UWC's dentistry project puts smiles back on 100 faces

By | November 26, 2018

Beneficiary Mavis Davids shares a light-hearted moment with Dr Emile Prince, deputy dean of clinical at the UWC Dentistry Faculty, who initiated the 100 dentures project. Photo: Supplied
Cape Town – The University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) Dentistry Faculty has earned sincere gratitude from Western Cape communities following the success of its Dentistry’s Mandela Project.

In celebration of the centenary of the legacy of Nelson Mandela’s selflessness and community action, UWC’s Faculty of Dentistry provided 100 free, new dentures to the needy, and thanks for this initiative is still pouring in.

The faculty recently hosted an event to honour and commend all of those who participated in the Mandela Centenary Denture Project.

Guests included some of the 100 patients who benefited, the clinicians, dental assistants, laboratory staff, the manufacturer and members of the Western Cape government.

The faculty viewed this initiative as a valuable contribution the Faculty of Dentistry has made countrywide in support of the Nelson Mandela centenary celebrations.

Professor Yusuf Osman, dean of the faculty, said: “Every year the faculty strives to commemorate Mandela Day in a special way. This year, Dr Emile Prince, deputy dean of clinical at UWC Dentistry, wanted to go big.

“He wanted to do 100 of something. And, of course, he chose the most expensive thing to do – 100 dentures.

“Dr Prince had made arrangements with his colleagues and managed to finish the 100 dentures for patients who were on the waiting list at the faculty’s Tygerberg and Mitchells Plain clinics.

“We normally produce over 5000 dentures a year, but Dr Prince made these 100 as a special extra to that total, and we thank everyone who came to the party to make this possible.”

Prince was pleased with the success of the Mandela Day Denture Project.

He explained that people wait for up to four years for dentures, but the initiative, a joint effort between the university and the Western Cape Department of Health, had shortened that period dramatically.

“I came up with the idea but I couldn’t do all 100 dentures (by myself),” said Prince.

“I called my supervisors, and their immediate response was, ‘Yes we can do it’. For that I’m extremely humbled.”

And the beneficiaries were over the moon with this project.

All are pensioners dependent on a state pension – and with the cost of a set of dentures being up to R4000 in private practice, many of them had no chance of getting the dentures they needed.

“I can’t do anything without dentures,” said one of the beneficiaries, Shameela Abdullah, from Mitchells Plain.

When her previous dentures had broken in the middle, she asked the UWC dentistry clinic to fix them, but when they broke again, she requested to go onto the waiting list.

Three months later she was told she had qualified for the Mandela Project and four weeks later she had her new dentures.

“For that I’m very happy. These are the first dentures I’ve had that don’t hurt, and I can eat without taking them out. I put them in and never take them out again, except when I want to clean them.

“I’m very happy with my new dentures. Thank you so much to the Mandela Project,” said Abdullah.

Mavis Davids, who had been on the waiting list for more than five years after her dentures dropped and broke, echoed those sentiments.

“I wasn’t confident when I wanted or needed to smile, and I was close to tears when the doctor helped me with my new dentures. Thank you, doctor, and thank you to the Mandela Project,” said Davids.

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