Dentistry in India: role and challenges
In the first of a series of three interviews, Dr Pramod Y. Gurav, President of the Indian Dental Association, talks about dentistry in India, the role of the dental profession, and access to oral health care.
Question: What are the main challenges facing dental profession India?
Answer: India has a burgeoning population growing in size and cultural diversity, the majority being in the rural area. The distribution of dental professionals is highly skewed in favour of cities.The challenge is to ensure provision of oral healthcare in an efficient and affordable manner. This calls for a strategy to train the dental workforce with adequate skills and cultural competence to attain the goal of optimum oral health for all.
Q: How does the profession in India see its role?
Dentistry as a profession has become more demanding and a lot of young aspirants are entering this profession as it is rewarding. With modern lifestyle, dental problems are becoming common. The dental profession sees it as a challenge and feels of the need to keep pace with the fast-changing world so that it is able to cope with the demands of the society in providing quality service.It also sees its role as a social catalyst in preventing oral and oral-related systemic diseases and helps in building an effective oral healthcare system.
Q: How is access to oral healthcare developing in India?
A: Provisions of oral healthcare services are few in rural areas of India where the majority resides. Disparities do exist between the oral health status in urban and rural areas and this is sought to be overcome through innovative prevention strategies and establishment of accessibility to affordable oral care through projects focusing on increasing awareness of the importance of oral health and developing and improving access to dental services in rural areas by involving government, corporate sector, non-governmental organizations.
Q: How big is the oral health team in India (including nurses, hygienists, technicians)?
A: No specific oral health infrastructure data is available. Dental practice is highly private consisting of a specialist and a couple of assistants. Most dental clinics are manned by a single dentist.There are reported to be about 180,000 dental professionals in the country. About 20000-25000 graduates come out annually from 300 dental colleges. There are about 5000 lab technicians and 3000 hygienists.There is increasing demand for paramedical staff like dental assistants, technicians, dental hygienists, etc., owing to the rise in number of corporate hospitals and private clinics.
IDA President Dr Pramod Y. Gurav is a practicing dental surgeon and medical officer at the Thane Municipal Corporation, Maharashtra, India. He graduated from the Government Dental College & Hospital, Mumbai, University of Mumbai. He is keenly involved in promoting oral health awareness, tobacco cessation and prevention of oral cancer through early detection and treatment.