Quality & Affordable Dentistry in Malaysia

Dentistry Today in Selangor, Malaysia

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It was more than 40 years ago when we first began using high speed handpieces, the instrument commonly known as the drill. Actually, the handpiece is the power mechanism that holds the drill (known to the dentist as the "bur").
It was more than 40 years ago when we first began using high speed handpieces, the instrument commonly known as the drill. Actually, the handpiece is the power mechanism that holds the drill (known to the dentist as the “bur”).

Today’s dentistry is a reflection of all of the spectacular events that have dazzled society since the inauguration of the space age. We have witnessed the information explosion, the development of high technology, and now the proliferation of the World Wide Web. Dentistry could not have escaped these developments, even if it had wanted to. Dentists as both scientists and artists are, of course, as open as everyone else to these almost unbelievable phenomena -open and excited as well. It was more than 40 years ago when we first began using high speed handpieces, the instrument commonly known as the drill. Actually, the handpiece is the power mechanism that holds the drill (known to the dentist as the “bur”).

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Our new composite materials are now widely used to restore teeth to their original form, function, and natural colour. They are a spin-off from the space age technology and the materials resulting therefrom. It is only since the 1980s and the emergence of the HIV virus and AIDS that the widespread use and eventual universal use of latex or vinyl gloves, masks, and eye protection have been worn by dental professionals.

Dental Implant dentistry has in the last 20 years become an accepted and viable alternative for replacing missing teeth. Forty years ago, implants were still considered experimental and highly unreliable. Now, the technology and materials are being improved every day and it shows. Implants, in fact, permit teeth to be replaced in a way that is healthy and attractive, and much more in keeping with what nature gave us in the first place. Equally appealing is the fact that the replacement teeth are fastened over the gums permanently and securely, without worrying that the new teeth will come loose or need to be removed after meals for cleaning or at night while sleeping. Cleaning implants only requires the same dental care needs as your natural teeth.

Today’s dental clinic is so electronically sophisticated and high-tech that one could imagine being on a Space Shuttle or another extremely sophisticated aircraft. Some of the advances include intra-oral video cameras that show clearly and vividly, on screen, defects in an individual’s teeth and gums, and the characteristics and condition of old restorations. In fact, video imaging devices can show patients their current face, teeth, and smile; and how orthodontics, cosmetic procedures, and other restorative techniques would improve facial features. They can see the results of a particular dental procedure on screen before any intervention is made. Incredibly, the most advanced dental offices even have miniature television sets with goggle-type glasses (and an attached earpiece) that can be worn to see television or a movie while undergoing treatment. Talk about being detached from your dental treatment-this is the ultimate (so far).

In addition, among the most important developments is visio-radiography, a digitised system of diagnosing, dental disease that does not use radiation. There are also other highly advanced radiography systems for diagnosing orthodontic treatment, temporomandibular joint disfunction (TMJD), and the older standard systems, all of which, fortunately, use less and less radiation and provide better images.

And now we have tooth cavity preparation systems that use micro- abrasive particles of aluminium oxide through a pressurised hand piece. These systems require no anaesthesia (thus no needles) and produce no noise and no pain; and in May of 1997, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a dental laser for decay removal that exhibits similar features.

The action behind the scene in a modern dental office finds dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, and office managers continually advancing and supplementing their knowledge and technique. And there are numerous lectures, seminars, workshops, boot-camps, and meetings provided at the many dental colleges, dental meetings, conventions, and study clubs throughout the country. Let’s also not forget the videos, satellite-dish courses, closed-circuit TV sessions, and the Internet, along with the usual abundant number of books, magazines, and dental journals. With all of this opportunity to advance the science, dentists are more highly-educated and informed to provide you, the consumer, with the highest quality dentistry ever available.

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The economics of dentistry have changed dramatically in the past 20 years and affect nearly everyone, dentist and patient alike. Dental insurance arrived on the scene in the early 1970s (mostly in the USA) and at that time, while many dentists resisted it, many of us welcomed insurance with open arms, as we thought that dental insurance would increase access to dental care for a large number of groups that had previously received only emergency-type care. Most dental plans had annual limits of RM750 to RM1500 per family member. They all required a nominal annual deductible payment at the patient’s first visit of the year, and a percentage of co-payment for most procedures ranging from 20% to 50%. Exclusions existed, as did other rules such as pre-existing conditions and length of time since the same procedure was accomplished on each tooth. Pre-determination was usually required on the more expensive procedures and no more than two cleanings and check-ups were allowed per year. Dental insurance policies such as these are known today as conventional insurance. Well, guess what. Conventional dental insurance today looks much the same way and, in many cases, with the same annual maximum of RM1,000. Today, that amounts to RM137 compared to RM1,000 in the early 1970s – RM137 of dentistry!! Or to put it another way, the RM1,000 worth of dental benefits then per year would pay for RM7,299 worth of dentistry today. Why haven’t these benefits kept up with inflation? You be the judge.

