Wednesday, October 5

Oral physicians: beyond dentistry


BDS clinical year students preparing for wisdom tooth extraction surgery under the supervision of a professor.

BACK in the 1200s, dentists were known as barbers in France, which may sound strange as barbers today are associated with hair and not teeth. Dentists are familiar characters in each person’s life; at one time or another, everyone regardless of their background would have had to visit a dentist. It is no wonder that today, it is still a career of choice for young Malaysians leaving high school.

With the changing face of the world and community today, a dentist has evolved from the traditional role of “rescuer from pain” to a partner-personality, with whom one should work closely to live healthily. Such is the evolution that the profession has gone through, beginning from the Forceps Era, to the Restorative Era, and today the Preventive Era.

With the advancement of science and technology, dentists are increasingly playing the role of an Oral Physician in a multidisciplinary team in the treatment of a patient, who may seemingly have a non-dental related health concern.

This redefinition of the role of a dentist towards one as an Oral Physician makes a lot of sense; after all their purview of our anatomy covers our oral cavity. This spans from the lips, the lining inside the cheeks and lips, the front two-thirds of the tongue, the upper and lower gums, the floor of the mouth under the tongue, the bony roof of the mouth, and the small area behind the wisdom teeth.

“Oral medicine and Oral Pathology, the cornerstones of Medicine, are vigorously taught to our students because we need to ensure that our students are not only excellent dental surgeons but also excellent Oral Physicians,” said Professor Dr Abdul Rashid Ismail, dean of the Faculty of Dentistry, Manipal University College Malaysia (MUCM).

MUCM, which is one of the oldest providers of private healthcare education in Malaysia, is cognizant of what the future needs and holds for her students. An extension of Manipal Group from India, established in 1953, our presence in Malaysia is entering its twenty-fifth year in 2022.

The BDS programme is anchored around nurturing a well-rounded dental surgeon, who is clinically strong as they are trained by experienced specialists from each field of dental specialty. The classrooms and clinic floors are always abuzz with Case-based learning (CBL) activities.

Students are required to practice surgical procedures on phantom heads before performing it real-time on patients.

“In CBL modules, professors and lecturers shared their many years of clinical experiences and cases seen to train critical and analytical skills in diagnosing and planning for the treatment,” said Dr Abdul Rashid.

“With such a rounded grounding, we are ensuring that not only are our graduates work-ready but also extremely knowledgeable in many areas vis-à-vis the mouth. This greatly eases the way when they go on to decide on the area, as well as field of dentistry in which they would choose to practice.”

Healthcare is not for business, but it is a profession to care for the health of people. Health is the basic safety need of the people; it is a tenet that leads to emotions of love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualisation. Being a professional in healthcare services, particularly in the field of dentistry, the prospects of giving quality life to the community and having a good quality of life will always be part of the lifecycle of dental surgeons and oral practitioners.

The world continues to revolve; what we see today, we have seen 100 years ago in a different form. What is in store for the future healthcare professional will be different from today. For that reason, the concept of lifelong learning at MUCM is inculcated among dental surgeons for the survival of the profession and the creation of more varied career paths.

For more information on our programme, call us on 1700-811-662 or visit us at