Billion Healthy Mouths Club

Dr. Manjunath P. Puranik from India: “Self-care is key to oral health.”

Patients should not defer dental visits until they’re in pain.

Dr. Manjunath P. Puranik is an experienced practitioner and trainer of future dentists who specialises in public dentistry. As a coordinator of outreach and school programmes, he actively promotes oral hygiene in local communities in India. In this interview, Dr. Puranik tells us more about the role of prevention, and how he thinks it can be compared with car servicing.

What does the word “prevention” mean to you?

Prevention means all the actions taken to attain and maintain health, and thus lead a socially and economically productive life. Prevention also requires a commitment to follow various measures and practices for one’s whole life, and so education of preventive practices should begin early in life. 

What is your “golden rule” or advice that you tell your patients often?

That self-care is the key to oral health, and patients need to assume responsibility for their health. With self-reliance and efficacy they can achieve their goals – with the help of a dentist, who can act as a facilitator during their preventive dental visits.

What’s the biggest challenge of your job?

Awakening health consciousness in patients is the biggest challenge. But this awakening can ensure that patients are compliant and committed to their oral health.

What do you like most about your job?

The opportunity to reach out to and communicate with people from all walks of life, and cater to their needs.

What’s the most important thing in terms of an oral care routine, from your point of view?

Conscientious brushing coupled with appropriate auxiliary measures and dietary modifications are very important in oral health care. Oral care should be a ritual and an essential part of personal daily care.

What’s the biggest oral health myth that you fight against?

That regular dental visits are not considered as necessary, and are instead deferred until there is pain or another problem – it is very challenging to cope with that. We need to stress that periodic dental visits, even when there seems to be no issues, are necessary.

Welcome to the Billion Healthy Mouths Club

Proper routines in prevention are the future of dentistry – that’s why we at Curaden launched the Billion Healthy Mouths Club – a community of dental professionals committed to the importance of prevention and a holistic approach to dentistry. Dentist Manjunath P. Puranik is one of those dental professionals who shares these values, and we proudly present her experience and thoughts with other like-minded people from the field. Keep reading our Gently magazine to discover more interviews with forward-thinking professionals from around the world.

What’s your tip on motivating patients to go for regular dental check-ups?

Periodic check-ups can be compared to the periodic servicing of your car for a hassle-free journey. These visits ensure the detection of diseases before they become clinical. Appropriate and timely measures can reverse or at the very least control these conditions. Regular dental check-ups don’t only help to maintain good oral health, but also overall health.

What’s the state of oral health in India? What are the biggest challenges that should be fixed from your point of view?

The burden of oral diseases does exist in India. I firmly believe that implementation of an oral health policy could address challenges pertaining to the oral disease burden.

You have conducted a community outreach programme and a school oral health programme. Could you explain a little bit about the two programmes?

Both programmes are designed to improve oral health in the community. These programmes include health education, screening of oral diseases and providing preventive and restorative services through mobile dental units.

What is your role in these programmes?

Together with the community leaders, I am a coordinator in administration and management of these programmes.

You teach future dentists – what’s the main message or values that you always try to deliver to your students?

The key message to future dentists is: “Preventing dental disease is important, and you can do it”. Future dentists should focus on oral health promotion and disease prevention. This is possible by understanding the disease better and practicing prevention and minimal intervention in all our endeavours. Only this approach can improve oral-health-related quality of life.

Dr. Manjunath P. Puranik is a public health dentist based in the city of Bangalore, southern India. He studied at the Government Dental College and Research Institute in Bangalore. Today, he is a professor and the head of the Department of Public Health Dentistry with more than 20 years of teaching experience, and he has contributed to a textbook on public health dentistry. Dr. Puranik coordinates community and school outreach programmes focusing on dental health. He is a member of the Indian Dental Association and Indian Association of Public Health Dentistry, until 2017 he was the editor of IAPHD journal.