Fluoride Action Network

Ayyapatti villagers greet you with a dark smile

Source: The Times of India | February 26th, 2013 | By Padmini Sivarajah, TNN
Location: India

MADURAI: The villagers of Ayyapatti in Sivaganga district have had a strange tooth problem for a long while, but now it has worsened to such an extent with their decaying teeth turning black with even perforations, leading to mental agony. While people here suspect the problem as caused by unsafe water they have been using, the symptoms make the experts doubt it as a result of fluorosis. Meanwhile, no effort has been made by anyone to go to the root of the problem which may pose other health hazards too.

Sinnathamby, a shopkeeper, says that they always depended on their village wells and now borewells for water for all their needs, including drinking. Though, it was not unusual to spot black teeth among the villagers, including children, even a couple of decades back, what is worrying them is the prospect of losing their teeth which have started decaying and falling off was always seen among the villages but now It has started becoming a common problem with almost every child developing black teeth and unlike 20 years ago the teeth have also started decaying and breaking off.

The health issue at the village, which comes under Neduvayal panchayat in S Pudur Union, has become so serious that it is even affecting the life of youth, particularly girls. “Some girls from the village were rejected by their prospective bridegrooms because of their ‘black smiles’. The problem has been there for many years, but now it is getting worse,” Panchayat member Chinnaiah.

Girls are more affected because dentists have advised them to have the teeth extracted when traditionally such dental procedures are a rarity among them. “I remember my grandmother having her teeth intact even after 80 years. But, now doctors are asking us to take off the teeth before the girls reach 18,” Shenbagam, a villager, said referring to incidents of tooth decay.

These villagers says that the problem as become worse because now apart from the discoloration the teeth have started to decay and that it starts chipping off if not attended and that

“The problem is causing mental agony to youth and they are reluctant to go out because of their discoloured teeth,” 19-year-old Arulmolivarman said. Muruganantham, an eighth-standard student, studying in the nearby Singampunari said he is ridiculed for not brushing his teeth.

Environmentalist Dr S Rajamohan said the discolouration of the teeth could be due to fluorosis, which was due to either excess or less amounts of fluoride in the water. “But, if the people are developing holes in the teeth the water should be examined for the presence of any microorganism which was causing the condition,” he said.

A member of CPM activists led by district executive committee member L Adhimoolam and Union secretary Sethuraman visited the village, which has about 200 houses and 800 people, on Thursday to assess the problem. “I came to know that a handful of people had died of kidney failure in the last 10 years here and when you have a closer look, the teeth have tiny holes through which a needle could be entered. Almost everyone seems to have a tooth-related problem. We have decided to take these people to the collector during the next grievance day and bring it to his notice,” he said.

Panchayat vice chairman Rengasamy said that government should come forward to assess the water quality in the village and address the issue. Meanwhile, the deputy director of health services Sivaganga Ahalya admitted that the government had not done any study in this village with regard to the health condition.

Some women in the village told team that they had come as brides to the village with a set of very good teeth but now their teeth too are discoloured and decaying. They say they have no other alternative but to depend on the village tanks for water.