Experts to drill down into inequalities in oral health

A panel of experts will look at how dentistry can act as a driver for social justice and inclusion in an upcoming public lecture at the University of Dundee.

Broken Smiles: Revolutionising Healthcare’ is the next event in this year’s Saturday Series, bringing together a group of experts to discuss the importance of addressing inequalities in healthcare. The event will take place online on Saturday 3 April.

The panel will discuss how innovative solutions, such as partnerships with people socially excluded from our society, can tackle oral health inequality and push for social change.

They will also consider how improvements in oral health can impact the general health of individuals and whether this, in turn, can ensure people become included within the communities in which they live once again.

Professor Ruth Freeman, Director of the Oral Health and Health Research Programme and Co-Director of the Dental Health Services Research Unit at the University, will chair the event. Her research looks to reduce health inequality by addressing oral health as an indication and predictor of health and psycho-social functioning.

“Covid-19 has exposed the dreadful inequalities in our society,” said Professor Freeman.

“The effect has been to increase people’s experience of exclusion and isolation, and this has been made worse by the lack of physical, emotional and monetary resources to support people.

“People who are interested in a fairer society must be interested in this meeting. Oral health is a pointer to social inequality. It is through oral health that we may explore strategies to reduce inequity and ensure people are able to maximise their capabilities and take control of their lives.

“An essential part of this is to privilege the voices of those who are experts by experiences.”

Professor Freeman will be joined by the University’s Niall McGoldrick, Dr Andrea Rodriguez and Dr Matthew Maycock, and Homeless Network Scotland’s Derek Holiday, who will draw on their experiences in practice and research.

Mr McGoldrick, Clinical Research Fellow at the School of Dentistry and Convenor for ‘Let’s Talk About Mouth Cancer’, will discuss his work with the Scottish Drug Forum on the co-design of oral health comics with people with lived experienced and peer interventions. 

Dr Rodriguez, a lecturer in the School of Dentistry, will discuss her work on the Smile4life Programme, an oral health improvement programme for people experiencing homelessness in Scotland. She will discuss the importance of participatory research and the need to empower vulnerable groups.

Dr Maycock is a Baxter Fellow in the University’s School of Education and Social Work. He will discuss perspectives of prisons and masculinity, looking at the level of service that imprisoned individuals get.

Mr Holiday, Peer Development Lead from Homeless Network Scotland, will discuss his experience of working with marginalised communities and the importance of changing perceptions through storytelling and better connections with services.

‘Broken Smiles: Revolutionising Healthcare’ will take place online on Saturday 3 April at 6pm. Tickets can be booked via Eventbrite.