Journal of Orofacial Sciences

: 2018  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 57--58

Dentists as Vanguard of Oral Health

Rooban Thavarajah 
 Department of Oral Pathology, Ragas Dental College and Hospital, Tamil Nadu Dr. M.G.R. Medical University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Rooban Thavarajah
Department of Oral Pathology, Ragas Dental College and Hospital, Tamil Nadu Dr. M.G.R. Medical University, 2/102, East Coast Road, Uthandi, Chennai 6000119, Tamil Nadu

How to cite this article:
Thavarajah R. Dentists as Vanguard of Oral Health.J Orofac Sci 2018;10:57-58

How to cite this URL:
Thavarajah R. Dentists as Vanguard of Oral Health. J Orofac Sci [serial online] 2018 [cited 2019 Jan 18 ];10:57-58
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Full Text

Maintaining adequate oral health is essential for overall systemic health. In absence of a reasonable oral health status, associated noncommunicable diseases (NCD), such as diabetes, hypertension, and respiratory illness, may worsen. The intricate relationship between the NCD and oral health has been well established. In this regard, it is imperative that maintenance of oral health should be given predominance. Unfortunately, the organized dentistry as we know it today plays undue importance to esthetic concerns rather than identifying/diagnosing and treating oral maladies than ever. It is time for the organized dentistry to evolve predominantly as an oral physician and solution provider. In addition, prevention of dental diseases should be made the core fundamental need of existence. There has been organized resistance by a section of the eminent dentists to charter a new path to dentistry. Their declaration deserves the attention of the policymakers.[1],[2]

In today’s health policies and macroeconomics, oral health does not find a space. Oral health criteria does not find a place in the sustainable health development goals outlined by the World Health Organization.[3] It is the need of the hour that the policy framers and dental leaders need to adapt and assert their rightful position to achieve the health for all goal. The oral healthcare delivery model needs a paradigm shift—to exert more emphasis on prevention of diseases than rehabilitation treatment, in terms of prosthesis, implants, fillings, root canals, and extractions. This process also should not underestimate the need for such treatments. Esthetics would be also a focus, but next to prevention. Dentists need to evolve primarily as an oral physician catering to treating oral maladies and secondarily attending to esthetic concerns. Dentists should educate their patients about the need for maintaining oral hygiene and effect of such hygiene on overall health.

The organized government sector could not provide sufficient coverage to oral health for all, even in the most populous countries, such as India. To fill the gap, the private dental sector models were promoted.[4] In this situation, to meet the expectation and to face the reality, several forms of dental practice models have evolved. In each of these business models, the primary focus and recovery period widely vary. Corporate, chain, and group dental practices are increasingly becoming prevalent. Such practices have to respect the ethics as stipulated by their respective regulatory bodies, and every single dentist should respect the individual liberal dental profession. The ongoing commercialization of the dental profession should and can be neutralized only by establishing and following well-defined ethical principles. Oral healthcare quality can thus be ensured without the influence of third parties.[5]

Dentistry should try to reinvent itself as a respectable member of the healing profession and promoting prevention. The art and science of diagnostic and preventive elements of dentistry should not be allowed to crumble before the society’s insatiable need for esthetics and self-preservation needs of beauty. It is the duty of every dentist to identify a delicate balance between the two diametrically opposing elements and find the balancing point. The responsibility of the policymakers and leaders of dental professional societies is bigger as they are to determine the rule of balance.

In India, dental conferences, workshops, and professional continuing education programs are an opportunity to develop consensus and promote the reinvention of dentistry and its specialties. However, the trends in such specialty programs are worrisome. In a recent editorial in a dental specialty journal, the misplaced focus, with regard to conference among the organizers and the attendees, is detailed. The policymakers and the professional societies need to rework their priorities so as to balance the science, academic networking as well as the fun, comfort, food, and reunion spirit that meetings bring with them.[6],[7],[8],[9] The leadership of the societies needs to enforce policies to ensure that science is prioritized than other factors in conferences and professional programs.

I hope that the New Year 2019 ahead brings with it the winds of change in oral health policies, practice, and implementation.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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