Not only are dental insurance benefits low, but the insurance  companies often insert themselves into the doctor-patient relationship, going so far as to influence, if not dictate, diagnose, prioritise, and treatment sequence our options. Today, while many of the insurance companies continue their conventional programs, most are offering alternatives, called Preferred Provider Organisation’s (PPO’s). These networks are much like Health Maintenance Organisation’s (HMO’S) but unlike PO’s, they are not located in a single facility. They are made up of a large number of dentists, each having agreed to follow the PO’s rules and fees, operating out of their own offices, and mixing private and PPO patients. The idea is to keep dental costs down and thus being viewed as managed health care programs. While the concept sounds good, the problem is that there is, as we say, no free lunch. Somebody or some organization must pay for everything; and, in this case, it’s the consumer and the provider. The consumer pays because, by definition, the level of  care must be lowered due to the inability of the provider to furnish quality and ample time, materials and lab services, top-of-the-line personal, and, ultimately, the finest service available. With inferior funding, how could any of this be possible? The provider suffers because the profit margin is inadequate, motivation diminished, and frustration rises to the point of questioning why one wanted to practice dentistry in the first place. This is certainly one of the important dynamics dominating the market place today.

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Dental students working on 'phantom heads' , (fake patients heads) , practicing different dental procedures)
Dental students working on ‘phantom heads’ , (fake patients heads) , practicing different dental procedures)

What kind of education and training is necessary to become a dentist today? A prospective dentist in Malaysia must first graduate from an accredited college with a foundation diploma, having appropriate courses in biology, chemistry, and math. One also must take and pass a dental aptitude examination which tests intelligence, knowledge of college course materials previously studied, aptitude with one’s hands-and-eye coordination, and overall abilities necessary to succeed in dental school. Then, after being accepted to dental university, there are four more years of education. Upon completion and being deemed a “safe beginner,” the dentist usually starts a career by joining the military, being accepted as an intern or resident at a government facility or learning under an experienced colleague or an associate dentist. Then come the Regional Boards or the specific state board where the dentist wishes to practice. These examinations include a demonstration of a complete and comprehensive knowledge of all the laws that govern dental practice in that specific state.

Now, let me say a few words about just what else is available for you, the dental consumer. Mention has been previously made about materials, labs, and equipment that are out there. But specific benefits to you have not been mentioned. We can and often do change undesirable and average smiles into dynamic, beautiful, and engaging ones. People’s self-confidence, self-esteem, and sense of worth are often raised many times over. Dentists provide these services every day with porcelain and composite crowns, bridges, only fillings, composite fillings, and veneers, minimising the use of metals and maximising full porcelain and composite restorations. No metal means no dark lines around the necks of the teeth next to the gums, no tattoos (from semi- and non-precious metals) next to the gums, and no more mercury amalgam fillings that are black, grey, or silver in colour.

The restorative and cosmetic options available today put you in control of your dental treatment and allow you to have a more toxic-free, healthy, and natural-looking smile.

Earlier, I described a high-tech, state-of-the-art dental office; the opposite also still exists today. You could, perhaps, just as easily find a dentist, practicing what looks like 1950s dentistry, but you may not know it. This dentist may still be using older restorative materials and techniques which do not consider your cosmetic concerns. There are many patch-and- fill dentists who treat just the problem at hand, ignoring the larger picture of the mouth and teeth as a whole. Periodontal (gums, underlying bone, and other supportive tissue) disease goes far too often undiagnosed. This is perhaps the most important aspect of all. Just as you would not build a house on sand, you certainly don’t want to have your teeth restored on an unsound foundation. More teeth are lost after the age of 35 from periodontal disease than any other cause. So it behooves one to choose a dentist who pays a great deal of attention to this part of your diagnosis.

Hard as it is to believe, some dental offices are unclean and unsanitary and their sterilising procedures and practices are questionable. You will usually get a sense of this the first time you go into a dental office, and your own good sense will tell you to go elsewhere for treatment.

Is it necessary for a dentist to have all of the newest, most advanced, high-tech equipment for you to receive quality dental care? No, it is not. It’s nice for you and the dental team alike to have some or all of it, but, by far, the most important qualities a dentist should possess are skill, care, judgment, training and continuing education, integrity and ethics, a genuine caring about his or her patients, and experience. 

What else should you be looking for in your dentist and how do you go about finding him or her? 

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