What is Dental Informatics?

Dental Informatics is a specialized area of Clinical Informatics that studies and pursues the effective uses of biomedical data, information and knowledge for scientific inquiry, problem solving and decision making, by applying multiple disciplines like information science, information technology, computer science, telecommunication, biomedical engineering and cognitive science to support and improve dental and craniofacial care, research, education and management.


The focus of COSH Oral Health Informatics Research Core centers on:

  • Collaborations with internal as well as external entities to address informatics and health information technology gaps in current clinical practice workflow and use of clinical information systems to promote integrated medical-dental care delivery and disease management, with the aim of promoting delivery of  more effective, high-quality, cost-effective healthcare;
  • Design and develop user-centric, intuitive informatics tools:
    • for the healthcare providers to support their practice;
    • to support patient education and engagement in oral health;
    • to support the oral health quality improvement initiatives;

  • Initiatives that support and improve dental research, education, administrative and management tools;
  • Research and development of IT infrastructure that advances the use of evidence base information by clinicians and researchers surrounding links between oral and systemic health and disease;
  • Serve as a national leaders in the area of oral health informatics research and education.

Current Initiatives

Integration of medical-dental electronic health record environment

Growing evidence supports the need to integrate medical and dental patient care and data. Very few organizations in the US are positioned to address this issue and medical and dental practices continue to remain silo-ed in delivering healthcare. As part of a core effort of Marshfield Clinic Health System, COSH Oral Health Informatics Core, working closely with the Marshfield Clinic Information Services team, is focused on continuously performing research and developing and enhancing the health information technology infrastructure to share the patient information seamlessly across medical and dental providers.

Developing a Medical-Dental Model of Care to Manage Diabetes

The goal of this project is to develop and implement a new model of care (MOC) to support management of diabetic individuals/populations and their oral health; to facilitate cross-disciplinary care models wherein primary care practitioners engage in oral health screening and dental providers perform diabetes status assessment, with triage to appropriate care; and tracking of compliance and outcomes. COSH oral health informatics core is specifically focused on designing/developing clinical decision support tools and enhancing the referral tools for this initiative.

DentaSeal: Dental Sealant Registry

Most School-based sealant programs (SBSPs) collect examination, service, and follow-up data using a paper form which can vary slightly from state to state. This data is then entered into an Excel-based application known as Sealant Efficiency Assessment for Locals and States (SEALS) developed by Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for each hosting facility. At the end of the school year the program administrator/s run a series of macros from the Excel-based application to create reports that covers several annual outcome (types and numbers of services delivered at school events) as well as program costs and logistics of events, e.g., personnel, equipment, materials, and travel.

In late 2013, Delta Dental of Wisconsin funded Marshfield Clinic Research Institute to design a state-of-the-art software application that can overcome some of the limitations of using excel based application as well as moving away from collecting data on paper forms.

Establishment of a Quality Improvement Culture at a Large FQHC Dental Practice in Rural Wisconsin

Maintaining high quality data that is collected, stored and retrieved from dental practices is paramount for operations, reporting, providing quality care, enabling research and educational opportunities. Without appropriate utilization and treatment outcome measures and visual analytical platform to view results in real-time, it would be difficult to drive the quality improvement efforts in dentistry. The initiative focuses on a unique effort in establishing a quality improvement culture at a large FQHC dental practice in rural Wisconsin, which is supported by an informatics platform to visualize key dental measures in real-time. There are currently several sub-projects that are ongoing within this initiative.

Oral Health Informatics Core

Phone: (715) 389-4460