Asserting that the prevalence of gum diseases is high because of the lack of oral hygiene awareness as well as minimal financial resources in many rural areas and urban slums, Dr S M Balaji, Consultant Maxillofacial and Oral Surgeon and Chairman, Balaji Dental and Craniofacial Hospital, said, “A high percentage of those affected by varying degrees of poverty have less awareness about the importance of oral health and hygiene.
The lack of necessary exposure that good education offers is also a major contributing factor towards this. Nearly half of them do not use a toothbrush or a toothpaste as they do not realize the importance of retaining their teeth for the later years of their life and the damage caused to the gums and teeth by using alternatives to these.”
While the common substitute they employ for a toothbrush is a twig from certain trees like neem or mango, which many in these strata of society believe is a much better and healthier way for brushing teeth and toothpaste is substituted by powdered brick or charcoal dust, which is extremely abrasive and causes irreversible damage to teeth within a relatively short period of time, he explained.
“This represents the unfortunate truth about conditions prevailing in the country,” he added. Stating that Tamil Nadu is just a microcosm of India and what holds true for India for the most part also holds true for Tamil Nadu, an Orthodontist from the city said, “Gum disease is a serious cause of concern which should not be ignored.
According to reliable surveys, even in urban areas 70 per cent of the population suffer from gum disease, while only 30 percent use a toothbrush. The situation could be worse in rural areas. Gum diseases are known to affect the health of the heart and has been implicated to contribute to the early onset of diabetes.”
While it can be reversed, the need for people to be aware and ensure that dental health is taken care of is felt essential.
“Awareness of gum disease is very critical and important. With the help of the government aid and hospitals around the country, medical practitioners should engage in spreading awareness and contributing towards education of dental health,” said Dr Deeptha Mohan, a Dentist.
A very small percentage of the population visits a dentist because of the lack of awareness. “This is a very serious issue that needs to be addressed with the level of importance that it deserves. Awareness on the same too must be created,” added Dr Balaji.