Dentistry is a specialized branch of medicine that deals with the study, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases and conditions of the oral cavity (mouth with all structures within including teeth, gums, tongue, etc.). As per World Health Organization (WHO), it is appropriately defined as the ‘art and science’ of preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases, injuries and malformations of the teeth, jaws and mouth. It is really an art as well as science which makes smiles better while also treating many diseases.
A dentist is a medical professional who aims to improve the quality of lives by preventing and treating oral diseases and conditions. The dentist's supporting team is also very important, and it aids in providing oral health services and also handling many procedures apart from assisting the dentist. It includes dental assistants, dental hygienists, dental technicians, and in some states, dental therapists.
The dentists achieve the above by:
- Promoting good oral health practices and educating people about them
- Patient education
- Diagnosing dental diseases and conditions including dental decay, gum diseases, etc.
- They may also diagnose some general conditions by just looking at oral cavity, because some diseases and conditions have oral manifestations
- Providing preventive dental and oral care, like restoring slightly decayed teeth, covering them with thin layer of restorative materials, providing treatments to prevent further problems by cleaning, scaling, root planning, application of fluoride, etc.
- Prescribing appropriate medicines to treat some oral diseases, to prevent or allay infections, and for all three prophylactic, preventive and promotive purposes
- Treating and restoring decayed teeth by appropriate materials
- Replacing lost teeth by implants, dentures, partial dentures, etc.
- Treating other conditions of mouth, related structures and even jaw
- Also undertaking some surgical procedures, most common of them being tooth extraction
- Providing orthodontic treatment to adjust and correct mal-aligned teeth
- And many other functions as per further specialization.
Dental Problems in Children
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Mention the word dentist and it’s a brave man, or child, that doesn’t flinch visibly. As for a visit to one, that’s usually put–off for as long as possible till such a time when the pain is unbearable and the person is left with no choice.
For children, a visit to the dentist can assume nightmarish proportions, not just for the child but for the parents and the dentist too. But circumstances, even uncomfortable ones, are changing. Today a visit to the pedodontist clinic demonstrates that some of the patients actually look forward to their visits there.
Today pedodontists employ what is called “Conscious Sedation Therapy” also known as “Relative Analgesia” by which the patient is administered a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen gases which removes all sensation of pain. All tooth–drilling, cavity–scraping and painful injections become a relatively anxiety–free experience as the pain involved in all these procedures is almost non–existent.
This technique, which was originally started by the department of health in the United Kingdom and approved by the Posso Willo Commission, is now routinely used by pedodontists all over in the western world. The results have been successful and the patients have been entirely satisfied.
There are four main advantages to the procedure. Due to nitrous oxide therapy, the pain threshold of the patient increases to such an extent that the sensation of pain is reduced. Secondly, as the sedation is given through the nasal route and well controlled, a sense of euphoria is experienced by the patient which allows the doctor to give him uninterrupted treatment. Because of this the recovery is immediate and uneventful. Finally, and most importantly, the procedure is entirely safe and cost effective compared to any other analgesic treatment.
“Due to the prevailing fast food culture and bad eating habits, a lot more people suffer from cavities and other problems in larger numbers. Traditional treatment used to be horrifying because, as soon as children spotted the long needles and other dentistry equipment, they would refuse to even sit on the dental chair. It used to be such that even if a small filling had to be done, at least three people had to hold the child down, local anesthesia had to be administered and the treatment time would run into hours. But with nitrous–oxide oxygen inhalation sedation therapy, the children readily agree to treatment”.
Dr. V. B. Chaugule
‘Shivmangal’, 1st Floor, 1535, Sadashiv Peth,
Tilak Road, Pune 411 030, Maharashtra, India.
Telephone: +91 20 24476375