The Auroville Dental Centre
History of the Dental centre - Archive page
An article from Club of Amsterdam Journal
"My challenge is to always maintain a higher level of dentistry in an Aurovilian atmosphere."
With the arrival in Auroville of Jacques Verre in 1981, the needs of a large number of Aurovilians and local residents were finally answered, since Jacques was a dentist. And what's more, he was willing - and daring enough - to start practicing straight away!
Jacques tells us the following:
After working in France for ten years as a dentist, I left everything behind in 1981 to join the township and become 'Auroville's dentist'! I had to go through quite a few adaptation problems since I had to begin from zero on the human as well as the material plane. So I started outside, in the open under the trees, and with very rudimentary equipment, to answer to the great need for help with numerous extractions and fillings, certainly for the residents of the villages surrounding Auroville. It was only slowly that a more permanent set-up started taking shape, thanks to help from foreign donors in the way of equipment, materials, the expertise of professionals and the contributions of outside patients, all of which enabled me to meet the huge demand of Aurovilians, who had been without any Auroville-based dentist up till 1980. During the last 6 years, we have gone through a tremendous backlog of prosthesis work, as there were no laboratory facilities since the beginning of Auroville, meaning for some 26 years! Our main concern has always been to give priority to a high quality of care for every Aurovilian without discrimination.
The Centre, for which a place was found in the settlement OF Protection, really came into shape in 1994 when three special Japanese dental units were added to the prosthesis laboratory of the clinic. These were given by Dr. Beach, a famous American dentist known for his thirty years research in ergonomy* in Japan. The architecture and arrangement of these specially designed dentistry units allow for a better output for several dentists or specialists working at the same time, while also providing more comfort to the patients. This new concept applied in dentistry (a human-centred concept called 'zero concept') is a real breakthrough in the dentistry world, of which Auroville and its bio-region are the first beneficiaries in India! Training courses in this new approach are conducted, and one of the most reputed clinics in a large Indian city is asking us to give training for their prosthesists.
2400 sessions yearly
Presently we treat yearly approximately 600 Aurovilians and 100 people from Pondicherry and elsewhere. As Aurovilians come 4 times a year on average, it means that we provide 2400 sessions/year or see 200 Aurovilian cases per month. Children are checked regularly at schools and follow a preventive programme to reduce the need of treatment and further costs. There are now rarely big emergencies or acute cases as the awareness and general level of hygiene in general is higher than before. Auroville is in the process of organising a collective insurance system which will enable all Aurovilians to get free help for all types of medical and dental treatment, including prosthesis (within the limits of our actual capacities)! While the rural programmes are sponsored by foreign donors and friends, the dental clinic of the Health Centre runs through contributions, and is self-sufficient.
Other activities in the bio-region (25,000 population)
The ART technique is performed by local 'dental nurses' in the villages, where there is as yet no complete equipment (and sometimes no water, no electricity). The nurses clean the beginning of small cavities with hand instruments only and fill them with a special cement (glass-inomer) which releases fluoride to strop further decay. This technique, promoted by WHO, is used in more than 90 developing countries, solving problems of unaffordable or out-of-reach treatment.
Main Dental Clinic
3 dentists (2 French AV + 1 Indian)
Dental Clinic at the Auroville Health Centre
1 dentist (Indian)
1 dentist (Indian) 26 community health workers (Indian) 1 driver minibus (Indian)
Total = 49 persons (13 Aurovilians and 36 salaried).
This model of organisation and work in disadvantaged rural areas has been functioning since 1994, when the first sub-centre started. Its decentralised set-up, with sub-centres and training facilities in the local villages, can be replicated in rural areas elsewhere in India, or anywhere else in the world in similar conditions, with a drastic reduction in health needs and costs.
See also: the Auroville Dental Centre website
* Ergonomy - The technical parts of the equipment are conceived in such a way that an open space is created to allow free movements and a natural position of the operator, contrary to conventional dental chairs and other cumbersome equipment. Combined with the self-awareness of the balanced body of the performer, dentistry becomes stressless, and optimised through 'gentle hands'.
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