A worker has had his first trip to the dentist at the age of 45 thanks to a UAE university initiative delivering free check-ups to needy residents.
Ajman University rolled out a mobile dental clinic in the emirate — and in parts of Ras Al Khaimah and Dubai — in October, with more than 270 people without dental service taking advantage of the community-spirited service.
Unlike in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, health insurance is not mandatory in the Northern Emirates, meaning many hard-up people haven’t visited a dentist for years — if at all.
Everyone from low-income families and senior residents to labourers, orphans and inmates have been given free dental care as part of the campaign.
The idea for the mobile clinic was born in April last year, after the community service unit at the university teamed up with its faculty of dentistry with the aim of providing free medical services where it is most needed and to reach remote areas of the country to provide diagnostic and therapeutic services.
The mobile clinic held 10 drop-in sessions at locations such as Ajman Elderly Nursing Home, Umm Al Moumineen Women’s Association, Ajman Correctional Centre and the Sudanese Society Club.
A total of 27 workers enjoyed free dental treatment when the mobile clinic made a stop at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Ajman.
“I have never visited a dentist in my life and this will be the first time,” said Khaled Mahmoud, 45, from Pakistan. “I suffer from sensitive teeth and I came to receive treatment for that and have a check-up.”
Another worker said he has been suffering pain in his teeth for three months but could not afford to visit a dentist.
“I feel pain when drinking cold water or hot drinks and I didn’t know what to do,” said Fahem Al Haq, a 39-year-old Pakistani, who works at the maintenance department of the General Directorate. “I tried buying a different tooth paste but it didn’t ease the pain and I was very happy when they told us that a dental clinic would be here.”
Abul Khiar, a 32-year-old Bangladeshi cleaner, admitted this would be his first visit to the dentist since moving to the UAE seven years ago.
“I have insurance but it doesn’t cover teeth problems and treating them is very expensive,” said Abul Khair.
The mobile facility features wheelchair access and boasts two dental clinics equipped with the latest equipment, an X-ray machine and a sterilisation device, all of which are in line with international standards.
Each clinic has one intern and one specialist from the College of Dentistry offering teeth scaling, polishing, temporary filling and consultation.
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