5 ways to make your practice more inclusive


The ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct states “dentists shall not refuse to accept patients into their practice or deny dental service to patients because of the patient’s race, creed, color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin or disability.”

However, some patients face obstacles when seeking dental care.

In 2021, the ADA House of Delegates passed a resolution on oral health equity, defining it as optimal health for all people. The resolution affirmed the Association’s commitment to improving equitable access to oral health care and supporting cultural competency and diversity in dental treatment.

Below are five steps dentists can take to help provide an inclusive, welcoming and comfortable practice for their patients.

1. Ask your patients with disabilities or their caregivers what accommodations you can make to help dental treatment be a more positive experience for them, such as adjusting light and sound levels. 

2. Design intake forms to be inclusive of all gender identities by including gender options other than male and female and space for patients to list their preferred name and pronoun.

3. Use informational materials that are easy to understand and available in the languages most commonly spoken in your community. Models, diagrams or other visual aids may be helpful too.

4. Undergo training with your staff so you can safely transfer patients from wheelchairs to dental chairs.

5. Participate to some extent in your state Medicaid program. The ADA encourages dentists to offer services for Medicaid-eligible patients as a way to expand dental care for all.

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