I have come across a handful of articles starting from “The scary chair and my rotten tooth,” which picked on dental professionals. The writer's dream concluded with the dentist pulling out her three healthy teeth and not the doleful agonising molar (which, of course, is the last nonsensical thing any trained dentist would do!) “My failed experiments with tooth” by Mr. Jeyes, (Open Page, March 18, 2012), also rubbed me up the wrong way! Well, the article below (or rather the letter) is a shout-out on behalf of dentists, in response to all the articles in the same string.

Dear everybody,

Dental caries, unlike many other diseases, is irreversible and will only continue to burrow, no matter what medication your godsend pharmacist prescribes. Well, it's not just caries, requiring the ubiquitous “drill and fill” that you need to sweat over. There are periodontal diseases which can bring down your gum levels and rock your tooth within the bone. Orthodontic ailments causing malocclusions prevail primarily because of adverse habits. Let me uncloak the lugubrious Indian scenario which I have lately come to understand.

Gone are the days when parents invoked the name of ghosts to affright their children in order to enforce discipline. Now, their imagination has touched the bottom that they often use dentists or their purely fictional “mammoth of a needle” to petrify children when they misbehave. No wonder, kiddos shake with trepidation at the mere thought of a dental visit. How do you expect them to develop a healthy sense of oral hygiene? This attitude is definitely on the list of things that needs consideration and change. So, next time when your child doesn't eat his spinach, please choose “Popeye the Sailor.” Not us!

Yes, dental treatment is expensive. We are restoring your teeth with materials that have to stand unperturbed in your mouth, with the power to combat all the forces thrown upon them, be it during active movements like chewing and grinding on sugarcane; or passive movements by tongue and cheek, amidst the gush of saliva. And most importantly, they have to be biocompatible, i.e. causing no harm or allergy and stay innocuous in your mouth. Apparently, such materials are manufactured with the utmost research and scrutiny, owing to their costs. So you could do with a scruple of respect for your dental health, not forgetting the materials and services which help you relish your pani puris and biriyani!

Many a time, you fail to take charge in the initial stages of “cavity “formation and give paltry excuses like “Dental phobia” or lack of pain. After harbouring all the pernicious “germs” for donkey's years, and when the “magic drug” fails to bring cheer, you go into throes of agony and distress. Finally, you muster the courage to pay us a visit and when we tell you that you might need a root canal treatment followed by a “cap”, you cringe. You look daggers at us. Call us “devils”!

As a young intern, I may not be the paramount authority to adjure you. But I have fondly grown to love what I have learnt as a dental student for the past four years. A habit of brushing twice daily (looking at the mirror and not dreaming away to glory!) and a regular six-month check-up will certainly keep the common maladies at bay. We do offer preventive treatments like “fluoride therapy,” “pit and fissure sealants” and many more to stave off cavities and counsel you “out of business.” There are umpteen competent dentists in town who can quell pain of any degree.

Personally, I mean no offence to anybody, but my impetus to writing is to express my grief over how dentists are often goofed on and ridiculed in crude caricatures and writings. Please understand that this is no good humour. Whatever you say, we will continue to help you and try our best to alleviate pain and work on all the knots. Ours is a supreme profession and entails looking at a procession of mouths and endless rows of teeth. The dental clinics are best designed to put you at ease and we are here to help give you a healthy smile and nutrition by maintaining a good set of 32 pearls. After all, isn't smile the only curve that sets everything straight?

(The writer is an intern, Saveetha Dental College and Hospitals, Chennai.

Her email ID is drsukanyabds@gmail.com)