UW School of Dentistry

DPHS 510

Social and Historical Perspectives in Dentistry

Donald Chi

2 Credits / Quarter 1 (Autumn, First Year)

Course Description

The course introduces the process of critical thinking and its application to clinical problem solving in a behavioral and social context.

Educational Objectives

The goal of this course is to introduce students to public health principles and to help students become independent learners. These are principles that affect the dental profession and the public as a whole but are equally as relevant in the one-to-one interactions between provider and patient.

At the conclusion of this course the student will be able to achieve the following objectives:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of dental public health principles and problems in the United States and Washington State including how oral health problems affect particular vulnerable subgroups communities.

2. Analyze public health problems with dental, medical, biological, behavioral, social, ethical, and community aspects, and formulate a plan for seeking information on various aspects of the problem consistent with good clinical practice and being a continual learner.

3. Demonstrate the ability to identify and understand alternative points of view about a public health problem involving dentistry

4. Demonstrate basic search skills in analyzing public health problems including the use of print and on-line resources  (e.g., PUBMED, GoogleScholar).

5. Make a coherent, professional presentation of the dental public health problem your group studied and  offer viable solutions.

Course Outline

This course  will give students an opportunity to analyze a real-world public health case, to research and understand it, to prioritize the main problems, and then to develop feasible solutions. The cases are adapted from the content of the 2011 Institute of Medicine Report on Improving Access to Oral Health Care for Vulnerable and Underserved Populations.  The cases will be studied in small groups and each group will present their solutions at the end of the course.  The course requires students to submit weekly critical summaries of research articles and to complete all required reading assignments. The final examination will require students to demonstrate basic dental public health knowledge reviewed during lecture and in the required readings.

Course Expectations

The student is expected to be able to examine a societal dental care problem involving biological, behavioral, ethical, and cultural elements, develop hypotheses regarding the nature and complexity of the problem, set tentative goals and objectives, and seek resources and information to develop an understanding of patient needs. A successful outcome of this course is a knowledgeable student body energized to play an active role in solving the vexing dental health issues of our community and nation.

To successfully meet the requirements of this course, the student is expected to attend all lectures and small group sessions, submit high-quality critical summaries on time, pass the final examination, and help to produce a group presentation examining the problem and offering solutions.

Effective Winter Quarter 2007, completion of on-line course evaluation is a requirement of this course. Failure to comply will result in an “Incomplete” grade being assigned.

Competencies Addressed

  • UWSOD Competency 18: Practice dentistry within the ethical standards of the dental profession and the law.
  • UWSOD Competency 19: Utilize information-technology resources in contemporary dental practice.
  • UWSOD Competency 21: Recognize the role of lifelong learning and self-assessment in maintaining competency.
  • UWSOD Competency 22: Utilize critical thinking in assessing technical and scientific information for use in identifying patient needs and treatments.
  • UWSOD Competency 24: Evaluate different models of oral health care management and delivery.


  • Video-based cases (shown during small group sessions)
  • Computerized library resources, Health Sciences Library and Information Center (HSLIC)

*last updated: 11/26/2012