Since I am a Human Biology (pre-dental) student interested in all aspects of the dental field I chose to reflect on the public heath aspect of medical anthropology. CDC defined public health as the science of protecting and improving the health of families and communities through promotion of healthy lifestyles, research for disease, injury prevention, and detection and control of infectious disease.
Public health applies to my future in the dental field dealing with medical issues relating to protection of patients from oral infection and disease such as dental carries, gingivitis, periodontitis, ect. It is important to note that public health does not focus so much on treatment of those already infected. Rather this area of anthropology would be concerned with medical practitioners’ guidelines and advise toward maintaining good health and how to limit ones chance of acquiring specific medical conditions or illnesses.
I think an anthropological viewpoint would be very beneficial in dealing with a dentist’s clinical point of view in relation to protecting the health of an entire population. A dentist has the knowledge needed to guide patients toward good oral hygiene but public health is much more than that.
Lets say we are dealing with prevention of Periodontal Disease, which is what I chose to research, and construct my weebly site on (http://anp204-blazeje4.weebly.com/). Here an anthropologist could look at areas of the world more prone to the disease and then determine possible factors that could influence such a disease. Research would show that countries or populations in the world that have limited or no access to dental care would show higher signs of periodontal disease. This would prove to be true among more poverty prone populations (WHO). Anthropologists could also target populations such as America with known unhealthy diets, or places with higher numbers of tobacco smokers to be of those negatively effected by the disease which is something a dentist would unlikely have the resources to study. Anthropologists could then take a biological approach to the matter and find reason for prevalence of Periodontal Disease over a period of time. From that, society would have a better understanding of possible factors and likelihood of acquiring such a disease.
CDC Foundation. “What is Public Health?”. Accessed August 4, 2014.http://www.cdcfoundation.org/content/what-public-health
World Health Organization. “Oral Health”. Last Modified April 2012.http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs318/en/