Bangladesh December 2023

2023 saw the return of the Bangladesh dental aid mission with six enthusiastic dentists embarking on a week long journey. After an unprecedented 2 day delay at Manchester airport where we got on a first name basis with the airport staff, we finally managed to board the Biman aircraft and safely land in beautiful Bangladesh.


Day one


We landed to an entourage of a welcome party only to realise they were awaiting the Bangladeshi Prime Minister who was also visiting. We rapidly made our way to the hustle and bustle of central Sylhet and with no time to spare we dropped our bags off at the hotel and made our way to the dental clinic, our home for the next few days. We rummaged through endless bags and suitcases of instruments, dental materials, toys, PPE and toothpaste! We set about disinfecting the clinic and organising the resources for an early start the next day. Due to the unfortunate delay, we were unable to carry out a full day of triage at the centres but we were determined to make the most of our time and get stuck in straightaway.


Day two


After much needed rest, we prepared ourselves for a busy day ahead and entered the working world of Sylhet. Our first hour we spent at the centre where we were greeted by smiley faces and eager children who welcomed us with a singing performance. It was lovely to meet the staff and they kindly gave us a tour of their facilities so we had an insight into their daily lives.

Later that morning, at the clinic, we assigned roles for triaging and treating for the first session and had invaluable support from newly qualified dentists who flew in from the capital city, Dhaka. The coach load of children arrived at the clinic and what started off as commotion in the waiting room quickly transformed into an organised flow of assessment and treatment. The range of treatment modalities mostly included OHI, fluoride application, dressings, restorations and extractions. After treatment, much to their delight, the children were given freebies in the form of a toothbrush, toothpaste, sticker and toy!

The long but successful day ended in the whole team chipping in to disinfect and tidy up to do it all again the next day. We debriefed and reflected that evening over dinner to highlight our achievements and discussed ways in which to improve the following day. Needless to say, we slept well after a mentally and physically exhausting day.


Day three


Day 3 at the clinic was straight into familiarity and we swapped roles within the team. The transition between triage and treatment naturally become smoother and we managed to treat a large amount of children and some of their caregivers. This was the first trip to the dentist for most of the children and this means we were faced with the challenges of anxious patients with high needs. The challenge was further amplified by the language barrier despite having the valuable translators. We were even able to pick up some Bengali phrases to help us blend in! However, seeing the smiles on their little faces when they received their toy was very satisfying and we were met with a lot of love and prayers from the grateful caregivers.

The night was concluded with a CPD evening over dinner organised by our team for the Bangladeshi dentists. We were able to discuss the assessment and treatment planning for cases and exchange ideas. As a thank you for our services, we were taken aback by a presentation of awards and personalised paintings.


Day four

To round off the trip, we embraced the culture of Sylhet and visited the tea gardens where many of the children’s families are from. Our mode of transport went from rickshaw to tuktuk as we explored the village life and sampled the local cuisine. We are grateful to the dentist from Sylhet who was our tour guide and allowed us to experience a day in their life.

Our time in Sylhet was coming to a bittersweet end. Exhausted from our trip and sad that it had come to an end, we were leaving with a heavy heart. There was no shortage of paparazzi to photograph and document our experience, making sure we can look back at our memories. We found ourselves reflecting at the airport on our highs and lows as well as feeding back ways in which the mission can be enhanced in future trips. We were able to leave with a new perspective and appreciation of our current lives and healthcare system, all while making everlasting friendships.