Why is oral health ignored in India?

Published on: 2018/08/17

Dr. Preeethy Vijayakumar


Awareness and the importance of oral healthcare are grossly underestimated in India.  A lot needs to be done to tackle this.

Interest Category

Oral health in India, healthcare, dentists

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Oral health in India and economic conditions

India is the second most populated country in the world with more than 70 percent of the population live in rural areas. In rural areas, there is no awareness of dental treatments and diseases. Also, there are no proper infrastructure or facilities, nor there are enough funds to set aside for dental issues. Most of the people in rural areas are below the poverty line. There is also a scarcity of the availability of dentists to cater to this huge population.

As the government is already overburdened with handling the risks of life-threatening diseases like TB, cancer or AIDS. Dental issues are neglected and there are no proper strategies or policies to focus on oral health in India.

Why is oral health important?

There is a strong link between diseases and many chronic health diseases. Oral health has a strong impact on the quality of life of a person. It also plays a huge role in the emotional well being of a person. Since, India is moving forward in universal healthcare, improving the dental care facilities for the entire population can help to handle the inequalities in healthcare.

Diseases that are related to poor oral care

There are many health issues that are associated with poor oral hygiene. They are,

  1. Cancer – poor oral hygiene along with usage of tobacco results in oral cancer.
  2. Respiratory infections – the bacteria from the mouth can get into the bloodstream or the lungs which can cause bronchitis, and pneumonia
  3. Cardiovascular diseases – The bacteria from the teeth and swollen gums can get into the bloodstream. This can cause plaque buildup in arteries leading to cardiovascular diseases.
  4. Complications in pregnancy – oral health diseases can lead to premature delivery and also low birth weight,

Current scenario of oral health in India

Oral caries or tooth decay and periodontal diseases are the two common oral diseases in India.

Age group Periodontal diseases Dental Caries

% affected

% affected








35 – 44







Many countries have included oral healthcare in the National Health Policies. The resources are allocated with respect to the policy guidelines. The Indian government also have laid down policies for enhancing the healthcare sector in the National Health Policy, 1986, which also includes the oral health policy. However, all the policies related to oral health are only in draft mode and there is no proper implementation to achieve the desired results. India needs a strong policy and implementation which can improve the quality of oral health care.

Apart from this, dentists available for the population is very low. Also, there are no adequate job opportunities in the rural sector. The promising career opportunities in urban areas and foreign countries have made more dentists choose these instead of catering to the rural population in India.

Read more – Oral healthcare in India by Dr. Preethy Vijayakumar