This clinic is armed to the teeth

This clinic is armed to the teeth

Humane

 But the modest health facility has been providing free dental treatment to people for the last ten years.

The Sadguru Sainath Free Dental Clinic, established in association with Sri Sadguru Sainath Seva Samithi, is run by Dr Pratap V Rao who was earlier privately practising the profession for a long time on the Museum Road in Bangalore. With a humble beginning in 2001, the clinic has so far treated over 60,000 patients. Seven doctors work during the three hours it’s open in the evening.

On April 12, the clinic celebrated its 10th anniversary, and as a token of appreciation, it presented mementos to its past doctors and associates.

Dr Rao’s interest in charity began in 1978 when he visited the Satya Sai Hospital at Whitefield once a week. “I used to go there purely for service. But the place was on the outskirts of the City and catered for people in the nearby villages. I used to think there should be a similar facility for the poor people within the City,” he recalls. Then in 1999, when Dr Rao visited the newly constructed Shri Shirdi Sai Baba Anand Ashram temple and saw the free medical check-up facility, the idea to start a free dental camp emerged.

With the Samithi provided the space, Dr Rao gathered funds in the form of contributions from his three children (two are in the US), friends, family members and colleagues, to keep the clinic afloat. And it has expanded from a small 11x11 sq ft room to a 20x18 sq ft room with three dental chairs, air condition and computerised X-ray machine.

“We have never advertised about the clinic. People have been coming here only by the word of mouth,” says Dr Rao.

The service should be good, considering that nearly 50 per cent of the patients who visit the clinic each year are new.

A platform for young docs

The clinic provides a platform for young doctors to hone their skills. Dr Rao says many fresh dental students come to the clinic, gain experience and move on to start their own practice. In the last decade, around 40 doctors have worked in the clinic.

“I ask them (the newly graduated doctors) to do basic work like extraction, scaling and simple filling with senior doctors doing crowns and other difficult cases. However, we also have an oral surgery consultant who has been taking care of complicated cases for the last six years,” the 72-year-old dentist explained. For Vijaya Shakti, whose husband is an auto driver, the clinic is a boon. She, her husband and two sons have been visiting the clinic for tooth extraction and teeth cleaning for five years.

Yasmin Taj, another patient who came for a molar tooth extraction, said she was very happy with the treatment. “I had gone to another private clinic where I was told the treatment would cost Rs 2,000-3,000. I don’t have that much money. Then a person in that clinic told me about this place,” she said.

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