When was the last time you went for a routine dental check-up? Well, most Indians would not be able to answer this question because they never really see a dentist until there are dental problems. While Indians are gradually waking up to the fact that overall health is important for a healthy lifestyle, they are as much as ignorant about the fact that dental health is an indicator of their overall health. Regular dental checkup can ensure healthy mouth and that also means healthy heart, mind and body. Millions of Indians fail to understand that their dental problems are not isolated and that is can affect other body organs through the blood stream.
The dental scenario across India has been pretty good with excellent dental care clinics available across many cities to treat patients. However, there still seems to be a yawning gap as no one takes oral health seriously in India.
Let’s take a quick look at top 3 factors why oral health is seriously neglected across the country.
It has been proven in surveys across the country that ignorance is the root cause for the wide prevalence of practices that are detrimental to oral health in India. Recent survey by Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB) indicates that more than 50% of the people who have dental problems take advice from local chemists and prefer home-based remedies. The survey also indicated that only 51% of the total population across India use toothbrush. Nearly 34% people believe that brushing teeth once a day is enough to keep oral problems at bay. Only 28% of the total population brushes twice a day. Around 65% of the total population is unaware that their food habits impact their dental health. Majority of the people don’t know that gum problems can also lead to other health concerns. Dentists can also educate their patients, but for that they need patients to visit their clinics on a regular basis. Most people across India believe that their dental problems are not related to their overall well-being, or are life-threatening and therefore can be neglected.
While there has been a steady growth of dental colleges, there is a significant geographic imbalance among dental colleges leading to variation in the dentist to population ratio. According to the survey, there is 1 dentist for 10,000 persons in urban areas and around 2.5 lakh persons in rural area. This also indicates that the number of dentists in the country is significantly less than it should be. In most developed countries across the world the ratio is around 1 dentist for 2000 persons. With low number of dentists available in the country there is very little emphasis on dental and oral care throughout the country which eventually leads to lack of dental awareness.
While we talk about the growing dental awareness in the country, most of the awareness campaigns and new dental clinics target the urban population of the country which houses only one-fourth of India’s population. Surprisingly, three-fourth of the total dentists available in the country are providing their services in metro cities while rural population in small towns and remote villages are deprived of the dental care and awareness that they need to lead a healthy life. Hospitals that are located in small towns and villages do not have a separate dental department to educate patients about maintaining better oral health. Many people in the rural areas are unaware of how they can improve their daily habits that would lead to good oral health.
Apart from these three factors, there are other factors like poverty and superstitions that also misleads the person away from good dental care. Indian Dental Association (IDA) has been working relentlessly to spread dental awareness by conducting various camps and initiatives across the country.