Working in India with the Tibetan community in exile has been a productive use of our time. We started running clinical field trips with typically three dentists and two dental assistants, setting up on tables and chairs in school halls, community centres, health clinics and even out in open corridors. With an accent on prevention, we explained the reason for decay and sore teeth and gave everyone a toothbrush.
During clinical field trips we gave talks to classrooms, house mothers in boarding schools, assemblies, school directors, nunneries and monasteries, and community leaders. Because of our clinical work we gained the respect to give our message meaning.
We also became involved with supporting Tibetan dentists and dental therapists working in Delek hospital, community health clinics, and Tibetan schools such as Tibetan Children's Villages and Sambhoda schools. We run dental refresher workshops every two years providing lectures and practical training, and also go out in the field doing one-on-one mentoring for days and even weeks with just one dental therapist.
We have joined forces recently with a French group who for the last ten years have also been providing mentoring and are trialling a preventive program in Ladakh. The French team have been primarily responsible for building two dental surgeries, and we have provided some funding for this. In one TCV school we also coordinate with a Belgian dentist who has been providing mentoring and support for many years to one dental therapist.
The preventive message has been so successful that we now no longer need to run field trips to our original schools, and so we have extended that model to the remote Spiti valley where Dr Bob Lavis has personally set up two clinics. So far, we have run five field trips there and each year the decay rate has fallen.