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What is life as a dentist in India like, especially as a hospital dentist involved in complex cases? Meet Dr. Megha Page, who shares her insights from the profession.
In The BriefCase series, we meet women at work in different fields, different roles, and get a peek into their lives. With more women joining (or aspiring to) join the paid workforce, we live in exciting times, and this is an attempt to chronicle those times, one life at a time.
If you thought that dentistry was just about teeth and gums, and being a dentist was just about the routine check-ups, tooth extractions, cavity fillings, root canals, crowns and bridges, think again!
Dentistry includes many other areas and a dentist today performs more complex procedures than you can imagine. Meeting the demands of dentistry can be tough. For a professional dentist, juggling and maintaining a balance between a hectic professional life, a personal and family life can be both challenging and rewarding, as I found out during the course of this interview.
Meet Dr. Megha Page, a Consultant Dental Surgeon with two prestigious hospitals in Pune, Ruby Hall Clinic, since 1995 and Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital, since 2001. She has also been running a private practice in Pune for the last 13 years, is a Medical Chairman at the Rotary Club of Pune and an Executive Committee member of the Indian Dental Association.
I spoke to her to get an overview of her profession and an insight into her specialised role as a hospital dentist.
How would you describe yourself?
I am a very straightforward, strong and compassionate person. To form any opinion, I have to be convinced myself. I keep myself calm at all times; call it a virtue of my profession! I love Sundays, but I reserve them for family and friends.
I enjoy travelling and my profession as a dentist has taken me to many places. I take life happily, as it comes. I am a great foodie – I love different dishes prepared by ‘others’.
Why did you choose this field?
Ever since school days, I have had a great fascination for science and the allied fields in medicine. Dentistry is that branch of medicine, which deals with the art and science of teeth and other structures in the oral cavity. By nature, I like helping people and alleviate pain. I also feel that a pleasant smile is important and undoubtedly, everyone likes having sparkling white teeth.
Describe your role so that it is understandable to someone who knows nothing about your industry.
(Talking about dentistry beyond the basics) Since I am associated with hospitals, my role as a dentist is to deal with people with many medical problems, including patients who are on medications for diseases and bedridden patients. There are patients who need dental treatment under general anaesthesia, like uncooperative patients, physically or mentally challenged people.
Some people need dental treatment where there has to be a change in medication after a consultation with the treating surgeon or physician. For cardiac patients, who are on blood thinning medication, the dose needs to be altered with the consent of the cardiologist. Diabetic patients need special precautions during dental treatment.
What is the most exciting part of your role and your field?
To enjoy food, one needs good, pain free teeth. To relieve someone of pain and discomfort, so that they are able to chew well without any pain or tooth sensitivity is the most satisfying and exciting part of my profession. The patient will always thank you immensely when he can eat well and lead a regular life. Replacement of missing teeth with dental implants is one of the best dental treatments for patients.
Smile designing and making teeth look whiter by a procedure called bleaching of teeth is an exciting job, which enhances the beauty and confidence in a person. Many people are very apprehensive about dental treatment, more so those with systemic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiac ailments, bleeding disorders or cancer patients. A comprehensive dental care for such patients is an exciting part of life as a hospital dentist.
In order to provide the best possible treatment to my patients, I attend seminars, conferences, webinars and pursue online courses which also keep me on my toes and up to date with the latest treatment modalities.
What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
Sure, challenges exist in every field and in dentistry too. One of the challenging aspects is that a dentist’s area of work within the mouth is restricted. The other challenge is, seemingly routine dental procedures such as tooth extractions, restoring or filling of decayed teeth or administering local anaesthesia carry potential risk of complications, which can range from infection, prolonged bleeding, excruciating pain to even temporary or permanent nerve damage.
Patients who are nervous need to be reassured. Patients with complex medical problems need various precautions and if any emergency arises, need to be attended to immediately. I take the stressful job as a hospital dentist in my stride by staying composed and attending to problems immediately.
What is the common misconception of your field?
A common misconception is people think that they need to visit a dentist only when a problem arises. Actually, a six monthly check-up in a dental clinic is important to keep away dental problems. Prevention is the best way for good oral health. Dentistry is not just about teeth but also about the rest of the mouth and parts of the face and neck. A dentist can spot any early warning signs in the mouth of oral cancer or some lesions in mouth may indicate a disease somewhere else in the body.
People may also have a misconception that just eating less sugar will cause fewer cavities! Actually, it is the frequency with which sugar is consumed and the duration of contact with the tooth surface that cavities start developing. The longer the food particles remain on the tooth surface, the greater are chances of tooth decay. The food particles cause acid formation in small amounts and gradually erode the tooth surface, thereby causing cavities. Inappropriate brushing of teeth, irregular or maligned teeth also tends to cause food lodgement, hence brushing your teeth especially before bedtime is of utmost importance. Regular cleaning of teeth goes a long way in maintaining the health of teeth and gums.
If you had to change anything about your field what would it be?
I would like dental insurance for people in India, so that they can have access to treatments for dental disease. I see many patients who are nervous when they hear the noise of the drill; I hope some technique evolves by which minimum use of the drill is required. I would like to be associated with any research on vaccine/immunisation against dental decay. I also hope that more women take up research and development in the field of dentistry.
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