Most of the time I believe we forget how truly lucky we are the United States. If you need dental care and you don’t have insurance or even the money to get you out of pain, the State of Michigan will pay for basic dental needs like extractions or treating dental infections. Most dental practitioners offer an assortment of payment plans that make getting treatment affordable for just about everyone. For instance we have several plans for our patients to choose from. But what does dental care look like in other parts of the world? Well for one, a recent BBC article reported on the more than 13,000 unlicensed and unqualified dentists that practice in the streets of Pakistan. It seems, as 78 percent of Pakistanis do not have access to even the most basic dental and health care treatment.
With no health insurance system in place, Pakistanis pay all health care expenses themselves if they can even afford it. For most, dental care is viewed as an extreme luxury. The government has been struggling for years to provide those who desperately need care with the most basic health needs. Currently, one percent of Pakistan’s GDP is devoted to health, which is the equivalent of only four percent of their government budget. This is the environment that has given birth to the thriving business of roadside dental services.
These roadside dentists set up portable “clinics” on side streets or back alleys of small towns and cities. Simultaneously ultra-modern dental care facilities are available to those who can afford it in the capital of Islamabad. Offering top-of-the-line services, for example $200 teeth-polishing treatments, patients are greeted with imported equipment and personalized care. But for most Pakistanis, street dentists, unqualified and illegal, remain their only choice.
The Risk of Serious Infections
Working out in the open, patients often battle with roaming flies, obvious filthy conditions and concoctions made of questionable liquids for dental treatments. Unclean equipment used on dozens of patients without sterilization can result in serious infections like hepatitis, but most of those who enlist the help of street dentists are in so much pain they’re desperate for any relief they can get.
As reported by BBC news correspondent, Saba Eitizaz, street dentists are an option for people like Ahmed, who supports his family of six with a roadside vegetable stand. As a diabetic, his teeth are in rough shape and rotting fast, and he is in pain. A doctor he went to asked for 3,000 rupees ($28 dollars), but the roadside dentist would charge him 250 rupees (about $2.30) to which Ahmed readily agreed. Once the problem was alleviated, Ahmed was able to work for longer hours to support his family, communicate normally and eat as usual. There is no doubt that he risked serious infections, but he really had no choice. To get an idea of what this means in real life, click on this short YouTube video The Dentist Of Jaipur. It’s a pretty incredible short film and reminds us that we have much to be grateful for!
At Dr. Mark Langberg, we’re delighted and proud of the options, services and outstanding expertise we make available to our patients every day. However even here in the US, as in many parts of the world, dental care is not seen as a priority among the disadvantaged with limited income. The reality is that few things are more vital than good oral health. Current published studies show an association between a person’s dental and overall good health; revealing that one simply cannot have one without the other. For quality care call Dr Mark Langberg at 248-356-8790 and schedule an appointment with us today. See why many rely on us for quality affordable dental care in the Bloomfield Hills, Farmington Hills, Royal Oak, and Southfield, Michigan area.
Until Next Time,
Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD
Your Southfield Family Dentist
Tel: (248) 356-8790