The mouth as a site of structural inequalities; The experience of aboriginal australians

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26 Citations (Scopus)


© BASCD 2016.Objective: To address the mouth as a site of structural inequalities looking through the lens of Aboriginal Australian experience. Research design: This is a critical review of published literature relevant to our objective. Criteria for selection included articles on: the social context of oral and general health inequalities for Aboriginal Australians; Aboriginal perceptions and meanings of the mouth and experiences of oral health care and the role of the current political-economic climate in promoting or compromising oral health for Aboriginal Australians. Results: Evidence suggests oral health is important for Aboriginal Australians yet constrained by challenges beyond their control as individuals, including accessing dental services. Competing demands on limited budgets often led to oral health dropping offthe radar unless there was an emergency. Conclusions: Structural (social, political and economic) factors often inhibited Aboriginal people making optimum health choices to prevent oral disease and access services for treatment. Factors included cost of services, limited education about oral health, intense advertising of sugary drinks and discrimination from service providers. Yet the literature indicates individuals, rather than structural factors, are held responsible and blamed for the poor state of their oral health. The current neoliberal climate focuses on individual responsibility for health and wellbeing often ignoring the social context. To avoid the mouth becoming an ongoing site for structural inequality, critically reviewing oral health policies and practices for whether they promote or compromise Aboriginal Australians’ oral health is a step towards accountability-related oral health outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-163
Number of pages3
JournalCommunity Dental Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


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