AIDPH hosted its annual AIDPH Colloquium “Confronting Inequity Through Oral Health Policy” on January 14 and 15, 2020. This year’s colloquium featured expert speakers from diverse backgrounds to lead the discussion around inequities in public policy and how clinicians, policy makers and leaders can affect change.
Dr. Derek Griffith of Vanderbilt University’s Center for Research on Men’s Health presented What Do Dental Public Health Professionals Need To Know About Racism As A Public Health Issue? His presentation focused on identifying embedded beliefs rooted in racism that determine patterns of health outcomes and practices, and how dental public health professionals might intervene in these thinking patterns to achieve equity in oral health and beyond.
In this session, the presenter will highlight the importance of naming racism as a scientific construct, and the significance of dental public health practitioners learning to understand and apply racism as a determinant of population, community and individual oral health. Racism remains a frequently discussed but widely contested determinant of health. This presentation is not about labeling individuals or discussing specific events; rather, the goal is to frame a pattern of outcomes that cannot be adequately characterized via other means. These explanations for patterns become embedded in individual and institutional assumptions, practices and policies that directly and indirectly affect health. Though racism has gained increasing acceptance as a scientific construct, there remains considerable debate and discussion about how racism can be defined in public health and can be applied in public health practice. The presenter will discuss the importance of racism for understanding how we define why there are differences in patterns of health outcomes within, between and across groups overtime. Various forms of discrimination share some fundamental commonalities, but racism is unique in important ways that have implications for health. Racism is not a function of individual beliefs or behavior, but a systemic set of beliefs and narratives that endure and adapt over time. As the notion of race has evolved and the suggestion that racism shapes an event or an outcome has become more political and contested, there remains a need to help dental public health professionals have the knowledge and language to effectively engage in discussions of racism as a public health issue. The presenter also will highlight the importance of understanding the implications of framing the root causes of health inequities as racism for how we might intervene to achieve health equity, and maintain equity in oral health and other health outcomes once achieved.
Chime in! How can dental health professionals address racism and pursue oral health equity?
Post authored by:
Caitie Skaggs | AIDPH Staff
The American Institute of Dental Public Health