Mumbai

These dentists make house calls

clinic on wheels:Dr. Gunjan Gawai and her team.— photo: special arrangement  

As life expectancies increase, medical services sometimes cannot keep pace. For senior citizens, this can mean that getting medical assistance gets harder as their bodies age. A pair of Navi Mumbai dentists are trying to bridge that gap by taking their clinic to the homes of the elderly and those with limited mobility for other reasons.

Gunjan Gawai graduated in dentistry in 2010, and after working under senior dentists for few years, she started her own clinic in 2014. Sarika Mawale, with nearly 15 years of experience behind her, joined Dr. Gawai as an associate around then. Regular clients mentioned the needs of elderly people they knew, which sparked off the idea for the doctors. “We used to come across people who had parents or in-laws who were physically unable to travel to our centre and ended up suffering from immense tooth pain,” Dr. Gawai says. “A denture usually takes five to six sittings, and a senior citizen would find it extremely difficult to travel each time. That's when this idea came: if they cannot come to the dentist why not get the dentist to their doorstep? As we plunged into it, we realised that this is the need of the hour for individuals who are handicapped, paralysed, hospitalised, bedridden and heavily pregnant.”

They began in July this year, printing pamphlets and flyers, and relying on word-of-mouth from their patients. They offered consultation, X-rays, cleaning, restorative fillings, extraction, root-canals, and denture fittings.

“We have a specialised portable dental unit that we carry in our centre’s vehicle especially assigned for this venture,” Dr. Gawai says, “It has a mountable dental chair, a dental unit where we attach our hand pieces, dental trolley, portable dental X-ray unit, patient trays and instruments. Our team of four — a dentist, a specialist dentist, two dental assistants —are trained to set it up within minutes in whatever small space is available.” Dr. Mawale says, “At first people were unable to imagine that we can provide them a dental clinic in the comfort of their homes. But for a person who has a bedridden family member, it has proven a boon and the response has been tremendous.”

“Currently, we are charging the same amount that we would to individuals coming to our dental clinic,” Dr. Gawai says. “But for certain groups or individuals, like old age homes, orphanages, senior citizen homes, we do it free of cost.”

“It is indeed a very noble and praiseworthy initiative by both the doctors,” says D.R. Singh, an elderly patient from Kharghar. “The home dental service to the patients who cannot walk down the dental clinic due to their physical disability, is indeed a boon.”

The writer is a freelance journalist

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Printable version | Nov 23, 2020 10:02:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/These-dentists-make-house-calls/article16667457.ece

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