In the United States, all dentists are supposed to be licensed, but this is not always the case in other countries. In India’s capital, Delhi, for example, street dentists continue to practice under the tolerance of regulators, although they are not officially permitted.

Services for the Poorest Patients

Street dentist by Matthew Logelin on FlickrThe main draw of street dentists is that they are inexpensive, which makes them affordable for even the poorest common laborers. Some of the services highlighted in the Daily Mail story include extractions, which cost 50 rupees ($0.83), and a replacement tooth, which costs 150 rupees ($2.48), or a full set of dentures for 1500 rupees ($24.82). The dentures are fitted on the street using impression trays and molding compound the dentist mixes there. The dentist has the dentures laid out on his blanket, and patients can pick which one they want. Dentures come with a one-year guarantee, but it’s unclear how that works.

These services are the only type of dentist that many workers here (who may earn only 125 rupees ($2.07) a day) can afford.

As Good as the Clinics?

The dentist interviewed for the story claims that the care he delivers is the same quality as that offered in the more expensive clinics, but there are definitely some limitations to what he offers. For example, he has no formal training. He dropped out of school and learned as an apprentice with his father, who was a streetside dentist before him. He also offers no anesthesia for extractions, just pain pills that a person can take after the procedure. And there is no sterilization of implements between patients, just a soak for the instruments at the end of the day.

It also seems that if his services were really as good as the clinics but such a good bargain, he would be doing a robust trade. However, his business seems to be in decline. Although he says he used to have 15 patients a day, he is now down to just a few a week. This means that it’s likely no one chooses his care if they have any other options. It’s only the people who have no choice but to go to him that use his services.

Fortunately, in the US, there are standards about who is allowed to practice dentistry, and if it costs a bit more, it’s worth it for sterile conditions, truly trained professionals, and customized results. If you are looking for a great dentist in Philadelphia, please call 610-272-0828 for an appointment at Dental Excellence of Blue Bell.