Beyond Academics: The four-wheeler Dentist3 min read
Manipal: Making its way out of the low hanging cluster of wires through the narrow streets of Udupi, it becomes the centre of attraction for the kids in no time. The Mobile Dental van of Manipal College of Dental Sciences (MCODS) when parked in their school, grabs attention better than an ice cream van would have.
Supervised by the staff members and the Post Graduates, interns from the college attempt to cater dental care to the majority of the rural inhabitants of the region by conducting free regular check-up camps in the van which is no less than a state-of-the-mini-art dental clinic. The van comprises of two dental chairs, two hygienic sinks, central air conditioner, television and speakers and a power generator. Kicked off in 2009, as a part of the dental outreach programme, the camps are held four times in a week throughout the year, where not only the residents are treated but also made aware of oral health through film screenings.
Fighting odds like no parking spaces, time restrictions, this four-wheeler dental clinic treats more than 500 patients in rural regions during the major camps held every Sunday. On other days, it parks up in schools where it manages to create a lot of hustle-bustle in the students. “Usually when the camp is over, we keep the bus open so that the kids can see inside. This not only lets them know what’s inside but also helps them get rid of any anxieties they may have regarding the dentist,” says Dr. Shashidhar Acharya, Head of Community Dentistry, MCODS.
The van is not just a reason for the kids’ smile but also serves to be a valuable learning experience to the interns. “The camp gives you great exposure. I got to see people who have never brushed their teeth in their lives. And helping people like them made me feel like I was giving something back to community,” says Supreet Dhillon , an intern. “Because of the camp we get to see different kind of patients and a lot more than what we get to see in Manipal; dealing with them not only helps improve our communications skills, it also lets us know the kind of people that are out there and how exactly to give them the care they need,” feels Anuhar Pal, another intern.
The Dental Outreach programme is aimed to get bigger soon so that the large tobacco consuming population in this region can be given proper oral treatment and made aware of importance of oral health. MCODS is currently in talks with Manipal University regarding the expansion of area covered by the Mobile Dental Unit.
Talking to TMJ, Dr. Nrimala N. Rao, Dean, MCODS said, “There has been a lot of development in terms of the number of patients we have treated every year. Our interns want to study and analyse the water supply in rural areas and we are also planning to hold tobacco cessation camps”. “The students don’t only want to treat the problems; they want to get to the root of the problem and remove it completely,” added the proud dentist.
Sub-edited by Priyanka Sharma