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.
Although three out of four Americans on a public water supply benefit from fluoridation, the misinformation about fluoridation is far too prevalent. Therefore, science-based decision making is critical for educating our communities.
Widespread use of the internet can lead to widespread misinformation. In dentistry, this misinformation comes in the form of anti-fluoridation groups. As dental professionals, it is important that we take a role in counteracting this.
According to 2016 data from the World Prison Brief, released by the Institute for Criminal Policy Research, the United States has the highest national rate of imprisonment: 655 jailed persons per 100,000 of the national population. Canada and Mexico have rates of 114 and 164, respectively. The United States houses over 2 million inmates in 4,455 facilities that may fall under local, state or federal jurisdiction. Inmates are a huge sector of the American population. They’re a group that may not come to mind when thinking about our country’s most vulnerable populations, yet they face significant barriers to accessing adequate health care.
The last thing I expected to do was take a gap year after college. Everyone around me was applying and getting accepted to dental school right, and it was frustrating that I was not on the same path. What I had yet to realize was that going to dental school immediately after college was a path for some, and even though it wasn’t my path, that didn’t make my path any less fulfilling.
Think back to your personal statement for dental school. What did you say in it? My bet is that you mentioned something about your desire to help people. About how you knew a dentist somewhere who helped someone in a way that only a dentist could. About how that experience planted in you a desire to do the same thing. That one day, you hoped to be a dentist who not only did that for every one of your patients but also for the world! OK, so maybe you said it with more tact or with less drama, but I have read enough prospective student personal statements to know that a good number of applicants include that to some extent. Now imagine if that dream came true.
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.