A number of groups have become interested recently in improving children's oral health through school-based dental programs, apparently unaware that prior to the 1960s the public schools were deeply involved in children's dentistry. Indeed, between about 1915 and 1950, public school programs provided a major portion of children's dental preventive care and treatment. This report presents a preliminary overview of the public schools' role in U.S. dentistry. Its purpose is to inform contemporary policy debate and to stimulate scholarly inquiry into dentistry as an important subject in the history of the health sciences, public health, and public education.
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