Thursday, March 31, 2022


In 1994, the University of Michigan School of Dentistry conducted a first cultural climate study. Writing a report about the results of focus groups with dental students, staff and faculty members from LGBTQ+ backgrounds was the motivation to engage in ongoing educational and research efforts since then. Yearly surveys with first year dental students between 1997 and 2022 showed that a lack of interest in learning about treating patients from LGBTQ+ backgrounds persisted over this time span and that an interest in learning about gender and women’s issues actually decreased over these 25 years. National surveys with dental students and dental and dental hygiene administrators showed a lack of education about treating patients from LGBTQ+ backgrounds in these programs, while analyses of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey provided empirical evidence concerning increased risk factors for poor oral health and lack of health care utilization of members of the adult LGBTQ+ community. National surveys with general dentists and pediatric dentists completed the picture concerning attitudes and professional behavior related to pediatric and adult patients from LGBTQ+ backgrounds and pediatric patients on puberty blockers. Lessons learned from these research observations across a quarter century will be discussed.

Dr. Marita R. Inglehart is a professor of dentistry in the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine, an adjunct professor in the Department of Psychology, and a University Diversity & Social Transformation Professor at the University of Michigan. She received her education at the University of Mannheim in Germany where she was a faculty member until 1984 when she came to Ann Arbor as a visiting professor.

Dr. Inglehart studies the role of diversity and social justice in dental education and in oral health care settings. Her research has focused on how to educate future and current dental care providers to become culturally literate, and on documenting how poor oral health of patients from underserved backgrounds affects their quality of life. Currently, Dr. Inglehart's research focuses on how being a person who self identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ community affects their oral health, having risk factors related to poorer oral health, and oral health care experiences.

She has published over 150 peer-reviewed publications, five books and numerous book chapters.