Dentistry in the new Millennium
Smile is a curve that makes things straight… so goes the saying…
and dental surgeons are the people who ensure this curve is
Dentistry has advanced from a very primitive stage of dental
extractions and denture work being done on the pavement sides to
a state of highly evolved and advanced art and science of very
great significance to mankind. Once upon a time, extractions
were the only solution to dental problems, whereas today, so
many advancements have come in where we are able to retain the
diseased dental apparatus after correction of the defective
portions in a fully functional and esthetic manner. A stage has
come where the total personality of a person can altered to
attain a desirable personality with the help of specialized
There’s the story which took place about 35 years ago, of a
senior dental surgeon visiting a grand old astrologer to test
him. He challenged the astrologer to identify his profession.
The only details offered were his date of birth and name. The
astrologer took up the challenge and started calculations. He
could not come to a clear conclusion even after calculating for
about half an hour.
astrologer told the dentist… “You have a very peculiar
profession… I’m wondering what it is !”. The dentist requested
the astrologer to come out with whatever he could assess.
Whereupon the astrologer said… “ Well…I’ve never come across a
profession like this… you do the work of a doctor… treating
ailments, prescribing medicines, doing surgical work and
simultaneously you also practice something like what blacksmiths
and goldsmiths do - making impressions, pouring casts, making
metallic components.. etc. Not only that… you also work as an
artist and also as a tailor ! You manage to integrate all these
jobs into one profession ! Which profession is that ?” The famed
astrologer cannot be expected to know about dentistry which was
in its infancy in those years.
DRYMOUTH / XEROSTOMIA
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Dentistry in the new Millennium
Things You Always Wanted to Know About Dentists
Cosmetic Dentistry & Cosmetic Dentofacial Treatment
Bad breath (Halitosis)
Oral Health and Hygiene in Pregnancy
you can do to maintain good oral health?
What can I do about bad breath?
Dental management during pregnancy
dental health is indisputable. It is well known that an
unhealthy mouth can cause a wide variety of illnesses. Moreover,
dental surgeons are also instrumental in detecting many systemic
illnesses in the initial stages which have very clear oral
manifestations, one of the prominent one among them being
diabetes. The importance of elimination of dental focus of
infection in the treatment of various diseases including heart
disease is now common knowledge.
Fear of contracting infections from dental clinics is one of the
major fears of patients who are aware of the dreaded diseases
Hepatitis and AIDS. It is indeed true that improper
sterilization measures of instruments in the dental clinics can
be a potential cause for transmission of infection to patients.
Use of disposable needles, use of gloves and masks by the dental
surgeon and assistants, and application of principles of
sterilization and disinfection in a meticulous manner in the
dental office can help eliminate such hazards.
Fear of pain is another major deterrent in patients requiring
dental treatment. Fear of injections, fear of the dental drills
etc. are indeed very depressing before you visit your dental
surgeon. However, advances in the field of anesthesia … and the
principle that it is not enough if local anesthesia alone will
suffice, but “vocal anesthesia” too is essential holds good.
Good communication of the dental surgeon with patients and a
warm and affectionate approach during the period of treatment
will certainly eliminate fear of pain among patients. Use of
advanced equipment such as high speed drills, ultrasonic scalers
etc. have helped eliminate the discomfort felt by the patient
The third deterrent in patients seeking dental treatment is the
dental treatment costs. Dental treatment remains expensive
because of the expensive equipment and materials being used in
dentistry besides the formation and maintenance of a well
organized dental set up. Many materials and equipment being used
are imported and this is a major factor for the increase in
treatment costs. With the opening up of the insurance sector, we
should be able to look forward to a solution in this matter,
just as mediclaim policies are able to cater to the medical
bills. It will take more time for a comprehensive dental
insurance policy to be formulated as the parameters for
implementation of such a policy will be much different from the
medical insurance facilities. However, we could take cue from
the dental insurance facilities being offered by companies
Myofacial pain dysfunction syndrome (MPDS) is a disease detected
after the industrial revolution. The stress and strain of modern
day life has increased the tension in the lives of common man
making him a jaw clencher… the more he clenches, the more his
jaw joints suffer and finally he becomes a victim of MPDS
characterized by acute pain in the jaw joint, limitation in
mouth opening and difficulty in executing normal jaw movements.
The food habits of modern man is much different from his
predecessors. Now he has more refined food which is more soft
and sticky in nature which decreases the workload of the jaws
and teeth. This has led to problems such as increase in
incidence of dental decay among the population. During the
process of evolution it has been found that the braincase has
been expanding at the expense of the jaws the workload of which
has been decreasing steadily. This has been associated with the
increase in incidence of impacted wisdom teeth in the
population, which has never been to such an extent in the
earlier generations. AIDS and oral cancer are diseases which are
significant in dental science, and they have resulted from
aberrant lifestyles as is common knowledge.
