Mention the fact that you are doing
dentistry to anyone and you are immediately immersed in a three hour
conversation whereby they recount every dental experience they have ever had
plus as those of their aged grandmother/ neighbour/ person in a bus queue. As
enjoyable as listening to peoples dental histories is, the final question is
always the best entertainment: It is invariably a question or comment related
to extraction, injections or drilling. These are usually the most contentious
and dramatic aspects of dentistry. In my time, I have given a few sarcastic
This summer I spent four and half weeks travelling around northern India. On a
rainy day in a northern city of Shimla I decided it would be a good use of my time
to go and visit a dental surgery, as you do. Earlier in the morning I had done
a hike and some tourist attractions I promise! I walked into a dental surgery,
introduced myself and explained that I was studying Dentistry in England. I
asked if I could have a look around. The survey was very quick because the
surgery consisted of one room which was divided in half by a partition,
separating it into a waiting room and clinic.
Dr Bhoil had a nurse who also doubles as
receptionist as well as dabbling in a small amount of technical work. Having
come from a brand new teaching hospital in England, I was slightly shocked at
the conditions and equipment available in the surgery. The light cure was held
together with brown tape and many of the instruments displayed signs of being
passed from one generation to the next.
My dental journey around Shimla didn't end
there. On a walk to our next tourist attraction we wandered into a hospital
which had a dental clinic attached. The cross infection control I saw being
practiced (or lack of) would make an infection nurse erupt in histrionics.
Nevertheless the patients seemed perfectly happy with the treatment they were
receiving and one man was in raptures as he explained to me how his new bridge
had changed his life. I was about to pass a more critical judgment when I
realized that these dentists fulfilled the very essence of what it really means
to meet or exceed the patients expectations.
Advice via text message
So whether it is the question about
toothache, the advice for pericoronitis you deliver via text message or
assuring your housemates that their new toothpaste is a 'good one'
I don't think we can ever really escape,
especially not as a student. We are so used to learning all the time and
absorbing all the information that we get told. Also it can be quite satisfying
giving people advice and realizing that you actually absorbed that lecture on
oral hygiene advice from year one.
I don't really advise that everyone spends
their summer holiday poking their noses into every dental surgery they
encounter and questioning the patients. However, traveling overseas does
highlight the value people place upon their treatment and makes you appreciate
what resources we have here in this country and how our talents can in the
future really affect lives. When next faced with the inevitable moan by
patients here in the UK, I will smile and wistfully recall the thankful
patients in India.