Engaging ideas, transforming minds
Engaging ideas, transforming minds

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Canadian Scholars
404 pages
6 x 9 inches
August 2021
Print ISBN: 9781773382678


Filling a gap in the health policy literature, author and dental public health specialist Dr. Carlos Quiñonez explores the complexities surrounding Canada’s dental care system and policies, including how they came to be, their consequences, and what they mean for oral health and access to dental care.

The Politics of Dental Care in Canada seeks to answer a long standing policy question in Canadian health care: Why is dental care excluded from Canada’s national system of health insurance, Medicare? The text presents a history of dentistry in Canada from the late 19th century onward, outlining how dentistry traversed a developing Canadian welfare state. Dr. Quiñonez explores factors that led to dentistry’s separation from larger movements in health care policy, including moral questions on individual versus social responsibility over health, scientific advances in the field, and prevailing economic uncertainty.

Opening with a series introduction by Dr. Dennis Raphael, this vital text offers an extensive overview on how the politics of dental care contributes to inequalities and inequities in oral health. From discussing scientific and public health advances in dentistry to looking at the general nature of oral health care in Canada from an international perspective, this text serves as an important addition to the field of health policy and a foundational resource for courses in dentistry, health studies, and comparative health policy.


  • comprehensively discusses the current state of Canadian dental care policy, the history and factors that led to the policy, and the resulting outcomes and inequalities
  • presents the latest available information on the epidemiology of oral diseases and conditions; the connection between oral health and systemic health; and the organization, financing, and delivery of oral health care in Canada and internationally

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Politics of Health Series  

Chapter 1: Introduction to the Politics of Dental Care

1.1. The Politics of Dental Care and Why It Matters

1.2. Political Economy, the Social Determinants of Health, and the Greatest Ideological Trade-off in Modern Society

1.3. The Epidemiology of Oral Disease and the Organization, Financing, and Delivery of Dental Care

1.4. Summary

Chapter 2: The History of Dental Care in Canada

2.1. Laying the Professional Bases

2.2. Prevention as a Political, Economic, and Social Imperative

2.3. The Rise of the Welfare State

2.4. The Golden Age of Dentistry

2.5. Dentistry and Medicare

2.6. The Rise of Public and Private Financing

2.7. The Decline of Publicly Financed Dental Care

2.8. Summary


Chapter 3: A Tale of Two Cities and Loose Ends: The Politics of Dental Care and the Policy and Programmatic Holes It Leaves

3.1. A “Patchwork of Purpose” and Public and Private Roles in Dental Care

3.2. Who Has Oral Disease and a Lack of Access to Dental Care

3.3. The Magnitude of Oral Health–Related Inequality

3.4. The Consequences of Oral Disease and Poor Access to Oral Health Care

3.5. The Oral-Systemic Health Link

3.6. Appropriate Use of Resources

3.7. Professional Outcomes

3.8. Summary


Chapter 4: Potential Solutions

4.1. Conceptual Frameworks That Help Identify Interventions

4.2. Primordial Prevention

4.3. Primary Prevention

4.4. Secondary Prevention

4.5. Tertiary Prevention

4.6. Quaternary Prevention

4.7. Summary



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