|Year : 2020 | Volume
| Issue : 5 | Page : 395-396
Dental economics: Past, present, and the future
Department of Periodontics, DAV (C) Dental College and Hospital, Yamuna Nagar, Haryana, India
|Date of Web Publication||1-Sep-2020|
Department of Periodontics, DAV (C) Dental College and Hospital, Yamuna Nagar, Haryana
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Pandit N. Dental economics: Past, present, and the future. J Indian Soc Periodontol 2020;24:395-6
“A profession that is ignorant of its past experiences has lost a valuable asset because it has missed its best guide to the future.”
From a historical perspective, the growth of dentistry dates back to 1924 when the first dental college was established in Kolkata (R. Ahmed Dental College), followed by Nair Dental College and Hospital in 1933 and Government Dental College in 1938 both in Mumbai (then Bombay). The first batches to graduate from these pioneering institutions sculpted dental practices. There are now around 301 dental colleges in India from where 35,000 dental graduates complete their education every year.
Looking at pan-India statistics, the dentist-population ratio seems adequate, but taking a closer look highlights the stark geographic discrepancies. The dentist-population ratio in metro and urban areas is 1:9000, while in rural areas, it is at a staggering 1:200,000. This is particularly concerning since approximately 66% of the Indian population resides in rural areas and only 34% in urban areas.
The root cause of this problem lies in the unequal distribution of wealth within the country. It is estimated that only 5% of Indians can afford high-quality dental care and 95% of the Indian population has to make do with the low-quality and crude treatments provided mainly by street dentists. On top of that, 80% of Indians have never been to a dentist and only 1%–2% of the population is actually rich enough to access European standard care.
Hence, the main brunt of the growth of dental economy falls on this 1%–2% of the population as well as dental tourism which is becoming more and more prevalent, considering that prices in India for therapies like implants are 70% lower than in Europe.
Another aspect of looking at dental economics is through the tools utilized by this industry. Dentistry is both an art and science, thereby the equipment for the practice is just as important as acquiring the skills. Extrapolating on this, dental specialties tend to take both the skills and the equipment through continuous advancements and refinements. We have advanced from the likes of the triple-arm handpiece, one of the crudest equipment, and techniques, to the piezo-surgical unit, one of the most sophisticated implementation, in our profession. This growth was continuing to be exponentially beneficial for both the profession and the dental dealers till the pandemic hit the world, where our industry had to witness an unexpected temporary slump.
It cannot be denied that dentistry is facing its darkest era with the growth and spread of coronavirus pandemic. Our dental surgeons are at the highest risk of contracting and transmitting the coronavirus along with paramedics, nurses, and others. With the result, dental practice has almost completely shut down at the individual practices, corporate practice as well as institutional levels. The most challenging aspect of this in the post-COVID-19 era is the increase in the cost of oral health services. This can limit the patient access to health care and lead to delay or avoidance of the treatment, a problem already plaguing the industry.
In terms of equipment, most of our supplies come from China, Korea, Japan, Israel, etc. This affects the overall cost of the treatment and loss of our currency to foreign countries. If dental treatment has to remain affordable to most of our population, the “Made in India” scheme has to be extended to the manufacturing of all the dental equipment and the consumable items.
Even in the present time of unprecedented crisis, experience and basic learning can help us find ways to overcome this slump. COVID times are not going to stop the dental decay or cure the periodontal afflictions. Dental practices can easily withstand such temporary halt, and in due course of time, it can be revived with a renewed vigor and even compensate for losses incurred during these times.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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