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What does it mean to be a dentist?

Recently I got the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Mita Desai, a professional in the oral healthcare industry, to discuss dentistry as a whole, and its impact on the community. Dr. Desai earned her DDS degree from the University of Pacific in 2004, and in 2008 she acquired her own practice. Since then, she has committed to serve her community and practice dentistry. My main focus for this conversation was to understand what being a dentist entails and what often gets overlooked by the general public.

Since most of us who have been to dentists for general upkeep, how would you describe what you do? What does your work entail on a day to day basis?

Dentists are healthcare professionals who specialize in oral health and the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of various dental conditions. Their work primarily revolves around caring for the oral health of their patients. "First and foremost we perform comprehensive examinations of patients' mouths, teeth, and gums to assess their oral health status. We look for signs of tooth decay, gum disease, oral infections, oral cancer, and other dental conditions. Along with this, we diagnose patients and perform procedures to appropriately treat their problem. These treatment plans range from implants, crowns, to even root canals"

What is the most challenging part of being a dentist?

As all professions do, there are parts of the job that require hard work and determination. "Managing patients fear and anxiety regarding the treatment plan is one of the most difficult things to do. People often avoid going to the dentist at all costs, however, this only causes more pain for them down the road as their oral health decreases detrimentally when no treatment is given. Getting all our patients to come in for their general up-keep appointments is hard, especially because of the reputation that dentists have been given. It takes a great amount of communication to battle the fear that people innately have regarding dentistry, but it is extremely important to make people feel comfortable with the procedure.

What is a common misconception people have about dentists?

There are two main misconceptions that people have about dentists, one being that what they do is always painful and the other being that their work is solely focused on teeth.

Many people associate dentistry with pain and discomfort, leading to the misconception that dentists are scary or painful to visit. However, modern dentistry has made significant advancements in pain management techniques, such as local anesthesia, sedation dentistry, and improved technologies. Dentists strive to provide a comfortable and pain-free experience for their patients.

Generally, dentists have a range of tasks that don't only involve teeth. While dentists are experts in oral health and dental care, their work extends beyond just treating teeth. They are trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of oral health conditions, including gum diseases, oral infections, oral cancers, and disorders of the jaw and facial structures. Dentists also play a vital role in oral health prevention, educating patients about proper oral hygiene practices and promoting overall oral health.

Being a dentist is just a job. With most medical facilities consolidating into larger entities, that does not seem to be the case with the dental business practices. What did the process of opening your own clinic look like back when you started out? Is this still a viable play for the future?

Opening a dental clinic is a daunting task. Dr. Desai acquired her practice from a dentist who was retiring and was able to maintain most of the previous staff. However, opening a clinic takes time and energy, and often there are a million details that go on behind the scenes. Opening Seminary Dental Clinic took a lot of time and money, especially because all the expensive equipment that needs to be bought had to be considered, as well as the business and patients had to be brought in.

Opening a clinic is still a viable play for the future, as long as patient care is prioritized. Many times with the consolidation of medical facilities, the empathy and relationship between a doctor and patient gets lost. When healthcare professionals make it a point to focus on caring for the patient they are bound to flourish.


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