Indigenous populations across the globe continue to remain one of the poorest and marginalised group. Studies have shown that the health indicators of this population are poor and warrant attention. Compounding this problem is the severe dearth of doctors serving the tribal belts. With such a significant poverty gap, it may be stated that the tribals face the brunt of the 3As – availability, accessibility and affordability.
The tribal communities of Kerala are geographically isolated and extremely deprived. Several infectious and chronic diseases are known to exist including respiratory infection, diarrheal disorders, skin infections, malnutrition, anaemia and degenerative disorders like diabetes. Oral diseases are no different and have been found to be highly prevalent. Coping with the burden of more life threatening diseases, oral health is seen as less of a priority. As a result dental disease and the lack of awareness about oral health, the result is extraction of teeth and thereafter a compromised life due to edentulism.
Among the tribals, edentulism is accepted as a way of life and a part of the natural process of ageing. Difficulties associated with mastication of food, clarity of speech or aesthetics are often buried under the load of such beliefs.