Skip to Main Content

Oral Health Equity

Resources for oral health equity, social determinants, and health disparities in dental education and practice.

CODA Cultural Competence


Cultural competence:  Having the ability to provide care to patients with diverse backgrounds, values, beliefs and behaviors, including tailoring delivery to meet patients’ social, cultural, and linguistic needs.  Cultural competence training includes the development of a skill set for more effective provider-patient communication and stresses the importance of providers’ understanding the relationship between diversity of culture, values, beliefs, behavior and language and the needs of patients.

Standard 2-17

Graduates must be competent in managing a diverse patient population and have the interpersonal and communications skills to function successfully in a multicultural work environment.  

Intent: Students should learn about factors and practices associated with disparities in health status among subpopulations, including but not limited to, racial, ethnic, geographic, or socioeconomic groups. In this manner, students will be best prepared for dental practice in a diverse society when they learn in an environment characterized by, and supportive of, diversity and inclusion.

Such an environment should facilitate dental education in:  

  • basic principles of culturally competent health care;
  • basic principles of health literacy and effective communication for all patient populations
  • recognition of health care disparities and the development of solutions; 
  • the importance of meeting the health care needs of dentally underserved populations, and;
  • the development of core professional attributes, such as altruism, empathy, and social accountability, needed to provide effective care in a multi- dimensionally diverse society. 

Source: Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) Standards for Predoctoral Dental Education.