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For Release:
November 23, 2009

Heather Howard

For Further Information Contact:
Dawn Thomas
(609) 984-7160

Health and Senior Services Commissioner Releases Exposing Diverse Students to Oral Health Professions Tool Kit


Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard, joined by the New Jersey Dental Association (NJDA), today released Exposing Diverse Students to Oral Health Professions, a unique tool kit designed to encourage students to pursue careers in oral health.


New Jersey’s minority populations are growing, and so too is the state’s need for a diverse health professional workforce,” said Commissioner Howard. “With this tool kit, we hope to inspire minority students to pursue careers in the oral health professions.”


The Department of Health and Senior Services developed this kit, in collaboration with the New Jersey Dental Association, to encourage qualified high school students to learn more about careers in the oral health professions. This tool kit contains information that will help school guidance counselors and student advisors arrange for an oral health professional visit their school.  The kit also provides facts about oral health careers and outlines various resources for students and their parents.


“Careers as a dentist, dental hygienist, dental assistant or dental lab technician are available to students of all backgrounds and education levels,” said NJDA President Steven Fink.  “In fact, many areas of dentistry are experiencing a shortage of professionals, so the sky is the limit for the student who has the will and determination to excel.”


Increasing the number of minority health professionals is critical to improving health care delivery throughout the health care system and addressing persistent racial and ethnic health care disparities. Studies demonstrate that patients play a more active role in their health care when seeing a provider of the same race, which can greatly impact a patient’s health.  Additionally, patients are more likely to visit a provider of the same race and ethnicity.  According to the American Dental Association, in 2000, black dentists reported that 61.8 percent of their patients were black; 45.5 percent of Hispanic dentists’ patients were Hispanic; and 76.6 percent of white dentists’ patients were white.


The tool kit was released at Central High School in Newark, which is equipped with a state-of-the-art dental lab and offers its students a dental program.


The tool kit is available on the Department of Health and Senior Services’ Office of Minority & Multicultural Health website at as well as on the NJDA website at

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