Diversity in Dentistry Action Group moves to CGDent

The Diversity in Dentistry Action Group (DDAG) is now hosted by the College of General Dentistry.

The group, formed in 2020 to deliver action to identify and address discrimination of all types within the dental professions, comprises over 70 members drawn from more than 35 national dental organisations.

These include the College as well as the Annual Conference of Local Dental Committees, the African & Caribbean Dental Association UK, the Association of Dental Groups, the Association of Dental Hospitals, the British Association of Dental Nurses, the British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, the British Association of Dental Therapists, the British Association of Oral Surgeons, the British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry, the British Association of Clinical Dental Technology, the British Dental Association, the British Dental Industry Association, the British Dental Students’ Association, the British Endodontic Society, the British Institute of Dental & Surgical Technologists, the British Orthodontic Society, the British Society of Dental Hygiene & Therapy, the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry, the Care Quality Commission, Dental Protection, the Committee of Postgraduate Dental Deans and Directors, Community Dental Services, the Dental Laboratories Association, the Dental Professionals Alliance, the Dental Schools Council, the European Dental Students Association, the Faculty of Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the General Dental Council, the LDC Confederation, the National Association of Specialist Dental Accountants and Lawyers, the National Institute for Health Research, the NHS Business Services Authority, NHS Health Education England, Restorative Dentistry UK and the Society of British Dental Nurses.

In 2021, DDAG published a landmark report, Equality, diversity and inclusion within dentistry: a profession-wide commitment, which made a number of recommendations after identifying significant disparities in the ethnic profile of dental students, dental professionals and clinical dental academics, and significant under-representation of individuals from black ethnic minority backgrounds, and of women in leadership positions within dentistry.

While originally initiated within the Office of the Chief Dental Officer for England, DDAG has always been led by the member organisations themselves and operated independently of the NHS, and it will continue to operate independently within CGDent.

Dr Nishma Sharma, Chair and founder of the DDAG, said:

“Like the College of General Dentistry, the Diversity in Dentistry Action Group is an organisation formed by and for the profession it serves, and our move to the College reflects our shared commitment to ensuring that all dental team members are represented and supported, across both NHS and private dentistry, throughout the UK and beyond. On behalf of DDAG’s members, I would like to thank the OCDO for having enabled and supported our work over the last two years, and we look forward to continuing to work together at CGDent.”

Dr Abhi Pal, President of the College of General Dentistry, said:

“The realisation of the College’s founding mission – to promote career progression and job satisfaction for every dental professional – requires a wholehearted commitment to ensuring equality, diversity and inclusivity within our great profession. The Diversity in Dentistry Action Group brings the whole profession together with this purpose, we have been a member since its inception, and we are extremely proud to be its new home.”

Further information is available here

LGBTQ+ diversity and inclusion in dentistry

Live webinar, Tuesday 4 October 2022

This webinar aims to strengthen and develop dental teams’ relationships with LGBTQ+ communities and provide an understanding of barriers faced by LGBTQ+ people in accessing healthcare services. Viewers will gain the tools to assist their workforce to be able to support patients and colleagues by further developing inclusive practice and patient-centred care.


  • Dr Kaushik Paul, general dental practitioner
  • Dr Ian Mills, dentist and former Dean FGDP
  • Andrew Gilliver, Pride in Practice Coordinator (Gtr Mancs) LGBT Foundation
  • Hassan Shariff, Clinical and Academic Educator, University of the Highlands and Islands

GDC development outcomes: A B C D

CPD approx 1.5 hours

CGDent members and ProDental subscribers have free access to the recorded webinar and can claim CPD hours for free.  A £20 fee will apply for non-members/non-subscribers who wish to claim CPD.

This webinar is powered by our CPD delivery partner, ProDental CPD.

Membership of the College of General Dentistry is open to all registered dental professionals. Membership for dentists is available from £94, and for other registered dental professionals from £33. The full list of CGDent membership rates is at https://cgdent.uk/membership-fees/

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Social inequalities: the impact on dental study applications

Recorded webinar, Monday 4 July 2022

In this recorded webinar, speakers examine the issues surrounding social inequalities and consider how they may affect students when applying to study dentistry.


  • Dr Ian Mills, GDP, Associate Professor in Primary Care Dentistry at Peninsula Dental School
  • Dr Patricia Neville, Senior Lecturer in Social Sciences, Equality Diversity and Inclusion Lead, Bristol Dental School
  • Dr Adam Holder, Dentist, NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow
  • Dr Victoria Niven, Non-Clinical Teacher in Dental Public Health, King’s College London
  • Dr Sasha Scambler, Sociologist
  • Prof. Sally Hanks, Professor of Primary Care Dentistry
  • Prof. Jennifer Gallagher MBE, Dean for International Affairs, Kings College London

GDC development outcome: D

The recorded webinar is free to view for CGDent members and ProDental subscribers who can also can claim CPD hours for free.  A £20 fee will apply for non-members/non-subscribers.

This webinar is powered by our CPD delivery partner, ProDental CPD.

Membership of the College of General Dentistry is open to all registered dental professionals. Membership for dentists is available from £94, and for other registered dental professionals from £33. The full list of CGDent membership rates is at https://cgdent.uk/membership-fees/

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Women in dentistry

Recorded webinar. Monday 1 November 2021.

This webinar is part of our ‘PDJ Live’ series, which examines topics covered in contemporary issues of the Primary Dental Journal, the College of General Dentistry’s quarterly peer-reviewed member journal for the whole dental team.

