Diversity, equity, and inclusion interventions to support admissions have had little benefit to Black students over past 20 years. Academic Article uri icon


  • The United States has a history of systemic racism and violence toward minority communities. Unfortunately, the last year has demonstrated that systemic racism, and its consequences, persist. The dental profession has also failed to adequately resolve known issues of racial inequity and systemic racism, with persistent disparities in oral health outcomes for Black Americans compared to all other Americans, underrepresentation of minorities in the profession, and barriers to entry. However, dental education has the opportunity to address these issues. Current accreditation standards do not specifically address racial diversity among the student body, yet it is clear that representation of a population matters and the lack of representation may exacerbate race and racism as public health issues in dentistry. To explore the issue, we curated American Dental Education Association (ADEA) data on the race of students admitted and enrolled into dental programs across the United States. We used data visualization techniques to present the data and study trends. While the number of Black and African American (BAA) enrollees in dental schools has increased between 2000 and 2019, this population continues to make up a disproportionately small percentage of all enrollees, relative to the BAA percentage in the U.S. population. Much of the increase in BAA enrollment is attributable to increased places (due to the opening of new schools and increased class size in established schools) and the rate of acceptance of BAA students has had limited improvement. Very little progress has been accomplished in growing the enrollment of BAA applicants to dental school in 20 years. As a profession, we also fail to grow interest among our graduates in careers that may support historically underrepresented and marginalized racial groups-public health, rural practice, population research, academia, and health policy. This may be a contributing factor to the oral health disparities faced by Black Americans and have implications for dental education.

published proceedings

  • J Dent Educ

altmetric score

  • 115.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Nalliah, R. P., Timoth, P., & Reddy, M. S.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • Nalliah, Romesh P||Timothé, Peggy||Reddy, Michael S

publication date

  • January 2021