Monday, 27 June 2011

Power Foucault Dental Hygiene

Power  All work,including dental hygiene, like social life itself, is a collective. Power as analyzed by Foucault(1980)[i] is something that circulates. Power relations are rooted in the system of social networks, rather like the capillaries forming a total network in the body or the fine meshes of a living spider web states philosopher Foucault.  It never resides in any one person or group’s hands.  His approach  to power opens up the possibility for applying the sociological imagination and studying the micro-practices surrounding the oral cavity, and dental hygiene a provider of care. 

Power is only power when addressing individuals who are free (autonomous) to choose to act in one way or another.  Power is exercised with intention.  Power is actions upon others' actions in order to interfere with them.  Power presupposes freedom in the sense that power is not enforcement, but ways of making people by themselves behave in other ways than would have done. One way of doing this is by threatening with violence. However, suggesting how happy people will become if they buy an off-roader is an exercise of power as well. Marketing provides  a large body of knowledge of techniques for how to (try to) produce such behavior.

The ordinarily mundane and academically unexplored area of the oral cavity provides an opportunity to examine multiple processes.  These various processes create the conditions for the possibility of reorganization of oral health care delivery. 

Dental hygiene students must meet criteria  to enter  dental hygiene programs. She/he must  pass exams successfully to exit dental hygiene programs. Then, write more exams to qualify for registration/licensure  to legally practice as a dental hygienist. In Canada the National Dental Hygiene Examing Board examinations and a Jurisprudence exam in Ontario must be completed successfully to be able to gain admittance to a dental hygiene operatory. After payment of fees the  dental hygienist gains authorization to practice.

Specified objectives are expected to be  accomplished in effective and efficient ways. Dental hygienists are trained/educated to: gather information about a client’s health and medical history, to examine the mouth and teeth to identify, itemize and quantify plaque/biofilm deposits,  note areas of bleeding and calculus  and periodontal pocket depths. Much of this is done with sharp instruments

Through technology of the chair (Nettleton, 1992) the DH controls the client’s posture, back and forth  and up and down. The strong sometimes blinding light shines in the client’s mouth. The client provides intimate exposure of her/his mouth. The client must be taught lessons, trained  in proper mouthkeeping. This lesson is not learned at the 1st teaching so must be repeated at regular three, four six month intervals. Although the DH has control of the client in the chair, the dentist controls the practice and the employment situation.

Foucault  M. (1980) Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings.  Ed.  C. Cordon.  New York: Pantheon
Nettleton  S. (1992)  Power Pain and Dentistry Great Britain: St Edmunsbury Press.

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