Last week, a patient visited my clinic. He was 8.5 years old. He walked in with his mom. His oral health was pathetic. I asked him whether he had visited a dentist anytime in his life. He said no. I asked him if there were any dental camps arranged in his school. He said that his was a government school and no dentists had come to his school.

He was in significant pain and had been under over-the-counter (OTC) medications for the past 2 days. My treatment plan for him included scaling, restorations, few extractions and few pulpal therapies to bring his oral health to an acceptable level. I explained everything to him and his mother and they were willing for everything. Only hitch – cost. I couldn’t make it affordable to the patient and patient was certainly not in a financial position to opt for the complex dental treatment.

I felt helpless. I put him on antibiotics and painkillers (of course, the free samples that are given to me by medical representatives) and asked him to come after 2 days. He went off.

Meanwhile, I had a ear pain and went to consult an ENT specialist in the peripheral area of Madurai. He was a very polite man and a distant relative to boost. On a casual note, I spoke about dental practice and the cost it incurs on patients which prevents most of the poor income group patients to neglect dental care altogether. He offered me a deal. He offered me a place in his hospital at a subsidized cost to set up a practice if that would help make some dental treatment affordable to his patients.

I came home, thought about it and decided that I am going to do something for the future pillars of this country.

Initially I thought about offering free preventive dental treatment to kids of the low-income group in my own clinic. However, two things stop me from doing that.

1. I have a heavy investment in this set-up which needs returns. If an unaffordable patient is going to take up the chair time in my clinic, my affordable patients go elsewhere.

2. The area where I practice – most of the kids have good oral hygiene because there are plenty of dentists around who will arrange camps frequently in schools.

After much of brainstorming, my idea was this – to set up a minimalistic dental treatment centre that will offer free preventive dental treatment (consultation, scaling, restorations, and pit and fissure sealants) to kids of the low-income group in a totally neglected peripheral area.

Next comes the question. How am I going to manage the time? I thought that out. Since my private practice requires much of my time, I thought of employing a recently-graduated dentist. Seemed okay. I have an aunt who is willing to take up the role of managing the centre as a service.

So the final picture:

  • Set up a free preventive dental therapy centre for kids which will also cater adults but at a subsidized cost.
  • Any kid who walks in gets a free dental consultation and free preventive dental therapy.
  • Monthly running costs for this clinic (rent, utility bills, and material supplies) will be contributed by me.
  • Any profit obtained by treating the adults and kids with complex dental problems will be utilized to pay the dentist and will be adjusted in the next month running cost.

I do not know how feasible that looks. However, I have supreme confidence that I will be able to do something to the society as a dentist. All I want to see are healthy smiles. Not hidden smiles.

The setting up of a dental centre needs money. I am going in for used chairs and furniture. I have booked a dental chair for INR 22K and my funds are done. Need around 78000 INR more. If there is anyone who can support a good cause, please do let me know. I am here to answer your questions. Thank you.

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