Libya — Change Can Start with a Smile!

Since the topple of the Qaddafi regime, Libya has been a lawless, politically unstable and hostile environment. The alleged growing presence of ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah fī ‘l-Iraq wa-sh-Shām, or Da’ish/Daesh/ISIS/Islamic State to the rest of us — coupled with General Haftar’s forces and a host of different and opposing militia factions makes Libya a very complicated and dangerous place. When an opportunity came to support a small number of clients with their risk management, I was naturally apprehensive and no amount of reading would have helped me to truly understand who’s who in the Zoo and what’s actually going on altogether…on reflection, I feel that Libyan’s didn’t know either half of the time and just got on with their daily business! Perhaps this has been the reason for their relative success, in Tripoli at least, with moving progressively forward.

Unfortunately for me, being in a non-permissive environment with diminished healthcare availability and suddenly breaking my tooth (on a Popcorn Kernal, of all things), didn’t fill me with enthusiasm at the time. With a lifetime of bad dental experiences anyway, I certainly wasn’t keen to explore my options but had little other choice. I’m not particularly scared of the Dentist like many, but it just wasn’t ideal having to place trust in someone I didn’t know. However, I thought, Surely it can’t be any worse than Dental Practices in the UK? And besides, I wasn’t exactly carrying a set of Film Star nashers to begin with, just typical British ones!

When I shared my ordeal with my protection team, my driver pipes up and says, “Mr Jamie, My brother is a Dentist, he can help you”! With the pain I felt, I was suddenly keen to take this option as if I would have some hold or level of guarantee over the situation. For my medical professional friends reading, who concern themselves with informed consent, I accepted the risk and just consented!

Thankfully, I was able to obtain a priority appointment and immediately went to the clinic in a well known area of Tripoli called Ben Ashur…And assurance was what I needed! I was introduced to Dr Mohammed, who was trained in Dentistry in Egypt. I gave a big smile and explained my problem. Dr Mohammed was quickly concerned about the holistic picture of my oral hygiene which I will leave omitted from here but he struck a chord with me on the cosmetic side. This was something I always wanted to explore but I could never agree with the exuberant costs in the UK to have anything other than the basics completed.

Dr Mohammed perhaps completed the most comprehensive dental inspection I have ever experienced, so much so, that the Practice Owner and three additional Dental Assistants all gathered for a review and inspection. What I wasn’t aware of, is that I was unique! After performing a Root Canal Treatment (RCT) and fixing my broken tooth, Dr Mohammed suggested I might like to have my front teeth crowned…It was a start on the cosmetic route I always wanted but I hesitated momentarily until I found out the price.

After conversion, I worked out that for three RCT’s, a filling, two crowns, 20 X-rays, oral care and cleaning would cost me £250.00 all in! I just couldn’t turn down that opportunity and despite the situation outside of the dental practice, my risk appetite was very high! Change was coming for my smile and I was excited like I had been missing this most of my life. My uniqueness for Dr Mohammed was that I had a long term fracture inside the gum line which had already destroyed the nerve root and giving my tooth the dead discoloured appearance…But now I was his experiment! He was determined to find his way into a root canal whether he created one independently or found the existing one. With quite a lot of prodding and filing and reinspection, he finally made it through to where he needed to be when performing RCT. To my satisfaction, it was pain free and I knew that the replacement was going to be perfect.

I can honestly say that I felt like I had first class treatment at third world prices. So detailed and meticulous were the whole team, I don’t think you’d even get the same level of attention in a day spa!

My New Libyan Smile!

The equipment, standards of care and overall attention to detail certainly changed my perception of Dental Care in North Africa.

From many of my conversations with Libyan people, they seem to demonstrate a robust resilience, sharing comments such as “Libya is my home, I will never leave”.

The circumstances are pretty dire and there is a significant humanitarian crisis but I am optimistic that change is coming for the people of Libya. Political stability and security will return and will eventually create economic prosperity.

I know this because…my smile says so! Thank you Dr Mohammed and team!