Online Program

Social injustice, oral diseases, and access

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Chloe Wong, Tufts University, Medford, MA
Myron Allukian Jr., DDS, MPH, Massachusetts Coalition for Oral Health, Boston, MA

Oral diseases, the neglected and silent epidemic, are largely a result of social injustices when goals of private wealth override the public's health. These social injustices create great oral health disparities between the “haves” and “have-nots,” especially affecting vulnerable populations. The food industry, a $1.5 trillion business, spends about $30 billion a year promoting its products, many of which adversely affect oral and general health. Nearly 96% of adults have had tooth decay, and about 69% of adults and 33% of children are overweight or obese. Some policy makers have attempted to curb the food industry; however these efforts are strongly countered. The use of tobacco products promotes addiction, poor oral health, and early death. In the United States, over 1 of every 5 deaths is attributed to tobacco-related diseases; more Americans die each year from oral and pharyngeal cancer than from cervical cancer. The tobacco industry spends about $11 billion a year, or $28 million a day, on marketing, compared to only about $500 million a year for tobacco control by government. Organized dentistry has also limited access to dental care for millions of Americans by their continued opposition to realistic state practice acts that would legalize expanded duties for dental hygienists, dental assistants, mid-level dental providers, and dental therapists. The social injustices created by these powerful industries and organizations perpetuate the neglected epidemic of oral diseases. Their accountability must be raised to protect the public's health, prevent oral diseases, and improve access to oral health services for all.

Learning Areas:

Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Discuss how the food industry, tobacco industry, and organized dentistry impact the social injustices of oral health, oral disease, and access to services

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Throughout my undergraduate career, I have studied community health with a strong focus in dental public health. I have gained experience with dental public health through my internships with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and with Myron Allukian Jr, DDS MPH in public health consulting, and have contributed to publications related to dental public health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.