Setiap hari kita (dentists/dental students) nasihat pesakit datang periksa gigi setiap enam bulan. "Saya takut", the response we usually receive. Admit it, even you dentists/dental students are anxious about dental visits too. Year by year we study about stress and anxiety in dentistry and yet most of us decide to do nothing about it. For dental students, they often have this thinking - "Alah, dapat rawatan percuma lagi nak demand lebih-lebih". Have we ever thought of it this way instead - we are being honoured to treat them although they already know that we aren't certified yet? Tray after tray, we shoved into their mouth just because our impressions aren't good enough, still, they smile and say "Budak baru belajar, takpo kito pehe"? Don't those mean anything to you? For those who had never received any restoration, you might not understand the pain and anxiety a person experiences receiving dental treatments, but for us who had, you should act upon this problem to not repeat the same thing our dentist did to us.
The usual answer dental students will give, "Ish, aku tak pandailah nak kasi painless local anaesthesia (LA)". Well start with studying your textbooks properly first. You know very well (to those who still don't know, well a facepalm to you, but at least you know now. Better late than never) that our topical anaesthesia only works 1-2mm superficially, dah tu nak cucuk straight away full length 4mm memanglah orang rasa sakit. If you're working already, I will understand it because of course, you have a long queue of patients waiting for your treatment, but if you have extra time, why not? Sometimes, it's even more disappointing when a number of students refuse to give LA to their patients during deep caries management just because it'll consume their time and when patients become less cooperative during the course of treatment, they complain about it. First thing first,what is LA? It is a form of pharmacological BEHAVIORAL MANAGEMENT. So start loading those syringes and let those patients be at peace.
Personally, I prefer providing less painful dental treatment to my patients. The reason behind this is I had a deep amalgam filling done on my first mandibular molar. During that time, I begged to be given LA because the pain was so intense that I clenched the armrest of that dentist's dental chair so hard that it was torn a little bit. I was teary, but I wasn't fighting back because Umi said to me, "If you fight back, you watch out when we get back". Although my ambition at that time was to become a police officer instead of a dentist, I swore to myself that if it happens that I become a dentist, I will not do the same thing to my patients. It's just cruel and causes more problems in a longer run. Patients refuse to come for regular dental check ups due to this fear and they end up having bad cavities, sometimes they're beyond being restored already and end up getting extracted. I love doing extractions, especially if I leave a neat socket behind, but the idea of extracting them alone is sad. The cost of replacing teeth is always more expensive than maintaining its existence. An implant will simply cost RM6000 in private sector. RM1400 and above for bridges. RM400-500 for dentures. A filling? Max RM200. Taking care of a tooth so that it doesn't decay? A few pennies. Di Kelantan yang besar jumlah pesakit yang datang daripada kumpulan berpendapatan rendah, lagilah. Ada yang sanggup tak bergigi langsung sebab tak ada pitih.
At least... try to win our patients' heart. They are humans just like us. Free treatment or not, we are being given the responsibility to take care of our patients. Be merciful. Have empathy. Books may provide you answers. Lecturers and seniors will guide you. If there's a will there's a way.