Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 49, Tuesday January 6, 2008




Passion for dentistry

AMONG the many attributes associated with dentists, passion is not anywhere near the top of the list. But Dr. Khan is no ordinary dental practitioner. He has dreams and aspirations, some which have seen reality while others are yet to be fulfilled.

Dr. Mahfujul Haq Khan and his wife Dr. Sejuty Haque are both passionate about their profession and field of study. Dr. Khan works as an Associate Professor in the Department of Dentistry at BIRDEM Hospital and Ibrahim Medical College, and Dr. Sejuty Haque works as an Associate Professor in the Department of Science and Dental Materials at Bangladesh Dental College. They manage all this with running a clinic, the 'AIKO Dental Clinic' at Banani.

Talking to them about the state of dentistry in Bangladesh, one really gets a sense of the importance of dental hygiene and how far behind Bangladesh is in this regard.

"I wanted to do research and volunteer work. I wanted to raise the profile of the profession here, to raise standards by setting an example myself," said Dr. Khan earnestly.

“That is a big task, but I hope to accomplish it someday.

"There are only 3,500 qualified dental surgeons in Bangladesh, a country with a population of 150 million. That means there is one dental surgeon for every forty two thousand people, a ridiculous state of affairs. In Japan where you have roughly the same population, there are a hundred thousand qualified dentists.

"My main intention in running a clinic is to set an example of hygienic conditions," he explained.

There are many cases of cross contamination in our country, caused by neglect on the part of the surgeons. Dental professionals who do not use infection control are playing with AIDS, Hepatitis B and C virus, and other deadly unknown germs, and place themselves, their staff, their patients and their families in jeopardy.

“It is the duty of all dental professionals to use infection control guidelines. In order to ensure our safety, observe your dentist at work very carefully. But what should you be looking for? Note carefully whether your dentist observes basic mandatory cross infection control techniques such as obtaining complete medical histories, changing gloves routinely for every patient, being particular about personal hygiene and washing his hands regularly.

Of immense importance is whether the dentist uses sterilised instruments and disposable needles and suction tips. Hygiene and proper patient care, good behaviour from my staff are my top priority, followed by good treatment.”

Dr. Sejuty Haque, who is also a guest teacher at BSMMU teaching postgraduate students, is also under no illusions about Bangladesh's dental care situation. According to her, a lack of work ethics seems to be the cause of the problem.

"There are many dentists who open a clinic just for the sake of it, without paying attention to maintaining proper hygiene," she said. "For example, the material we use to take dental impressions of patients can be found in three varieties; cheap, regular and expensive. Many dentists will use the cheaper material, even though impressions come out best using the expensive material. This practice means that the treatment will not be satisfactory, as dental impressions usually are the starting point for many patients.

"Also, the state of dental education is not ideal. There are private colleges and universities popping up everywhere. Rules are not followed. The ratio of students to teachers should be ten to two, while even the college I teach at does not come close to that figure. There are 60 or 70 students and only two or three teachers. Dental students need more individual attention than others, because the jobs they are training for are highly specialised and important," she added.

Although he hasn't fulfilled many of his dreams yet, Dr. Khan has not stopped trying. Dental care is quite expensive, and a large portion of Bangladesh's population cannot afford the treatment. To this end, Dr. Khan and a few of his associates conducted dental health camps among 1850 primary-school-going-children in different parts of Bangladesh, where children were given dental checkups with basic dental treatment and also an overall medical check-up. Also, they provide free treatment to patients of CRP (Centre for Rehabilitation of the Paralysed), in Savar and some slum areas of Dhaka.

"The incidence rate of oral cancer in Bangladesh, and indeed in the subcontinent, is very high," Dr. Khan added. "Oral cancer makes up about twenty to thirty percent of all cancers. This is mainly because of abnormal oral habits and lack of information as well as awareness. People chew paan, shupari, jorda (chewing tobacco), all of which contain a lot of cancer producing molecules, and sleep with these in their mouths. The incidence of oral cancer can be lessened in Bangladesh with proper education and dissemination of pertinent information in schools.

“You see, very few people in Bangladesh visit a dentist regularly, whereas in the U.S and other western countries people visit every six months. When people from rural areas come to see me, most of them have already passed the point of no return. This might have been avoided if they had some knowledge of proper dental care."

After talking to the couple for a while, one cannot help but be infected by their passion. Although dental health is not something that people, or at least Bangladeshis, treat seriously, it does not take much to see that neglecting this aspect of our well being may have an adverse long-term effect, much like neglecting some other aspect would.

Dr. Mahfujul Haq Khan and Dr. Sejuty Haque are working tirelessly to raise standards of dental care in the country, it is time we start to take notice and pay attention to our own dental health, If not, someday it might jut come back to bite us.

Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed

Check It Out

Pitha Utshab @ Radisson

JOIN the festival fervour at Radisson Water Garden Hotel Dhaka and relish the heritage of Bangladesh with “Pitha Utshab”. The festival will continue from 12 January through 18 January 2009. Guests may also enjoy potato feast at Water Garden Brasserie restaurant at Level 1 of the hotel dinner.

As winter is the perfect season for the traditional rice cake, indulge yourself with the season's delicacies. Celebrate with “Pitha Utshab” and choose from an array of delectable succulent pithas such as bhapa, patishapta, puli, lobongo lotika, shajer pitha and their mouth-watering flavour.

Throughout this week, the chefs of Radisson Water Garden Hotel Dhaka are going to prepare some delicious pithas of all shapes and colors. There is also a live cooking station so that guests can watch the chef prepare the local culinary delights.

News Flash

Dressydale @ Orchard Point

DRESSYDALE will open a new outlet at Dhanmondi's Orchard Point. Dressydale will also introduce new outfits keeping with the inauguration of the new store. The designers have concentrated on the comfort and style when designing these outfits.

Well wishers, patrons and media personnel will be present during the inauguration ceremony. Dressydale is hoping for success with their new line that is refined and provides more value for money.

Contact # 8810753 - 5

4th anniversary celebration of Angeleena Collection

ANGELEENA Collection @ Pink City, Gulshan will mark its 4th anniversary on January 14, 2009 by hosting daylong festivities over three days. Its designer range will be offered at a discount of 10% to 20% during the celebration period.
Bangla Marathon

RUNNING in a marathon is not only for the seasoned athlete. While completing it in record time may be the feat of an Olympic sportsman, taking part can be something for everyone.

Bangla Marathon is a 42.195 km run, or 21.096 km (half marathon) and will start from Marine Drive Road, Cox's Bazaar on 7 February 2009, at 6 AM.

Only a handful of competitors can participate. Registration must be completed before 25 January. Registration includes accommodation and varies between 2500 (non-AC) and 3500 (AC).

All participants must report on Friday, 6 February 2007 at 12 noon in Motel Upal or Probal, Cox' Bazaar. Registration forms can be collected from Swiss Bakery at Bailey Road and outlets of Lloyd Vision: Uttara (06662602099), Chittagong (01195059789), Bogura (01711106054), Dinajpur (0172864877), Barisal (01712840409), Mymensigh (01731316965).

The "Bangla Marathon" is arranged by Bangla Mountaineering and Trekking Club, and its training centre 'Extremist'.



home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2009 The Daily Star