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Black students’ dental school enrollment flatlined in US

April 23, 2021
Implications of "very little progress" in enrollment over 20 years include disparities in oral health and support of marginalized groups, says the Journal of Dental Education.

Dental schools in the US haven’t made significant improvements in attracting Black students over the past 20 years, a flatline that could help explain ongoing oral health disparities in people of color, among other implications.

A new article published by the Journal of Dental Education states that “Very little progress has been accomplished in growing the enrollment of BAA [Black and African American] applicants to dental school” in the US and that the implications of that include not only disparities in dental education, but also a failure to “support historically underrepresented and marginalized racial groups.”

The article further summarizes the importance of increased enrollment of Black students, including:

  • If prospective students don’t see others like them in the profession, they are less likely to pursue it.
  • Representation has a real link to access to care. BAA dentists treat a disproportional share of BAA patients and report that 44.9% of their patient panel is BAA.
  • Black Americans traditionally have lagged behind the average in building generational wealth and accessing the careers that facilitate it; high‐income careers like dentistry can have generational impacts on the dentist and their family through wealth and savings.

Access the full article: Diversity, equity, and inclusion interventions to support admissions have had little benefit to Black students over past 20 years