Reclaiming India one smile at a time.

by / Monday, 17 July 2017 / Published in Blogs

If you didn’t know yet, — Your oral cavity is the mirror to your body. Dental health directly influences your overall health. Yes, in simple terms. The mouth serves as a “window” to the rest of the body, providing signals of general health disorders. It has been observed that most of the general health problems occur due to problem in oral cavity.

India’s Oral healthcare status demands a greater need for better education and more accessible basic services. The National Oral Health Programme notes that 95% of adults in India suffer from gum disease and 50% of our citizens don’t use a toothbrush. The program also finds that 70% of children under the age of 15 have dental caries. The long term effects of poor dental health is often underestimated, and India cannot afford to turn a blind eye just yet.

Where we work, in Chanapatna as well, there is a general complacency toward oral health also highlights the need for better education on the link between oral health and general health. Our baseline survey reports from the villages have shown that over 40 % of adult men and 28% adult women are addicted/consume various forms of tobacco, pushing them into high risk of oral cancer. More often than not many of them do not avail timely services resulting in depleting overall health and out of pocket expenses. According to a 2013 report, “Utilization of dental care: An Indian outlook,” published in the Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine, the dentist-to-population ratio is 1:10,000 in urban areas but drops drastically to 1:150,000 in rural India. Dental health is often neglected and as a result for example, in Chanapatna, even though there exist certain service providers and infrastructure for dental care, people utilize these services very less, due to a number of factors pertaining to behaviors, demographics, socio- economic , cultural, epidemiological factors.

At MAYA Health we are working to reach the unreached with the help of Health Navigators. Local women who are micro entrepreneurs (HNs) affordable deliver preventive and promotive health services in the community, in Chanapatna. It is important that these navigators must be also aware about oral health problems and be able to help in reducing the oral diseases occurring in the population. They are from the local community and play a big role to facilitate behavior change from the bottom up.

To make this happen we have successfully partnered with –Ramaiah Institute of Applied Sciences- Bangalore to train Health Navigators on  dental health hygiene and screening techniques.

Collaboration focuses on:

  1. Trained Health Navigators as champion for Oral Health Education and Screening Services for low income families
  2. Providing learning materials and multimedia tools for promotion of good dental health practices.
  3. Providing networks and referrals for further curative care that may be needed.

The current dental screening service is being added to the overall Health screening package for the community in Chanapatna. We have carried out a small pilot of over 30 people (Including children below 10) to have a better feel of the service and HN challenges. MAYA Health is championing for the Tobacco free Initiative in India, with a number of ongoing sensitization workshops,  and campaigns across the city to promote dental health and a smoke free Bangalore as a part of our larger efforts towards #InspiringHealth.

We would like to thanks Dr. Suvi Kanchan and Dr Tejaswini – Dept.of Public Health Dentistry-MS Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences for leading this initiative and empowering our Health Navigators with additional skills to help champion dental health and hygiene in the villages of India. This collaboration would not be possible without- Dr.K.Pushpanjali ,MDS, PGDHHM, FAIMER Fellow 2013 -Academic Registrar and Dr Anitha- Dept.of Public Health Dentistry, Faculty of Dental Sciences.

Dental health services have been included in the service basket of our Health Navigators and we are more than excited to see how this is going to help make lives better in Chanapatna and around India.One Smile at a Time.

From the field: 

One bright afternoon, in the quaint villages of Chanapatna, a mother walks in to a make shift health screening camp. She walks past the gathering , only to hear her name being called out behind her. Health Navigator Lakshmi, informed Chellama about the dental camp and that she could bring her child to the camp that afternoon. Although hesitant as dental health was never her concern at first, but upon arriving at the camp the dentists were shocked and so was she to learn that at 35 years she barely had any teeth left, suffered from mild gum diseases and her child had dental flourosis spreading to his bones. Chellama, was referred to and guided for further dental care. She returned one week later all smiles saying the cost effective timely care has made a big difference to the overall health of her child and her, if it wasn’t for the camp she would have never realized the long term effects of neglecting her oral health.She returned to learn more on the service so that she could involve more families in the village to care and invest in dental health. Today we are mobilizing people from the grassroots to prioritize and invest in dental health thanks to the efforts of our Health Navigators.

Ongoing HN Training’s on Dental health and Hygiene and screenings happening in Chanapatna (June – July 2017 )



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