Driving Greater Diversity in the Oral Health Workforce

There is an urgent need to address the ongoing lack of minority representation in the oral health professions. Racial and ethnic diversity among health professionals is linked to improved outcomes and greater health equity, however, the current oral health workforce does not reflect the changing demographics of the U.S. population.

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 As the nation’s oral health leader, Delta Dental embraces the opportunity to address the needs of the diverse communities we serve and to contribute to more equitable health outcomes, which is why we launched the Driving Greater Diversity in the Oral Health Workforce campaign. This effort helps advance a more diverse oral health workforce by establishing the first oral health diversity fund and by supporting initiatives in oral health education, research, and community investment.

This industry-leading fund invests up to $1 million annually in comprehensive solutions, innovative pilots, and scalable models that inspire school-aged children from historically underrepresented groups to pursue a career in oral health. 

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Inspiring the future of the oral health workforce

Delta Dental companies across the country are deeply invested in their communities and supporting the future of the oral health workforce. 

Preparing the dental workforce of the future 
Delta Dental of Washington

Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences (PNWU) has broken ground on the second dental school in Washington State. The newly announced Delta Dental Equity Hall, a 30,000-square-foot building with a state-of-the-art classroom and workspace, will house the incoming school of dental medicine and will open in the fall of 2025. The school's curriculum will focus on preparing students to work in rural, medically underserved areas in response to a dental workforce shortage. Students will be trained at PNWU for one year before moving to full-time immersive training at federally qualified health centers in Tacoma, Tri-Cities, or Yakima.

Advocating for equity

Advancing health equity through a diverse oral health workforce

Supporting oral health higher education

Over the last five years, Delta Dental has invested nearly $91 million in college and university programs across the country, supporting scholarships and infrastructure programs, including minority serving institutions.

Propelling new research

The Delta Dental Institute sponsored new research from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine on the oral health workforce. The study finds that expanding the dental workforce in oral health professional shortage areas through the National Health Service Corps would not only reduce the burden of dental caries among children in underserved areas, but would also be cost-effective.

Engaging with our communities

Delta Dental will continue its focus on supporting historically underrepresented groups by conducting outreach to minority students in communities across the country to elevate the importance of oral health to overall health and to introduce the possibility of a career in the oral health professions. 

Meet our expert advisors

Tamana (Bunny) Begay, DDS
Supervising Clinical Program Director, Gallup Indian Medical Center

Tamana (Bunny) Begay is of Navajo, Seneca, Mohawk descent.

Dr. Begay began her college career at San Diego Mesa Community College and then transferred to the University of California, San Diego, Revelle College. She graduated in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology.

In 1999, Dr. Begay enrolled in the University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry’s post-baccalaureate program. Following this program, she began her graduate studies at the University of the Pacific, Dugoni School of Dentistry, in San Francisco. After earning her DDS in 2003, she began working with the Indian Health Service.

Dr. Begay currently works as the Supervising Clinical Program Director at the Gallup Indian Medical Center in Gallup, New Mexico. She is involved in several local and national organizations promoting American Indian/Alaska Native students into higher education and professional careers.

Arturo Brito, MD, MPH
President & CEO, Children's Health Fund

Arturo Brito, MD, MPH, re-joined Children’s Health Fund (CHF) as President and Chief Executive Officer in September 2021. From 1994 to 2005, he served as Medical Director of the South Florida Children’s Health Project, one of CHF’s 25 national network partners, then, as Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President of CHF (2006 to 2011). Prior to rejoining CHF, Brito was the lead physician and deputy commissioner for the New Jersey Department of Health (2011-2017), and, most recently, Executive Director, The Nicholson Foundation (2017-2021).

Dr. Brito uses his diverse leadership and clinical experience to carry CHF’s values forward while developing a new strategy for ensuring that children growing up in under-resourced communities have opportunities to thrive and succeed. As a community pediatrician with a public health degree, he sees beyond the clinical walls and understands how systems, when designed right, can positively influence the lives of children. 

Kim D'Abreu
President & CEO, Diversity Dimensions Consulting, LLC, Co-founder & Principal, Partners for Racial Equity

Kim D'Abreu is a seasoned leader in the non-profit space who brings 25 years of experience designing and managing national, impactful workforce diversity and inclusion programs. As a credible thought leader within the education, healthcare, and non-profit sectors, she has built an impeccable reputation for managing the culture and complexities of environments. She obtained her Certificate in Leadership Coaching from Georgetown University with a PCC Certification and holds a BS from The Johns Hopkins University and an MPH from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. As a New York transplant living in Washington, D.C., Kim spends her spare time enjoying live music and theater and relaxing with her daughter and two cats, Brook & Lyn. 


Emily Yu
Founder and CEO, AI PRIORI, INC. 

Emily Yu is committed to driving innovations that ensure everyone can be healthy and thrive. As a social entrepreneur, speaker, and published author with more than 20 years of experience in strategy development, partnerships, communications, and tech for good, she is working to change how change is made in the public sector.

As Founder and CEO of AI PRIORI, INC., Emily utilizes machine learning tools to help changemakers identify and consume more relevant content than ever before — so they can tackle society’s most pressing challenges at the scale and speed change happens. Prior to launching AI PRIORI, INC., Emily served as the Executive Director of The BUILD Health Challenge® and Managing Director of Partnerships at the de Beaumont Foundation. In these roles, she raised a $10 million fund to support the advancement of health equity in more than 55 communities across the U.S. These community-led and cross-sector partnerships resulted in more than 100 new legislative policies, organizational policies, and funding opportunities.