In an effort to raise oral health awareness in India, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare have collaborated to launch a digital program called ‘e-DantSeva’.
The platform, in the form of a website and mobile app, will provide information concerning the government-run National Oral Health Programme; resources for users to check their own oral health symptoms; a list of oral health facilities such as dentistries and dental colleges; and other informational materials. Resources are available for the hard of hearing and the visually impaired, such as voiceovers and resources in Braille.
Speaking at the launch, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan touted the program as the first of its kind. “Oral health is indispensable for the wellbeing and good quality of life,” he said. “Poor oral health affects growth negatively in all aspects of human development.”
Neglect of oral health issues in India has often been linked to low awareness of the importance of dental hygiene, despite oral health being an effective indicator of health overall. As previously stated by Indian Association of Public Health Dentistry president Dr V. Gopikrishna, research “strongly interlink poor oral health to several other health conditions such as diabetes, preterm low-birth-weight and atherosclerosis, among others.”
Previous government efforts to boost oral health awareness have included a national health portal to reinforce the importance of taking care of one’s dental hygiene. Experts have called for an Oral Health Policy to be formulated and enacted in India, to support the operations of initiatives such as the National Oral Health Programme.
“There is a need of dental health planners and policy makers that have relevant qualifications and training in public health dentistry to understand the unique needs and resources for the development of an effective oral health policy,” read a 2016 study. “Professional dental organizations can also support government programs to provide basic oral health needs of extensive underserved population of this country.”
Oral health issues are prevalent throughout India. In the case of young people, at least eighty percent are affected by at least one oral health issue. LA low utilisation of oral health services in the country means that many Indians have never had an dental health checkup, further fuelling high rates of oral health issues as lifestyle habits such as tobacco use and sugar consumption drive rates of oral health complications.
These issues are present globally. As previously reported by Health Issues India, “oral diseases, including tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancers, were found to affect almost half of the global population, with untreated dental decay the most common health condition worldwide. Lip and oral cavity cancers are among the top fifteen most common cancers in the world.” As such, efforts to promote awareness of oral health and the importance of looking after dental hygiene are imperative. It is an encouraging sign that India is taking these steps for the benefit of its population.