On 1 December 2018, we welcome Dr Tan Kian Meng, Dental Specialist in Prosthodontics, into the Specialist Dental Group family. The addition of Dr Tan into the team further strengthens our Prosthodontic department and increase our capacity to serve more patients.
After his outstanding performance in dental school, Dr Tan went on to further his studies in the area of Prosthodontics. Since then, he devoted more than 7 years to serving the dental needs of patients in Singapore’s Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH).
In KTPH, he commonly practices hospital dentistry, including dental assessments for patients with various medical conditions. As his specialty is in the area of Prosthodontics, he also commonly sees patients who require crowns, dentures, bridges and major rehabilitation of the face and jaw.
Apart from work, he enjoys playing badminton and traveling. Here is an interview of Dr Tan for you to get to know him better.
Q: What was it like working as a dental specialist in a hospital?
Working as a dental specialist in a hospital has prepared me to manage patients with various medical and dental conditions (e.g. dental clearance prior to the use of bisphosphonates, management of cancer of the oral cavity as well as head and neck, obstructive sleep apnea, etc). In the process, I had the privilege to work with many medical colleagues, such as cancer physicians, ENT doctors and plastic surgeons. In addition, I had the opportunity to share my knowledge and experience with recent dental graduates who were posted for hospital rotation. Now that I am working with Specialist Dental Group, at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, I look forward to working with the medical specialists here as well.
Q: Why did you choose to be trained in Prosthodontics rather than other specialty areas?
Prosthodontics, being a branch of dentistry dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment planning, rehabilitation and maintenance of the oral function, comfort, appearance and health of patients, has always intrigued me with the complexity of its subject. Having met inspiring mentors like A/Prof Keson Tan and Prof Carl Driscoll during my undergraduate days has certainly fueled further interest in this subject.
Q: You are a Fellow at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Maxillofacial Prosthetics and Oncologic Dentistry Fellowship. What are some of the unforgettable cases you have completed?
I remember I was involved in the care of a teenage boy who suffered from leukemia. Soon after stem cell transplant, he recovered with a complication of invasive fungal sinusitis. It was my first time encountering such clinical situation – I was baffled and shocked to learn one can lose one’s jawbone to an infection within such a short period. My mentors and I prepared him for a hemimaxillectomy (surgical removal of one side of the upper jaw) and subsequent prosthetic rehabilitation on the same day of the diagnosis. I was certainly glad that the patient survived the infection.
Another case which left a deep impression on me was an elder man who lost part of his face to cancer many years ago. We took a full week to complete a facial prosthesis, which aims to restore his appearance and oral functions.
Q: Share with us something that is not widely known about your specialty/profession.
It takes many years to be trained as a Prosthodontist. In Singapore, it takes a minimum of 4 years for one to complete a basic dental degree. To become a Prosthodontist, a dentist will need to undergo a minimum of additional 3 years of full-time training in a structured program. A Prosthodontist can then further train in a particular subset of Prosthodontic subjects, which usually takes another 1 to 2 years. In my instance, I decided on the subject of maxillofacial prosthetics and dental oncology.
Q: If you didn’t become a Prosthodontist, what do you foresee yourself doing?
Architecture. And I’d be happy to be a designer for Lego® too.
Q: What is your favourite dental quote?
“You can’t learn dentistry from books”
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