This article overviews Canadian work on the social determinants of oral and general health noting their affinities and differences.
A literature search identified Canadian journal articles addressing the social determinants of oral health and/or oral health inequalities. Analysis identified affinities and differences with six themes in the general social determinants of health literature.
While most Canadian social determinants activity focuses on physical and mental health there is a growing literature on oral health—literature reviews, empirical studies and policy analyses—with many affinities to the broader literature. In addition, since Canada provides physical and mental health services on a universal basis, but does not do so for dental care, there is a special concern with the reasons behind, and the health effects—oral, physical and mental—of the absence of publicly financed dental care.
The affinities between the social determinants of oral health and the broader social determinants of health literature suggests the value of establishing a common research and action agenda. This would involve collaborative research into common social determinants of oral and general health and combined policy advocacy efforts to improve Canadians’ living and working conditions as means of achieving health for all.