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Issues of Dental Health in India

Dental Health in IndiaOral health issues are significant in India since the country has one of the highest rates of oral cancers in the world. Dental diseases in India are a result of many factors, including poor oral hygiene, tobacco use and a sugary diet. Additionally, the lack of awareness about the importance of dental health in India leads to the prevalence of dental health issues. These issues include dental caries and periodontal disease as well as inequality in the distribution of oral healthcare workers. Routine dental appointments are a solution to many dental health issues. However, with 72% of Indians living in villages, many are unable to access proper care.

Statistics on Dental Health in India

In India, about 85% to 90% of adults have dental cavities, along with about 60 to 80% of children. Also, around 30% of children have misaligned jaws and teeth. Over 50% of Indians with dental health issues receive treatment or advice from someone other than a dentist, such as chemists. About 51% of Indians use a toothbrush and toothpaste to brush their teeth. Around 28% brush their teeth the recommended two times a day. Therefore, access to information about dental health and how to properly maintain one’s oral health would prevent many issues and improve the overall state of dental health in India.

The Impact of Tobacco

Tobacco use, in any form, can lead to many health issues such as cancer, pulmonary diseases and cardiovascular diseases. Smokeless tobacco can cause a gingival recession and nicotine addiction, which only results in further health issues. Every year, about one million people die from tobacco use in India, and around 34.6% of adults consume tobacco, with 52% exposed to secondhand smoke. Furthermore, tobacco cessation, as opposed to prevention, could save many lives potentially lost to tobacco use in India.

Solutions

The Indian Dental Association (IDA) created the National Oral Health Program. Its purpose is to improve the overall health of the country by targeting oral health. The program’s initial mission includes providing optimal oral health for all by 2020. It also included decreasing the number of deaths and consequences due to oral diseases.

Under the program, the IDA implemented the Tobacco Intervention Initiative (TII) to eliminate tobacco use by influencing lifestyle changes among Indians. The TII aims to reduce the number of deaths due to tobacco consumption by spreading awareness of the effects of tobacco. Through the initiative, they will train a professional workforce to counsel people on the consequences of tobacco consumption. It will do this while aiming to have oral health professionals include tobacco intervention and prevention in their care. The IDA also founded the Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF) with the goal of the eradication of oral cancer. It plans on completing its mission by providing greater access to oral healthcare and early detection of oral cancer. It also plans on researching to gain a better understanding of how to implement prevention efforts.

Overall, there is a rising number of oral cancer cases and a prevalence of oral health issues in India. As a result, more solutions are necessary to improve the overall health of the country. Implementing changes will continue to be a challenge. However, education addressing oral health, the impact of tobacco use and equal access to dental healthcare can aid in solving many dental health issues in India.

Zoë Nichols
Photo: Flickr