Burton L. Edelstein, MPH, DDS, BA

  • Special Lecturer in Dental Medicine (Pediatrics) and Health Policy and Management
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Burton L. Edelstein DDS MPH is Columbia University professor emeritus of dental medicine and health policy and management. He is a pediatric dentist who has dedicated his clinical, policy, research, teaching, and advocacy career to improving the oral health of socially-disadvantaged children. Edelstein practiced in Connecticut and taught part-time at Harvard and the University of Connecticut for 20 years before engaging in full-time, pediatric oral health policy. In Washington DC, he served as a health aide to US Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) during enactment of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). He managed a US Department of Health and Human Services interagency oral health initiative, directed the US Surgeon General’s Workshop on Children and Oral Health, and served as commissioner of the federal Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission. Edelstein participated in four Institute of Medicine projects, testified before Congress multiple times, and provided support to the Government Accountability Office’s dental studies. He founded the Children’s Dental Health Project, a DC-based pediatric oral health policy and advocacy center that led successful efforts to secure federal legislation mandating dental benefits for children in public and private insurance. 
At Columbia, Edelstein served as chair of Population Oral Health Management and established an dual degree program with the Mailman School of Public Health that has graduated more than 50 dental students and primary care dentists. He directed seven federal training grants for predoctoral students, postdoctoral trainees and faculty totaling over $16M; led a multidisciplinary research team that developed and validated MySmileBuddy – a web-based, education and family-support technology to prevent and manage childhood caries – with over $9M in federal and foundation support, and conducted research in oral health care delivery and financing. Upon his retirement in 2021 he and colleagues moved his course on population oral health management online. Edelstein’s 200+ publications, including journal articles, editorials, policy briefs, whitepapers, textbook chapters, and online modules and symposia, reflect his broad range of academic and policy interests.  
Edelstein is a graduate of SUNY Binghamton/Harpur College, SUNY Buffalo Dental School, and the Harvard School of Public Health. He trained at SUNY Upstate Medical Center and Boston Children’s Hospital. His work has been nationally recognized by associations of pediatric (AAPD) and public health dentistry (ASTDD, AAPHD, MSDA), dental students (ASDA), dental societies (ACD, ICD, CDS, CSDA), the dental research community (FNIDCR), foundations (Shils, NYSDAF, OHA) and educators (Maryland, Harvard, Columbia, ADEA).

Academic Appointments

  • Special Lecturer in Dental Medicine (Pediatrics) and Health Policy and Management

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • BA, 1968 Biological Sciences, Harpur College
  • DDS, 1972 State University of New York at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine
  • MPH, 1977 Maternal Child Health/Health Services Administration, Harvard School of Public Health
  • Residency: 1973 State University of New York Upstate Medical Center
  • Residency: 1977 Boston Childrens Hospital

Committees, Societies, Councils

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, 1975 -
American Association of Public Health Dentistry 1977 -
American Dental Association
American College of Dentists
International College of Dentists
American Association for Dental Research


Honors & Awards

Omicron Kappa Upsilon Dental Honorary Fraternity
Clinical Research Award, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
Fellow, American College of Dentists
Dental Visionary Award, American Student Dental Association
Pediatric Dentist of the Year, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
Distinguished Service Award, Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors
Distinguished Alumnus Award, Harvard School of Dental Medicine
Outstanding Service Award, American College of Dentists
Fogarty Memorial Lecturer, Baltimore College of Dentistry
Presidential Citation, American Dental Education Association
Cushing Award, Chicago Dental Society
Public Advocacy Award, Friends of the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research
Fones Memorial Medal, Connecticut State Dental Association
Edward Zegarelli Teaching Award, Columbia University College of DentalMedicine
Foundation of Excellence in Community Service Award, New York State Dental Association Foundation
Distinguished Service Award, American Association of Public Health Dentistry
Visionary Leadership Award, Medicaid-CHIP State Dental Association
Shils Award, Dr. Edward B. Shils Entrepreneurial Education Fund
Fellow International College of Dentists
Research Mentor of the Year Award, American Association for Dental Research National Student Research Group
Research Mentor of the Year, Columbia University College of Dental Medicine
Marvin Goldstein Outstanding Service Award, Oral Health America


The common goal of our multiple health services and clinical research studies is to improve the oral health of all children.
We conduct descriptive policy research and pediatric oral health services research that is important to public policymaking and has immediate utility to federal and state legislative and programmatic action.

