I chipped a tooth yesterday and had to go to the dentist to get it examined. Problem is that I’m in Ladakh where dentists (to say nothing of good dentists) are few and far between. After consulting with various local friends, most of whom had nothing encouraging to say, I decided to see the dentist at the government hospital.

It’s a rather dismal place, and I hope I never have to go there for anything serious. The people are really nice and as helpful as can be, but  . . . well, it’s a rural hospital. Facilities seem pretty minimal.

Fortunately, the dentist said I didn’t have to do anything for it right away since it’s small and there’s no pain. He did say that if I want to get it filled I can come to his clinic. He’ll even pick me up, since I live on the far side of town.

But the most remarkable thing was that the hospital visit cost me only two rupees! That’s less than $.04 USD! I’m not sure how much a filling would have been at the hospital, but  it undoubtedly would have been cheap. I had a first rate filling done once in Dehra Dun for Rs500, and this would probably be a lot cheaper. It’s such a far cry from dental/health care in the US it’s like a different planet.

The hospital clinic obviously had far more to offer than this sidewalk dental clinic in Majnu ka Tilla, Delhi, but I wasn't really inspired to have any actual work done there.  Photo Credit: Francois deCaillet (Creative Commons license)

The hospital clinic obviously had far more to offer than this sidewalk dental clinic in Majnu ka Tilla, Delhi, but I wasn’t really inspired to have any actual work done there.
Photo Credit: Francois deCaillet (Creative Commons license)

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9 Responses


  1. dentists in india on 24 Jul 2013

    hi…i read your bog it’s good …if you are looking for some amazing hospital for dental problem then just click on
    dentists in india

  2. Divesh Gaurav on 03 Jul 2013

    yes generally the dentist in India are cheaper than other european countries. But will advise you for not trying from the clinic for which u posted the picture 🙂

    • JD Viharini on 03 Jul 2013

      Absolutely! There are some really good dentists in India, but you won’t find them on the sidewalks.

  3. Samsara on 16 Jun 2013

    “Of course, this is one reason it is really necessary for someone to stay with the patient.”
    ALWAYS have someone stay with the patient when in the hospital or going to see a physician in India.
    I just went to care for a friend in Amritsar whose physician & his staff ‘forgot’ her after surgery for 8 hrs in the post op room alone.

  4. JD Viharini on 16 Jun 2013

    By a curious coincidence, yesterday I met up with a friend who had just spent three days at the government hospital with someone who was seriously ill with edema (a particularly nasty manifestation of altitude sickness). Having just written about my experience there with the dentist, I was especially interested in what she had to say about it.
    There is a ‘tourist ward’ of about eight beds that costs Rs200/day to stay in; and then there is a general ward that is quite a bit larger that is essentially free. She said it’s impossible to get any sleep in the tourist ward because there always seems to be someone needing oxygen, and the way they handle the oxygen tanks is extremely noisy.
    She mentioned that there are often some Indian tourists who come in for a few hours of oxygen in the late afternoon following a dash up Kardhung La pass, which is over 18,000’. The reason for the large numbers of Indian tourists is that they typically come up from the plains for three or four days and start racing around to see everything without taking the rest that one needs to adjust to the altitude. This is not the place for a quick visit.
    Anyway, she mentioned that the facilities are pretty primitive, which was my impression. And you have to keep a sharp watch on the nurses and aids to make sure they only use new needles and don’t pick supposedly sterile items up that have fallen on the floor. The owner of Dzomsa (a place you must know if you have been here) said that Ladakhis generally don’t believe in germ theory, which makes it extremely challenging to keep things hygienic, not to mention sterile. If some of the hospital workers don’t have a good understanding of hygiene, it could be a bit difficult. Of course, this is one reason it is really necessary for someone to stay with the patient. My friend hardly left her the whole time except when she went to get them some food. It did not sound like a good experience.

  5. Samsara on 13 Jun 2013

    Lucky you!
    I had a nightmare dentistry experience while in Kashmir. A filling had fallen out. The dentist (who wore no gloves) drilled out the cavity a bit too much, then proceeded to jam a tiny ball of amalgam into it. The entire tooth shattered, leaving me in great pain & with no other option than to have the tooth pulled. All for about $10 USD. OUCH! Didn’t turn out to be a bargain.

    • JD Viharini on 13 Jun 2013

      Yikes! Sorry to hear about your bad experience. I was thinking of going to Srinagar if it suddenly got bad, but maybe it would be worth a trip to Delhi after all.

      • Samsara on 16 Jun 2013

        My husband is Kashmiri (born & raised in Srinagar), I am a native Californian.
        Unfortunately Kashmiris don’t seem to get the idea of ‘germ theory’ either. Actually most Indians don’t seem acknowledge the ‘germ theory’ given the lack of concern for basic hygiene throughout India.
        Be aware that Kashmiri & Ladakhi physicians also prescribe the antibiotic ciprofloxacin for darned near every ailment ( from tooth access to diarrhea to acute pneumonia) without using technical diagnostics to confirm their ‘guess’ as to what is the pathogen in question.
        I almost died from amoebic dysentery in Srinagar twice, because the Kashmiri physician insisted ciprofloxacin was the ‘drug of choice’ for what he deemed ‘mild food poisoning’.
        Now I carry my own ‘mini pharmacy’ with me whenever we visit the in laws in Srinagar.
        Tinidazole- 2gms daily for 3 days is the ‘drug of choice’ for amoebic dysentery.
        Amoebic dysentery can easily be confirmed ( and differentiated from food poisoning) by a fecal smear viewed under a microscope.

        • Samsara on 16 Jun 2013

          oops…
          that should be ‘tooth abscess’


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