This article is contributed by Mr. Harminder Singh Multani, CEO of MyDentalPlan Healthcare Pvt. Ltd.
The dental care industry is in an abysmal state! According to the Indian Dental Association, only 2% to 3% of the Indian population visits the dentist on a regular basis, and further adding to the jarring reality, only 50% use toothbrushes and toothpaste for regular oral routine. Conversely, there are about 2 Lakh registered dental graduates in the country with 95,000+ actively practicing dentistry. Annually, the tally rises in this ever-growing sector with approximately 12,000 - 15,000 new practices starting.
As per the surveys carried out, more than 70% of the Indian population suffers from some or the other oral problems that need attention and these are problems that will not self-heal themselves. More than 50% of children suffer from dental caries in India, about 40 - 45% go for Root Canal Treatment. Additionally, more than 65% of all dental procedures are carried out around Root Canal Treatment - which points to utter neglect, such that a small cavity was allowed to develop into a Root Canal Treatment.
A developing nation with 138 Crore people can’t afford to have such a poor state of oral wellness. There is a need to spread more awareness about the importance of oral health and encourage people to seek help when they need it.
Why India’s population suffers from dental complications?
All these problems stem from ignorance. People in India have a tendency to ignore the significance of preventive oral care and of course treatment of minor dental issues in a timely manner. The majority of people avoid or delay taking assistance for dental problems from the fear of exorbitant fees charged at the dental clinics. ‘It will go away on its own this approach may work when one has a fever, cough, or cold because in most cases even if one does nothing about it, it will probably go away. However, a toothache or a gum problem is different. Early signs of any dental trouble must be tended to earliest, else it will only return as a bigger problem.
To summarise, about 99% Indian dental market is private with no motivation or check to keep the quality of dental services, the skill set of the professionals, and their work ethics at the highest standard. There is a need for transparency and standardization not just to monitor the health care service providers and practices but to also maintain demanded costs at the said clinics.
Need For Transparency & Standardisation
Transparency and standardization in healthcare will allow the patients to get a genuine estimate of the cost and legitimacy of the practicing clinics. A few clinics may offer lower prices to cut corners on hygiene practices that can cost a lot more in the long run. Additionally, standardization reflects the quality of the clinic and the skill levels of the clinician.
It enables predictability in the pricing and offering of bundled healthcare services and provides a structural method that saves time and makes it easy to decimate thoughtful ideas thus bringing innovation. Standardization has the potential to drive dental insurance, which is missing from the Indian health insurance landscape thus adding a larger customer base. In India, there is no provision to have dental health included in the medical insurance, unless it is an accidental case.
General oral health will positively improve with more people coming in for preventive care, which could improve significantly if there is insurance available for it. It is evident that help with finances will kill the postponement of those urgent treatments that are required today. A stitch in time saves nine.
Technological Advancements That Will Further the Cause
- Tele-dentistry - Tele-dentistry is handy to offer dental service remotely via the internet to those who do not have access to quality dentists. It certainly is very useful for people living in rural or rough terrain areas where dental offices cannot be found easily. It allows the dentists to record the complaint, capture images (if and when required), and send information to their colleagues for gathering opinions. Consultation is through video chatting and, if a dentist finds a problem, they can advise a visit to a local dentist for further assessment
- Intra-Oral Camera - Many dental patients have a complaint that sitting in the dentist's chair with their mouths open for a long time is uncomfortable. For this, Intra-Oral camera technology is helpful. It allows the dentist to use the dental mirror along with the camera to look inside the patients’ mouths, which eventually reduces the discomfort. The images are seen on the camera's screen.
- Artificial Intelligence - Artificial intelligence technology has become essential to nearly every industry. Even the dental industry is using it in a transformative way. Researchers are looking into ways to utilize AI for diagnosing dental problems through reading scans and X-rays. It is expected that AI will help in saving money and time for both the medical professionals and patients in going through dental records. It will also aid in a more careful and competent diagnosis of dental problems because of the reason that it could predict unknown and unseen issues.
Technology has been significantly adopted in the dentistry industry to help improve the quality of care. The better the technology, the easier the services can become.
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