The Houston Equality Dental Network was established in 2019 as a non-profit dental organization for LGBTQ+ dental professionals in the Greater Houston area. Our mission is to educate practicing dental professionals on LGBTQ+ related topics and to bring awareness of the health disparities that this community faces. We also hope to empower queer professionals and students to feel comfortable in their career and help promote them to positions of leadership.
As COVID-19 disrupted most of our plans this last year, we were forced to get creative with our event planning. We were able to host several virtual CE courses for practicing dentists as well as provide presentations on oral health to local LGBTQ+ community groups. We were able to give back to our community by providing free virtual consultations to queer patients who were unable to get seen by a dentist during stay-at-home orders. During these consultations, community members were given the opportunity to FaceTime or Zoom with one of our dental members so that we could help answer questions and refer them to a dental office open for emergency treatment.
Additionally, our organization was able to also serve the community by holding a clothing donation drive, and donating toothbrushes to a local Pride Pantry for queer individuals who lost their jobs during the pandemic. Lastly, we have created an online directory for patients who are searching for a local LGBTQ+ dentist to better serve their needs.
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Dr. Alex Barrera is a graduate of the UT School of Dentistry at Houston and currently practices at Avenue 360 Health & Wellness in Houston, Texas. Dr. Barrera's passion is public health dentistry with a focus on LGBTQ+ and Latinx health disparities. He currently serves in various roles in organizations including the American Dental Association, Texas Dental Association, Greater Houston Dental Society, Hispanic Dental Association, and Doctors for Change.
Dr. Barrera is a founding member and current president of the Houston Equality Dental Network (HEDN), the first organized dentistry group specifically for LGBTQ+ patients and dental professionals. He founded this organization due to the oral health disparities faced by the queer community and the lack of education on LGBTQ+ topics in the dental school curriculum. Through HEDN, the group has been able to host continuing education courses for dental professionals but also give back to the local queer community by offering free dental screenings and a provider directory to help pair patients with a local LGBTQ+ dentist.
Dr. Barrera is a recent graduate of the American Dental Association's Institute for Diversity in Leadership and was named one of America's Top 40 Dentists Under 40 by Incisal Edge Magazine.