This paper reviews the shortcomings of present approaches to reduce oral diseases and inequalities, details the importance of social determinants, and links that to research needs and policies on implementation of strategies to reduce oral health inequalities. Inequalities in health are not narrowing. Attention is therefore being directed at determinants of major health conditions and the extent to which those common determinants vary within, between, and among groups, because if inequalities in health vary across groups, then so must underlying causes. Tackling inequalities in health requires strategies tailored to determinants and needs of each group along the social gradient. Approaches focusing mainly on downstream lifestyle and behavioral factors have limited success in reducing health inequalities. They fail to address social determinants, for changing people's behaviors requires changing their environment. There is a dearth of oral health research on social determinants that cause health-compromising behaviors and on risk factors common to some chronic diseases. The gap between what is known and implemented by other health disciplines and the dental fraternity needs addressing. To re-orient oral health research, practice, and policy toward a 'social determinants' model, a closer collaboration between and integration of dental and general health research is needed. Here, we suggest a research agenda that should lead to reductions in global inequalities in oral health.