Black Dental Network: a collaborative initiative to inspire change

Black Dental Network: a collaborative initiative to inspire change

Dr Toyin Aiyegbusi and Dr Dammy Awe introduce Black Dental Network, and explains its mission for the Black dental community and improving representation.

Black Dental Network (BDN) is about a team of people, each making their contribution to bring to life something bigger than themselves.

From its inception in May 2022, BDN has been about individuals with shared values, collaborating and committing to empowering the Black dental community. This is a huge team effort and every member plays a significant part.

What’s our mission?

BDN is an established group, aiming to empower and support Black dentists and dental care professionals to become the best version of themselves and increase the representation and visibility of these professionals within dentistry.

With almost 150 members to date, Black Dental Network is a diverse group of associate dentists, foundation dentists, practice owners, specialists in the various fields, and dental hygienists and dental therapists. In the future, we plan to incorporate students, dental nurses and dental technicians into the network.

According to the 2020 Freedom of Information report published in the British Dental Journal, there were only 624 (1.48%) Black dentists on the GDC register. Our aim is to address the current personal and professional challenges experienced by Black clinicians, due to the lack of visibility and representation within dentistry.

Our events and social media platforms are designed to foster meaningful connections between our BDN members and forge positive relationships within the wider dental community and beyond!

BDN long-term strategy for improving Black representation in dentistry

1. Supporting secondary school students get into dental school

  • Career fairs in schools
  • Access to work experience opportunities.

2. Collaborating with relevant charities working towards increasing number of successful applicants to dental school

3. Partner with postgraduate dental education bodies to support young dentists in foundation training

  • Run clinical and non-clinical courses to support students thrive in dental school
  • Present opportunities that increase visibility of black trainers to black students eg through formal mentorship programmes.

4. Offer a platform for continual development of qualified dentists

  • Creating opportunities for teaching, lecturing and delivering courses
  • Present opportunities to serve on boards and increase representation and visibility at leadership level.

Key milestones achieved by BDN

It is still early days for BDN but we are proud of what we have been able to achieve so far:

1. Strengthening our community

We regularly communicate in our WhatsApp group and are currently planning ways to connect together more in person, including an annual conference in spring 2024. On April 1 2023, we hosted ‘The Evolution of Dentistry’ event with Dr Martin Wanendeya and Dr Chris Orr as keynote speakers. The event has been a resounding success and we hope to build on this for future events.

2. Promoting excellence in dentistry

Inspiration and providing opportunities and resources for further clinical and non-clinical development. We launched BDN Study Club in July 2023. It is held twice a month, and has been a fantastic platform for sharing knowledge that drives clinical excellence and personal development.

3. Forging collaborative partnerships

We believe in the power of partnership and working with people who believe in the vision of BDN. We are actively engaging with commercial stakeholders in dentistry to form strategic partnerships. And we want the Black Dental Network to be an established and integrated organisation within the dental sphere.

4. Inspiring then next generation

‘Seeing is believing’ and we want to raise aspirations of the younger generation to consider careers within dentistry as viable options. We are aware of the struggles young black students have with finding work experience within dentistry.

One of our long term goals is to be able to provide work experience opportunities to students who reach out to Black Dental Network for support.

For now, we are focusing on hosting events that will expose students who are in the early stages of considering their future career options to explore dentistry. Specifically in the wider disadvantaged, lower working class social context. We want to inspire these students and showcase the benefits a career in this profession has to offer.

How can you support BDN?

We are a welcoming community and our events, both social and educational, are open to peoples from all backgrounds. We recognise that creating lasting change for Black clinicians within dentistry cannot be done in isolation.

This is why Black Dental Network aims to foster positive relationships with the wider dental community and become a recognised body for under-represented Black clinicians.

We welcome the support of individuals, organisations and dental companies who wish to support and engage with Black Dental Network. You can connect with us at [email protected] or our Instagram handle – @BlackDentalNetwork.

Get the most out of your membership by subscribing to Dentistry CPD
  • Access 600+ hours of verified CPD courses
  • Includes all GDC recommended topics
  • Powerful CPD tracking tools included
Register for webinar
Add to calendar