Diversity in Dentistry: The Need for Increasing Cultural Diversity in Dental Care

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What is Diversity in Dentistry?

Diversity in dentistry refers to representing people from different backgrounds and identities to create an inclusive and equitable field. This includes dental professionals from varying races, genders, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses.

The inclusion of different perspectives can enrich the practice of dentistry and ensure patient access to better care.

Diversity in dentistry is growing and becoming more apparent in the field today. As with many other industries, the increased focus on inclusion and diversity within dentistry has seen a dramatic rise in the number of individuals from various backgrounds and cultures entering the profession.

Dentists of all races, gender identities, sexual orientations, and class backgrounds are beginning to work sidebyside in dental practices and institutions, creating a more pluralistic field with various perspectives and experiences to draw from.

The Benefits of Increasing Diversity in Dentistry

This shift towards a more diverse pool of dental professionals has numerous benefits. With many different cultures, experiences, skills, and perspectives represented, those within the field can provide a more comprehensive, inclusive, and holistic approach to dental care.

This increased opportunity for collaboration across different cultural and social backgrounds can also help to reduce language and cultural barriers that may otherwise inhibit dental access or quality of care.

Diversity in dentistry can also help to reduce health disparities between different groups and ultimately produce better outcomes for all patients.

In addition to the professional benefits of diversity, numerous social and psychological benefits come with a more inclusive dental practice. A greater level of diversity in the profession can create an environment in which employees from all backgrounds feel more comfortable, appreciated, and supported.

Such an atmosphere allows for increased communication, more ideas to be exchanged, and a deeper understanding of one another.

Ultimately, a more diverse dentistry field can lead to more educated and wellrounded professionals, more effectiveness in collaborating and providing care, and improved relationships between the dental practice and its patients.

The Impact of Diversity in Denstists and Patients

Often when we seek dental care, we want to know that our providers understand who we are and our dental needs. Having diverse dental personnel does not mean that every patient needs to see a dentist just like him or her.

It’s about cultural competence and having the awareness and ability of providers to respond to the needs of patients whose cultures and values may be very different from their own.

When patients don’t see people like them, it can cause a disconnect and obstruct the overall process. And when their providers have little understanding of the issues they face, they may feel excluded or unable to get the care they desire.

Realizing the change in the demographics of the patient base brings awareness to the challenges and opportunities of the Dental field.

For example, if someone is a part of a minority group that is underrepresented and interested in a career like dentistry, they can help contribute to a future where all patients receive the same quality of care and understanding.

Dental Up Podcast Episode on Diversity in Dentistry

On our Dental Up Podcast, we were able to discuss the importance of diversity in dentistry and the value of giving back to the community. This month here at Keating Dental Lab, we had the honor of having Dr. Felicia Fontenot, DDS the first Mescalero Apache Dentist as a Guest on our Dental Up Podcast. This podcast was extra special because the month of November is also Native American Indian Heritage month. Dr. Fontenot stopped by to share her experience of being a Native American Indian Woman in an industry that often lacks diversity. She spoke about what motivated her to pursue a career in dentistry, how she is applying her public health skills to create a wide-scale oral healthcare prevention program for native communities, and the idea of cultural competency and how crucial it is when thinking about entering a career in the medical/ dental industry.

The Need for Cultural Diversity in Dentistry

The increasing diversity of the population, together with the importance of cultural beliefs and behaviors that affect health outcomes, will require ways to enhance provider-patient communications and oral health awareness.

Being able to work with people from different backgrounds, makes it more likely that you’ll be able to understand them and therefore becoming a competent practitioner.

That’s why it is necessary, no matter what industry you’re working in that you learn how to understand and interact with people from cultures and backgrounds other than your own, will not only increase the awareness of your business but also the quality of the experience.

For more information on this topic, please listen to Dr. Felicia Fontenot, DDS on the Dental Up Podcast by clicking the link down below. 

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