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Leela Breitman: Keying in on Better Learning for Dental Professionals

Leela Breitman: Keying in on Better Learning for Dental Professionals

Hi everyone! I’m Spiffy, your favorite interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making the world a better place. Today we’re going to learn about the intersection between education and dental care. Join me as I welcome Leela Breitman, co-founder and CEO of My Dental Key, an educational platform for dental health care students and providers. Are you ready to be inspired?

Spiffy: Welcome Leela, can you tell me specifically what challenge you’re addressing with My Dental Key?

Leela: Thanks for your interest in My Dental Key, Spiffy! Oral diseases like dental decay and gum disease affect over half the world's population. Dentists have a lot of work to do and need to be prepared to tackle these challenges. However, dental education is outdated and only available to the ultra-wealthy. To achieve total health, the world needs accessible, verified oral health education. My Dental Key (MDK) is leveraging video technology to prepare dental learners to master dentistry and promote global oral health.

Spiffy: This sounds amazing, Leela. What motivated you to offer video instruction to dental learners?

Leela: While navigating the rigors of dental school, we were frustrated that there were limited supplemental resources available outside of YouTube to help us learn dentistry. Our surveys of over 700 dental students confirmed that dental students desire trusted, comprehensive online resources to help them pass exams and excel in caring for patients. So, we decided to create the “Khan Academy” of dentistry: My Dental Key—a dynamic web platform with verified videos, illustrations, and guides for dental learners.

Spiffy: How would you say you’re working to create a more equitable world?

Leela: Dental school is hard. Unfortunately, there’s no “Duolingo” for learning the language of dentistry. MDK is making dental education more accessible to dental students and learners from diverse backgrounds by presenting information in multimedia formats including videos, illustrations, and written guides. We ensure our educational content is applicable to individuals with different learning styles and abilities, and promote a diverse dental workforce.

Spiffy: Do you have any initiatives you’re especially excited about? What kind of impact do you envision it having?

Leela: Access to dental educational resources and dental educators is limited in many nations. As a result, there is a significant burden of untreated dental decay and gum disease globally. Currently, we are running pilots of MDK at international dental schools in Vietnam and Zambia. Through these pilots, we are learning how global dental learners interact with MDK, and we are refining our content to ensure MDK best serves the global dental community.

My Dental Key Management Team (left to right): Karen He, DMD; Jennifer Lee, DMD; Leela Breitman, DMD; Emily Van Doren, Alice Li. (Photo courtesy of My Dental Key)

Spiffy: I’m always curious to hear about how entrepreneurs manage failure. What about you, Leela? Can you share about an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up?

Leela: Our management team is all female! As a result, we're often asked to defend our gender makeup. Shockingly, we were once told that if we didn’t bring on a male CEO, we would fail as a company! At first, we took this advice to heart. Then, we realized that our all-female management team is one of our strengths. We decided to embrace who we are and continue assembling a team for their diverse skill sets rather than for their external identifiers.

Spiffy: Before we sign off, is there anything else you would love to tell our audience? 

Leela: At My Dental Key, we empower dental learners to improve their skills in clinical dentistry. At the same time, we firmly believe in the power of art as a medium for improving dental and professional education. We are proud that our team of content creators includes dental illustrators, video producers, and web designers, and we hope to inspire other educators to bring art into the classroom to improve learning outcomes!


Leela Breitman is a co-founder and the CEO of My Dental Key, an EdTech platform helping dental learners master clinical dentistry. Leela is an alumna of Swarthmore College '17 and Harvard School of Dental Medicine '21. Her goal is to leverage art to promote science literacy and improve dental education. (Nominated by Harvard Innovation Labs)

© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s stories of founders building a more equitable world at www.ladderworks.co/blogs/spiffys-blog