It is one of three events exploring the subjects of the papers in the June 2021 issue on leadership and professionalism, and convenes some of the authors, together with a range of other voices from across the profession, to discuss aspects of the theme of women in dentistry.

The issue features a paper entitled Reaching a female majority: a silent transition for dentistry in the United Kingdom, and we examine the issue of gender balance within the UK dental professions. Inspired by the article on COVID-19, leadership and gender equality: preparing for the challenges ahead, we also consider the continuing inequality of women in leadership roles and dental specialties, the challenges for women in dentistry and how to make positive change.

CGDent members interested in reading the articles ahead of the webinar will find both in their print copy of the June issue, or can read them online by logging in to the CGDent website and visiting https://cgdent.uk/primary-dental-journal-member-only/. Non-members can access the first paper via the title link above as it has been made free-to-view online. Other papers can be rented or purchased, and non-members also have the option to take out an annual subscription.


Mick Horton, Guest Editor of the June 2021 issue of the Primary Dental Journal


CGDent members and ProDental subscribers have access to the recording of this event, and can claim CPD hours, free of charge.  A £20 fee applies for non-members/non-subscribers.

This webinar is part of the new partnership between the College of General Dentistry (CGDent) and ProDental CPD.

Membership of the College of General Dentistry is open to all registered dental professionals. Membership for dentists is available from £94, and for other registered dental professionals from £33. The full list of CGDent membership rates is at https://cgdent.uk/membership-fees/

My experience of studying whilst managing a chronic illness

Shona Sawhney, fifth year BDS student, Barts and the London, explains how she has been studying for her degree whilst managing a chronic illness and shares her advice for anyone in a similar situation.

In my third year of dental school when my clinical experience was just beginning, I began to notice changes in my health. Over a period of 3 months, extreme fatigue and stiffness slowly progressed to severe joint pain. Not only was I struggling with exams and passing gateways, but even my day-to-day routine outside of university. 

The potential impact of my symptoms became apparent when I was told by a specialist, “You really need to think about another career.” I was devastated but this reaction from others would come to be the norm.  I had worked exceptionally hard to gain my place at dental school, and through a chronic illness over which I had no control, I felt my future plans slowly slip away.

Dentistry is an ever-changing profession, and whilst this can be exciting, it can also be incredibly stressful. For this reason, I always tried to ensure I had an outlet to relieve that stress, this was mainly through exercise. However, as my condition worsened, I struggled to maintain these outlets, I felt I had no way to relieve the stress I was under. 

When starting 4th year, I had been beaten by the suggestions of a “career change,” and that “dentistry isn’t for you anymore.” I accepted that I would be unable to do what my peers were doing. The thought of me completing my crowns gateway test that I had yet to sit, was almost laughable. I can honestly say that I have never felt more alone. 

Every time I entered the clinic, I would inform the tutors of my condition, which I found particularly hard. This is not what I wanted to be known for or defined by and feared I would yet again be told this profession is not for me. I was genuinely quite shocked when I was asked by a tutor in clinics one day, “What can we do to help you?”. I almost cried, I felt like an outsider to the profession for a long time, and I finally felt heard and listened to. 

This highlighted to me the importance of accessibility in dentistry, not just for our patients but also dental professionals. When seeking advice from a number of tutors and staff, I saw how the simplest of changes made a drastic impact on not only how I felt physically after clinics but also mentally too. For example, seeing oral surgery patients exclusively in the afternoon rather than the morning meant that my body and mind were prepared if I was required to perform an extraction. To quote the incredible Mohamed Jemni, I noticed that “The disability is not the problem, the accessibility is the problem.” (Jemni, 2013).

In hindsight, I now see just how hard I was being on myself. Initially, when my health condition deteriorated, I would force myself to do things even if I knew that my body was not physically up to performing the actions. And if I could not carry out the task, I got mad and angry at myself. It was a perpetual self-destructive cycle. Learning to celebrate the small victories and being kinder to myself has helped me manage my conditions, instead of belittling myself, and saying “you must pass this,” I instead say, “I am proud of you for trying your best.” 

I was often told that dentistry was not for me due to my condition, and this is not true in the slightest. There is a place for those with chronic illnesses to be key members of the dental community. My advice to those in a similar circumstance is to give yourself the same kindness you would give to others in your situation and do not be embarrassed to speak out and ask for help or adjustments to make dentistry more accessible. Lastly, to never give up on your aspirations despite what others may say, because to have a disability does not mean you miss ability; with the right support and adjustments, anything is attainable. 

Jemni, M., 2013. Breaking The Silence Of Deafness.

Shona was a speaker at the Disability Awareness in Dentistry webinar, organised following a shared commitment by the CGDent, FGDP and BDA to promote equality, diversity and inclusivity in the profession. A free recording of the webinar is available to CGDent members and ProDental subscribers and comes with one hour’s CPD (a £20 fee applies for non-members/non-subscribers).

Author bio

I am currently in my final year of Dentistry at Barts and the London. Within dental school I have enjoyed seeing patients from all different walks of life. I really enjoy talking to patients about their dental anxieties and building their confidence to visit the dentist regularly and improve their oral health, which has given me a future interest in community dentistry!

Outside of university life I run an Instagram page (@shocreates) to highlight my digital art related to chronic illness, and advocate for disability within dentistry. I also love to work out and try different cuisines around the world!

Shona Sawhney

This student advice blog was originally published by FGDP(UK) in April 2021 and has been republished by the College of General Dentistry with the author’s permission.