The Titanic was one of the most groundbreaking inventions of its time, however it quickly became a catastrophe when the captain failed to properly analyze the pathway ahead. By the time he realized the severity of the situation, it was far too late. Similar to the captain of the Titanic, many dental providers fail to investigate the overarching root that causes diseases. The focus placed on immediate pain relief does not address the sociological factors of the diseases presented. This is analogous to my own dental experience.
At five years old, I had my maxillary central incisors extracted because I did not understand how to properly care for my teeth. Instead of just removing my teeth, my dentist educated me about the importance of oral hygiene; thus, increasing my oral health literacy. My dentist was a better captain than that of the Titanic, as he corrected my poor oral health at a young age. He inspired me to change my oral hygiene by brushing frequently and visiting the dentist on a regular basis. This obsession with my oral health eventually turned into a love, leading me to become a captain of my own dental crew.
I aspire to become a dentist on the ship, that ensures patients, like passengers on a ship, are safe and comfortable in their route through life. In my journey to become a dentist, I began to understand the problems that plague my family. My uncle, like many Americans, does not have dental insurance because children are the only ones guaranteed dental insurance through Medicaid. This hole in the system creates many oral health disparities for low-income adults. As a result, my uncle rarely visits the dentist even in the moments he needs it most. He even resorted to pulling his own tooth due to a debilitating cavity to gain relief. My uncle’s experience inspired me to spend my life giving back to communities that have similar experiences of inadequate access to oral healthcare and education.
I chose to attend Howard University because of the school’s commitment to truth and service. My studies in sociology have empowered me to investigate the deficits in communities, through dentistry, to make these changes across America. I discovered the vast specialties of dentistry, specifically public health, at the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP), that confirmed my devotion to promote changes in healthcare for the underserved. In my classes, Medical Sociology and Public Health, I learned about the factors that play a role in people’s health outcomes that dictate people’s encounters in the healthcare system. I would like to use my dental career to combat the barriers that Americans face when dealing with oral health disparities.
Similar to the survivors of the Titanic, in which they encountered many obstacles, I have faced many challenges to reach my aspiration of becoming a dentist. I come from an area that has one of the biggest achievement gaps in the US and being the first in my family to pursue a career in healthcare. There were times when I feared I would not overcome them. I believe that mentoring adolescents is important to help students like myself; resultantly, I joined the Bison Guru Mentorship Program to volunteer with underrepresented Washington, D.C. public school students. I helped them with their homework and educate them about the importance of healthy living, focusing on oral hygiene.
Like the crew on the Titanic, who risked their lives to save others, I want the minority students that I volunteer with to have an equal opportunity to achieve their dreams. I foster their curiosity with hopes that they will also aspire to become dentists or other healthcare professionals, as there is a lack of diversity in these fields. These career options may not be topics of conversation in their household, as they were not in mine. I believe that my impact in the community will help lower the disparities in these underserved areas and help the equality crisis that exists in the healthcare system.
There is more to dentistry than preparing and restoring teeth. This field can be used to improve overall health outcomes of patients. Like the Titanic’s captain who gave his life to save his passengers—a dentist must be willing to make sacrifices for their patients. Dentistry is about providing community healthcare and constantly being of service to others. Despite the sacrifices it may entail, I am ready to dedicate my life to save a sinking ship.