Inequities and oral health: A behavioural sciences perspective

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The importance of tackling ongoing dental health inequities, observed both within and across countries, cannot be overstated. Alarmingly, health inequities in some areas are widening, resulting in an urgent need to act. The objective of this commentary is to explore oral health inequities through the lens of behavioral science and discuss adapting evidence based interventions for populations experiencing health inequities.

The first section of this paper aims to describe the role of health disparities and inequities within oral health, with a specific focus on behaviours. The determinants, from upstream to downstream, and the interplay between these levels of intervention are discussed. This is followed by an overview of oral health promotion interventions, again with a focus on behaviours, which could potentially improve oral health while also taking into account oral health inequities. It is essential to translate evidence-based interventions (EBIs) to populations that have the greatest burden of disease. The second section of this paper discusses the rationale for cultural adaption of EBIs, criteria to justify EBIs and considers different cultural adaptation strategies necessary for the development and testing of effective, engaging, equitable and culturally relevant interventions.

We conclude with future directions for the development of theory-based multi-level interventions, guided by extent evidence-based interventions, and transdisciplinary approaches to science and key stakeholders such as patients, providers and payers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-115
Number of pages8
JournalCommunity Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology
Issue number1
Early online date13 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2023


  • behaviour
  • determinants
  • framework
  • inequities
  • oral health
  • theory


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