Homelessness, oral health, social inequality, dental care, sociology of oral health, medical sociology, poverty
The burden of dental disease in American has been termed a "silent epidemic," affecting the most vulnerable populations in society. Poor oral health has been linked with general health issues, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as decreased mental health and impairments in social functioning. This burden weighs particularly heavy on the homeless, who are not only denied access to private systems of care, but are further rejected by an inadequately supported public safety net. Despite the recognition of social inequalities and the call for further scientific research, oral health care has not been extensively recognized within sociology. The aim of this research was to uncover how Central Florida's homeless adults cope with oral health issues in the face of barriers. This study intends to begin closing the gap by exploring the ways in which structural inequalities are embodied in the teeth of the homeless. Twenty-five semi-structured interviews were conducted with homeless individuals in the Central Florida area in regards to their oral health and coping mechanisms. Results indicate that without conventional access to dental care, homeless are forced to rely on emergency departments, alcohol, illegal drugs, home remedies, and over-the-counter medications. When treatment was received, only emergency services were provided. This led to an extraction-denture treatment model which left many homeless individuals edentulous, with continued complications in their ability to eat, work, and talk.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic
Kleinberger, Jessica, "Down in the Mouth: Homelessness and Oral Health" (2014). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 4495.