Open forum to explore racial inequities in dentistry

Photo of Open Forum panel
Voices: From right (top), Drs. Christine Meiners and Tawana Ware; (bottom) Drs. Carlos Smith and Aruna Rao will share their stories and experiences as dentists of diverse backgrounds.
Dentists seeking to gain a greater understanding on racial inequities in the profession are invited to a virtual open forum organized by the ADA’s New Dentist Committee and Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
The forum, Amplifying Voices: A Series of Conversations on Diversity & Inclusion, will be held at 7 p.m. CST on Sept. 29.
Presenters include Drs. Tawana Ware, assistant professor of pediatric dentistry at Indiana University School of Dentistry; Carlos Smith, director of diversity, equity and inclusion and director of ethics curriculum at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry; Christine Meiners, national trustee for the Hispanic Dental Association and adjunct faculty at Communicare Health Centers, a nonprofit community health center in San Antonio; and Aruna Rao, adjunct clinical faculty at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.
The presenters will share their stories and experiences as dentists of diverse backgrounds. The discussion is moderated by Ashleigh Rosette, Ph.D., senior associate dean and professor of management and organizations at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.
During the open forum, attendees will have the opportunity to share their own experiences, offer suggestions to the ADA leadership to address these issues, ask questions or just listen. In addition, those attending can also reflect on ways to become a better ally and contribute to their dental societies’ or ADA’s diversity and inclusion efforts. The learnings will be compiled for further discussion.
“The New Dentist Committee recognized that diversity and inclusion is a topic of growing prominence and we wanted to open the door to have these important and sometimes difficult conversations,” said Dr. Emily Mattingly, NDC chair.
 According to the Health Policy Institute data, from 2008 to 2018, the percentage of active white dentists decreased from 78.2% to 71.9%. The largest increase among minority groups came from those of Asian background, increasing from 12.9% to 17.1%. Hispanics increased from 4.6% to 5.6%; and professionally active black dentists decreased from 3.8% to 3.7%. Dentists from other racial/ethnic background increased from 0.5% to 1.6%.
The meeting will be recorded and available on the ADA’s YouTube channel. To register, click here.