Specialists in dentistry such as periodontists perform complex
procedures to improve the condition of the periodontium, which
forms the foundation of the dental apparatus. Oral medicine
specialists and Oral pathologists are skilled to diagnose and
treat rare diseases which afflict the dental, oral, perioral and
facial tissues. Pedodontists specialize in dental treatment of
children, while endodontists and conservative dentists deal with
conservative management of teeth afflicted by caries and other
Dentistry has advanced to such levels such that surgical
specialists in dentistry (Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons)
perform complex surgeries of the facial skeleton and soft
tissues in cases of dento-facial trauma, deformities and tumors,
besides aiding specialists such as ENT Surgeons, Neurosurgeons,
and Plastic Surgeons in performing complex surgical operations
in the cranio-maxillofacial region. Prosthodontists aid in
preparation of prostheses of organs such as the eyes and ears in
cases where they have been surgically removed following
injuries, tumors etc. They are also specialized in replacement
of missing teeth. Orthodontists correct malaligned teeth. They
institute treatment during early childhood if a dental / or
facial deformity is expected to develop.
Cosmetic and cosmogenic dentistry is one field which is in great
demand today. Effective cosmetic dental treatment can be carried
out only with the interactive treatment by specialists in the
field depending on requirements of each individual case. Major
advancements have been made in the field of dental implants.
Dental implantology deals with replacment of missing teeth by
taking support from the underlying bone alone. Forensic
dentistry has also developed at a rapid pace in the recent past
with advancement in forensic dental science enabling to detect
and identify victims of various accidents, violence etc.
Forensic odontologists also aid in reconstructing faces of such
victims using computer imaging and such other techniques helping
identification of such victims. Theatrical dentistry is also
slowly coming to be recognized in the field of arts, cinema and
Nowadays centers are available which are able to provide
complete treatment solutions as far as dental and oro-facial
problems are concerned. Ranging from dental care and treatment
such as oral prophylaxis, scaling and fillings, to complex
dental and oro-facial treatment procedures such as orthognathic
surgery, dentofacial orthopedics, management of dentofacial
trauma and deformities, oral cancer are now available under one
roof. Specialists in dentistry and allied sciences are often
members of the team of doctors in such institutions which
include medical specialists like plastic surgeons, physicians,
ENT specialists and anesthesiologists, besides specialists in
dentistry. Such centers are also attached to hospitals so that
medically compromised patients are taken up under the care of
medical specialists and operation theater facilities are
utilized in cases requiring surgery under General anesthesia
such as orthognathic, trauma and tumor surgical procedures.
Now, with the advancements in the field of information and
technology, dentistry has grown by leaps and bounds. Meticulous
record keeping of patients in the clinic has become possible
with the advent of the computer age. Doctors can hold
discussions about patients with colleagues abroad and the best
possible treatment can be rendered to the patient in no time.
X-rays and photographs of patients can be transmitted over the
internet to colleagues and specialists abroad from whom
suggestions about treatment may be obtained. Treatment planning
can be done with the aid of the computer. Advanced diagnostic
imaging techniques such as Radiovisuography (RVG) have also been
introduced recently with the advent of computers. Dental
treatment units are also becoming fully computerized. When a
patient goes for followup treatment in such a set up, the
outpatient card inserted in the appropriate slot of the dental
unit helps the unit to identify the patient. Immediately, the
details of the patient appears on the computer screen attached.
The dental chair adjusts itself to suit the operator and the
patient as predetermined in the previous visit. Great strides
have been made in the technology of dental equipment and
materials creating provisions for very high quality dental
treatment standards. Continuing Dental Education programs (CDE)
meant for practicing dental professionals are of immense value
in updating the knowledge and skills of dental practitioners.
Apart from this there are also continuing educational programs
for specialists in the field. More and more practitioners
actively participate in such programs ensuring they are up to
date with the latest developments in the respective fields.
Genetic engineering techniques are being devised which helps
repair damaged teeth with natural materials. There will be a day
when it will be possible to grow new teeth to replace lost ones.
Many more advancements are taking place in the field of
dentistry in developed countries. India is never behind…it is
catching up at a rapid pace. Whatever the advancements may be in
the field of dentistry, the golden rules for a healthy mouth
remains the same - Brush twice a day in the proper way, have
wholesome food rich in fiber and roughage and get a dental check
up done once in six months. Remember that if treatment is
instituted in early stages, it saves you a lot of time and
money. A stitch in time saves nine. And not only that…. Don’t be
penny wise and be pound foolish.
Beware … Be true to your teeth, lest they be false to you.
Dr. Prasanth Pillai K.S., BDS,MDS-OMFS.