The Case for Oral Health Care for Prisoners: Presenting the Evidence and Calling for Justice

Marguerite J. Ro, Mary E. Northridge, Jareese K. Stroud, Henrie M. Treadwell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


A clear marker of injustice and social inequality is the poor oral health of incarcerated populations. In this chapter, we document the dire oral health status of incarcerated populations, while noting the lack of systematic assessment and monitoring systems at local, state, and national levels. Similarly, there are major gaps in existing care systems preventing whole-person care from being realized. We note the huge variation in correctional oral health services, as well as the lack of funding and investment in oral health. This under-investment is also reflected by the lack of dental clinicians who are available and willing to serve incarcerated populations. These conditions result in an opportunity for academic dental institutions to address oral health disparities by supporting a diverse workforce and by providing practice-based training opportunities in settings, such as correctional facilities. Ultimately, through practice improvements and policy and systems change, assuring the oral health needs of incarcerated populations can be a marker of an equitable and just health care system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPublic Health Behind Bars
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Prisons to Communities: Second Edition
EditorsRobert Greifinger
Place of PublicationNew York, NY USA
PublisherSpringer US
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781071618073
ISBN (Print)9781071618066
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • Correctional health
  • Dental schools
  • Dental services
  • Incarcerated populations
  • Oral health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine
  • General Social Sciences


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