Where There Is No Dentist

212285261_971ae1cfae_bThere’s do-it-yourself building, view do-it-yourself home repair and do-it-yourself guides to everything from photography and guitar playing to gardening, bike mechanics and sailing. Getting a dental filling, though, is something many would prefer to avoid doing themselves.

But most folks on earth don’t have that privilege, and the global ‘dental disparities’ are predictably reflective of disparities in wealth.

More than 84 percent of the money spent on dental care all over the world is spent in the US, Europe and Japan.

One million premature babies die each year in sub-Saharan Africa and countries with high rates of premature births also tend to have a high prevalence of gum disease. A recent study found that women with gum disease are almost three times more likely to give birth prematurely than those with healthy gums.

The list goes on.

Enter Where There Is No Dentist!, a full on do-it-yourself guide for community health workers, educators and individuals on how to diagnose common dental problems, handle dental equipment, use local anesthetics, place fillings without drilling and remove teeth. The book uses simple instructions to make dentistry as accessible as can be. The new edition even includes a chapter on oral health and HIV/AIDS, as well as a guide to treat the dental problems commonly faced by people living with HIV/AIDS.

“As a nurse educator, I can say that Where There Is No Dentist! has been an excellent health resource text for us,” Janette Ryan, Health Director of the Project AmaZon Mission in Brazil said in a statement. “Its content, its diagrams and the educational level it was written for, have proven to be extremely useful. The content has been very practical in teaching lay Brazilians about oral hygiene and health care, as well as for identifying when oral and dental health problems exist and when and how to refer people to a dentist. It is rare that excellent health texts like this are written for the lay individuals.”

Where There Is No Dentist! is put out by the Berkeley-based non-profit publisher Hesperian Foundation, which by a complete fluke non of us would ever see coming also happens to publish the older and more famous Where There Is No Doctor!, the most widely used health care manual in the world, with millions of copies in print in more than 75 languages. Change.org has covered the usefulness of the Where There Is No Doctor! guide and Hesperian’s great work a number of times.

Anyone interested in ordering the book should write to the foundation, or just print it and start giving copies to everyone you know with a big smile on your face. :)

Photo Credit: Winston Hearn

Follow Change.org’s Human Rights page on Facebook and Twitter.