A Review: Dr. Ruth Ross Edmonds at the Natural Hair and Health Expo
The Natural Hair and Health Expo which took place March 10, 2018 at the BJCC is an event that is steadily gaining popularity in Birmingham, Alabama.
Now in its sixth year, it is a positive and safe space for black women with natural hair textures to come, relax, shop for hair care products, and learn about hair and health issues that are vital to the black community.
This year the show was even extended to kids and guys with vendors specializing in beards, basketball, fros, and bows. Along with the Main Stage for celebrity guests and a floor filled with vendors galore, there are also several classes available to gain in depth knowledge on a variety of subjects.
The classes take on emphases of study such as caring for natural hair and how to apply makeup, but my duty was to learn from a very special guest- Dr. Ruth Ross Edmonds.
Dr. Ruth, as she is endearingly called by her employees and patients, is a very inspiring and accomplished woman. It makes perfect sense why she was invited to participate in the Natural Hair and Health Expo, as her mere portfolio is as rousing and uplifting as the show itself.
Dr. Edmonds is an orthodontist who owns a private practice located near downtown Nashville, TN- Braces by Dr. Ruth. She is graduate from Vanderbilt University with a B.S. in psychology and pre-dental minor. Later she obtained her Doctor of Dental Surgery from Meharry Medical College and continued her studies at the University of Tennessee where she completed her graduate training in Orthodontics.
If her last name seems familiar it is because she is married to Kevon Edmonds, lead singer of the famed R&B group After 7. Mr. Edmonds was in attendance at the Natural Hair and Health Expo, but he took on the role of humble personal assistant as his wife Dr. Edmonds shone.
Dr. Edmonds took on the Main Stage along with panelists Darrius Peace, Jasmine Sanders, and Tasha Simone for a riveting hair and dental conversation. Later, she hit the Fitness Stage where she did some very impressive exercises, as fitness is one of her many passions.
In between the former, she conducted a class entitled “Watch Your Mouth!” The lesson was set to be about how the health of your mouth can affect your entire body, in which I was in attendance.
The class took me back to my college days. Dr. Ruth even shouted out my alumni mater, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, for their advancements in dentistry and oral surgery. The class went on for about forty-five minutes, but I am unhappy to admit I missed a slight portion, as I wore many hats that day.
However, all hope was not lost. Dr. Ruth graciously reviewed most of the topics I missed and spoke on lots of new material that opened my mind.
In the black community, going to the dentist is usually last on the list. 2012 studies and surveys show that not only are there not a large percentage of blacks going for dentinal visits- black adults are twice as likely to have unmet dental needs as any other race of people- there is also a large disparity of blacks who are dental health professionals.
More mind boggling is that of the blacks represented in the dental workforce, males largely dominate the industry. Dr. Ruth’s very presence was not only refreshing but needed. The midsized classroom upstairs at the BJCC’s Exhibition Hall was complete with long tables, practical chairs, and an overhead projector system.
Dr. Ruth stood smart in a fitted black Michelle Obama inspired midi dress with purple accents. Fashioned with a confident smile and sparkling brown eyes, she was obviously in her element. She spoke with the aid of slides from a PowerPoint Presentation titled, “What’s Your Dental I.Q?”. I soon found out the answer was “low”.
Though the ‘student’ population was not at capacity (there were three other classes going on, vendors handing out freebies like candy, concessions, and Rotimi from the television drama Power had taken the Main Stage simultaneously) the energy of the audience was infectious.
Everyone in attendance of the workshop had heard of an orthodontist, dentist, and oral surgeon; however, when Dr. Ruth gave detailed descriptions about the duties of a periodontitis, prosthodontist, and endodontist, we were all at a lost.
She explained the pros and cons of a lot of dental work. For example, we learned the ins and outs of root canals, how bridges cut down perfectly good teeth, and why dental implants should be considered only after aligning.
She spoke on the pain thresholds of certain dental procedures and comforted us as we audibly gasped about one surgery where a screw is drilled into the gum and then over time the screw actually fuses with the gum. She mildly chided us for not wanting to have the procedure and explained that it would be painless, because the patient is under anaesthetics.
Contrary to popular belief, Dr. Ruth informed us that all whitening is safe, though some methods might cause mild tooth sensitivity.
The orthodontist was patient as possible as class members asked questions which were sometimes redundant.
The last slide took the proverbial cake as the doctor presented a picture of a woman with about ten teeth going every way but straight. To test how attentive we had been to her presentation she asked, “Now, what does this patient need?” One class clown blurted out, “Some teeth!” at this point we were all basically rolling with laughter.
When the commotion finally died down, Dr. Ruth explained that the patient would benefit from a trip to her office and several other specialists before new teeth would even be an option.
The class ended on a very high note with Dr. Ruth closing, “Now I send you out into the world. With the information I have given you, you are now all dentist!”
I learned so much from Dr. Ruth Edmond’s presentation and I’m so happy that I had the opportunity to attended.
As African Americans, it is important that we consider our dental health and take it more seriously.
As Dr. Ruth stated earlier in the presentation, problems expressed orally could be indicative of underlining health problems going on internally.
The only thing I could have wished for was the class to be a little longer so that more subjects could have been tackled in greater depth. Also, selfishly, I wanted to ask Dr. Ruth how she feels about the trend of online invisible teeth aligners and if it is a safe option, but never got the chance.
Hopefully, next time.
Special thanks to the Edmond family and their adorable six-year-old daughter, Karmella Rose, who took to the Fitness Stage for some cool work-out moves with mommy.
Also, a very special thank you to my colleagues and partners at Access 205, for this opportunity.
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To book an appointment with Dr. Ruth Ross Edmonds phone “Braces by Dr. Ruth” at (615) 321-3663