With the dawn of the new millennia, healthcare industry across India is booming and dentistry too has kept pace with these developments. In India, there are currently over 1,80,000 dentists including 35,000 specialists and the number of dental professionals across the country is expected to grow to 300,000 by 2018 as every year around 25,000 dental graduates will add to the list. While growing awareness and patient empowerment have led to the demands for better oral care there are certain issues that are affecting dental professionals in India.
Let’s take a look at the top 7 factors affecting dental students and professionals across India.
Poor Manpower Projection and Planning
Defective planning of the dental professionals is one of the main factors that needs to be addressed. With more private dental colleges mushrooming across the country the demand for government dental colleges has depreciated. This has also resulted in stagnation in the growth of government dental colleges that receive less attention and funds. Many government dental colleges lack qualified faculties and state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. On the other hand, as the private dental colleges grow there has been a surplus of dental graduates in the country that has discouraged many candidates who believe that increased competition would curb their future career growth.
Geographical Distribution of Dental Colleges & Clinics
Secondly, most of these private colleges are located in selected cities and states which reveal a massive flaw in the geographic distribution of the colleges. Around three-fourth of the total dentists in India are located in the urban areas that sum up only one-fourth of the country’s population. With majority of the dentists congregated in urban areas, they find it hard to get patients or employment while in the rural area patients suffer as they do not have enough dental care facilities. Many of the dental professionals that serve in urban areas eventually switch to an alternate profession.
Emphasis on Selected Courses
Top dental colleges across India focus on prosthodontics and orthodontics as most dental student prefer it over other courses. A large number of population lies between zero to fourteen years which indicates that there is a great demand for pediatric dentistry, but Indian dental colleges train only around 9% of the dental graduates to become pediatric specialists. Similarly, there is a high demand for community dentists across India as majority of the India reside in rural areas, but only 2% of the specialists are trained to become community dentists.
Change in Disease Patterns
Dental awareness and information in urban areas have to some extent improved the oral health of the general population. However, it has also lead to decline in certain oral diseases leading to a shift in disease patterns. The most prevalent dental problems today in urban areas are dental caries and periodontal diseases followed by malocclusion and oral cancers. Over a period of time, there has been a decrease in the number of tooth extractions and general population prefer other alternatives like root canal and crown.
Change in Treatment Requirements
As the Indian population becomes more affluent and educated, there is a shift in the demands of the society that dentists must take into consideration. In urban areas, the demand for certain dental services have dropped while enhancing the demand for others. For instance, the demand for aesthetic dentistry, cosmetic surgery, dental implants, endodontics and periodontics has grown considerably. This means that dental professionals have to be prepared and invest according to the demands of their patients.
Lack of Infrastructure & Monetary Benefits in Rural Areas
Dentists who would want to serve in the rural areas find it difficult to practice because of lack of infrastructure in villages and remote areas. Low number of research facilities in rural areas affects the overall performance of dental graduates and professionals. Apart from that, many dental professionals prefer to practice in urban areas due to monetary benefits which they do not find in remote towns and villages. Many dentists prefer to immigrate to developed countries like United States, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom where they receive better monetary benefits and research facilities to enhance their practice.
Limited Health Care Expenditure
Countries across the globe have kept health care at the foundation of their socio-economic development. However, the recent union budget fails to deliver on health care sector. The public health spending is mere 1.2% placing India among the low ranking countries in the recent WHO study. With limited flow of funds, government dental colleges find it hard to come up with better educational facilities for the aspiring dental graduates and postgraduates.
Indian Dental Association (IDA) has been working with various communities in urban and rural areas and with major key policy makers to eliminate the challenges that dental graduates and professionals face in their career.