June 2021

Volume 38, Issue 2

Racism and oral health inequities among Indigenous Australians [Special issue of Community Dental Health, to be disseminated at the ‘Racism and oral health inequities’ International Association for Dental Research symposium, July 2021, Boston, US

Authors: Joanne Hedges Yin Paradies Lisa Jamieson
doi: 10.1922/CDH_IADRHedges06

Abstract

Racial discrimination, which can be structural, interpersonal and intrapersonal, has causal links with oral health morbidity (dental caries, periodontal disease) and mortality (tooth loss). Racism impacts on oral health in three main ways: (1) institutional racism creates differential access to oral health services; (2) cultural racism, which is structurally pervasive, results in poorer psychological and physiological wellbeing of those discriminated against and; (3) interpersonal racism undermines important dental health service provider-patient relationships. Indigenous Australians have experienced sustained racial discrimination since European colonisation in the 1780s. This includes Government policies of land and custom theft, assimilation, child removal and restrictions on Indigenous people’s civil rights, residence, mobility and employment. Australia failed to enumerate Indigenous people in the Census until 1967, with the ‘White Australia’ policy only ending in 1973. In our paper we posit that all minority groups experience racial discrimination that impacts oral health, but that this is amplified among Indigenous groups in Australia because of ongoing legacies of colonialism, institutional racism and intergenerational trauma. Keywords: Indigenous Australian, oral health inequities, racial discrimination

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