Dentists are severely underrated and least appreciated among all doctors
National Doctor’s Day was celebrated on July 1. What did we do to express our gratitude with the medical professionals, especially the dentists? It is a crucial part of medical profession but still remain an underrated section of the profession in general and of our society in particular.
Dentistry, or oral medicine, is a branch medicine that revolves around the study, diagnosis, prevention, disorders and conditions of the oral cavity. The field of dentistry is not limited to teeth (as most people think) but includes the craniofacial complex - the temporomandibular joint and other anatomical structures. The history of dentistry is almost as ancient as the history of humanity and civilization with the earliest evidence dating to 7000 B.C.
Dentistry is its own special entity and not just an extension of medicine. Yes, we learn much of the same at our medical school colleagues initially but then we focus on one special area (head and neck) as our course progresses. The equipment required to train us is also very specific and takes up much space/cost in the dental school. Dental students study for an average for two years of a medical curriculum and get basics of dental curriculum. A gifted graduate with an aptitude and interest in dentistry might be able to reinvent the wheel.
A dentist shows less that he/she knows. A dentist needs to be a diagnostician, surgeon, engineer and an artist. We deal with same problems that physicians and surgeons deal with like pain, inflammation, infections, oncology, etc.
In dentistry, the knowledge about the whole human body is focused to treat one part that is the oral cavity. It’s not at all easy to be a dentist, it demands a lot from you, more than one can imagine. When you become a dental surgeon, you are your own boss! You may be employed or on contractual basis but when it comes to working on a patient, even when you are a student, 100% of the decision falls on you.
Blame it on the ignorance of the people or dearth of awareness dentists are severely underrated and least appreciated among all the doctors with some even refusing to refer to them as doctors. While orthopedic surgeons, cardiologists, or neurologists are acknowledged by our society dentists rarely are acknowledged. Is this because people are too arrogant to appreciate or that they don’t consider their mouths as organs at all? Most people have no idea how much skill and dedication it takes to perform intricate procedures in the pathogenic microbial environment of the oral cavity. Self-esteem remains the most important element and people often tend to respect other doctors than dentists; which is disappointing considering the fact that a dentist is carved similar to other doctors.
While the profession holds importance in overseas countries things aren’t well in India in general and particularly in Kashmir. People usually take their oral health for granted and worry only when the situation worsens and demands an expert examination. People hardly care for their teeth. They are happy to spend on other worldly things than on their health.
I along my colleagues bear witness that the society, at every step, tries to de-dignify the profession and lower our morale. Whenever a relative comes to visit us she/he would often sarcastically ask us, “How many teeth did you extract till now?” This is no way a concern or interest but they unknowingly mock their own arrogance while trying to mock us. People, who don’t value their oral health would obviously not appreciate dentists. We need to pinch ourselves to awaken our conscience, broaden the horizons in order to value and respect the esteem of the profession. Both the government and the people need to reappraise the value of dental healthcare and specifically the dentists.
Author is studying at Government Dental College, Srinagar