Most cops have failed the 'oral' test, says Nagpada police hospital's dental surgeon

Nov 05, 2018, 18:00 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

With over 40% personnel not taking care of their teeth, gums and breath, dentist at Nagpada police hospital calls for better awareness and regular check-ups

Most cops have failed the 'oral' test, says Nagpada police hospital's dental surgeon
Dr Vivekanand Rege, the dental surgeon at Nagpada police hospital, examines a policeman. Pic/Suresh Karkera

The inside of policewomen's mouths are better than that of their male counterparts, a dental surgeon attached to Nagpada police hospital has found. His examination revealed that over 40 per cent of police personnel do not follow oral hygiene, with nearly 70 per cent of the male personnel having bad breath or reeking of alcohol or gutkha, as compared to 30 per cent of policewomen.

The problem is worse among the traffic police as their water intake is low, causing dryness of mouth, which along with chewing tobacco and guzzling tea/coffee makes them more vulnerable to dental problems.

Teeth trouble
Statistical data of the last three years shows that on an average over 1,000 policemen and their families avail the dental facility at the police hospital every year. "Out of these, nearly 700 (constables, naiks and havaldars), including those from the traffic police department, have been screened, and most of them fare poorly with respect to dental hygiene - not brushing teeth before going to bed, not rinsing mouth after drinking tea/coffee, and chewing tobacco, gutkha, and paan masala, consuming liquor," said honorary dental surgeon Dr Vivekanand Shanta Shripad Rege, 58.

"While most have dental cavities, plaques, swollen gums, bad breath and even serious gum problems like gingivitis, a few had to be sent to Tata hospital for a second opinion to rule out oral cancer."

According to Dr Rege, "The need of the hour is giving importance to police aspirants' oral hygiene during the selection process itself, similar to the focus laid on candidates' physical fitness. A bad tooth can lead to various health issues, right from a headache to life-threatening cardiac issues, and hence, it shouldn't be ignored. Also, the police commissioner bulletin should insist on regular oral check-ups."


Hi-tech treatment
Police surgeon Dr S M Patil is looking forward to the new hi-tech chair the dental department will be getting in the next few months, a first since its inception 18 years ago, to provide better treatment to the personnel.

"We have already taken the required specification from the Indian Dental Association, Prabhadevi, and submitted the same to our superiors at the Mumbai Police headquarters for approval and sanction," he said. The department also plans to lay emphasis on maintaining personnel's BMI (Body Mass Index of less than 25), and start a cancer detection camp in coordination with Tata hospital soon.

When asked about the yearly budget allocated to the police surgeon, Dr Patil said, "I am sanctioned Rs 1.67 crore, which is used for maintenance and procurement of medicines at Nagpada (114 beds) and Naigaon (40 beds) police hospitals, 12 police dispensaries and two mobile dispensaries. The dental unit, however, is only at Nagpada."

Amitesh Kumar, joint commissioner (traffic), Mumbai, said, "I am not aware of these findings... I haven't seen the dentist's report, and usually, medical camps are organised by the police headquarters."

Santosh Rastogi, joint commissioner of police (administration), Mumbai Police, said, "We have started work to modernise the police hospital, and in the next few months, state-of-the-art facilities will be provided."

When asked if the police circulars/bulletins will stress on having regular dental check-ups, he added, "I will have to speak to Jt CP (traffic). When we speak of welfare of police, it is not just for police stations or one or two departments, but for the entire force. We have set timetables for conducting medical camps,
and NGOs, too, visit and give talks on the ill-effects of tobacco, which is part of our ongoing awareness programme."

Point of view
Vivek Phansalkar,
commissioner of police, Thane
'We will now be introducing oral check-up along with that of eyes and ear drums in our regular medical camps at police stations. Our personnel need to be careful about what they are consuming, especially when it comes to tobacco and tobacco-related products, which lead to oral cancer'

Dr P S Pasricha,
former DGP
'I was very particular about my oral hygiene and would ensure that I did a routine check-up. It is true that our policemen, especially those with the traffic department, seldom get time to even participate in routine health check-ups, forget getting time to visit a dentist. [On giving oral hygiene the same importance as physical fitness] We will have to apply our minds... many candidates who get selected from interior or rural Maharashtra have their own habits since childhood (chewing tobacco, brushing teeth with mishri, etc), and these cannot be a reason for not shortlisting them. Instead, during training, they should be counselled to maintain good overall health, including oral'

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