Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 2, Issue 53, Tuesday July 12, 2005




Interpreter of Maladies

Dr. Nighat Ara, Psychiatrist

Dear Dr Nighat Ara,
I am a mother of an adolescent daughter. I can feel that she is gradually stepping towards puberty. I am having a hard time explaining everything to her. I want her to take it easy and I want to help her understand that it is a normal process. But I discovered that I hardly know how to deal with the situation. Being a mother is not an easy task. Can you please suggest how I can deal with the situation?

An adolescent girl goes through many physiological as well as psychological changes. Puberty (onset of menstrual cycle) is the manifestation of many hormonal and internal organic changes that take place at this time. Among the physiological changes, growth of different body parts could be very embarrassing as it draws lot of attention from others. Unfortunately, sometimes growing girls feel ashamed of their body parts as they are criticised pretty cruelly and shamed by others (teasing, dirty looks, sexual comments all contribute to this toxic shame feeling). They start feeling uncomfortable inside their skin and suffer from inferiority complex (too big or too small!). Over and above, female sexuality is a very sensitive issue, and before you decide to talk to your daughter, it is important that you re-examine your personal values and beliefs around it. Girls are taught not to explore bodies "down there", not to ask questions about sex or "that part of the body", "good girls" are above sexuality, and "femininity" means being passive and pleasing male partners etc. What are your values around these issues, and how much of it would you like to pass on to your daughter? How would you like to prepare your daughter to face the challenges of the twenty-first century and help her to grow into a "whole person"? The human body is a sanctuary that gives shelter to the soul. Talking about sexuality without glamorising, or inflicting a negative connotation to it, role modelling healthy attitude, talking about the differences between a good touch and a bad touch, being around friends who have a good influence on her etc. are helpful tools. Adolescent girls need to be aware of dangerous situations and high-risk behaviours, they should learn about self-protection. Since they are the most common targets of sex offenders, ignorance or carelessness can lead to serious consequences. Sometimes girls don't feel comfortable or safe enough to talk to their mothers about these worries; however, they may find it easier to communicate with friends, sisters, cousins etc. In a girls' school, teachers can also talk about it in science class. In Western countries, children learn about it in a classroom atmosphere and are encouraged to ask questions so that they hear the right stuff before they hear a distorted version of it from another source. With the beginning of physiological changes, interest in the opposite sex, renewed interest in self-identity, great interest in team or group activities, mood swings, hero worship etc. also begin. Some parenting tips for building relationships are: understand your own and your child's temperaments, understand developmental stages, ignore behaviour you want to eliminate, make one on one time for each child, admit when you are wrong and make amends, have a conversation (ask what she thinks about this issue?).

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.

Hello Dr. Khan,
I am 22 years old. I am suffering from wisdom tooth eruption (but no pain). Why does a wisdom tooth need to be removed if it is not causing any trouble (pain, swelling etc)? I have visited three dental surgeons, but had been given different opinions. Why is there a difference in opinions?
Muktadir Alam

Dear Mr. Alam,
Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last teeth to erupt. This occurs usually between the ages of 17 and 25. Wisdom teeth are a valuable asset to the mouth when they are healthy and properly positioned. There remains a great deal of controversy regarding whether or not these teeth need to be removed. It is generally suggested that teeth that remain completely buried or un-erupted in a normal position are unlikely to cause harm. However, if these impacted teeth are in an abnormal position (a dentist can show you this on an OPG x-ray), their potential for harm should be assessed. A patient and their dentist should mutually decide on removal of the third molar. Repeated pain, swelling and difficulty in chewing are clear indications for removal of wisdom teeth.

Dear Dr. Khan,
How are you doing? I heard that you do inlay (special laboratory base filling). I have a lot of amalgam filling (silver colour) which I did 8 years back. This year, I went to Singapore for business purposes and had been suffering from dental problems at that time. They asked me why I did not change my old filling by inlay. I am confused about the inlay. You wrote that this is relatively new in Bangladesh and very few dentists do it. Can you briefly explain about inlay? Omar

