I didn't need my morning coffee on Sunday to wake me up. The Open Page article “The scary chair and my rotten teeth” (July 11) jolted me awake. J. Vijayalakshmi, my namesake, describes the dentist as a ‘devil' trying to take her soul. Perhaps our scribe has not visited a dental clinic in a long time.

Dental chairs are computer controlled and ergonomically designed for comfort. Clinics are set in a soothing, spa-like ambience, with music in the background and smiles on the faces of the dentist and assisting staff. The entire focus is on preventive care rather than crude outdated ‘drilling and pulling' teeth. The profession takes great pains to explain methods to control dental decay and gum disease and, to help us along, modern technology paves the way. Lasers to diagnose decay at the earliest stage, innovative researched toothpastes to remineralise teeth, mouthwashes to help strengthen gums are today's non-invasive, painless ways of keeping oral health and therefore the overall health.

The dental profession is perhaps the only one which works constantly at eliminating disease. Dentists counsel people on how to avoid dental problems and thus talk themselves out of ‘business.' Procedures in dentistry are usually preceded by a numbing gel and a painless local anaesthetic. “Relaxation Dentistry” or Conscious Sedation is used when extensive treatment is necessary. The patient goes into a relaxed state and is unaware of the proceedings though he is awake.

Lasers using drill-less technology are replacing the ubiquitous drill. CAD-CAM technology has invaded and changed the way we practise. Stem cell research now shows promising results to grow teeth in the future. Try out your friendly neighbourhood dentist and you may be in for a pleasant surprise.

Dr. Vijailakshmi Acharya,

Chennai

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Ms. Vijayalakshmi has written a fictional account of a supposed dream she had about a visit to the dentist. As a Dental and Maxillofacial surgeon and Treasurer of the Indian Dental Association, Tiruchi, I express my displeasure and strong objection to the write-up. The author has not verified facts and has made a rather pathetic attempt at humour. Her attempts fall flat as she has no knowledge of the instruments and equipment we use and she is totally in the dark about the wonderful art and science of dentistry.

Dr. K. Narendran,

Tiruchi

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For eons, the dental profession has been haunted by the phantom of pain. This has been reinforced by numerous depictions of the profession in crude caricatures, jokes and writings. Unbearable pain that a combination of medication and willpower fails to suppress is often quelled within minutes by a competent dentist. The dentist's job entails looking at a procession of open mouths, with endless rows of teeth. At best, it is not a pretty sight. It calls for a high degree of stoicism to say “open please” with a straight face and proceed to help the patient. Superior surgical techniques and advances in science have ensured that dentistry has come a long way.

Kumar Devayya,

Kochi

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It is not always that a dentist's chair scares patients. I know of at least one doctor, N.A. Piroshaw of the Tata Main Hospital, Jamshedpur, whose treatment was a pleasure. Whether he was extracting a tooth or filling a cavity, you would not know until the job was over and he told you to get up from the chair.

All through the treatment, he would keep you engaged with his smiling and friendly talk.

N.S.R. Murty,

Secunderabad

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