India’s Street Dentists Filling Gap for the Poor

Friday, May 22, 2015

Ignoring noisy buses and curious onlookers, street dentist Allah Baksh plunges his hands into a patient’s mouth to fit a sparkling set of dentures for $12 (S$16) in the Indian city of Bangalore.

With his plastic stool, mirror and glass cases of teeth on display, Baksh is among hundreds of such dentists frowned upon by their licenced counterparts in rapidly modernising India.

But the 54-year-old insists he is providing an essential service to tens of millions of poor who cannot afford a visit to a sterilised clinic.

“There are millions of poor people in this country who cannot pay for expensive dental treatment,” Baksh told AFP in between customers at his makeshift clinic where his tools include a large, metal file.

“But they also have a right to be treated and look good,” he said as he mixed pink gum paste with his bare fingers on a teaspoon.

“I know this is not hygienic at all but if I start using sophisticated tools, the poor man won’t come here.”

From dentists to shoe shiners, barbers and chefs, street services are an engrained part of life in India, particularly for the poor.

Source: AsiaOne (link opens in a new window)

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Health Care
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Base of the Pyramid, financial inclusion, global health, health care