Oral health disparities in South Asia
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Reduction of oral health disparities is a worldwide goal because oral health has been shown to mimic individual and community health overall. At the end of the twentieth century, oral health made remarkable achievements; however, problems still remain in many communities around the world, especially within third world countries, such as those in South Asia. Member countries of the South-East Asia region of the World Health Organization (WHO) have stated that dental caries, tooth loss, periodontal disease, and oral cancer are some of the contending public health issues in their countries and action must be taken to reduce their numbers (WHO, 2008). The goals of this study are to determine what cultural aspects of the South Asian population aid in the increase of poor dental care in these communities. Our overall goal is to provide recommendations for a new oral health promotion program in South Asia that has been determined by understanding what cultural aspects are important in creating a successful dental care community program. As seen by the various studies, smokeless tobacco is a cultural norm in South Asia and is affecting the quality of life for many of the people there. Tobacco use is common but smokeless tobacco is becoming more prevalent in these countries. It is clear that with such statistics there is a need for governmental public programs to educate the population on the importance of proper oral care. This study analyzed the current literature to determine (i) what were the cultural aspects of South Asia that are detrimental to oral health, (ii) what is the oral health status of the individual countries found in South Asia, and lastly (iii) what aspects are necessary in creating an effective oral health program. The goal of this study is to determine what cultural aspects of the South Asian population contribute to poor dental care in these communities and to provide recommendations for a new oral health promotion program in South Asia that is strengthened by understanding what cultural aspects are important in creating a successful dental care community program. The conclusions presented here suggest an oral policy framework for the initiation of discussions aimed at designing and implementing an oral health program in their South-Asian country. Additionally, we suggest future directions once the guidelines are met. Overall, proper oral health should be enjoyed by all and this study aims to the aid the South Asian region’s governments towards moving forward in meeting those goals.