Indian Journal of Dental Research

: 2018  |  Volume : 29  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 132-

Economic impact of dental caries in India

SM Balaji 
 Executive Editor, Indian Journal of Dental Research, Director and Consultant, Balaji Dental and Craniofacial Hospital, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
S M Balaji
Executive Editor, Indian Journal of Dental Research, Director and Consultant, Balaji Dental and Craniofacial Hospital, Chennai, Tamil Nadu

How to cite this article:
Balaji S M. Economic impact of dental caries in India.Indian J Dent Res 2018;29:132-132

How to cite this URL:
Balaji S M. Economic impact of dental caries in India. Indian J Dent Res [serial online] 2018 [cited 2023 Jun 2 ];29:132-132
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Oral health is a component of overall health. India, with its 1.3 billion populations, needs to revisit its oral health policy.[1] The recent published survey indicates that in 2015, an average Indian expenditure due to dental disease per capita in US Dollars was 0.14 (Rs. 8.45, assuming 1 US $ is Rs. 65.00), as compared to US Dollars 370.47 for USA and US Dollars 458.88 for Icelanders. The productivity loss due to dental caries, periodontal diseases, and severe tooth loss was estimated per capita of US $ 1.8 (Rs. 117), meaning an average Indian in 2015 lost Rs. 117 due to dental diseases. When the purchasing power parity (to account the USD to Indian rupees, a reflection of purchasing power) was applied, the expenses due to dental disease per capita increased to US $0.52 (Rs. 33.8) and the productivity loss was 6.69 (Rs. 434.85) per capita.

This reflects the fact that the dental or oral diseases-related expense borne by Indians is one of the lowest in the world as compared to the western world. This could mean that most of Indians do not have access to proper or basic dental/oral health care or they pay very minimally. The 3-fold increase of cost after accounting the purchasing power parity is another avenue of concern from economic dimensions. After accounting the purchasing power parity, for every Rs. 33.8 dental expense, India lost Rs. 434.85 in productivity – nearly 13 times the expense. This indicates the seriousness of dental malady. No longer dental and oral health can be ignored or lightly taken.

The oral dysbiosis, the progenitor of most of dental diseases, needs to be approached on a war footing.[2] Indian dentist needs to “encourage continuous improvement of value for money in (oral) health care, which might include considerations about an adequate mix of public health versus chairside clinical preventive approaches.”[3] It could be safely assumed that preventive measures such as training to institute proper oral hygiene measures be given priority over treatment so that a generation of no-caries or less-caries Indians raises. This would decrease the dental and oral disease burden significantly.

India should invest in forming its oral health policies based on solid evidence backed by valid dental epidemiological and economic data.[1] The excessive dental manpower can be invested for this. The debate around the Indian dental manpower, practice, academics, and research is not new.[4] India needs to revisit and shape the policies to suit the needs of the population by bringing in policies that can safely address the concerns around dental maladies. Health economics and public policies together can bring in the much-needed oral health-related behavioral changes needed for Indians to minimize the oral diseases and dysbiosis.


1Balaji SM. Need for more research on burden of oral diseases in India. Indian J Dent Res 2017;28:594.
2Balaji SM. Dental caries: Research perspective. Indian J Dent Res 2018;29:3.
3Righolt AJ, Jevdjevic M, Marcenes W, Listl S. Global-, regional-, and country-level economic impacts of dental diseases in 2015. J Dent Res 2018: doi: 10.1177/0022034517750572. [Epub ahead of print].
4Balaji SM, Mathur VP. Dental practice, education and research in India. Oral health inequalities and health systems in Asia-Pacific. Nat India 2017;28:241. [Doi: 10.1038/nindia. 2017.28].