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Dental Dreamers

Dental Dreamers
"Dr. Robert Tanner Freeman became the first African American dentist in 1869. Dr. Ida Gray Nelson Rollins became the first African American female dentist in 1890."
- Harriet Tubman


Black History Month began as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. We’re closing out the month with highlighting the dental dreamers who have changed the world and who are changing the world for the future.

After being turned down by 3 dental schools, Dr. Robert Tanner Freeman graduated in 1869 from Harvard’s School of Dentistry becoming the nation’s first African American dentist. Dr. Ida Gray Nelson Rollins, a former seamstress, became the first African American female dentist in 1890.

Alicia Murria founded Hygienists for Humanity, a charitable organization with a mission to connect underserved communities and individuals experiencing homelessness with quality oral hygiene products and services. Ever wondered what happens to all those left over samples at dental trade shows? We met Alicia at a dental hygiene conference when she was gathering left over samples from major dental brands. Her organization donates those products to shelters who assist those experiencing the underserved. They strive to be a catalyst for healthcare providers to support communities around the country who are experiencing homelessness. Click here to donate to Hygienists for Humanity.
Martelle Coke founded BrownGirl, RDH, a non-profit organization promoting cultural diversity within the dental hygiene field. BrownGirl, RDH offers scholarships and supplemental support to dental hygiene students, covering costs outside of tuition; which includes clinical supplies, equipment, loupes, and national and clinical board fees. As a hygienist, she recognized the lack of diversity and challenges within the dental hygiene profession. Having experienced a lack of familial support, outside tuition costs, teen pregnancy, and being a first generation college student, Martelle was determined to create a change by supporting dental hygienists, who experience similar struggles. Click here to donate to BrownGirl, RDH.

Celebrating Black History Month: Trailblazers in Dentistry,


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