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The dental profession in India faces several challenges that need to be addressed by policymakers, government bodies, and regulatory institutions. With significant reforms on the horizon, including the National Dental Commission Act, 2023, it is essential to understand the expectations and demands of dental professionals. Here’s a detailed look at what Indian dentists want:

Expectations and Demands of Dental professionals from Party Leaders

1. Equitable Distribution of Dentists and Resources

Dentists are calling for a more balanced distribution of dental professionals across urban and rural areas. The concentration of dentists in cities has led to underserved rural populations, contributing to oral health disparities. Policies that incentivize rural practice through financial support, infrastructure development, and career growth opportunities are necessary​ (IMPRI)​​ (The Wire Science)​.

2. Standardization and Quality of Education

The privatization of dental education has resulted in varying standards and increased costs, making quality education less accessible. Dentists advocate for stringent regulation and periodic assessments of dental institutions to ensure uniform educational standards. The proposed National Dental Commission (NDC) is expected to play a crucial role in maintaining these standards and ensuring the quality of dental graduates​ (Press Information Bureau)​​ (Wikipedia)​.

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3. Ethical Practices and Professional Development

There is a strong emphasis on the need for ethical conduct and continuous professional development. The NDC should enforce high ethical standards and promote ongoing education through updated curricula and mandatory training in emerging technologies. The establishment of the Ethics and Dental Registration Board (EDRB) aims to uphold professional ethics and manage grievances effectively​ (The Wire Science)​.

4. Affordable and Accessible Dental Care

With a significant portion of dental care provided through private clinics, the cost of services has become a barrier for many Indians. Dentists call for government intervention to regulate fees in private institutions and ensure that dental care is affordable. Additionally, integrating dental care into primary healthcare services could improve accessibility and preventive care​ (DentalReach)​​ (Wikipedia)​.

5. Support for Research and Innovation

Advancements in dental research and the integration of new technologies are crucial for the progress of the profession. Dentists seek government support and industry collaboration to foster innovation and research in dental sciences. This includes funding for research projects and partnerships with academic institutions to drive technological advancements​ (Press Information Bureau)​.

6. Transparent Regulatory Framework

The transition from the DCI to the NDC should bring about a transparent and accountable regulatory framework. The new structure, with its merit-based selection process and autonomous boards, is expected to reduce corruption and enhance the integrity of dental governance. Dentists demand that the new commission be free from undue influence and operate with a clear mandate to improve dental education and practice standards across the country​ (The Wire Science)​​ (Wikipedia)​.

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What Dental Professionals Want in Party Manifestos

As general elections approach, dental professionals have specific expectations from party manifestos to address the pressing issues in their field:

Long-term Funding Plans

Political parties need to present at least five-year spending plans to help dental teams make long-term decisions affecting patient care. This approach will provide stability and prevent the service from being subject to yearly funding uncertainties​ (The Wire Science)​.

Recognition of Dental Nurses

Dental nurses, essential to delivering high-quality patient care, seek recognition and better wages. Those working in NHS practices should receive a substantial pay rise and the same benefits as other NHS employees, including access to NHS IDs and pensions. Further education and post-registration qualifications should also be rewarded appropriately​ (DentalReach)​.

Prevention-Based Approach to Oral Health Care

Dentists advocate for a shift from treatment-focused to prevention-based oral healthcare. Policies should prioritize access to dental care as a basic human right and overhaul the current system to fight health inequalities. This includes scrapping ineffective targets and reducing bureaucratic red tape that adds stress to dental professionals​ (The Wire Science)​.

Sustainable Funding and Access to Care

A sustainable funding plan that ensures accessible oral healthcare for all is essential. This includes making dental services available to all children, emphasizing preventive care, and implementing fines for missed appointments to alleviate financial pressures on practices. Additionally, NHS dental access should be ensured for high-risk patients, such as those newly diagnosed with cancer​ (DentalReach)​.

Utilization of the Entire Dental Team

A more effective use of the entire dental team, including dental hygienists and therapists, can help alleviate the pressure on dentists. Policies should expand the scope of practice for these professionals to allow them to contribute more significantly to patient care and reduce the overall strain on the system​ (The Wire Science)​.

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Conclusion

Indian dentists have clear and urgent needs that must be addressed by policymakers and regulatory bodies. Ensuring equitable distribution of resources, maintaining high educational standards, supporting ethical practices, making dental care affordable, fostering research and innovation, and establishing a transparent regulatory framework are crucial steps toward improving oral health in India. As the political landscape evolves, these issues should be prioritized in party manifestos to create a robust and fair dental healthcare system for all.

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