General health and oral health are interlinked

General health and oral health are interlinked. Dental and oral diseases are the neglected epidemic in this country. Despite an improvement in the socioeconomic condition, fluoridation of the public water supply, and an increase in expenditure on dental care, dental and oral diseases continue to plague certain segments of the population needlessly and disproportionately.1
Early intervention is the most cost-effective means of controlling dental diseases, unfortunately certain segments of the population either do not avail themselves of or are denied access to dental services. The people who are at the greatest need for dental treatment receives the least services and are of major concern and this population includes handicapped patients, prisoners, old age people, factory workers etc.2
Prison is a place of compulsory detention in which people are confined while on remand awaiting trial, on trial or for punishment following conviction for a criminal offence (not including police cells) and a prisoner is a person held in prison, awaiting trial or serving a prison sentence3. There are 1336 prisons across our country.
The categories of jails in India are as follows3 –
– Central jails = 111.
– District jails = 293.
– Sub-jails = 852.
– Women jails =15.
– Borstal schools = 10.
– Open jails =23.
– Special jails =20.
– Other jails = 8.
The status of number of Jails in Rajasthan is as follows3:-
– Central jails = 8
– District jails = 25
– Sub-jails = 60
– Women jails = 2
– Borstal schools = 0
– Open jails =8
– Special jails = 0,
– Other jails =0
The total number of prisoners in central jails in the year 2012 was 313,282 as against the prescribed capacity of 11,242.4 The figures indicate that the number of prisoners is more than double the prescribed capacity in jails of India. Overcrowding gives rise to the persistence of unhygienic conditions in the prison system which is a matter of great concern.5
Prisoners come predominantly from the lower social classes with fewer educational qualifications, less work experience, and poorer housing conditions (with many of them being homeless at the time of imprisonment) than the general population. People from social classes IV and V are not only less likely than the general population to use preventive health services (such as screening, immunization, and health advice), but they are also more likely to practice health damaging behaviors such as smoking, drinking and recreational drug use that contribute to poorer oral and general health.7
A lack of health concern, facilities and expertise further deteriorates the health of inmates. Hardly any health professionals choose to work in the prison system
Health personnel’s especially dentists use sharp instruments in the basic screening and treatment procedures, which makes it difficult to assure security by the jail staff against any odds by the prisoners. As a result, medical and dental services in jails are meager. Lack of provision of basic facilities, Health professional’s reluctance to work in jails and negligence of health concern by the jail staff further deteriorates the health of prison inmates.6 This explains the reason for such limited studies conducted in the prison system, especially in India. 2
Many challenges exist in delivering services in the prison system, including service provision with respect to security procedures, recruitment and retention of dental staff in relation to strong demand and lucrative remuneration for dentists in private practice. There is currently no standardized system of assessment and prioritization of the dental needs of prisoner.5
Improving oral health can improve overall health among the prisoners. In order to plan comprehensive treatment plan for these prisoners it is important to assess the existing oral health status of prisoners and identify their treatment needs. So the present study is conducted with the objective to identify the oral health status of prisoners of central jail.