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The short feature, “You Know a Dentist is Filipino If …” is an offshoot of Alice Mendoza’s compilation of  “You know you’re Filipino if …”.  Such anecdotes laugh at peculiar yet distinct characters of Filipinos while incising the nature of our race, both negative and positive.

Along this line, a dental version of this compilation plays on the Filipino dentist’s real attitudes and practices, ethical or otherwise.  The article doesn’t condemn any of this character.  We try to let the reader classify which are the negative and the positive.  At first glance, one can easily pick out the sheeps from the goats.  But let’s try to go beyond…

Example is the raging debate on to what extent does a dentist use disposables and the effect of these dental wastes to the environment.   In the first world, almost all instruments and materials which enter the patient’s mouth are now disposable such as hand instruments, handpieces, files and gowns.  ADA can always boast of highly aseptic techniques employed by its members while sidelining the tons of garbage created by these disposables.

So are there any alternative to these disposables?  Expect the Pinoy dentist, out of economy and frugality, to come up with solutions.  Non-disposable instruments can be designated to regular patients for an extra fee while metal handpieces can be disinfected and sterilized.  The Filipino dentist has enough time and helping hands to clean, disinfect and sterilize his instruments unlike his American counterpart.  In the end, the Pinoys contribute less waste to his environment.  (There are even roaming ahentes who collect used carpules.)  But what can be disposed and recycled/reused?  How many times does a bur (which can be sterilized) be used before being dispose?

If anything, the feature was meant to provoke and encourage discussion on issues perenially hounding the profession (such as asepsis) and find some solutions.  Not everyone may identify with all the situations given (you’re not supposed to!) but these are all actual stiuations which happen everyday in the Philippine setting.  So are we just going to sweep them under the rug and simply concentrate on the more noble and glowing aspects of Philippine dentistry?  Of course, when we open up these issues, only the calls made by the dentist and not by the patient would be considered.

Oh, by the way, years ago, when I trained and worked in a government hospital, we used the suturing needle twice.  After the first use, we remove the suturing material, clean the needle, insert a new material then soak it in cold sterilization for 24 hours.  It was the best we could do for non-paying indigent patients.  Believe or not.


Author: rundmd8

Dentist by day, Runner by night

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