WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO HAVE DIVERSITY IN TELEDENTISTRY

I’m a mother to three amazing children: two sons and one beautiful daughter.

When I had my children, like most people, I had dreams for them. When my daughter was 18, she came to me and told me that she liked women- that changed my life.

See, I come from a Baptist background. We didn’t believe in that. I can almost hear someone say, “Oh no you’re going to hell!” That’s just how it was.

I love my daughter now. I loved her all along, but now I don’t look at that anymore. What’s important is that she’s a human.

The color of your skin, your age, or your sexual preference does not matter. Everybody deserves respect and love.

That’s why as dental professionals we need to ask ourselves “Do we have a place for diversity in our practices?” How do our forms address diversity? Do they just have a spot for male, female, and other?

If a male walks in with a wig and high heels, does he have the right to be called what he wants to be called? Does he have the right to be identified the way he wants to be identified? Do we have neutral restrooms?

That’s why I’ve been inspired to discuss the importance of diversity and inclusion in virtual dental care.

Inclusion is an organization’s effort to include different groups of people in their practice. This includes people of different national origins, ages, gender, educational background, marital status, etc.

Below I discuss the benefits of Inclusion and diversity in teledentistry.

Diversity Will Help Us Understand Cultural Factors That Influence Oral Health

With the increasing diversity of patients, it is increasingly becoming important for dental practitioners to understand the social and cultural factors that influence the health and treatment of the patients.

For example, one study showed that African Americans had more adverse oral health perceptions and incidence of dental disease than Asian Americans. This was attributed to cultural influences that impact perceptions and behaviors that affect oral health. This information will help these communities receive better treatment.

Additionally, in the multicultural context, patient-centered medical management poses specific challenges and requires dental professions to have “clinical transcultural competence.”

This means they should be able to adapt appropriate behavior and have the knowledge and skills to treat patients of all cultures.

Inclusivity Will Lead to Better Dentistry Education

The low number of dental practitioners from minority communities, rural areas, and low-income families is a systemic problem that has implications for treatment.

First, continued underrepresentation creates a shortage of dental practitioners in these communities.  This is why dental schools are making an effort in developing a more diverse student population.

Inclusivity Will Improve The Dental Care Of People Of Non-European Origin

Due to a lack of diversity in dental teledentistry,  the dental care of people of non-European origin risks suffering from a lack of knowledge by dental professionals and other medics.

This is especially true of certain health determinants that may be considered unusual in a traditional European context, whether they are genetic determinants (predispositions possible to certain diseases), geographic (possible exposure to certain pathogens), or socio-cultural.

Diversity in teledentistry training and practice will improve the skills of dental practitioners. They will be able to treat patients of diverse origins.

 

We Should Include Seniors

For more information on diversity in teledentistry and how to improve the oral health of seniors, invite me to your facility, conference, training, or interview to hear more.

As the  Geriatric Tooth Fairy, I raise awareness about the plight of seniors to make sure they receive good oral care.  You can also purchase my Book  The Tooth and Nothing But The Truth to understand how to improve the oral health of seniors.