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.