Dental Health & Social Class

Dental Health & Social Class


Sociology is concerned with the social and political organizations of society and how these affect the behavior of a person living in a particular community, whereas psychology is concerned with individuals and their relationships with others (Kent and Croucher, 1998, 4). Socio-dental indicators measure how much oral and dental disorders cause behavioral changes and interfere with a person’s ability to function in their normal social roles, and so are important to dentistry (13). For example, the wearing of dentures, particularly if they do not fit well, interferes with the normal ability to chew food, talk and sing, and therefore disrupts normal social activities, often making people feel socially inadequate. The World Health organization has developed scales such as the Sickness Impact Profile to determine the effects of health problems on social abilities, and similar profiles have been developed for oral health.

Sociologists are interested in epidemiological studies which show differences in oral health problems among different ethnic groups, e.g. the high levels of dental caries in young Asian children in England (Kent and Croucher, 1998, 15). The oral hygiene practices of Asian children are different from those of Caucasian children of a similar age. This could be due to changes in diet, or the absence of access to health information among these groups. It could also be due to their immigrant status or socioeconomic status.

Gender also plays a role in dental health, since in most places women appear to lose their teeth much earlier than men, yet women pay more attention to health issues than men do Kent and Croucher, 1998, 15). Also, studies in Ireland have shown that women who work in the home lose their teeth much earlier than women who work outside the home (16). Age is also a factor, since it has been found that good oral habits developed early tend to be continued throughout a person’s lifetime. Older pe…


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