Five Problems Every Indian Dentist Has Faced

1. Clinic Location

If you’re in a tier II city, you might still find a place where there are no dentists within a one kilometer radius. But in metros, there are soon going to be more dental clinics than grocery shops. We have a brigade of fresher dentists opening new clinics every year and everyone knows that the awareness for dentistry is more in the big cities. So, everyone is starting their practice in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune – which means that now when you google ‘dentists in Uttam Nagar, Delhi’, your screen explodes with data overload.

The guidelines for choosing a clinic location have also been modified owing to these recent developments. Now the seniors advise you to open where there are less than ten dentists around the clinic and then advertize like there is no tomorrow. Earlier, it used to be a matter of shame if you sent out regular pamphlets and stuck posters on walls. Now your poster is right next to the poster of ‘Fastest Wifi Connection’ and ‘PG Hostels for Boys’.

2. Wax Carving

In college, we have all carved models of teeth on wax blocks. The flakes of wax would be found for the coming weeks in the corners of our bags, in our hair, food, everywhere. Students would carve at restaurants, canteens, on the staircase, in the library and then they would come up with a masterpiece that would look beautiful. Just not like a tooth. So then the carving would get rejected and the ordeal would begin again.

It is to teach us the contours of the teeth, but aren’t there better ways? Getting a carving rejected by the oral pathology is so traumatic, it makes us criminals and thieves. We start stealing others’ carvings or hiring others to do our dirty work. It turns men into monsters! It has to stop!

3. Unable to Find Canals

Sometimes a canal just refuses to reveal itself to us. You open the access cavity and locate the two canals but there has to be one more. So you dig around a little. But no, there is no third canal. It turns into a dental version of Dr. House MD episode and you walk around with your stick in a long corridor with a Hugh Laurie’s confused face expression transfixed on your face.

4. Airotor versus The World

The airotor is the dentist’s greatest ally. You keep the ballbearings in shape and the machine well-lubricated because it is your bread and butter. And in return, sometimes it stabs you right in the back. You have placed cotton rolls in the patient’s mouth because there is too much saliva from everywhere. And then you want to finish the cavity just a little. But uh oh! The airotor falls in love with the cotton and then they become one with each other. A moment ago, the cotton that seemed like the softest thing in the world becomes a NiTi wire that just refuses to break its embrace with the bur. If you want to save your time, give up and discard the bur. That is all that is left to do now. Otherwise let the patient watch as you clumsily fumble with a tweezer, trying to separate the strongest bond in the world – the bur and cotton.

The airotor also has a little beef with the glove. But the glove’s bigger rival is the micromotor especially during denture-trimming.

5. Patient Cancels Appointments

As doctors, we are taught to hold ourselves in high regards. We are told that if the patient respects us, he will listen to us and eventually, it will build the necessary trust we need to treat him. In colleges, we are told that we’re supposed to be punctual and strict about our appointments. What we are not taught is the fact that the patients these days do not care about all that. If they are going out with a friend for a party, they would simply call your office and postpone the appintment citing some reason or the other. And because you will be broke, you would accept the postponement and swallow your pride saying, ‘Oh that’s OK. So, is 4 pm tomorrow fine?’

And then it will happen again and again and again. Sometimes, the root canal treatment would fail simply because the patient came too late. But then, if your spirits aren’t broken fully, you would call him out on his negligence. If your spirits however have been sacrificed at the altar of the modern day competetive capitalism, you would tell him that it’s no one’s fault but the tooth is gone now and the treatment would now be extraction and implant placement.

To all the dentists who have faced these problems, my message is ‘Hey, it will be OK. I don’t know when and how, but it will all be OK.’

To be continued…

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