Dear Mr. Omar,
Yes, I do both Inlay and Onlay. To repair damage involving over ½ of the tooth's biting surface, rather than using a simple filling or a crown, a dentist will often use an inlay, or an onlay. You can replace your old silver filling (amalgam) by Inlay.
Inlay is a new type of cast filling. It is prepared in the laboratory and is superior than silver fillings and white colour composite fillings. Inlay is widely used in other developed countries because of its heavy strength, excellent shape/anatomy and accurate adaptation. Typical fillings can reduce the strength of the tooth by up to 50%. Inlays and onlays, however, because they are bonded directly into the tooth with special resins, can actually increase the strength of the tooth by up to 75%. As a result, they can last from 10-30 years, and in some cases, provide a good alternative to a crown. First of all, consider the simple physics of the situation: each bite you take puts up to 900 pounds of pressure per square inch on the surface of the biting tooth. Over the years, this kind of pressure can easily cause silver amalgam or composite filling to change their shape and contour, crack, and possibly create fractures within the tooth as well. Then, decay/caries can creep into the fracture lines and under the loosened filling.
Inlays and onlays are applied in two dental visits. At the first visit, the old filling, or decay, is removed, and the tooth is prepared for the inlay / onlay. The dentist will then make an impression of the tooth, and send this impression to a dental laboratory. This impression will be used by the laboratory to construct, an inlay / onlay that will fit exactly into your tooth. At this time, the dentist will place a temporary sealant on your tooth and schedule a second appointment.
At the second visit, the temporary sealant is removed. Your dentist will then ensure that the inlay / onlay fits properly in the tooth and does not interfere with your bit. Once correctly fit, the inlay / onlay is bonded into the tooth with a strong bonding resin, and polished smooth.

By The Way

A handful of handy kitchen tips

If you want to store rice flour and basin for a long time, keep it in a polythene cover and refrigerate. To prevent salt from getting damp, add a pinch of corn flour to the jar of salt. Hate soggy green peas? These will retain their original colour, if a pinch of sugar is added to them while boiling.
Milk overflowing while being heated can turn into a disastrous mess, clogging burners. This can be prevented. Apply some oil on the sides of the vessel in which you boil milk, in order to avoid it from overflowing.


By Iffat Nawaz

In the midst of bitter surprises

Pre July 4th
The burnt grass never smelt worse, and I was at my most sarcastic mood. The crabby I ended up with a few others at the National Independence Mall, between Capital Hill and the Washington Monument. Us the locals… pretending not to be foo-foo, hating tourists and challenging Washington DC's quota of being exciting, we were so ready to be amazed.

After watching a much anticipated opening of a mediocre 'save the world kill the aliens' type of movie, and chewing down over-priced pretty meals (notice it's pretty and not tasty) we ended up there… the Folklife Festival. For the last few years the Smithsonian is hosting the Folklife festival in the arm of DC (not the heart). Each year they have different themes. I was most interested in it in 2002; it was on the Silk Route and Bangladesh was one of the countries represented, and because I am biased, I totally dug the whole fest: the fake Jamdani saris, and the Lalon songs from some authentic singers straight out of Khustia. This year the folk festival was covering Oman and American food traditions and Forest Services! It did sound pretty strange to me -- Omani culture and American bee-hunter with forest fire fighters; I was not sure how they were all related.

I was in the midst of many ponytails and cotton shorts, walking through each tent waiting to be pleasantly surprised. I bumped into a few Omani stick dancers who wore the attire of any Mollah from Bangladesh (The long white "Alkhallah" and the white and red turban). Hoping for more diversity, I kept on walking. Then came the American food culture, the honey, the bees, wood, butter, and soymilk with organic gardens. The tofu eaters happily listening to some on-the-spot cooking shows, and I, searching for a glass of lemonade that's cheaper than $6. The next aisle consisted of the Hare Krishnas who came out there with their pasty skins and bright pink saris; this cult never seems to lack in enthusiasm. I ran…since they are quick to trap you into free food, followed by a book in order to convert you into one of them…didn't feel like being enlightened, so moaning and groaning and totally disappointed by the lack of creativity and continuity of DC's cultural officials, I left chewing on a good old organic chicken hot dog.

4TH of July
The Beach Boys were having their concert; the boiling patriots were out there melting away with the summer's humidity. I decided to take the safer route, a safe landing a bit further out in the city with a thousand others to watch the fireworks. Apparently DC's security officials had a field day applying their practice emergency evacuation plan that day. Yup that's right, we were the test rats! They figured there will be no better chance to see if DC's emergency evacuation plan is effective, then rehearsing it on the July 4th firework audience. So all who went to see the show were part of a test! In case we get attacked, how and what will be the ways for us to get out? What a way to celebrate Independence Day! By practicing a possible dooms day!

And the fireworks? Well same as every year…the red white and blue bursts, happy faces, no peace sign, though I guess it would have been too ironic.

Surprised? I am not…Bitter? Join the club, good to know that I am not alone!


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