Role of the Dental Health Foundation

Who We Are

Dental Health Foundation Ireland (DHF) is a dynamic and vital organisation, at the forefront of improving oral health in Ireland, through advocacy and oral health promotion. Founded more than 40 years ago from within the dentistry profession, we adopt proactive engagement across all platforms in working alongside Government, health and dental professionals, national and local organisations, and the public. We encourage thinking and positive action around oral and all body health both nationally and internationally.
Our core values of respect, trust, and innovation underpin our aim to promote excellence as we strive to provide unbiased information on oral
health to those who need it.

What We Do

  • Produce advice and information to reduce oral health inequalities and to empower the public to make healthier lifestyle choices.
  • Promote partnership with similar organisations to effect positive change through robust collaborations.
  • Actively advocate for oral health by participating in relevant policy and advisory bodies.
  • Work alongside the education and community sectors to keep our oral health awareness message relevant and topical to the broad public audience.
  • Provide Secretariat Services to the Government on oral health.

What We Believe is Important

We believe that oral health is the gateway to all body health. It is a dynamic and multifaceted system enabling us to speak, smile, smell taste, touch, chew, swallow and convey a range of emotions through our facial expression with confidence and without pain or discomfort.
Oral Health is an essential part of overallhealth and wellbeing which also enhances social interaction and promotes self-esteem.

Statement of Strategy

The Dental Health Foundation Ireland has, since its establishment, been at the forefront of oral health promotion in Ireland. Its Strategic Plan sets out ambitious, but achievable goals and a practical integrated programme of work for effective oral health promotion. In pursuing these goals, the Foundation will continue to work closely with State bodies, the oral healthcare profession, consumer groups, the oral healthcare industry, the community and education sectors.

The work of the Foundation will support the implementation of the National Oral Health Policy, Smile agus Sláinte. 

Structure of the Dental Health Foundation

The Dental Health Foundation (DHF) emerged from within organised dentistry in 1977 to form an independent body funded directly by the Department of Health and Children. Since the formation of the Health Service Executive (HSE) we are now part funded by the HSE and Department of Health and Children.

The Foundation is a charitable trust (Charity Number: CHY 6200, Charity Registration Number: 20010683) governed by a Board of Trustees drawn from membership of both the public and private dental profession. 

Strategic Objectives

The Foundation has four strategic objectives as outlined in its Strategy.

  1. Support to the Department of Health
  2. Promoting Excellence
  3. Empowering People
  4. Advocacy and Communications

The goal of the Foundation is to promote oral health and to highlight the overall health benefits that can be achieved through improvement in an individual's oral health. Progress towards the achievement of this goal through its strategic objectives is monitored at regular intervals throughout the year by the DHF management team and a report on progress is then made to the Board.

In pursing these goals the Foundation works on a partnership basis with State bodies, the oral healthcare profession, consumer groups, the oral healthcare industry, the community and education sectors. The Foundation's key stakeholders are the Department of Health, the HSE, the Irish Expert Body on Fluorides and Health, the Board of Trustees, its managers and employees, the health and education and social care professions and relevant agencies and the general public.

DHF is committed to empowering individuals to improve their health and wellbeing through the ongoing development of oral health promotion messages. These messages identify the causes of oral ill health and how to prevent or control them, including appropriate use of fluoride toothpaste and effective oral health practices.

A key focus is raising the public's awareness of the impact of lifestyle behaviours, the links between oral and general health and the common risk factors associated with poor dietary choices. This includes excess sugar consumption and snacking, use of tobacco products, excessive alcohol use, poor hygiene, injury risk and trauma, stress and control, and socio-economic factors.

The Foundation advocates for supportive environments for oral health by providing reliable, quality and easily accessible data, working with stakeholders on targeted projects and ensuring excellent and effective communication and collaboration between relevant partners and stakeholders.