Getting your teeth fixed on the street

During my handful of visits to India, I never once spotted a street dentist. So I was fascinated when I Dentist2_copy
came
across Matt Logelin’s photos of a dentist at work on a Bangalore street, including the pic on the right.

this guy yelled at me
from across the street…i thought he just wanted me to take his photo (like
everyone else at the market that day) so i snapped his photo and ran across the
street to show him the result. when i got over there, i saw a brief case with
what appeared to be fake fingernails…turns out they were fake teeth and it
turns out that he is a dentist (hours are 8:00 am to 6:00 pm everday, same
street, same median). he insisted that i wait 20 minutes, observe, and take
photos of him while he gave his patient a new tooth, so of course i did. … when all was said and done, the patient walked away with a brand new
tooth and it cost him only 50 rupees (that’s $1.13 US) and i had one of the
strangest experiences of my life. [Link]

Wow, you get a new tooth for 50 rupees. In America, you can’t even get a new toothbrush. But I’m not sure I’d want to see a street dentist (though they do provide a good service for the poor). As Stacey Stowe of the New York Times wrote a couple of years ago, street dentists aren’t too hygienic.

Between patients, Mr. Singh douses his weathered hands with a purple liquid,
although he is less than consistent about using the antiseptic.

When approached by a former patient, who immediately popped out his dentures
to register a complaint about an irritation, Mr. Singh plunged his fingers into
the man’s mouth seconds after they were in the mouth of another patient.

The occasional fly alighted on his hands, the instruments and patients. [Link]

Well, for 50 rupees, you can’t expect much. At least Mr. Singh disinfects his hands now and then — and  makes sure there are no flies on his hand when he puts it in your mouth.

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If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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