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An ageing population, an estimated 47 million people currently living with dementia, and predictions of a threefold increase in people living with a diagnosis by 2050 have led the WHO to declare dementia a public health priority. Emerging research also suggests that dementia is linked to poor oral health and that oral health declines alongside cognitive decline. Drawing on Bourdieu’s concepts of field and capital, this paper presents an analysis of interview data from participants with dementia, carers and carer/diagnosed dyads participating in a qualitative study of the mouth and oral health. We argue that Bourdieu’s conceptual toolkit provides a way of contextualising experiences of oral health within dementia and un-picking the multi-layered impact of structure, institutions, biology, resource mobilisation and self in the context of a progressive disease which ultimately challenges knowledge of the self and the ability to interact with the world around us.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalHealth: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine
Early online date2 Nov 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Nov 2021


  • chronic illness and disability
  • organisation of health services
  • theory


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