 168th Street, PH17-306Q, Box 20, New York NY 10032,United States
+1 212 342 3505

"Advancing Population Oral Health through transformative education, research, teaching, and policy"

Through these activities, the Section of Population Oral Health (SPOH) serves the College of Dental Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, the University, local populations, and policy makers at all levels of government with the goals of improving oral health outcomes for all, improving equity in care, and aligning the profession with advances in U.S. healthcare. 

Who we are
We are a multidisciplinary scholastic division of the College of Dental Medicine (CDM) committed to bringing the benefits of oral health and dental care to all – especially to those who are at greatest risk of oral disease. Our faculty engages in a spectrum of activities ranging from epidemiologic, health services, and behavioral research to governmental health policy formation, program planning and management, and delivery of dental services to special populations in Northern Manhattan and Harlem. The expertise we bring to understanding oral health and dental care in the contexts of family, community and society is equally broad ranging. Section members come from a variety of disciplines including public health dentistry, epidemiology, sociology, health services research, policy analysis, health communications, gerontology, social psychology, epidemiology, and pediatric dentistry.

What we do
We support the teaching, research, and service missions of CDM and provide Health Sciences students and trainees with a variety of learning opportunities to explore the nature of their professions. Section faculty and their students engage in questions of how the health professions interrelate; how economic, governmental, and care delivery conditions influence oral health and the delivery of dental care; how behaviors of both healthcare professionals and patients influence health and care delivery; how oral disease manifests in the population and what causes it; the role of innovation in controlling disease; and how to best provide services to vulnerable populations such as those impacted by chronic illness and socioeconomic hardship. Despite our range of interests and endeavors, we are united in our commitment to improving oral health for all. We welcome your interest in sharing that commitment and welcome you to our training programs, in our research, and in our community activism.

Opportunities and resources for faculty and students
Our work falls under four primary functions: scholarship and research; teaching; community liaison and service; and policy development an evaluation. Within each of these functions, there are several opportunities and resources available to students and faculty who wish to further their involvement in public health, epidemiology, community health, health behaviors, and policy. The courses, programs, events, and resources detailed below are available to all dental students as well as students from across the Columbia community.

Formal Education and Training in Dental Public Health
From first semester of dental education through retirement as a dentist, the Section of Social and Behavioral Sciences supports education and training in dental public health. Coursework for dental students focuses on understanding dental care within the contexts of person, family, community and society. Students with an identified interest in dental public health may elect additional coursework, mentorship, and research engagement at both CDM and the Mailman School of Public Health. Students may elect to pursue a federally supported five-year dual degree program leading to the DDS and MPH degrees that is comprised of coursework in both the dental and public health schools, required dental public health seminars, research experience, community experience (including clinical), participation in national meetings, teaching assistantship, and a thesis. Through a federal “Community Based Dental Partnership Program” grant, the Section, in collaboration with the Harlem United Community AIDS Center, provides community participatory clinical training for AEGD Fellows in the care of people living with HIV/AIDS. Through two additional federal training grants, the Section provides dental public health and research mentorship to trainees of the Columbia University/New York Presbyterian Pediatric Dentistry Residency Program and offers a “Leadership in Pediatric Dentistry Fellowship” to graduate pediatric dentists that also involves pursuit of the MPH degree. A dental specialty residency in Dental Public Health is in development for trainees to pursue formal training in the specialty and to pursue Board qualification / certification from the American Board of Dental Public Health (ABDPH).

Inter-professional and Multidiscipline Approaches
While the Section’s faculty and staff represent many academic disciplines, much of the Section’s endeavor is supported by close collaborations that further extend inter-professional engagement. Key partners include faculty from (1) the Mailman School of Public Health (Departments of Epidemiology, Health Policy and Management, Sociomedical Sciences, and Population and Family Health); (2) School of Nursing; (3) Teacher’s College (Departments of Behavioral Nutrition, Health Education, and Nursing); (4) College of Physicians and Surgeons (Departments of Pediatrics and Infectious Diseases and Institute for Human Nutrition); and (5) School of Social Work (Social Intervention Group).

Location and Directions
The Section of Population Oral Health is newly located in the Presbyterian Hospital Building, 622 West 168th Street, 17th Floor West in Suite 306. It is accessible by the “P&H” elevators, through the double doors, and to the right down the College’s corridor.

Burton L. Edelstein DDS MPH, Section Chair
Pediatric Dentist, Policy Analyst, Early Childhood Oral Health Investigator
Professor of Clinical Dentistry (Community Health) and Clinical Health Policy and Management (Mailman School of Public Health)
212 342 3505

David A. Albert DDS MPH, Director, Division of Community Health
Public Health Dentist/Clinician, Tobacco Cessation and Dental Insurance Investigator
Associate Professor of Clinical Dentistry (Community Health) and Clinical Health Policy and Management (Mailman School of Public Health)
212 342 8588

Section Chairman - Burton L. Edelstein DDS MPH Tel. - 212 342-3008

Overview of Courses Offered: Pre-Doctoral Oral Healthcare Delivery  Tobacco Cessation ...
Student Community Engagement Opportunities PreDoctoral Programs Training Philosophy: A 3-Tier Approach SSBS...
Research Topics Health Services: Dr. Burton Edelstein Translational Research: Dr. David Albert Behavioral...
*This page is under construction*   Select Active & Past Grants Cyprus Cancer Project  ...
DPH PROGRAM The Dental Public Health training program is an intensive 12-month program ideally suited to dentists...
Behavioral Sciences Faculty and Staff Kavita P. Ahluwalia DDS MPH Public Health Dentist Assistant Professor of...
Where science and innovation meets population health Division of Oral Epidemiology and Biostatistics Head: Dr....
Who we are We are a multidisciplinary scholastic division of the College of Dental Medicine (CDM) committed to...
Who we are We are a multi-disciplinary scholastic division of the College of Dental Medicine (CDM) committed to...


Division of Behavioral Science Head: Dr. Burton Edelstein   Division of Community Health Head: Dr. David...