Rethinking Oral Health in Aging: Ecosocial Theory and Intersectionality

L. Slack-Smith, T. Ng, M. E. Macdonald, A. Durey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Poor oral health affects the health and well-being of older adults in many ways. Despite years of international research investigating poor oral health among older adults, it has remained a largely unresolved problem. The aim of this article is to explore the combination of 2 key frameworks, ecosocial theory and intersectionality, to guide our exploration and understanding of oral health and aging and help inform research, education, policy, and services. Proposed by Krieger, ecosocial theory is concerned with the symbiotic relationship among embodied biological processes and social, historical, and political contexts. Building on the work of Crenshaw, intersectionality explores how social identities such as race, gender, socioeconomic status, and age interconnect in ways that can enhance privilege or compound discrimination and social disadvantage. Intersectionality offers a layered understanding of how power relations reflected in systems of privilege or oppression influence an individual’s multiple intersecting social identities. Understanding this complexity and the symbiotic relationships offers an opportunity to reconsider how inequities in oral health for older adults can be addressed in research, education, and practice and increase the focus on equity, prevention, interdisciplinary care, and use of innovative technology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)844-848
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Dental Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


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