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While the level of urgency in dentistry cannot compare to that in an emergency room, oral healthcare is a crucial part of overall health. Poor oral health can lead to systemic health conditions, such as heart and respiratory diseases, oral cancer, and diabetes. Therefore, the solution to health disparities may lie in addressing oral health disparities first. Nonetheless, most dentists are business owners of their own dental practices. Hence, they work in between business and patient care, sometimes facing associated conflicts. But they are obligated to make ethical decisions when the values between the two fields clash. The dental community is in agreement that dentists are allowed some reasonable latitude in selecting which patients to accept as long as their decisions are not based on their personal biases, such as race and gender. But due to the professional nature of dentistry, I argue that the dental community has an obligation to expand opportunities for dental professionals to provide pro bono care for those who cannot afford dental care or in regions that lack healthcare professionals. I offer a multi-phase model for how to achieve this.


Third prize winner (tie).



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