India is facing an oral healthcare crisis, particularly among the 80 crore (800 million) rural population. A few statistics help understand the intensity of the situation -
- In rural India, there is only one dentist for every 250,000 people, as opposed to urban India where there is one dentist for every 5,000 people.
- India ranks 1st in oral cancer; ~550,000 deaths occur annually. A majority of these occur in rural India and can be prevented with timely diagnosis.
- India also ranks 1st in oro-facial clefts, having more than 1 million cases. At least 90 per cent of them occur in rural India and remain untreated.
- Nearly half of India’s population (approximately 49 per cent) don’t use a toothbrush, due to lack of awareness.
- More than half of India’s population has never visited a dentist, although more than 80 per cent suffer with dental problems.
Smile Merchants has pioneered an innovative, 3-tier hub and spoke model to improve the reach and accessibility of dental care to rural India’s under-penetrated markets. Smile Merchants sets up low-cost ‘spoke’ clinics in villages to serve more than 90 per cent of dental patients with treatments such as root canals, tooth extractions and teeth replacements. This in turn is supported by ‘hub’ clinics in nearby towns that are fully functional clinics providing treatments ranging from implants to surgeries.
With 4 clinics currently operational, Smile Merchants is focused on building a franchisee of 300 clinics and treating 1 million rural patients over the next five years. This will result in better oral health and will save lives caused by oral diseases through early detections and interventions.
About Smile Merchants
Smile Merchants, a brand of Free3 Healthcare Pvt. Ltd., is a chain of dental clinics targeting tier-2 and 3 cities, towns and villages in India. With a vision to transform rural oral healthcare in India, Smile Merchants was founded in May 2012.