Dental fluorosis on the rise in Maharashtra

Mumbai: Around 1, 481 patients have been affected with dental fluorosis across eight districts in Maharashtra, according to an official from the directorate of health services (DHS). Fluorosis is a condition in which the tooth enamel is eroded due to excessive intake of fluoride. The primary symptom is discolouration of teeth -- they turn yellow due to enamel erosion. In severe cases, calcification of the ligaments occurs.

The state government has allocated Rs 2 lakh per district for conducting awareness drives in rural areas. India is among the 22 nations in the world, where health problems have been reported due to excessive fluoride in drinking water. An estimated 66.6 million people in India from 19 states are affected with fluorosis.

There are two types of fluorosis – dental and skeletal. Dental fluorosis primarily affects the teeth. While skeletal fluorosis affects the bones and causes calcium deficiency in bones and can lead to crooked hands.

The eight districts which have been severely affected are Yavatmal, Washim, Beed, Nanded, Nagpur, Chandrapur, Wardha, and Latur. Dr Yaswant Mule, deputy director (oral health), DHS, said cases of dental fluorosis are rising due to the drought in Maharashtra, as people have to dig deeper to access water. At a certain depth, water contains a heavy concentration of fluoride and consuming such water causes dental fluorosis. “We have started a dental programme in these eight districts, as more cases of dental fluorosis are being reported and people are not aware of this condition. We will also conduct a survey to identify those suffering from fluorosis,” said Dr Mule.

Doctors have been directed to visit houses to identify the cases and referred those detected with the condition to the nearest hospital for treatment. An ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist said it is not uncommon to encounter patients in the last stage of dental fluorosis. “Every month, we see four to five patients suffering from fluorosis. But they come in for treatment when it is hard to treat. This is because of lack of awareness,” said doctors from the King Edward Memorial (KEM) hospital.

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