Oral health is one of the most important aspects of our lives. If taken for granted, it can lead to various health complications. The global population is facing common dental problems such as decay, gum diseases, and even oral cancer. The rural population is sicker and medically underserved as compared to the urban population.
The National Oral Health Program notes that 95% of adults in India suffer from gum disease. 50% of Indian citizens don’t use a toothbrush.
Dental problems faced by the rural population
Around the globe, 60-90% of school-aged children and nearly 100% of adults face tooth decay. Dental caries is the most common, yet preventable disease on the planet. Alaska native is one of the highest rate in the rural population having dental issues. Other issues are gum disease, gingivitis, oral cancer, tooth erosion, tooth sensitivity etc.
Causes of poor dental health in rural areas:
- Geographical Isolation: According to a 2013 report, “Utilization of dental care: An Indian outlook”, the dentist to population ratio is 1:10000 in urban areas but drops drastically to 1:150,000 in rural India. It is very difficult to reach to such remote locations and that’s why people are unaware of proper dental treatment. The paper is published in the Journal of Natural science, Biology, and Medicine.
- Transportation: Bad road and climate conditions make it difficult for villagers to travel to nearby cities for essential treatments.
- Lack of Knowledge: India’s 66% population resides in the rural area. People dwelling in villages are unaware of dental hygiene. This leads to poor sanitation which causes severe dental problems such as dental caries, gum diseases, oral cancer etc.
- Large elderly population: Habits of the elderly such as chewing tobacco, consumption of alcohol influences the rest of the family leading to bad oral health.
- Poverty: Unaffordable dental facilities by poor villager results in ignorance of dental health.
The rural population is more likely to have a high risk of dental health problems. Lack of knowledge, poor sanitation, no access to services leads to chronic dental diseases. Many dental diseases are linked to systemic issues such as diabetes, stroke, cardiac arrest, and even malnutrition. Also, intake of tobacco and consumption of alcohol leads to high risk of cancer which can be proven fatal.
The following would improve the oral health of people living in villages
- Proper education and awareness of oral care and hygiene.
- Access to dental care services in remote locations.
- Addressing poverty.
- Developing and implementing different campaigns to reduce the intake of tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy foods.