Research Horizons


Education, Diversity and Inclusion Efforts May Reduce LGBTQ+ Youth Dental Health Disparities

Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics | Top Scientific Achievement
2023 Research Discoveries Proposed approach for improving pediatric dentistry education to address the needs of LGBTQ+ populations.

As the number of youth identifying as LGBTQ+ increases, the need to address existing and potential oral health inequities also increases.

Seeking to help address these inequities, investigators—including Scott Schwartz, DDS, MPH, of Cincinnati Children’s—looked at the current state of oral health education pertaining to LGBTQ+ individuals. The co-authors found that dental schools provide limited awareness of stigmatization and inadequate cultural sensitivity to the needs of LGBTQ+ populations. Overall, dental schools offered only 3.68 hours of LGBTQ+ content, while hygiene programs provided just 1.25 hours.

Schwartz and colleagues proposed a three-pronged approach to address LGBTQ+ inequities, including didactics, discussion and real-world care delivery (see infographic). They also recommended several steps to improve educational experiences, expand LGBTQ+ visibility in academic settings, and encourage greater representation in academic leadership positions. Among them:

  • Consider having officials include pronouns with their names.
  • Ensure diversity statements mention LGBTQ+ information.
  • Consider pairing self-identified LGTBQ+ applicants with LGBTQ+ residents and faculty interviewers.
  • Offer applicants an LGBTQ+ point person from a list of openly out students, faculty, staff, alumni or allies.
  • Provide information on LGBTQ+ inclusion training and resources during recruitment and orientation.
  • Determine where your institution falls on the Human Rights Campaign Health Equality Index and advocate for policies that enhance workplace diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Ensure selection committees have LGBTQ+ representation.
  • Provide implicit bias training.
  • Establish mentorship opportunities.

“Increasing knowledge and awareness of the unique needs of LGBTQ+ populations as patients and within academia should ultimately lead to better outcomes and experiences for all,” says Schwartz.

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Publication Information
Original title: LGBTQ+ and dental education: Analyzing the present and recommendations for the future
Published in: Journal of Dental Education
Publish date: September 2022
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