India is the second most populated country in the world. Yet in India, a large amount of the population still lacks access to the avails of modern dentistry. Oral diseases are emerging as one of the main public health concerns in India. Indian governments are already financially overburdened to concede the burden of oriental and incapability to provide oral health services at all. Moreover, large segments of the population do not have access to any kind of dental care at all which is prone to oral diseases. Hence, in the long run, they are impediments to having a significant impact on Indian economic growth. World Health Organization, WHO defines oral health as the state of being free from chronic mouth and facial pain, oral and throat cancer, oral sores, birth defects such as cleft lip and palate, periodontal disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss, and other diseases and disorders that affect the oral cavity.
There are several obstacles to oriental in India such as lack of acknowledgment of the importance of oral health among the population, no access for people to oral health centers due to geographic distance, quality of dental treatment is varied, and dental treatment fees are unaffordable for many. It is the common tendency of people to neglect dental issues as dental problems are not life-threatening. It is important to find ways to improve the timely access to dental care that people face impediments in accessing health care services. There are various measures to approach oral care imbalance in India.
Firstly, oral malignancy is a life-threatening condition and the available modern treatment modalities are very costly and are way beyond the reach of the common person. Public education and awareness campaigns are vital components needed in order to achieve the most effective result in the prevention of oral diseases and motivation to a significant level. In developing nations such as India, the government should be considering the reduced budget allocation for oral health care delivery in order to overcome the burden of oral diseases is to focus on prevention. Government should reduce taxes on dental products such as toothpaste and dental materials to make them more convenient and affordable to the people and the dentist. The Indian Dental Council and local NGOs could work towards combine oral health into general health so that it becomes more sustainable to the community. Moreover, the consumers should support local manufacturing of dental products to provide employment and to reduce the costs of these products.
India is facing formidable challenges in the health sector as with many other low-income and middle-income countries. The utilization of services in areas where the infrastructure for dental care exists can still remain low due to demographic, socio-economic, and epidemiological factors. The Dental Council of India came up with an oral health policy in 1985 suggesting dentists be recruited to Primary Health Centers and Community Health Centers. Sadly, the policy has not been implemented to date, and oral health has not been finding a place in public health policies so long for now. Reinforcement of the public health systems is a very crucial part of tackling poor oral health status and shortage of dental manpower in rural India. Latter, the government should be providing extra incentives to dentists willing to provide service in rural areas can entice young dental graduates, thereby weighing the biased rural/urban skew.
India is predominantly rural consisting of about 70% of the population. In rural locations, the dental public health workforce to population ratio is very low as compared with urban locations. The main reason for this ratio discrepancy is an inequality distribution of dentists nationally, with most located in urban rich areas. There is also inequity in the number and distribution of dentists between the states, with Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu over-supplied by dentists and Jharkhand, Rajasthan, and Uttaranchal having great shortages. However, it is not the sole factor, there is another factor that cannot be avoided is the vacancies for dental professionals in government sectors are very less in number. Data studies show that only 5% of graduated dentists are working in the government sector. The Ministry of Health could be initiative compulsory posting of 3 months in rural areas
Last but not least, in rural India, one dentist is serving over a population of 250,000. This distribution of manpower between rural and urban areas reflects a glaring contra. Mobile and portable dental services may offer a viable option to address the issues of oral health-care delivery for an extensive underserved population. Satellite centers and mobile vans to provide oral healthcare services to the people in remote villages and underprivileged areas.
The rapid growth of dental professionals has not helped the public health system as a whole. Moreover, a major imbalance exists in the distribution of public health dentists across different states. There is a need to broaden the scope of this specialty and to make it more practical. We need to have a strong public health system before ensuring equitable access for the citizens of this country. The profession of dentistry is still striving to establish its own identity in certain parts of the country. With oriented efforts by governments and policymakers, we could not only see an improvement in the oral health status of the rural populace but also ensure the graduating dentists a secured career, since there is a humungous oral health need in rural India which unfortunately is not being realized. Oral health education can be imparted to parents involving health workers, teachers in order to raise their awareness regarding the importance of oral health. More studies focusing on parents’ attitudes toward taking their children to dentists should be conducted.
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