As a child, Joyce Hong suffered from gum disease and endured many visits to the dentist. Which is why as an adult, she steers clear of dentists until she absolutely needs to see one. “Unless I need a tooth extraction, I just don’t visit them. And $40 to clean and polish my teeth is quite expensive now that I’m retired and not drawing any income.” Then she heard about a mobile dental clinic that was making a pit stop in her Tampines HDB estate. As she needed another tooth extracted, she made an appointment. Her visit to the mobile dental clinic took less than an hour. Madam Hong said, “With my CHAS card, it was free. More importantly, the dentist was very gentle with me. I just wished the session was longer.”
The clinic is an initiative by Unity Denticare under NTUC Health to bring free basic dental services to the community. Seniors, especially those who are frail, home- and-wheelchair-bound, get priority. Initially, the mobile dental clinic only offered free consultations and screenings. However, based on the feedback by seniors who liked the fact they did not have to travel to get dental treatments, Unity Denticare now offers complimentary basic treatments like scaling, polishing and fillings.
For Christopher Lee, having the mobile dental van at his doorstep is a blessing. Grappling with financial difficulties following his divorce, Mr Lee sees the perks of the dental clinic on wheels, not just in terms of dollars and cents but for its intangible benefits. For example, having an appointment set up for him by the staff from the mobile clinic. He said, “That was a motivational factor. If it were left up to me, I may not have bothered.”
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