If You Had a Choice, Would You Go to a Street Dentist?

Jul 23, 2014, by Dr. Becky Coats

In the United States for the last hundred years and more we have had the privilege of having standards about who is allowed to practice as a dentist, but this is not always the case for other countries. In India, street dentists are allowed to practice in Delhi with little or no monitoring about their background or practices.

These dentists claim to offer quality care, but the truth is that this is unlikely to be the case.

Services for the Poorest Patients

In a nation where many people are extremely poor–a day’s labor may earn a person only 125 rupees ($2.07)–there is demand for dentists who offer services within their budget. As a result, these street dentists offer very inexpensive services.

Some example prices include an extraction for just 50 rupees, a replacement tooth for 150 rupees, and a full set of dentures for 1500 rupees.

Although it may seem attractive to get dentures for just under $25.00, it may not seem as good when you consider that the impressions are molded right on the street, and that you only get your choice of the dentures the dentist has laid out on his blanket. Although the dentures ostensibly come with a one-year guarantee, it’s hard to know what exactly that covers, and it’s likely that you would have a hard time getting your money back.

As Good as the Clinics?

These street dentists claim that the care they offer is just as good as that offered in the city’s clinics. Although it’s certainly true that “low overhead” may be responsible for some of the savings, there are definitely other places where the care skimps that may make going to the clinic a better option for most people.

For example, the dentist dropped out of school and then apprenticed with his father who was a street dentist before him. Although he no has 40 years of experience, there are definitely a few things a dentist could learn from formal schooling.

And although the dentist offers extractions, these don’t come with anesthesia. Nor do the tools come with sterilization other than a quick water rinse and a soak at the end of the day.

But despite all this, he could still offer high quality, bargain care. If this were the case, we would expect him to have a thriving business of people eager to take advantage of the bargain. But this isn’t the case. Although he says he used to have as many as 15 patients a day, these days he tends to handle just a few patients a week, and earns a total of about 2500 rupees, or about $41.00 a month. This means that as soon as people are able to, they seek out the higher-cost and quality care.

And really we can’t blame them because we know that when it comes to dental care, there’s no such thing as a “bargain”–you either pay for quality care or you don’t get quality care.

If you’re looking for high-quality dental care in Grapevine, Texas, please call 817-442-3331 for an appointment today.