For more than 200 years, men
and women have served on the front lines of our nation’s public health in what
is today called the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service
(USPHS). The Commissioned Corps traces its beginnings back to the U.S. Marine
Hospital Service, protecting against the spread of disease from sailors
returning from foreign ports and maintaining the health of immigrants entering
June marked the centennial of
Dental Corps. On June 14, 1919, Ernest Eugene Buell became
the first commissioned dental officer in the USPHS.
USPHS dentists serve in a
variety of roles. They provide clinical care to underserved populations on
reservations and in federal prisons, border facilities and impoverished areas
of the country. They also prepare Coast Guardsmen and Guardswomen for military
service; conduct research into dental products and technologies; and lead
dental public health programs.
Commissioned Corps officers
are, an essential component of the largest public health program in the world,
involved in health care delivery to underserved and vulnerable populations,
disease control and prevention, biomedical research, food and drug regulation,
mental health and drug abuse services, and response efforts for natural and
Rear Admiral (Upper) Timothy
Ricks, D.M.D., M.P.H., currently serves as the USPHS Chief Dental Officer as
well as Assistant Surgeon General. In this role, Dr. Ricks oversees dentists
serving in various federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Prisons,
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Health Service Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, Indian
Health Service, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, Health
Resources and Services Administration and Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention. He also serves as the Surgeon General’s spokesperson on oral health
and interacts with chief dental officers from other countries. He is currently
leading the development of the second Surgeon
General’s Report on Oral Health.
Adapted from content on the USPHS website.
on July 10, 2019