During Black History Month, Kay Dove shares her experience of re-opening her father’s dental practice and the importance of diversity and representation in dentistry.
On the opening day in 2019, Dr Jamal Johnston, Kay Dove and Dr Kevin Dapaah
There are very few Black-owned dental practices in the UK. That’s why, after my dad retired I wanted to re-open his practice, not only to protect his legacy but also to continue to serve and represent the local community.
That was six years ago, and now I’m proud to say that after a lot of hard work, we’ve just celebrated the first anniversary of Dove Dental’s re-opening. We are once again a Black-owned and operated business, with myself as managing director, and Dr Kevin Dapaah (clinical director) and Dr Jamal Johnston (business development director) as principal dentists. We’ve renovated, rebranded and brought on a great team to provide excellent care to our patients.
Representing our community
"There’s a growing awareness of the importance of diversity and representation."
Our practice is in Earlsfield, south west London but some of our patients come from as far away as Leicester and Hertfordshire. It might seem somewhat extreme, to take a round trip of more than two hours for a dental check-up, but this shows the desire that’s out there for more diversity and representation in dentistry.
Particularly now, after the Black Lives Matter protests, there’s a growing awareness of the importance of diversity and representation. Promoting diversity in the profession is important for oral health reasons too. Indeed we believe that the low numbers of Black dentists in the UK, contribute to the country’s oral health inequalities.
Supporting and educating
I’m a social worker by training and so I’m passionate about reaching out to and supporting our community. That’s why, we’re looking to provide a holistic service to patients. We’re focused on our patients’ wellbeing, and an important part of this is oral health education.
"Our work is contributing to an expansion of people from a range of different backgrounds and walks of life seeking preventative care."
As Dr Dapaah says “we’re educating the community. We take the time to explain to patients the importance of prevention during check-ups. Many only associate the dentists with pain, and are not in the habit of routine check-ups. So we have a conversation about how they can support and improve their oral health.”
Some of our patients had never been to regular check-ups or seen the hygienist before, the preventative side of care is all new to them. It’s great to see them trusting us and trying it out. I’m relatively new to the world of dentistry, but thanks to my father, I’ve always understood the importance of preventative care. Now I’m pleased that our work is contributing to an expansion of those from a range of different backgrounds and walks of life seeking preventative care, which in turn is promoting a reduction in oral health inequalities.
A service for the whole community
Celebrating the re-opening of Dove Dental with Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, in 2019
The last 12 months have been the most challenging of our professional lives. Opening up a practice is scary and challenging at the best of times. Doing it six months before a pandemic breaks out and forces your business to close its doors, is a recipe for heartache!
But in other ways, we've been blessed. Each of us also brings something different to the practice. Dr Dapaah is passionate, hard-working and driven. Dr Johnston brings a wealth of experience and is a terrific mentor. I bring my managerial experience and dedication to community engagement. And when we reached out to my dad’s old patients, many of them remembered him fondly and have bought into our mission.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe it’s been a year since we opened, it’s all gone by so quickly. We now have over 500 patients and I’m proud that we’ve been able to continue my dad’s work and keep a dental practice open on Garratt Lane. We’re all proud of what we’ve achieved so far, and as we look towards expanding our practice, I hope that we can also look forward to a future in which dentistry becomes more inclusive and diverse.
Managing Director, Dove Dental & Wellbeing Spa