The dilemma of access to care: symptom of a systemic condition

James T Rule, Jos V M Welie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The standard ethical arguments that prescribe dentistry's involvement in improving access to oral health care are based on the ethical principle of social justice. The authors underwrite this principle but argue that, as with other ethical principles, this principle alone will fail to have a practical impact. The authors show that the issue of access is a symptom of a more systemic problem in dentistry, namely the lack of connectedness that dentists feel between themselves and their profession, their community, and society at large. The second half of the article develops a plan for boosting "connectedness." Successful implementation should help resolve many of the systemic problems that dentistry currently faces, including the issue of disparities in oral health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-33
Number of pages13
JournalDental Clinics of North America
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Dental Care/ethics
  • Dentist-Patient Relations
  • Dentists/psychology
  • Health Services Accessibility/ethics
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Humans
  • Leadership
  • Professional Role
  • Social Isolation
  • Social Justice
  • Social Responsibility
  • United States

Cite this