Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 45, Tuesday April 11, 2004






Dental wise

DR. Mahfujul Haq Khan BDS, DDS, FSDCE (USA), PhD (Japan), Post Doc. (Japan) Specialised: Crown and Bridge work, and Periodontal plastic
surgery (USA) Senior Medical Officer, Department of Dentistry, BIRDEM Hospital

Dr. Khan
I am 23 years old. I had several filling (silver-black colour-amalgam filling), which I did 10 years back. Recently, however, I visited one dentist and he suggested me to replace those old fillings to white colour dental filling. My question is, if my tooth doesn't hurt and my filling is still in place, why would the filling need to be replaced? Are dental amalgams safe? Is it true that dental amalgams have been banned in other countries?
Najir Hossain

Ans: If my tooth doesn't hurt and my filling is still in place, why would the filling need to be replaced? Are dental amalgams safe? Constant pressure from chewing, grinding or clenching can cause dental fillings, or restorations, to wear away, chip or crack. Although you may not be able to tell that your filling is wearing down, your dentist can identify weaknesses in your restorations during a regular check-up.

If the seal between the tooth enamel and the restoration breaks down, food particles and decay-causing bacteria can work their way under the restoration. You then run the risk of developing additional decay in that tooth. Decay that is left untreated can progress to infect the dental pulp and may cause an abscess.

Are dental amalgams safe? Yes. Dental amalgam has been used in tooth restorations world-wide for more than 100 years. Studies have failed to find any constructive link between amalgam restorations and any medical disorder. But somehow still controversial as it contain mercury.

Is it true that dental amalgams have been banned in other countries? Sorry right now I don't have any confirm information.

Dr. Khan
I have several missing teeth and using artificial denture. I never can chew properly, especially hard food. I am thinking about making bridge but before that I want know, Is there another way I can have a tooth replaced other than a bridge?
Rubana Huq

Yes. Dental implants can provide artificial teeth that look natural and feel secure. Dental implants can also be used to attach full or partial dentures. Implants, however, are not an option for everyone. Because implants require surgery, patients must be in good health, have healthy gums, have adequate bone to support the implant and be committed to meticulous oral hygiene and regular dental visits. If you are considering implants, a thorough evaluation by your dentist will help determine if you would be a good candidate


Reviving old customs: Brass crockery

There was a time when traditions and cultures were not divided into sects according to religion. Both Hindu and Muslim traits together made up the culture. The social environment had a touch of similarity. There was not much difference between the two festivals of Eid and Puja. In the similar way there wasn't much of a difference with the tools and utensils used at home. Take for example the often breathtaking new designs of plates, glasses and pots made of different materials. It's a huge change from the times when Bangalees would use utensils in a way as to maintain a tradition. Back then brass was the choice material for utensils and these represented tools which defined tradition. Such customs are lacking today what with the unbreakable plastic plates and the smooth porcelain replacing the age old brass.

Many if not most households would serve their dinners, stored their water and offered refreshments using brass plates and pots. Preference for other materials has diminished the market for this particular metal as a household tool. As a result the craftsmanship has also decreased to a minimalist level. Decent articles can still be found in the Shakhari Bazaar area in Old Dhaka. It's a nostalgic trip that takes you back to the times of your childhood when glittering utensils were neatly shelved in your grandparent's home.

Gifts to married daughter

Baishakh has that effect when at times you are led to believe that there is no lack of love and affection within humanity. It is of course true in case of parents who never seem to stop caring for their wards. It's a storage of fondness never seems to run dry. From the start of a child's life till the end of a parents', the latter will keep on toiling for the betterment of their child. They will do something or the other as a divine expression of their love.

Take for example when a daughter is married off. Parents seem to go on overdrive because of the fact that the girl is now living in someone else's house.

It's often custom to send gifts from the parents to the married couple. It's an old custom that has similar methods across all races and religions. Baishakh also has a similar custom where the parents send of a basket packed with puffed rice, flat rice, gur koi, moa, murki, batasha, seasonal fruits like water melon, green mangos, papaya, beth fol, orhor and the list goes on. In fact the mother's take pride on how decorative their basket is, after all its going to jamai bari, harmless showing off is an big issue. It takes a different dimension if there is any grandchildren around. The fruit basket or gift is a symbolic representation of the love sent by the girl's parents.

By Sultana Yasmin Translated By Ehsanur Raza Ronny




Races and racists

If there is one shared trait among Bangladeshis living abroad, that would be, in my opinion, our ability to grumble and use our inferiority complexes to our advantages by playing the biggest of victims. While we nag about being categorised as South Asians, we ourselves compartmentalise, scrutinise and simplify every race that we come across in America. We call the African Americans "Kallu" and the Caucasians "Shada" by default. When we use such terms towards these races we never feel an ounce of guilt for being derogatory. We do not even think we are being offensive as we pretend to be the victims of racial discrimination by these races. We have heated discussions over tea and snacks about how we are looked down upon by the Caucasians for our lack of deodorant usage and presence of thick accents and envied by the African Americans for our quick ascents to successful careers.

In this so-called land of races and racists, I find myself along with other Bengalis to be the most bigoted. I found, through my past and present experience of living abroad and in Bangladesh, we Bengalis have the lowest tolerance. We are intolerant of even our own kinds let alone any kindness or understanding for others. Th class system exists everywhere, even in the most democratic of countries, but from the Bangladeshi point of view, we have made this class segmentation very visible and real. We are more prone to mix with the Caucasians than with African Americans. We are scared of African Americans for the power they hold as a strong minority (not so much of a minority anymore), and we put down the Spanish, especially the immigrant Mexicans, as if they are a lower form of human being. We respect the Korean, the Chinese and the Vietnamese for their accomplishments, but we mock and make fun of them too whenever the opportunity arises.

What I find worse is, a few well off Bangladeshi families were privileged enough to bring their maidservants from Bangladesh all the way to America to do their house chores and look after their kids. These maids live completely in a Bangladeshi setting. Nothing has really changed for them except for the fact that they cannot go out to buy paan and bidi from the store at the next street corner, or see their families year after year. They are in a trap, not even able to call back home in some cases, as their families do not have access to the luxury of phones in Bangladesh. These maids earn lower than minimum wage. Some of these maids spend most of their days in the kitchen. The guests come and go, piling up dishes and messing up the house. The quiet maid in the kitchen remains in her chequered sari, waiting to clean up with her American soap and wash clothes. It awes me when the "master" of such a household complains about being discriminated against, being cornered or being taken advantage of by the white or black world. He never bothers to see the crime he is committing by discriminating and unjustly taking away rights from a helpless individual living under his own roof.

Bengalis play the victims of discrimination yet believe and practice slavery themselves. We Bengalis are the worst in appreciating any profession related to service. For example, Bengalis are usually the worst tippers when it comes to valuing a waiter/waitress. We see them as working class, they are attending to us, and therefore they must be lower than us. When we leave them a shameful amount of tips for their service, we never feel any remorse. After all, who cares about making a bad impression to a social class inferior to yours?

I recognise there is definitely discrimination directed towards Bangladeshis. There are plenty of cases of that, which I am sure everyone has heard of. All the condescending names Bangladeshis are called, all the horrible incidents where Bangladeshis have been taken abuse mentally or physically from other races. We know they were wrong and we can point our fingers, stand up, and spread the word about these kinds of prejudices, but who will point our fingers back at us to pinpoint the racists living in our own hearts?

So for the sake of the hidden racist inside of me, for the sake of my hypocritical mind, I am pointing the finger towards myself, I am recognising I am a racist, and I suggest you do the same before others point their fingers at you.

By Iffat Newaz



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