Bupa Gives Refugees In Greece A Healthy Smile

15 June 2017
  • Bupa dentists and dental nurses bring emergency dental care to refugees in Greece
  • The team treat almost 150 patients in a week working from pop-up clinics
  • Bupa dental volunteers share their experience of volunteering

A team of Bupa dentists and dental nurses from 8 different dental clinics across the UK went to Thessaloniki, Greece to provide free, emergency treatment to those in the refugee camp, as part of the Dentaid volunteer programme.

For refugees fleeing war, persecution, poverty or violence, oral health may be the last thing on their mind. But without access to regular oral health check-ups, many refugees have developed complex dental problems since leaving their homes, including agonising tooth aches and rotting teeth.

Working alongside local dentists, the 12 Bupa dental volunteers operated from pop-up clinics in schools, cafes and community centres to triage, treat and provide aftercare for the refugees, many of whom required fillings and extractions.

Despite the challenging conditions, Dr Bhav Kotecha, Clinical Lead and Dental Surgeon at Bupa Bank Clinic said the team had everything they needed.

“The clinics had all the equipment we needed to help our patients, including the tools to fix and remove decaying teeth and to repair fractured teeth.

“As a dentist you have an inbuilt ethos to help people, and in our profession we are in a fortunate position where we can offer practical assistance to help improve the lives of others.

“We treated a lot of people at the camp, from young children to the elderly. Many had deep tooth decay and were living in chronic pain. Others had orthodontic braces that needed fixing or chronic gum disease.

“Most of the people we treated had good oral health before they had to flee from their homes, but because of the situation they were in, their oral health had taken a toll.

“One young girl we treated had a big chip in her front tooth, which made naturally made her feel self conscious, as it would many people her age. After we fixed it for her, she said that we had not only fixed her tooth, but we had restored her smile,” Dr Kotecha said.

Jade Pullen, Dental Nurse from the Bupa Devonshire Square clinic says it was an eye-opening experience.

“When Bupa put the call out asking for dentists and dental nurses to volunteer in Greece, I immediately put my hand up, as did a lot of my colleagues. We saw it as an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of others and a new adventure – a chance to test our skills in a challenging environment.

“Inside the clinic you almost forgot where you were because it was well-equipped and looked exactly like a clinic in your home town.

“Our patients had the same dental issues as we do in the UK, but because they don’t have a place to call home, they have to just put up with the pain of a toothache or wisdom teeth coming through.

“I helped treat one patient who had been living with a tooth ache for a long time. It took just 15 minutes to remove the tooth and take the pain away. After the procedure he gave me a big hug!  I would definitely volunteer again.  It was a life-changing experience,” she said.


Notes to editor

Bupa proudly supported the volunteers to take some time out of their clinics to help those in need in Greece. The volunteers came from Bupa clinics in Canterbury, Cranbrook, Bank, Devonshire, Holborn, Moorgate, Newbury, Reading and West End.

About Dentaid
Dentaid was formed in 1996 and has worked in more than 70 countries providing dental treatment, training, equipment donations and oral health education for poor and remote communities.  Dentaid has volunteering opportunities for UK dental professionals in Uganda, Cambodia, Zimbabwe and Kenya in addition to the refugee camps in Greece. The charity also has projects in the UK including a schools’ programme and projects providing dental care for vulnerable and homeless people.

For more information about Dentaid visit www.dentaid.org and for more information about Dentaid's volunteer program visit dentaid.org/missions/volunteer-greece/

About Bupa

Bupa's purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives.

With no shareholders, our customers are our focus. We reinvest profits into providing more and better healthcare for the benefit of current and future customers.

We have 15.5 million health insurance customers, provide healthcare to around 14.5 million people in our clinics and hospitals, and look after over 23,300 aged care residents.

We employ over 78,000 people, principally in the UK, Australia, Spain, Poland, Chile, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the USA, Brazil, the Middle East and Ireland, and many more through our associate businesses in Saudi Arabia and India.

Health insurance is around 70% of our business. In a number of countries, we also run clinics, dental centres, hospitals and care homes and villages.

For more information, visit www.bupa.com

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