Information Technology Minister Poongothai Aladi Aruna on Sunday called for an awareness campaign on oral hygiene in the State.

Addressing the valedictory session of the 23 {+r} {+d} national conference of The Indian Society for Dental Research (ISDR) at Chettinad Health City, Dr. Poongothai said professional bodies like the ISDR should join hands with the government to sensitise the community on the benefits of good dental health by focusing on the preventive than curative aspect.

She pointed out that the oral health scenario was not very encouraging as there was a dearth of dentists with a ratio of just one specialist for a population of three lakh, the lop-sided distribution of expertise that was overwhelmingly concentrated in urban areas and with hardly 2 per cent of people with dental problems visiting a dental clinic.

Support

Dr. Poongothai also wanted the Indian Dental Association fraternity to represent to the State the imperative of neonatal correction of cleft lip and palate in newborn babies and promised her support in evolving a programme.

Presenting the awards, the Minister wanted young dental surgeons to go into R&D as opportunities for global partnerships had opened up with the advances in Information and Communications Technology.

Research was important to develop indigenous equipment and lower the prohibitively high costs of dentistry, she said.

Maria Fidela De Lima Navarro, president, International Association for Dental Research, Washington, U.S., urged young Indian dentists to become members of the global body and undertake research.

Being part of the IADR not only helped them stay in touch with experts but opened up access to fellowships and awards carrying substantive funding as well, she pointed out.

Stressing the importance of research for social benefit, Dr. Navarro cited the Brazil experience where there was dramatic improvement in oral health after the Government prioritised research.

S.M. Balaji, ISDR Secretary General, T.R. Gururaja Rao, ISDR president and P. Rajesh, organising chairman, participated.