Who We Are

About the Center for Oral Health

Nearly forty years ago, the Center for Oral Health (COH) was founded as the Dental Health Foundation. Today, COH is a highly impactful non-profit organization with the mission “to improve oral health, especially of vulnerable populations, through innovation, research, education and advocacy.” COH lives its mission by collaborating with national, state, and local partners to develop innovative community-based strategies for improving oral health outcomes and achieving desired results.

COH proudly operates the Early Smiles program - an innovative public-private partnership that minimizes the dental disease burden among children and families. Since 2011, COH has been leveraging Early Smiles' expertise, partnerships, and resources to expand school-based/school-linked oral health care. The operational model was designed with the intention to work efficiently and effectively by creating a turn-key program that applies key business performance metrics and a tailored provider delivery model. This gives our team legs with powerful capacity and flexibility to address the unique needs at the ground level within any community or school district.

COH and its partners use highly customized staffing and programmatic models based on the individual needs and resources available within each community served. Strong annual outcomes provide access to oral health education and preventative care that serves children and their families. For example, in Sacramento County alone, annual averages for the Early Smiles' program include oral health education delivered to 45,000 students, 27,000 dental screenings, and over 21,000 Fluoride Varnish treatments in over 300 schools across 15 Sacramento County School Districts.

Our Mission

Our mission is to improve the oral health of vulnerable populations through innovation, research, education and advocacy.

Our Vision

The vision of Center for Oral Health has remained unchanged since our founding in 1985: Oral Health for All.

Our Culture

Our core values are Humanism, Getting Things Done, Acceptance & Inclusion, Maximize Sustainability, and Teamwork.

Our History

Center for Oral Health was founded as The Dental Health Foundation
Completed the first Oral Health Assessment documenting the status of children in California
Oral Health Needs Assessments helped advance community water fluoridation and improved school-based preventive services in California
Revisited study of California children and published it under the title “Mommy It Hurts to Chew”
Relocated from San Francisco to Southern California and developed “Healthy Teeth, Healthy Smiles” program for Los Angeles Unified School District
Oral Health Action Coalition- Inland Empire (OHAC-IE) launched in partnership with Kaiser Permanente
Opened a dental rural health clinic in Big Bear, CA to serve locals who lacked immediate access to affordable dental care
Started Early Smiles programs for children in Sacramento and San Bernardino, CA
Opened a state-of-the-art dental clinic in Tampa, FL to help those with limited access to dental care
Opened a second Florida dental clinic in Lakeland to further the vision of oral health for the underserved in the state

Our Founders

COH was envisioned in the 1980's by four extraordinary individuals. Together with initial funding from a Knight Ridder grant, these men laid the groundwork for what COH would become.


The late Dr. John Green, former Assistant Surgeon General of the United States and Dean of the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), School of Dentistry


Dr. Robert (Bob) Isman, former Dental Director of California


Dr. Ernest (Ernie) Newburn, an internationally recognized expert on fluoridation, an expert consultant to the FDA, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and the American Dental Association (ADA), a distinguish cardiologist, and a published author


Dr. Joel Boriskin, an avid community water fluoridation advocate who successfully led the campaign to fluoridate the East Bay Municipal Utility District


To fulfill our goals, your support of COH goes a long way.






Sustainable Practice



Program Services


Management & General



We offer programs that help the underserved in CA.

Third-Party Oversight

You can find further information about our organization by visiting our profile page on GuideStar.


Be a Champion of Oral Health

We can’t win the fight for oral health alone. If you want to partner with us in our vision, consider offering your time and resources to help those in need.


Your financial contributions go a long way towards fulfilling our vision: Oral Health for All.

Contact Us

Do you have questions about our services or organization? Contact us and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

8am-6pm, M-F