Specialist Dental Group has launched an on-going series of blog posts by our individual dental specialists. All views provided are the dentist’s own opinions and are posted on this blog as part of our on-going efforts to educate the public about dental issues and other matters of interest relating to dentistry and healthcare.
As part of my routine for the last 13 years, I was at the Faculty of Dentistry of the National University of Singapore (NUS) last week for my undergraduate teaching commitment. There was an unusual buzz in the school. It was the time of the year for the manual dexterity test and interview for admission into the Dental School. A crowd of earnest young men and women waited anxiously, eager to impress upon their interviewers that they deserved a chance to be admitted into the art and science of dentistry.
I recalled how I, myself, stumbled upon dentistry as a career. As an 18 year old with an outstanding academic result, I found myself uncertain on what my future would be. Coming from a humble background, there was no advantage of any career guidance from my parents or relatives. Hence, it was under the influence of fellow classmates that I had chosen Medicine as my first choice and Dentistry as a natural second choice. I had not the slightest inkling of what either career entailed then. That resulted in my making a less favourable impression during the medical school interview process.
Despite the circumstances, destiny led me to be successfully admitted into the NUS dental school which turned out to be one of the best things that has ever happened to me.
About 25 years ago when I had started my training, Dentistry was not a popular course of study, and was known to be populated by ‘medical school rejects’. It is interesting to note how things have changed since then. We now have thousands of candidates vying for the coveted 50 places in the dental school.
There are a few reasons that has led to the change in perception towards dentistry. Clearly, awareness in dental health has improved exponentially, with credit to the dental profession and the Health Promotion Board who have made a tremendous effort to raise public awareness about dentistry. Also, with an increase in the ageing population and a desire to lead more fulfilling golden years, there is a growing demand to restore worn teeth or replace missing teeth.
The dental profession has also moved forward to respond better with advanced technology. While extractions and dentures were the norm in the yesteryears, patients now want better quality of life. For example, we now have implants that can replace missing dentition. Implant teeth now look, feel and function just like real teeth.
I remembered there was once a 75-year-old man who was having problems to function well with his removable lower denture despite treatment by multiple dentists. I convinced him that with the bone loss in the jaw, his best solution was to have implant-supported teeth. With the NobelGuide Teeth-in-an-Hour procedure, he was able to have a full lower fixed dentition with minimal pain, swelling and downtime. He was indeed grateful that he was able to eat, smile and talk shortly after the procedure.
The perception of dentistry has definitely changed in the recent years. In my opinion, the dental profession has risen to the challenge with technology that has improved the quality of life for our patients. In fact, I am ever proud to be a dentist, knowing that I can make a difference…
Dr. Neo Tee Khin is a Prosthodontist with Specialist Dental Group™. He is also an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the National University of Singapore and a Consultant at the National University Hospital. He has over 10 years experience teaching in dental schools and sits on the Committee for Prosthodontics of the Division of Graduate Dental Studies of the National University of Singapore. Dr. Neo has given presentations and courses on implant dentistry and restorative dentistry at professional conferences in the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Mongolia. For more information about Dr. Neo, click here.