Health is defined as:  ‘A complete state of physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease’ (WHO, 1948)

This contrasts with the idea of health in dentistry, which is defined as: the treatment of disease(that patients often do not know they have)


Health Promotion is, therefore, ‘the process of enabling people to increase control over and to improve their health’.

Health Promotion sprang from the realisation that:

  • Health services have minor effect on the health of population
  • Major health problems are expensive to treat & rarely cured
  • Costs of health services spiral
  • Widening gap between health of wealthy and poor
  • Health education delivers limited changes in behaviour
  • Major health problems prevented by changes in behaviour or environment


Health Promotion:

    • Accepts limited effect of health services on health of population
    • Rejects KAB approach to Health Education where it was believed: 


  • Knowledge changes Attitudes changes Behaviour


– Sees behaviour is determined by environment

– Aims to improve the social, physical and material environment in which people live


Health promotion has five broad actions:

  • Creating supportive environments: making the healthy options easy to access (eg sugar free foods cheaper and more accessible in shops)
  • Healthy public policies: new laws and legislation such as the Sugar Tax will help improve the health of the public
  • Strengthening community action: local communities get involved in decision-making, such as making local school dinner menus healthier
  • Developing personal skills: the skills that must be taught include the ability to understand and make healthy choices by the individual
  • Reorienting health services: focusing on how dentists across the country can help improve the dental health, and therefore overall health, of all patients.  


  • MMI STATION: What are some of the ways you could target children and teenagers and get them to improve their oral health?
  • Think about the many different avenues of communicating with children and teenagers:
    • School speeches and assemblies
    • Charity events
    • Sports events
    • The internet/videos/adverts on social media
    • Posters and campaigns
    • Games and competitions, with prizes as incentive
  • Think about the language you would use – how would you keep it simple enough for children of younger ages to understand?
  • How would you ensure that the message is remembered and children are genuinely applying the information they have learnt?
Dental Interview Question: Smoking and Dentistry