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Chennai, the capital of Tamilnadu, a southern state in India with a population of somewhere around 4.3 million is a multi-cultural metropolitan city with a diverse population of people from different cultural backgrounds and different socio-economic status thus making it the epitome of a land where there is a collision of the rich and the poor, the ordinary and the extra-ordinary, the traditional and the modern, and the old and the new. In a city of such ‘organized chaos’, the term dentistry caters different meanings to different people.
Chennai has an umpteen number of dental clinics, Dental Specialty Centers and a Dozen Dental Colleges producing an estimated Thousand Dental graduates every year. With New Colleges being constructed and a healthy inflow of students from other states, NRI(Non Resident Indian) students and Foreign students as well, the entire picture of dentistry in Chennai looks rosy, One might argue that this may cause a clustering or rather crowding of dentists and the patient/dentist ratio may fall. But at the same time, there has also been an increase in the dental awareness in this city thus increasing the number of patients as well.
Not long ago, there was a time when people visited dentists only for either treatment of pain in teeth or replacing missing teeth and the entire idea of Oral Hygiene Maintenance visits and Preventive Care was completely out of the picture. It is sad that the same situation still exists today, even in a metro like Chennai but is thankfully limited to certain areas especially those on the outskirts where there is clustering of individuals of the lower socio-economic status. Dental awareness camps, commonly organized by Dental Colleges and Institutions are being setup and conducted in various localities providing Free Dental Health Check Ups and treatment especially for those who can’t afford it. Awareness is also being spread in Schools so that children can appreciate the advantages of maintaining a good oral hygiene and also be acquaint of thevarious dental procedures and brushing techniques. But, in spite of such tremendous efforts taken by the various colleges andcinstitutions, dental awareness is still yet to reach everyone.
In Chennai, different dental clinics and centers cater to different people. Take for example the Acharya Dental Clinic. It is a multi specialty dental clinic which attracts the elite not only from Chennai, but also from other states and abroad as well. Now, you wouldn’t expect a common man getting his tooth filled there for Rs.1500/-($40). He would rather go to a dental clinic which is not as Hi-Fi as this one but then serves the purpose of his tooth being filled for less than Rs. 400/-. Such is the diversity of patients in Chennai that before setting up a clinic or a specialty center, it becomes important to consider the factors namely a)Location, b)Name of the Center, c)Amount being charged for treatment, d)Appearance of the Individual and Clinic/center and e)Communication. It is extremely rare to find 2 patients from either end of the spectrum to end up in the same clinic or center.
But there are few exceptions also. Dr. C.K. Dhanasekhar, one of the leading and most experienced Oral Surgeons in India has patients from all socio-economic groups coming to him because of his skill and experience. His charges are very reasonable and sometimes charges nothing at all for those who are in need of but can’t afford treatment. Thus, bearing in mind the above facts, it becomes extremely complicated and tricky in setting up a dental clinic or center. A thorough knowledge of the type of population in that area will give a clear picture and can help simplify matters.
Recently, there has been an upsurge in the esthetic awareness especially amongst young individuals especially those from the IT sector as they constantly seek to improve their personality and hence the number of patients wanting esthetic dental treatment has increased. Treatments include simple bleaching and polishing procedures to more complex Porcelain Veneer Facing Bondings and also Precious Stone Placements(Skyce) on the front surface of the tooth for that sparkling smile. This branch is being termed as Luxury Dentistry. It has been a rage and the situation only seems to get better with new products being introduced almost daily!
Thus it is understood that Chennai is a niche of its own kind in relation to dentistry. It is probably the best option for anybody seeking dental advice and treatment because it apparently has some of the best Dental Clinics and Centers equipped with the latest in Dental technology. As a matter of fact, the Andhra Pradesh Government has set guidelines for Colleges in that state based on the equipment and norms followed in the Saveetha Dental College in Chennai. Such is the quality of treatment here. It is therefore no surprise that many of the Dental Conferences on different topics and branches in dentistry take place in Chennai. Even the inflow of patients to Chennai from abroad seeking dental treatment has increased substantially over the past few years and the presence of an International Airport in Chennai obviously helps matters more.
For Students wanting to do their Bachelors in Dentistry(B.D.S.), or their Masters(M.D.S.), there is no better place than Chennai, simply because of the advanced facilities that the institutions follow here supported by an excellent, well trained and experienced faculty. The Institutions also have tie-ups with other International Universities around the world thus giving an international perspective of dentistry to the students and educating them about the recent and latest advancements.
In having an insight of all that was said above, I believe that Chennai must be the first choice for patients and Students alike, not just because of the facilities, the education and that great treatment provided here, but also because of the care and the wonderful people involved during the treatment and education process. Students can consider Chennai as their prime destination to do dentistry because of the above said advantages and never regret their decision. With the best in Dental Technology, best in dental treatment, best in dental education supported by the best of faculty, the great opportunities and bright future for budding Dentists, the wonderful care that you will receive here and the love and affection of the Chennai people, I believe that Chennai is truly the Dental Capital of India.
Dr Mohd Faizal is a Young Aspiring Dentist who graduated from Saveetha Dental College,Chennai,INDIA.