Skip to main content

Tooth Shame and its Various Choreographies

In the presentation, Louise introduces the term tooth shame. Drawing on the flowering research on shame and stigma concerning body, health, illness, ageing, and class, the presentation explores the entanglements between dental issues and negative, self-aware experiences of shame among older persons who receive professional care within Danish elderly care systems. The presentation takes its point of departure in ethnographic fieldwork in Danish elderly care, including semi-structured life-story interviews with older persons, relatives, focus group interviews with care workers, dental care workers, and dentists, and close observations at nursing homes, home care units, and a rehabilitation center in Danish municipal elderly care. By presenting interview quotes, field notes, and ethnographic vignettes, Louise will argue that tooth shame creates a variety of choreographies and tooth shame practices – e.g., hiding smiles, withdrawal from social life, degrading oneself, avoiding daily dental care, and interaction with (dental) care workers. She states that tooth shame and tooth shame practices disturb not only self-worth and social life but also caring encounters by contaminating care workers and the general care practices, considerations, and dilemmas within elderly care systems. Thus, the presentation states that tooth shame bears the potential to create a damaging and life-limiting spiral accumulating in late life.

For more information about this seminar, see the Shame and Medicine website

Related videos