Bridging a gap: the (lack of a) sociology of oral health and healthcare

Catherine Exley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


This article provides an historical review of international research related to sociology and oral health and healthcare. I begin by considering the relevance of the mouth and oral health to social interactions and physical health, and outline existing inequalities in oral health and healthcare experiences. The paper examines critically some of the existing published research in the field ? considering both what might be described as sociology of oral health and healthcare and sociology in oral healthcare ? and demonstrates the dearth of sociological research related to this subject compared to other areas of interest within the field of sociology of health and illness. I conclude by suggesting some ways in which this area could be expanded and developed further. I suggest that sociological analyses of how individuals experience, understand and manage their mouth and oral health, can add to and enhance the broader field of the sociology of health and illness. Further, examining experiences and provision of oral healthcare may provide sociology with a new opportunity to explore the neglected field of private healthcare, but also to engage with health policy makers who seek to address oral healthcare needs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1093-1108
Number of pages16
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Issue number7
Early online date29 Jul 2009
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2009


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