Background: No studies exist of the congruence of research in oral health to policy. This study aimed to examine the broad congruence of oral health research to policy, and implications for developing oral health research that is more policy relevant, particularly for the wider challenge of addressing unequal oral health outcomes, rather than specific policy translation issues. Methods: Bayesian-based software was used in a multi-layered method to compare the conceptual content of 127,193 oral health research abstracts published between 2000-2012 with eight current oral health policy documents from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. Findings: Fifty-five concepts defined the research abstracts, of which only eight were policy-relevant, and six of which were minor research concepts. Conclusions: The degree of disconnection between clinical concepts and healthcare system and workforce development concepts was striking. This study shows that, far from being "lost in translation," oral health research and policy are so different as to raise doubts about the extent to which research is policy-relevant and policy is research-based. The notion of policy relevance encompasses the lack of willingness of policy makers to embrace research, and the need for researchers to develop research that is, and is seen to be, policy-relevant.