Portrait of smiling dark-skinned woman in white dental coat in front of a brick wall background
Meet our new Director of Dental

02.20.24

Q&A with Dr. Khaleila Brannon


We are thrilled to welcome Khaleila Brannon, DDS, to lead the dental department at Health Care for the Homeless. In addition to seven years of experience as a practicing dentist in Maryland, Khaleila brings a deep passion for community and public health. She earned her doctorate in dental surgery from University of Maryland Baltimore College of Dental Surgery and completed her residency at the Medical University of South Carolina. In the Q&A below, get to know more about Khaleila and why we’re excited for her to join the team.


What inspired you to become a dentist?

Growing up, I always knew that helping others had to be a common thread of any career I decided. I was given the opportunity to intern at a local dental office/ dental non-profit and was completely sold on the profession and all the future possibilities of this unique career field. Dentistry provides me the opportunity to serve my community as a healthcare provider by tending to the health and function of an individual's teeth. It is also a hands-on, fun and artistic health profession.

After years of working in private dental practices, what drew you to Health Care for the Homeless and providing dental care in a community health setting?

I have an undergraduate degree in Community and Public Health. I am extremely passionate about helping others (especially underserved populations) on a larger scale through health policy, health promotion and health management. The mission of Health Care for the Homeless is in line with my long-term professional and personal goals.

During the pandemic, our dental services slowed way down to protect clients and staff. After consolidating our dental staffing and care to one dental suite in our main Downtown clinic in January, we are in the process of recalibrating and rebuilding the program. What are some of the initial goals on your radar coming into this role?

I have a whole list ready!

  • Improve access to care and increase the number of patients receiving care
  • Increase patient retention (especially for routine/preventative services)
  • Lower overhead costs
  • Strengthen interprofessional and interdisciplinary relationships
  • Increase billable services
  • Increase sustainability
  • Increase staffing and training with the goal of making all dental clinics operable

What are one or two ways racial equity and inclusion will inform your approach to dental care?

Embracing racial equity and inclusion helps me, as a health professional, to become more culturally competent, gain trust, relate on a more personal level, and ultimately deliver the best care for my patients. Training and continuing education on the topics of cultural competency, prejudice and bias are all great starting points. It’s also important to me to create an inclusive and diverse work environment that has a zero-tolerance policy for racism or prejudice.

Dental care has traditionally been one of the most requested services at HCH and also one of the most out of reach for people in the community who are under or uninsured. Given your background in community/public health, can you speak to the importance of policy change in making dental care more accessible to all?

One of the reasons I love dentistry is because it has many different facets. Advocacy work is an important aspect of public health dentistry, with the goal of providing equitable health care for all. This is important because it helps lower morbidity and mortality rates, increases quality of life, and decreases health care costs overall.

In the past, I participated in Maryland State Dental Association’s Dentist Day and worked with The Children’s Oral Health Institute to pass a law requiring oral health education to be included in the K-12 grade health education curriculum. These were great experiences to help me understand the lobbying, advocacy, and policy change processes. Advocacy in the dental field helps to ensure that all individuals have a chance at proper dental care.

What should staff (and others) know about your leadership style and vision for the department?

I like to hear others' input, ideas and concerns. It allows for mutual respect, trust, open lines of communication, and different perspectives. Joining the team during this time of rebuilding will also require me to inspire, create a sense of unity and highlight team members' strengths as we move toward the common goal of growing and ensuring the success of the dental program at Health Care for the Homeless.

It looks like you’ve spent much of your career in Maryland. How would you describe your connection to the state and to Baltimore City?

I am a Maryland girl through and through. I was born in Baltimore, grew up in Baltimore County and Howard County, attended college in Prince George's county, attended school in Baltimore City, lived in Southern Maryland, and currently live in Howard County. I love the diversity that this state offers. I enjoy Maryland from the rural landscape of Southern Maryland to the exciting bustling life in the city. 

What is something that helps you find balance or joy outside of work?

My family (my husband, 3-year-old son, 1-year-old daughter, and golden retriever dog), home improvement projects, cooking and traveling.


Give Khaleila a warm welcome when you see her next!

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