“Brave girls have super strong, healthy teeth! You’re a brave girl, aren’t you?” asks Dr. Ye Yint Kaung Myint to his teary-eyed 6-year-old patient.

The child hesitates, then reluctantly nods and allows the dental surgeon to examine her toothache. She is just one of over a hundred villagers along the remote Chindwin River receiving dental treatment from Dr. Myint and his team of volunteers from the Phung Daw Oo Free Charged Dental Clinic of Mandalay.

At 23 years of age, he has acquired a vast and varied education under his belt, including a Diploma in English from the Mandalay University of Foreign Languages, a Diploma in International Law from Mandalay University, and most recently, a Bachelor of Dental Surgery Degree in 2019.

Not surprisingly, many of the locals during this medical mission are terrified of seeing a dentist for the first time. However, Dr. Myint remarks that performing dental treatments to fearful patients is the easy, straightforward part of the job. Providing dental education and fighting centuries-old beliefs about oral health, conversely, is an uphill battle.

Most children at the age of 5 in rural Myanmar have never touched a toothbrush before (with the belief that they are going to lose their baby teeth nonetheless). And other ailments such as tooth decay and tooth loss are thought to be a natural part of the aging process, rather than being preventable with simple daily routines such as brushing and flossing.

“Almost all these villages have poor health education on dentistry, and as a consequence people receive bad advice from traditional ‘quacks’. That’s why we have to educate the villagers on what is right and what is wrong.”

Each year, Heritage Line Anawrahta embarks on just three journeys up the rarely-travelled Chindwin River, discovering the untouched regions of northwestern Myanmar bordering India. Local residents from four of impoverished communities (Moktaw, Mauk Ka Taw, Kindat, and Sittaung) queue up for hours to access the mobile clinic, as Heritage Line is the sole source of free healthcare in the region. In 2018, Heritage Line’s Myanmar Operations Manager, Win Hlaing, confirms over 350 total patients logged throughout their three annual Chindwin cruises.

We are blessed to have a team of doctors from an NGO based in Yangon provide basic medical treatment during our first and third Exotic Chindwin cruises this year, while volunteers from the Phung Daw Oo Free Charged Dental Clinic in Mandalay accompanied us on the second cruise.

Witness Heritage Line’s Myanmar Mobile Clinic along with life along the riverbanks, charming local villages and the myriads of pagodas dotting the countryside in our 11-night Exotic Chindwin Cruise.

Secure a spot aboard one of three journeys in 2020 and save 20% with our Boosting Burma promotion.