As the public's oral health care needs increase in complexity, there is renewed attention to the ethical dimensions of community oral health decision making and the development of public health ethics in teaching and research in dentistry. Despite their reduction globally, oral diseases persist with a particular distribution pattern that is a reflection of the increasingly widespread inequality in access to community oral health preventive and dental care. This is due to differences in the appropriateness, availability, accessibility, and acceptability of oral health education and the care provided. This article provides an overview of community oral health from an ethical perspective, including the importance of equity, human rights, and social justice in providing oral health care to the underserved. The need for a paradigm shift from highly technical and individualistic dental training curricula is discussed, together with the need to instill a holistic approach to ethical and social responsibility in new dental graduates. It concludes with some possible strategies, using the overarching principles of ethics and bioethics that are applicable to practice among vulnerable populations.

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