Why Dentists in Oregon Should Stop Calling Themselves ‘Dentists’
When you think of dentists in America, you probably think of the best-known ones: the ones who do the hard work of extracting teeth, or the ones that can fix them up and give you a smile.
In a country where health care costs are high and doctors are scarce, dentists are one of the few professions where you don’t have to go to a hospital to get a root canal or an orthodontic visit.
And in many cases, those who do take care of their patients are more likely to be people of color.
“They’re a part of the fabric of our community,” said the Rev. Nelly Brown, an African-American pastor and pastor at South Oregon’s Trinity Episcopal Church.
“And it is so important for them to be represented in the community.”
Brown said that when the Revs.
T.W. and Mary Ann Pemberton were in their early 20s, they did not think they were going to be able to make dentists’ lives easier.
“When they were talking about wanting to be a dentist, they were just not thinking that they were doing it to be white,” she said.
But when the sisters became dentists, they said, they realized that there were people in their communities who wanted to do the work of dentistry.
That changed their lives, and that changed the lives of many others.
“Our community was not represented as a place of opportunity,” said T.S. Pemberter, who is white and works at South Portland’s Mission Baptist Church.
Brown said the sisters are “absolutely” proud to be dentists.
“It’s a privilege,” she added.
Brown is not the only person to share the sisters’ belief that dentists should be treated as equals.
Dentists are not only considered the health care professionals who perform the most basic tasks of tooth extraction and fillings, they also tend to be the ones most often responsible for helping people pay for dental care.
In fact, the American Dental Association says the average cost of dental care for a family of four is $5,200 a year, and dental care alone is the largest cost for a household.
So when a dentist’s office becomes a hotbed of racial bias, there is a problem, said Michael Smith, an attorney who works with dentists and other public health professionals.
“The dentists who do these unnecessary surgeries and have the ability to do these kinds of procedures, there’s a very real possibility that the health and safety of these patients may be compromised,” Smith said.
“You have to take the risk.
And you have to make sure you’re not doing this to a vulnerable community.”
Smith said he believes dentists need to start treating all their patients as equals, including people of all races.
“This is about justice,” Smith added.
“I believe that this is not just about dentists.”
The problem is, dentistry does not always get it right, said Mary Ann Peters, a professor at the University of Oregon’s School of Public Health.
She said the profession often has trouble communicating the needs of its patients to their dentists because they are often unfamiliar with the work.
Peters also said it’s not always easy to separate the work that dentistry needs from the work its practitioners do, because dentists often do not understand the nuances of social and racial biases.
Brown and Pembert say they want to change that.
In 2013, they started a Change.org petition calling on the state of Oregon to create a state-wide “Dentist Alliance” that would include dentists from all races, genders, and ethnicities.
The group also wants the state to create more opportunities for people of different races to work together to improve health care and make dentistry more inclusive.
“There are people out there that are out there, in the communities, that need to get to know the dentist,” Brown said.
Brown told Vice News that the group is also working to ensure that other dentists don’t get the same treatment.
“If we can have dentists that are able to treat people of other races, then there is no reason why the people that are not able to have that treatment can’t,” Brown added.
The campaign is now working to gather signatures on a petition calling for the state legislature to pass legislation to make it illegal to discriminate against dentists based on race, sex, or other factors.
Brown has also worked with the state’s health department to help create a new state-level program to educate people about the health risks associated with dental work.
She is also speaking out about the practice of dentist malpractice insurance, which covers up to $4 million for dentists but does not cover the full cost of treatment.
Brown was among a group of people in Portland last month who were asked to sign a form stating they would not sue their