Becoming a dentist is a journey. We spend years learning how to prevent, diagnose and treat oral diseases, in addition to how to meet the continuously changing dental needs and demands of our patients and the public. Dental education is essential because it allows us to gain the necessary knowledge and technical skills to care for our patients. But is it really enough?
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and other Americans of gender and sexual minority status (collectively referred to as “LGBTQ+” or “queer” henceforth) have faced a rocky and imperfect road in their fight for equality.
During my undergraduate years, I would dwell on my grades. Getting an 89% on an exam would leave me feeling defeated and frustrated — I was so close to an “A,” after all! Now that I am a third-year attending a pass/fail dental school, I feel as though I’m able to perform at the best of my intellectual abilities with minimal academic stress.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared that the United States is amidst the worst measles outbreak since 1992, although the disease was declared eliminated in 2000. As one of the most developed countries in the world, this is an alarming stat that all health care professionals should be concerned with, including dentists.
The May issue of The Atlantic included an article about dentistry. The author Ferris Jabr discussed “the truth” about the profession, that “it’s much less scientific — and more prone to gratuitous procedures — than you may think,” as the headline of the online version of the article stated.
Most students and faculty who organize and participate in overseas mission trips are motivated by the sincere desire to help others. Often they pay for their own travel through combinations of personal assets, donations and active fundraising. I think these mission trips are well-intended acts of caring. However, as a public health dentist I question the decision to spend so much time and money providing services that generally do very little to eliminate the underlying disease process, do not empower communities to improve their health status and waste resources on travel that might be spent in a much more cost-effective way to achieve improved oral health.