The ground floor of Snehadhara Foundation was turned into a dental clinic this morning and not everyone was all smiles. JAS Dental led by Dr.K.Mahaboob Basha had kindly consulted to conduct a dental check-up for all the children and adults coming to our Centre. There was some laughter, curiosity and one rare case of a young adult from the Centre asking to get his teeth checked twice but otherwise there was some reservation expressed by the children to strangers probing their mouths with torch lights and simply making notes.

Not unnaturally, there was fear expressed by the children about the new people present in the Centre (and the hygiene masks that the dentists were wearing didn’t help with the overall effect). There was some amount of resistance shown. Mostly this was melted in almost all cases, either by singing or cajoling or inviting the children to mirror the adults who also opened their mouths “aaaaaa” wide, several times during the check-up. There were several points when the hall was filled with a harmonic “aaaaaa” choir and many smiles from the adults. We could say that all persuasion techniques were validated by the children showing cooperation and only one or two children firmly stating that they would have nothing to do with the exercise, however creative the adults were with their song and dance.

This is how the morning went: the children were brought in one by one after a short orientation in their groups. They had even been prepared verbally over the last few days at home and in their groups. They were requested to lie prone on the dental chair and open their mouths wide. A torch was shone into their mouths and in cases where it was possible, a disposable candy-stick like probe was used. Dental instruments had deliberately not been brought because “they intimidate children and adults (with or without needs) and also need to be sterilised”. The students’ teeth were checked for general hygiene levels, any required fillings or further investigations. Most of the checking was over in  a trice once the children or adults opened their mouths. Most of the children were pronounced to have fairly good oral hygiene that could be taken to better levels with some more care. Some have been pointed towards required fillings and others have been prescribed extractions or implants.

The team from JAS Dental was very sensitive and patient with the children and adults. Though this was the first time they were conducting a check-up exclusively for children and adults with special needs, they are used to conducting free dental camps with a variety of populations. The team shared that they do also have people (children and adults) with special needs coming into the clinic too and for complicated or detailed procedures, they usually have a trained specialist present. Sharing that this was “new” to them and at some points scary, the compassionate team appreciated the work being done by the Foundation and the parents.

This check-up is a landmark exercise that left the team feeling very satisfied because getting our children to go through even haircuts or nail-clipping, requires much sensitivity and skill. Danthon Danthon Mein turned out to be an exercise in inclusion that surpassed our expectations with all the parties involved going back with new insights on more than just oral hygiene and habits.