Moral Monday

Dentists help refugees during hard times

Displaced refugeesWe often refer to our world as the “dental school bubble.” Our world consists of all things dentistry – exams, schedules, lab work, deadlines, and, of course, the latest gossip. Somehow this list often does not include anything external to school. My brother often jokes that at the end of each semester he’d like to have a video made for me called “Things you missed this year.” However, it is hard to miss the recent news of the terrorist attack on Paris and the Syrian refugee crisis. As headlines splash across social media, newspapers and news channels, we are faced with the harsh reality that the world is not limited to our more trivial concerns.

While being pushed to our limits with school, it is easy to forget how lucky we are to be here. We have the freedom to pursue our dreams and live our lives as we please. We watch horrific events on the news. We read about equally-terrible but less-covered tragedies in news articles. These events shock you back to reality, they give you pause, and offer a perspective that we are most unfortunate to gain. Just for today, let’s try to take a look at what some of the good people are doing. It is no surprise to see that dentists are out there doing what they can, to shed some light on these dark times.

Using dental outreach as grassroots advocacy

girl at dentistThe American Dental Association wants to reduce the number of adults and children with untreated dental disease. Volunteer outreach events primarily serve this goal. Some patients travel hundreds of miles and wait for days in line just to get a tooth extracted. Many of these stories go untold, so it is our duty as future practitioners to speak for the underserved and get barriers to care at the forefront of the political agenda.

The ADA started the Action for Dental Health two years ago to combat access to care issues with three goals in mind: to treat patients in need now, to expand the private and public safety net, and to increase education and prevention. Read on to learn more.

Helping patients navigate the mysteries of dentistry

Mouth checkupA 2009 Gallup poll, as quoted in the September 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association, asked respondents to rate the honesty and ethical standards of different professions. Dentists received only a 57% rating of “very high or high,” ranking lower than that of physicians, pharmacists and nurses. This number fell below the 2006 rating of 62%.

If ten dentists are put in a room to discuss a case, it is more than likely that 10 different treatment recommendations will result. Some may take a more conservative approach to dentistry, while others prefer to treat for prevention and restore anything that could be problematic in the future. How can we explain these differences to our patients? With “free second opinions” becoming a regular tagline on many dental advertisements, how can we help patients realize that different approaches to dentistry do not indicate misdiagnosis or wrongful intent?

How to stay up-to-date on political issues

politics, complianceThe most common question Council on Advocacy members are asked is how to stay up-to-date with current events and political issues impacting dental students?

The best way to stay current on dental issues is to read ASDA’s e-newsletter, Advocacy Brief. This monthly email is sent to every ASDA member and includes recent state and federal dental news. For more ways to stay in-the-know, read on…

How you can better serve the LGBT community

gay coupleThe lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities now make up nearly 4% of the adult population in the U.S. (Gallup 2015). As healthcare providers, it is our duty to provide culturally competent care to patients with diverse values, beliefs and behaviors, and to tailor delivery to meet patients’ social and cultural needs (National Center for Cultural Competence). Gender identity and sexual orientation – just like race, ethnicity and religion – affect the way our patients perceive their health and utilize healthcare services.

For far too long, the LGBT populations have experienced discrimination and inequalities in health care. Read on to learn how you can be a part of the change.

The importance of organized dentistry

Capitol domeI recently went to my second lobby day in Vermont, a state without a dental school. I accompanied nine other students from Tufts, Boston University, and Harvard to descend upon the statehouse. We all made the three-hour trip, because we understand how important it is to advocate for our patients and our profession. While we were there we met with many senators and members of the house. We discussed ways to attract more providers to increase the level of care in Vermont. Read on to learn how you can make a difference in dentistry too…

Dentistry is more than dentistry

food bankA dentist has many responsibilities. They provide dental treatment. They offer care to under-served areas. They may owe on loans and must support the salary of the team they employ. They are active in organized dentistry to protect their profession and to stay current on evidence-based dentistry. Finally, they abide by our code of ethics, which are the essential pieces to our profession. But dentistry is more than dentistry.

To me, being a leader within our community is one of our greatest responsibilities. It’s also a chance to do something else that we are passionate about. We owe ourselves time away from dentistry to de-stress. As a dental student, you can pursue these interests now.