NORMAN COUSINS

India is a country with rich cultural heritage and strong value system. It is one of the world’s oldest civilization with diversity seen in every aspect. People living here belong to different religion, culture and customs, have regional variations of food, language, clothes, festivals and weather, still all unite together as citizens of India, called by INDIANS. The healthcare practice in India is an ancient science that provides a holistic approach of well being for all.

Despite being a part of such rich heritage background, the present day healthcare system in India can be defined as two edges of same blade. On one side, there are huge well built hospitals with most advanced facilities situated in urban areas like in tier-1 or 2 cities and on the other side are the dilapidated structures named as health care centers in rural areas. In this modern era, when we talk about machine learning, advanced gadgets in healthcare system and costly equipments, people in such areas are just trying to survive.


            As an oral health care professional, I feel disheartened when I see the plight of people around me with poor oral health status. We all are aware of the fact that our mouth is not just the gateway to palatable foodstuff but also aids in many of the critical physiologic functions like chewing food, breathing and speaking. Hence, we cannot afford to avoid this important part of human body. “MOUTH IS THE MIRROR OF ORAL HEALTH” and there are many health diseases which have their first symptom seen in mouth. If it is diagnosed and treated at such a budding stage, life threatening health problems can at least be avoided. Oral health speaks a volume about the health of a person. One should always keep in mind the downstream effects of healthy mouth and should remain aware of the changes seen in mouth. Awareness is one of the most important aspect.

Oral cancer is the 6th most common cancer worldwide and India contributing to about one-third of total cases with only second country with highest number of oral cancer cases. Yes, it is life threatening, but can it be prevented??  DEFINITELY, YES.

First and foremost, the causative factors behind oral cancer like tobacco in smoking and non-smoking form has to be avoided. The sharp or broken tooth is either removed or fixed by the dentist. Any other factor including vitamin or nutritional deficiency, fungal or viral infection is assessed and eliminated. Recognition of the lesion at pre- cancer stage and its proper management follows up in line after awareness.

All this can be done. But, lack of proper workforce, work stations in the form of hospitals or diagnostic centers and armamentarium aids in more and more people not to access the facility where they can have early detection of cancer or get diagnosed at pre-cancer stage, when it can be reverted to normal even by non-surgical means or simple excisions.

As dentists are concerned with mouth, it becomes their prime duty to come forward and provide their valuable service. One of the branches of dentistry, as per Indian curriculum, ORAL MEDICINE and RADIOLOGY is concerned with assessment of various oral diseases and the specialists in this field are intensely trained to diagnose oral cancer and diagnose and treat the precancerous lesions and conditions.

The public and private sector should come forward to help their fellow citizens to prevent this horrified health hazard. Oral medicine specialists can act as a major pillar in improving the fabric of healthcare system by interconnecting the dental and medical specialities.


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