Until now, there was not a single qualified dentist in the entire Kalwa slum of 200,000 people. Residents of the slum needed to travel far distances for dental care, if they could afford it.
The Martha B. Leigh Community Dental Clinic, located in the Bhaskar Nagar neighborhood in Kalwa, provides essential treatment for oral diseases such as cavities, extractions, and oral disease. The clinic, which was made possible thanks to the Martha B. Leigh Charitable Fund, will also provide a holistic, community-based oral-health education program in cooperation with Humble Smile Foundation. As part of the education program, the clinic will also provide advanced procedures at discounted prices. The dental staff will conduct outreach in the community, going to people’s homes to talk about issues such as limiting sugar, brushing teeth, and using toothpaste. In addition, GPM will provide subsidies for children whose families are unable to pay even the discounted costs. Anyone who has a severe dental issue will be referred to experts outside of the slum.
"As part of our approach of working holistically with families and communities, we discovered that there is a real need for a dental clinic in the slums," explains GPM Founding Director, Jacob Sztokman. GPM found that many children have severe dental problems such as rotting teeth, oral deformities, oral hygiene problems, and even losing teeth -- because until now, there was not a single qualified dentist in the entire Kalwa slum of 200,000 people. Residents of the slum need to travel far distances for dental care, if they could afford it. "It seems that dental care has come to be considered a great luxury in the Kalwa slum because of how difficult it is to attain. But this should not be the case. Dentistry, especially for children, is not a luxury but a vital necessity," Mr. Sztokman says.
Dental problems can cause great pain and distress, as well as risks of infections and other diseases. In addition, the failure to attend to children’s dental needs can have consequences for the children later in life. It can affect not only self-confidence and appearance, but also the ability to get a decent job. Consultations with medical and dental organizations have indeed confirmed that a children’s dental clinic is a vital necessity for the community.
The two-room clinic recently completed renovations and is part of the Shravan Medical Center that serves 10,000 patients each year. It will be equipped with a dental chair, dental apparatus and equipment, autoclave, x-ray machine, dental supplies, electricity back-up generator and a good water supply.
The dental clinic, which was designed in consultation with Dr. Darren Weiss and Dr. Aachal Devi of the Humble Smile Foundation, will be staffed by a local dentist, a dental hygienist, an outreach coordinator (a community educator), and an administrative coordinator. GPM is also inviting dentists from around India and also around the world to volunteer at the clinic providing specialty services.