British Dental Journal 220, 322 - 323 (2016)
Published online: 8 April 2016 | doi:10.1038/sj.bdj.2016.237

Oral health: Praying for preventive care

S. Kumar1 & N. W. Johnson1

Send your letters to the Editor, British Dental Journal, 64 Wimpole Street, London, W1G 8YS e-mail: bdj@bda.org. Priority will be given to letters less than 500 words long. Authors must sign the letter, which may be edited for reasons of space. Readers may now comment on letters via the BDJ website (www.bdj.co.uk). A 'Readers' Comments' section appears at the end of the full text of each letter online.

Sir, in India, caries is predicted to increase significantly and oral cancer is a growing problem.1 Meanwhile, the oral health workforce is showing a dramatic rise: the number of dental schools has increased from 95 to 290 within the last 20 years and more than 25,000 dentists are graduating each year in India.2 Most schools are in urban regions and partly as consequence the dentist-population ratio is as high as 1:4,000 in urban India while in rural areas can be as low as 1:30,000.2 Challenges include the fact that the disease burden is highest amongst the disadvantaged; oral health is not considered integral to general health; the inaccessibility of oral health services to people in rural regions; and much of modern dental practice is highly interventionist.

Whilst the small business model of dental care will be with us for the foreseeable future, we submit that countries need to refocus their health workforce to tackle disease burden. Policies should strive to curb the dental-medical divide and to reduce social and service inequalities. The focus needs to be shifted from interventionist to preventive approaches. Preventive care should be customised for communities and carried out by teams drawn from the whole spectrum of health and social welfare professions. For such a paradigm shift, barriers from the entrenched profession will be a major challenge. Practical suggestions for a start on such reorientation would be to ban new dental schools in over-served countries and to train all members of putative oral healthcare teams together. 'The family that prays together stays together.'



  1. Mathur M R , Singh A , Watt R . Addressing inequalities in oral health in India: need for skill mix in the dental workforce. J Family Med Prim Care 2015; 4: 200–202. | Article | PubMed |
  2. Jaiswal A K , Srinivas P , Suresh S . Dental manpower in India: changing trends since 1920. Int Dent J 2014; 64: 213–218. | Article | PubMed |
  1. Australia

Readers' Comments

If you find something abusive or inappropriate or which does not otherwise comply with our Terms and Conditions or Community Guidelines, please select the relevant 'Report this comment' link.

There are currently no comments.

Add your own comment

This is a public forum. Please keep to our Community Guidelines. You can be controversial, but please don't get personal or offensive and do keep it brief. Remember our threads are for feedback and discussion - not for publishing papers, press releases or advertisements.

You need to be registered with Nature and agree to our Community Guidelines to leave a comment. Please log in or register as a new user. You will be re-directed back to this page.

Extra navigation

Subscribe to British Dental Journal


Search PubMed for

BDJ Jobs