Devon Dentists Making A Difference In Tanzania

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Dentists in Devon are using their skills and experience to make a difference to people in Tanzania.

Dr Mitesh Badiani, from Plymouth, was leading a dental charity trip for SmileStar, which provides basic dental care for people living in some of the world’s poorest communities. On the third day of the clinic, Dr Badiani and his team of volunteers were expecting a quiet day after 37 patients turned up the day before, but the crowd kept getting bigger and more than 100 patients queued to see a dentist. It was a national holiday and the turnout highlighted the need for better access to dental care.

Dr Badiani explained that there are only 200 dentists working in the country, compared to 30,000 dentists in the UK. If you consider that the population of Tanzania is just 17 million lower than in the UK, you gain perspective of how different the situation is.

Dental care is sparse in Tanzania and even those who can reach a dentist are unlikely to be able to afford to pay the fees.

The local people had heard that there were dentists in town who could remove teeth without any pain and they had come in their droves. Over the course of the trip, Dr Badiani and his team treated more than 200 people and extracted more than 500 teeth. They tried to prioritise those who were in pain and many of the people they saw had never seen a dentist and were suffering from severe toothache.

Dr Badiani, the founder of SmileStar, said that the figures were proof that even the smallest charity can make a huge difference. Since 2007, when the charity was established, volunteer dentists have visited Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and India, helping hundreds of people to enjoy everyday life without the burden of dental pain.

SmileStar has also been helping out in the UK and recently joined forces with C-Group to offer dental treatment to ex-Marines who were forced to leave the service as a result of injury.

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