How the ‘Pacific Tooth’ is making dentists worldwide nervous
When the toothpaste bubble burst in India last year, people were quick to grab a bottle and take to the streets to demand the country start selling the much-maligned product.
But a growing number of dentists are questioning the wisdom of selling their precious crowns at such a high price.
“In the first year, the cost of the toothpastes has gone up to Rs3.70 (US$2.90),” said G. S. Sharma, an executive at an auto parts and machinery manufacturing firm.
Sharma has been making toothpasthes for years and said that the prices for his own product have gone up from Rs.10 a month for a regular bottle to Rs.20 a month, and that he was forced to switch to a lower-priced brand for a while.
When he started selling the high-end product in the early days, Sharma said, he got a couple of orders every month.
But now, he said, there are orders for just one toothpaste a day, which means the price has risen to nearly Rs.1,500.
“I have had people coming in and asking me to sell my toothpaste for Rs.15 to Rs20,” Sharma said.
While the price of the product is high, Sharma’s colleague Ramakrishna Khandaker, who sells his own toothpaste at a wholesale price of Rs.2.50 a pack, said it is just as good as the regular toothpaste.
In fact, he added, “If you have a good quality toothpaste, you can even use it for your own toothbrush, brushing, and mouthwash.”
While some dentists have been able to survive by selling the products, others are struggling, Sharma added.
“People have to start paying more for these products,” he said.
Dentistry in India has been in a bad state for some time.
It is a sector that has been severely affected by the collapse of the monsoon in 2015, with the country’s health ministry reporting a 25 per cent decline in the number of people with chronic diseases.
The government estimates that the disease rate will remain at high levels for the next few years.
Dentists in India face a lot of hurdles in the retail market, such as the high cost of materials and the difficulty in getting the products into the hands of dentistry patients.
And it is also expensive for dentists to produce their own toothpasts and to maintain their own supply chain, said Khandakers partner at the auto parts manufacturing firm, Shashi Gupta.
“We are doing our best but the supply is still a problem,” Gupta said.
“The prices of the products are increasing in a hurry and the demand is not there.”
The price of toothpastans has been rising steadily for some years, according to data compiled by IndiaSpend.
A survey by the National Sample Survey Office, a government agency, found that the average cost of a toothpaste bottle, which includes ingredients and packaging, jumped to about Rs.3.50 last year.
As of March 2018, IndiaSpice, an online marketplace, reported that the price for a bottle of toothpaste in India was about Rs4,000.
The survey showed that the cost for a toothbrush rose from about Rs3,500 to more than Rs7,000 in two years, and a dentist’s supply chain rose from around Rs1,200 to about over Rs4.5 million.
The dentists in this market are also in a tough spot, according a spokesperson for the ministry of health and family welfare.
According to the survey, the government’s target for the number who would receive dental care in 2020 was just over 12 million, with about 7 million of those needing a comprehensive assessment.
The agency has said it has been trying to get dentists, especially those who work in the rural areas, to take part in the surveys.
But the demand for toothpastens has not been met.
According to Sharma, dentists need to do their best to supply the patients who are in need of dentures, which is why he is keeping his mouth shut.
There is also a concern that the toothless population in India could soon be affected by a shortage of the medicine needed for the disease, Sharma noted.
For many dentists who are not prepared to do the hard work of making the tooth paste, Sharma explained, “You cannot do anything without the help of your dentist.”