As children, most of us were educated by our parents and relatives to take care of our teeth and oral health as a whole. We might not remember the first time we held a toothbrush and a toothpaste and if we used the traditional tool or the one that rotates automatically by the use of electricity, but we have grown to acknowledge the importance of oral health and the practice of cleaning our teeth. When we were still young, all that we can think about is that we are doing the practice of flossing and cleaning our teeth to avoid bad breath and tooth decay, but looking in a bigger picture, it actually expands to a lot of branching significance that we need to be aware of most especially as we age.

Time is pacing quickly and as most people age, it gets harder for them to commit time in taking care of themselves in many aspects. Aside from the most common things that we can think of such as doing physical activities, their health has always been the most vital aspect that gets affected when senior years come. One example of this is their oral health. Luckily, in the year of 1980s, this thought has brought realization and enlightenment to the mind of a young dentist named Alisa Kauffman. Without knowing it will bring her to a mission in the coming years, Alisa was way back a young dentist starting her practice in New York City.

One moment during the year, her father’s closest friend had a stroke. Growing up with his closure to Alisa’s family, she had known that this man had always taken good care of his teeth, getting them cleaned every three months but since the attack, it was hard for him to leave the house. As a response and the feel of a call for her responsibility, Kaufmann packed up her scalers, flashlight, mirror, and other instruments and cabbed across town to his house. There, a picture of a young house call dentist delivering service to an old man with challenges leaving home was witnessed. She cleaned his teeth and offer other preventive measures, but it was when she had done doing it that she suddenly realized that there are others in the same situation as his father’s friend. Someone needed to take the mission and extend help to them.


The Fruit Of An Initiation

Fast forward to our current generation, thirty years later from the first page of Alisa Kaufmann’s story of helping a disabled patient who needs oral health service and guidance, she is still on the same track, zipping around town to fill cavities, make dentures, extract teeth, or administer cleanings to patients who can no longer visit a dental office and deal with the traditional dental service of making an appointment, travelling, and waiting for their turn to be taken care of and cured. Most live in Manhattan, and many are the oldest of the old – their average age is 89, and her oldest patient is 107.

Alisa Kaufmann, a rare breed of a dentist who accepted the challenge of a completely new step forward in the field of dentistry, has had her fair share of stories during her years of providing excellent dental service to senior citizens. According to her, making house calls had opened her unique doors for special and more interesting worlds than a standard office practice might afford. Her patients often regale her with their life histories, including a woman who survived the Titanic sinking in 1912.

In addition, Kaufmann had also experienced doing house calls for famous old actors and actresses who hid their identities by making pseudonyms. But apart from these amazing stories, of course, Kaufmann had faced the normal struggles of her job which is facing seniors with dementia, that makes treating them exponentially harder.


Filling In Big Shoes

Over the years, Kaufmann had always felt the weight and the coverage of the responsibility that she needs to fill in. She is always being challenged by the type of patients she works with and by this, she has refined certain techniques to calm them down, such as looking a patient straight in the eyes, or putting a reassuring hand on a patient’s shoulder. She knows how to distract – gushing over a photo of a grandchild just at the moment when she goes in with a needle to give an injection.

Moving around the city, Kaufmann does not wear a cape or carry a sword or a shield, she simpy wears trim navy blue scrubs and totes a rolling suitcase and a duffle bag containing drills, extraction instruments, composite fillings, and personalized lobster bibs printed with her name that shouts the responsibility of an actual superhero.

Making such responsibilities for her might be very tiring but at the end of the day, she also gets perks that regular dentists do not get. While speaking to them, she usually asks them their secret to longevity and these patients tell her their secrets which is mostly avoiding stress. To other people, it might sound very common but to her, making a bridge of connection and pure relationship to a patient is the most important.