Research Interests

  • Child and Adolescent Health
  • Community Health
  • Global Health
  • Healthcare Policy
  • Public Health Education


2012-2017 USDHHS/HRSA/Bureau of Health Professions: Training tomorrow’s faculty today. (1 D86HP24475-01-00: Project period 7/1/2012-6/30/2017. Faculty Development in General, Pediatric, and Public Health Dentistry and Dental Hygiene. $2,500,000) (PI)

2014-2017 USDHHS/CMS/Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation: “MySmileBuddy”: Demonstrating the Value of Technology-assisted Non-surgical Caries Management in Young Children. $3,870,446. (1C1CMS331347; Project period 9/1/14-8/31/17) (PI)

2015-2016 USDHHS/NIH/National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research: Planning a Stage II Trial to Prevent ECC Progression (R34DE023158: Project period 4/1/15-3/31/16. $248,724) (PI)

2015-2016 United Hospital Fund of New York City. MySmileBuddy: Mobile App and Medicaid Payment Options. (150215S, $95,000)

2015-2020 USDHHS/HRSA/Bureau of Health Workforce: Preparing for Population Oral Health Practice. (D85HP20031 Project period 7/1/2015-6/30/2020. Predoctoral Training in General, Pediatric, and Public Health Dentistry and Dental Hygiene. $1,695,472) (PI)

2015-2020 USDHHS/HRSA/Bureau of Health Workforce: Advanced Clinical Training in Oral Health Networking. (D88HP20109 Project period 7/1/2015-6/30/2020. Postdoctoral Training in General, Pediatric, and Public Health Dentistry and Dental Hygiene. $ 3,742,997) (PI)

Selected Publications

Edelstein BL, Vargas C, Candelaria C, Vemuri M. Experience and Public Policy Implications of Children Presenting with Dental Emergencies to US Pediatric Dental Training Programs. Pediatr Dent 28 431-437 2007

Edelstein B Public policy considerations in adopting a mandatory post graduate year Journal of Dental Education 63 644-67 1999

Edelstein BL. Conceptual frameworks for understanding system capacity in the care of people with special health care needs. Pediatr Dent 29 108-16 2007

Edelstein BL State options in contracting dental care in Medicaid CT Health Foundation (www.cthealth.org) Connecticut Health Foundation 2003

Edelstein BL Dental care considerations for young children Special Care Dentistry 22 11S-25S 2002

Edelstein BL Disparities in oral health and access to care: findings of national surveys Ambulatory Pediatrics 2 2002

Edelstein BL External forces impacting U.S. healthcare: implications for future dental practice Journal of the American College of Dentists 69 39-43 2002

Manski RJ, Edelstien BL, Moeller JF The impact of insurance coverage on children's dental visits and expenditures Journal of the American Dental Association 132 1137-45 2001

Edelstein BL Access to dental care for Head Start enrollees Journal of Public Health Dentistry 60 221-9 2000

Zavras T, Edelstein B, Vamvakidis T Health care savings from microbiologic caries risk screening of toddlers: a cost estimation model Journal of Public Health Dentistry 60 182-8 2000

Bailit H, Edelstein B, Tinanoff N Public financing of dental care: impact and policy implications Journal of Dental Education 63 882-89 1999

Edelstein B, and Douglass C Dispelling the cavity free myth Public Health Reports 110 522-530 1995

Global Health Activities

Global Childrens Dental Health Taskforce: Founded in 2006, this international program seeks to reduce the incidence of Early Childhood Caries (ECC) through application of recognized preventive and disease management approaches. The ultimate goal is eradication of ECC.

Urban Health Activities

Community Based Dental Partnership Program: This HIV/AIDS dental program is a federally-sponsored cooperative project between Columbia University and the Harlem United AIDS Center. It provides dental resident training and direct services to people living with HIV/AIDS who have complex social and medical comorbidities.

Leadership Training in Pediatric Dentistry: This federally sponsored (Maternal and Child Health Bureau) health professional training program, expands upon the New York Presbyterian Hospital's training of pediatric dentists by coordinating services through Head Start Centers and by stimulating community engagement by trainees.