The main activity of the dental surgeon worldwide is undoubtedly in the private sector. But in Brazil, this reality begins to change with the constitution of 1988 and above all, the creation of the Unified Health System (SUS), which is one of the largest and most complex public health system in the world, which guarantees comprehensive, universal and free care to all Brazilian citizens. Dental care therefore is present in the public health network on a large scale even at the level of specialties such as oral diagnosis (with emphasis on diagnosis and detection of oral cancer), Periodontics, Minor Oral Surgery, Care for People with Special Needs, Endodontics, Preventive Orthodontics and Dental Prostheses. Dentistry is also part of the Family Health Strategy (ESF), a program linked to SUS that aims at reorganizing primary care in the country and provides an excellent cost / effectiveness ratio. Before that, the actions offered by the government were limited to the fluoridation of the public water supply and the professionals of the area seemed not to mind being left out of the public health network, which previously appeared in other areas. The objective of this work is to show the obstacles, advances and challenges of dentistry in the Brazilian public health scenario, through a bibliographical and documentary survey from the insertion in 1988 to the present day including the four main epidemiological surveys of oral health in national level. Despite this great progress, we still have many challenges such as the social exclusion and polarization of some oral diseases in more vulnerable communities, besides the poor distribution of professionals across the country. Above all, this work offers important subsidies for the construction and improvement of public policies in oral health.