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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 53-54

A deep dive into the lives of people through lifeline express: (My experience as a volunteer dentist on life line express)

Department of Public Health Dentistry, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Dr. D. Y. Patil Dental College and Hospital, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication10-Oct-2017

Correspondence Address:
Sonal Sadashiv Kale
Department of Public Health Dentistry, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Dr. D. Y. Patil Dental College and Hospital, Pimpri, Pune, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jdrr.jdrr_52_17

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How to cite this article:
Kale SS. A deep dive into the lives of people through lifeline express: (My experience as a volunteer dentist on life line express). J Dent Res Rev 2017;4:53-4

How to cite this URL:
Kale SS. A deep dive into the lives of people through lifeline express: (My experience as a volunteer dentist on life line express). J Dent Res Rev [serial online] 2017 [cited 2022 Nov 27];4:53-4. Available from: https://www.jdrr.org/text.asp?2017/4/2/53/216425

  Introduction Top

“Fleeting people teach life's lessons” and so was the experience in Lifeline Express at Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh for 1 week, where I went as volunteer to provide dental services to the needy [Figure 1]. We might have given patients a feel of satisfaction, by treating them but alongside that we too got a vision, of the importance of our role toward the betterment of society at large. “Do more than just exist” is what we learnt there. As it is assumed that a village is a place having lack of education, money, workforce, facilities and low level of awareness regarding their overall health, so was it observed in Mirzapur, a village in far outskirts of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
Figure 1: Team of five dentists for 1 week volunteering at Lifeline Express

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Lifeline Express - Impact India Foundation, the world's first moving hospital in a train with 7 well-equipped compartments (one with pantry and other allocated for medical and dental specialties). All the sterilization protocols were followed at its best with the best surgeons voluntarily providing treatments to the patients. On the 1st day, we were taken on a tour of the train, which was amazing. Establishing a hospital set up in a train with constraints of space and still providing the finest infrastructures and equipment's is something that proves the efforts and struggle taken by the Lifeline Express for society.

Huge crowd landed outside the train with all kind of hopes of getting their problems resolved in just one visit. We started with our OPD alongside treatment to be provided to them. Each day around 150–200 patients were examined and 60–80 patients were provided with treatment for 7 consecutive days [Figure 2].
Figure 2: Providing treatment to the patients

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  Tobacco Consumption, Oral Hygiene, and Oral Cancer Top

Tobacco consumption was a habitual practice, and for the people of Mirzapur, it was not an addiction but pride. The children were also found to consume tobacco. Around 80%–90% of adults consumed tobacco in some form or the other, mainly smokeless tobacco. Females were found to consume toothpowder (with tobacco as a major content in it). Many of the patients got into the habit of consuming tobacco in an attempt to cease their toothache as it was their indigenous way of providing relief from pain. Those who spared themselves from consuming tobacco adopted a habit of consuming areca nut into pan which is known to be famous in Banaras and neighboring places as an item eaten post meal to help in digestion and act as a mouth freshener.

To our observation, maximum people never used toothbrush, instead “Daatun” an indigenous way of maintaining dental hygiene was adopted by a large population. The people reported that they had this habit of consuming toothpowder (tobacco containing), nonfluoridated toothpastes or fluoridated toothpastes. Among older age groups, the way of maintaining oral hygiene was with finger and toothpowder. Tooth cleaning was practiced seldom and not daily. Because of such practice, many of the children were noted with gingivitis and excessive calculus deposition.

In spite of tremendous efforts taken by the government to educate and reduce the consumption of tobacco among people of Uttar Pradesh, they were found consuming tobacco in some or the other way. A large number of cancer patients were found coming on the lifeline express train to get cured. Many patients were diagnosed with precancerous lesions and conditions around, 80% of the people suffering from cancer came with a hope of cure when they were at its last stage. Periodontitis was present in almost every individual relating to poor oral hygiene as well as tobacco consumption.

It is always taught in the classrooms, about the importance of 10 min of counseling to a tobacco addict patient. Although we have counseled many of the patients in our daily practice a visit to Mirzapur gave us the real depth and importance of 10 min counseling and opened our eyes on how dentist can play a crucial role in an addicted patient's life to save him from developing oral cancer. The impact of those10 min given by us can save someone's life is what we realized only after visiting Mirzapur, after having seen patients with advanced cancer cases.

  Dentist Visit and Dental Problems Top

For many of the patients reporting to the train clinic, it was their first visit to a dentist, and it could be seen as they were not even aware on how to be seated on a dental chair. People had tremendous threshold of tolerating pain, accepting and living their life with their painful dental problems without getting them treated. The dental treatment known to them was only extraction. Few of the cases were observed, wherein adults aged >50 years had an untreated cleft palate and managed to continue their daily routine of life till this age. They had perfectly accepted their condition and were fine with it. Other problems which were diagnosed were temporomandibular disorders, ankylosed jaws, and reduced mandibular growth.

  Ground Realities and Dental Problems Top

Although understanding their language was a bit difficult more than that the barrier was in making them understand the best treatment for their problems, making them accept that pan chewing with areca nut is also one of the reasons for oral cancer, the toothpowder containing tobacco was doing no good to them but rather aggravating their oral condition and indigenous way of placing tobacco over the carious tooth may give them a relief for a moment but it initiates a vicious cycle landing to addiction of tobacco and ultimately oral cancer.

  Conclusion Top

Overall, a glance of illiteracy, poverty, and also lack of medical facilities were clearly visible through the severe conditions of oral and general health among these people. The gap between the real dental treatment, its understanding and availing it to the ground realities is very wide. Lifeline express is trying to contribute and reduce the gap. It has been contributing since the last 25 years for providing care by planning well in advance about the places to be covered in this program, providing facilities like referral to the district hospitals, making the treatment available free of cost, and providing funds for treating severe conditions.[1]


Lifeline Express - Impact India Foundation and Dr. D. Y. Patil Dental College and Hospital, Pimpri, Pune.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top



  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]


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