Last updated: 31 May, 2023

History of Auroville Dental Centre 

Jacques Verre
"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!

The beginning: a call for adventure

1981 Jacques Verré, a Dental Surgeon from France, registered in 1968, had a call to come to Auroville at the end of his search to do "something else" in his life. He settled down in Auroville and felt driven to become the dentist of Auroville. He says, "After 10 years of practice, I left France for Auroville with a one way ticket" and had to start a new life!

Initially he started treating Aurovilians and the surrounding population under a tree.

1982 The Auroville Dental Centre was created and Jacques continued to treat patients for several years, but…

From breakdown to breakthrough

1986 Jacques began to suffer acute back pain after 18 years of treating patients in a bent and twisted position, imposed by use of the conventional dental chair. He had to stop or find another way to treat patients. However he was not willing to quit, instead he was searching for a way out...

A sudden memory jolt of a unique concept he had seen in 1975 at a Paris trade fair made him take off immediately for France, hoping this could be the answer...

He came back with the answer: reclining the dental chair to a horizontal position and working from behind the head of the patient. Finally, the tilting dental chair is replaced with a fixed horizontal patient support (like a bed).

He also wanted to understand and apply all that was behind the concept.

The joy to invent, to experiment, to create: a locally made bamboo bed replaced the dental chair to comply with the body balance of the operators in both dental clinics.

The experiments continued...

A radical shift, "Zero (0) Concept": the gift!

1987 marked a revelation for Jacques: he met Dr. Daryl Beach, a visionary American Dental Surgeon living in Japan and founder of this concept, who sourced his inspiration from the rediscovery of the ancient Indian Concept of "0" or "Zero Concept" and used it for Health Care.

1988 A French NGO funded a building and most of the equipment to set up a dental clinic and a prosthesis laboratory in the Auroville Health Centre compound for the villagers.

1991 Dr. Beach invited Jacques to be trained at the "Human Performance Institute" in Japan on "Zero Concept", which changed his professional and personal life.

"Zero Concept" gives the best conditions to find harmony between body and mind for the highest level of skills — a universal concept of simplicity, perfection, equilibrium or absence of need.

How this "Zero Concept" is implemented in the bioregion of Auroville

Meanwhile there was the increased need for dental treatment in the bioregion.

Having only 2 hands, how could Jacques treat so many patients, especially the rural population who wanted mostly extractions at that time? This situation raised the question of how to get this under control, which triggered the path to raise dental awareness among the local population.

1992 Mrs Suriyagandhi, a professional nurse, joined the team. She was a trained hygienist and quickly became the cornerstone of development for the villages.

1993 With her full dedication, a programme of prevention and basic care for school children was launched as a priority — foreseeing that this was the only chance of succeeding in the long term.

She started to identify women from the villages to be trained as Dental Health Workers using the "Zero concept", to implement the programme under Jacques’ supervision.

1994 The first sub-centre was inaugurated in Edayanchavadi village.

1997 Mrs Suriyagandhi became co-executive with Jacques.

Autonomy of the rural programme

2007 ADCERRA (Auroville Dental Centre Education Research Rural Action) was created officially for the rural programme/activities and became autonomous from Auroville Dental Centre.

All the staff who join ADCERRA (dentists and assistants) were also systematically trained in the "Zero Concept" method.

2009 "Zero Concept" donated Japanese equipment was installed in the dental clinic of Auroville Health Centre compound.

2012 Collaboration began with Aravind Eye Hospital for an eye & dental care experimental camp at one of the Auroville schools.

ADCERRA embarked on an outreach programme for rural India, conducting oral health camps in Odisha and other parts of Tamil Nadu.

2013 Oral health camps were initiated in Uttarakhand. More are currently being planned for the surrounding areas of Puducherry state.