Research shows that when our teeth and gums look healthy, we can relax, be in the moment and laugh. We are more confident and radiant. Think about it — if you’re self-conscious about your smile you’re not going to feel very good about interacting with others. Having a radiant smile sends a huge positive message to those around you, it tells people that you are happy to be with them, and it creates a feeling of optimism. Therefore your dental health plays a significant role in how confident you feel.
Psychologically, it is a fact that many people fear visiting the dentist. But they know that it is necessary if they want to have a healthy and confident smile. We spoke to Dr Ravi Pai at JPMC about the importance of good oral hygiene and we got an insight into his career as a dentist.
Just how important is a healthy smile to one’s well-being?
Everyone knows that smiling is human’s most powerful gesture. Smiling also works the same as how we feel after doing an exercise. It stimulates and sends good signals to the brain and reduces your stress. On top of that, I believe smiling is quite contagious. If you see someone smiling at you after a long day you will be inclined to smile in return no matter what state you were in at that time.
Not only does smiling tell the world about you, it also indicates vitality, happiness and goodwill. The presence of a smile has been greatly linked to confidence, success and friendship.
How can a person maintain good oral hygiene?
Your basic defence would be brushing, flossing and using a fluoride rinse. On top of that, it would also help to ensure that we are eating sensibly to take care of our dental health, especially on our sugar intakes. Dried fruits for example are high in sugar and cling to the tooth which requires us to brush more often, to remove any residues and possible attacks like tooth decay. Fresh fruits like apples have been called nature’s toothbrush because of what it does to help us maintain our mouth parts.
For those afraid to visit the dentists, please know that your dentists are there to take care of you. Those horror stories you’ve heard are the result of not visiting the dentist at least once every six months for a checkup.
The single most important element of good oral care is following a regular routine of twice-daily tooth brushing with fluoride toothpaste and daily flossing.
What are the options available for fixing crooked teeth?
Orthodontics is the field of dentistry concerned with tooth alignment. Braces are the most traditional orthodontic treatment option. There are two types of braces – fixed and removable. Modern braces are constructed from materials that are more comfortable and less conspicuous than ever before, making them a viable alternative for almost anyone. There are a variety of braces which include the traditional metal and wire brace as well as the newer ‘invisible brace’ or Invisalign.
If you have severely crooked teeth as a result of a jaw disorder then surgery may be required. A maxillofacial surgeon will realign your jaw so that it resumes its correct position. This can help with teeth straightening as well as improving your ‘bite’.
Tell us about the job of a dentist from your point of view.
One of the primary goals as a dentist is to empower patients to attain optimal oral health. It involves critical thinking, analytical skills, professionalism, management and good communication skills. The medical/dental profession is a very fulfilling profession. It gives one the opportunity to meet people and help them at the same time. Every patient is a new challenge, therefore there is rarely a dull moment. However the pathway to success in this profession is steadfastness, hard work and determination.
The dental profession is fulfilling and satisfying for the following reasons:
• Service to Others: Help people maintain and improve their oral health, quality of life and appearance
• Balanced Lifestyle: Dentistry offers flexibility to balance professional and personal life
• Empower Your Patients: Give patients smiles they are proud to wear
• Technology and Research: Be involved with the scientific advancement of dentistry
• Be a Leader: Earn respect from your family, friends and community
• Prevention/Education: Be an educator on the importance of oral health
• Be Creative: The practice of dentistry involves a strong artistic element. Much of dentistry is a detailed craft involving careful, precise handwork. Dentists constantly make creative decisions in the development and implementation of treatment plans for their patients. They must consider a number of complex factors before they can make these decisions.
What are the most challenging aspects of your career?
One of the most challenging aspects of dentistry from my point of view is trying to change the perception in patients that going to the dentist is a painful experience. Due to fear of pain a lot of patients do not visit the dentist until paradoxically they are in pain and can no longer avoid the visit.
Dr Ravi Pai is currently working as a Consultant Endodontist and Head of Dental department at Jerudong Park Medical Centre, a JCI accredited hospital in Brunei Darussalam, South East Asia. Prior to his present job in Brunei he worked as an Endodontist at the Department of Dental services, Ministry Of Health, Kuwait. His core area of practice is Endodontics (Root Canal Treatment) and he has over 20 years of experience as a Clinical Endodontist. He is a Fellow of the Pierre Fauchard Academy, USA.