Saturday, August 1, 2009


The Specialist Dental Group (SDG) team: (from left) Dr Patricia Yeong, Dr Neo Tee Khin, Dr Helena Lee, Dr Ansgar Cheng, Dr Elvin Leong, Dr Ho Kok Sen and Dr Eugene Chan.

Dental woes are the bane of many a senior citizen. Back in the 1950s and 60s when we seniors were in our early teens, a toothache meant an immediate extraction often by an unlicensed 'dentist' who learned his trade as an apprentice to a quack much like him. We grew up without the benefit of regular dental check-ups, flouride in our drinking water or toothpaste.
Dental care has come a long way since then as I discovered after attending a dental seminar at Suntec Convention Centre this afternoon. It turned out to be a most enlightening and enriching
three hours spent learning about oral health and the latest in dental procedures.
Organized by Channel NewsAsia, the seminar featured a panel of six highly qualified and experienced professionals from Specialist Dental Group (SDG). Together they covered a wide spectrum of topics that were of interest and relevance to the general public.

The 600-seat auditorium was packed to capacity. At S$11 admission fee (for early registration), it was definitely value for money. Some of the things I picked up at the seminar:

~ Not many people realize this - our mouth is a window to our health. Poor dental hygiene, for example, may lead to periodontitis or gum disease. In her opening talk "The Mouth and Body Connection", periodontist Dr Helena Lee presented clear evidence of the link between oral health and health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, premature births and digestive problems. Treatment and healing for gum disease is more difficult in smokers. The good news is that gum disease is preventable with early diagnosis. That means a dental check-up every six months.

~ Dental procedures, including surgery, are relatively pain-free today. Trust me on this one as I had bone-grafting done in my lower jaw last December. I was given local anesthesia, so I was fully conscious during the entire surgery. I hardly felt any pain under the expert hands of Dr Ho Kok Sen from SDG.

~ Braces are no longer confined to the traditional metal ones. Says orthodontist Dr Patricia Yeong, "Braces can be a fashion statement as they now come in various materials and colours. Some can be worn behind the teeth so no one knows you are wearing braces." I am sure such braces would be a hit with adults seeking to straighten their teeth. The latest type of braces is Invisalign. The name says it all. According to accredited Invisalign orthodontist Dr Eugene Chan, these braces are made of a clear transparent material that renders them almost invisible. They help to straighten teeth invisibly without any discomfort or need for lifestyle changes. My daughter uses these braces. She has no complaints at all despite having to wear them 24/7. She only removes them when eating.

The Invisalign pamphlet

~ For people with missing teeth, a much better alternative to dentures is implants. Implants function like permanent teeth. You eat better, and speak and smile with more confidence. Your self-esteem improves, and so does your quality of life. The whole procedure may take several visits to the clinic but at no time do you leave the clinic with missing teeth, especially the front ones. This is welcome news for those whose job entails speaking or smiling a lot.

~ There’s also “Teeth-in-an-Hour”. These are implants that can be done in a single session at the clinic. This instant teeth ‘makeover’ is possible thanks to advanced imaging and computer design technology. I am not sure how these instant implants compare with the conventional ones in terms of functionality, durability and cost. Judging from the number of older people gathered around prosthodontists Dr Neo Tee Khin and Dr Ansgar Cheng after the seminar, one can assume that senior Singaporeans are eager to bring back that sparkle into their smile and into their lives!

A section of the capacity crowd during coffee break.

If the objective of the seminar was to educate the public on oral health and hygiene, it certainly achieved the objective. It is a relief to know that, whatever your dental problem, there is a solution. The speakers injected a touch of humour into their powerpoint presentations and effectively turned what could have been a series of boring academic lectures into easily digestible nuggets of dental knowledge for the lay person.

The contents of my goody bag - thanks to the generous sponsors.

Besides taking home useful information on oral care and solutions, participants also received goody bags that contained an assortment of dental products as well as health magazines.

All in all, it was an afternoon well-spent. Count me in for the next seminar!

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