Images of India : India’s street dentists fill the gap for the poor…

img007Ignoring noisy buses and curious onlookers, a street dentist plunges his hands into a patient’s mouth to fit a sparkling set of dentures for $12. With his plastic stool, mirror and glass cases of teeth on display, he is among hundreds of such dentists frowned upon by their licenced counterparts. A full set of teeth, molded and ready to fit in 30 minutes, costs as little as Rs.800 ($12), while a single false tooth sells for Rs.50 (80 cents). Tools are washed in soap and water – but not disinfected. The teeth in all shapes and sizes are made in China and in India from dental cement. Soft pink adhesive is then moulded for gums and the teeth stuck in, with the dentists saying their handiwork lasts for at least four years. India has only one dentist per 10,000 people in urban areas and about 250,000 in rural areas. From dentists to shoe shiners, barbers and chefs, street services are an engrained part of life in India, particularly for the poor.