Dr Pawar is the dean of Government Dental College, CST.
Why is dental treatment so expensive?
There are no major Indian manufacturers of implants, equipment and technology needed for dental procedures. Every year, new dental techniques are introduced in the market. Although they help dentists upgrade the quality of treatment, the high cost is passed on to the patients. Implants, which are the most expensive form of treatment, are not really an emergency procedure. A dentist can give symptomatic treatment or an alternative which is not expensive.
How can costs be standardised?
At present, the cost of treatment is based on the patient’s ability to pay. A dentist can ask for just about anything. The time has come for the government to intervene and standardise the cost of dental treatment. Under the Clinical Establishment Act, we can standardise infrastructure as well as cost while assuring quality and inexpensive treatment to all patients. Also, the cost of implants will go down as more companies start manufacturing them.
How can patients choose implants? Do all patients really need them?
Older methods such as fixed dentures or root canals in cases where there is no complete tooth loss are of more benefit to patient than implants are. In cases where a patient needs an implant, he should look for those that are approved by the Food and Drug Authority and have ISO certification. Patients should be made aware about the various costs and types of implants available. Not all patients need implants. In fact, patients who have illnesses such as diabetes should not undergo an implant procedure. Patients should know that implant surgery is an invasive procedure and if the bone is not healthy enough to hold an implant, the procedure may not be successful.
Are dentists today ethical in their practice?
The present code of practice makes a mockery of the profession. Doctors and patients need to be more aware. Doctors should not become businessmen and patients should not be as demanding. Also, while implants are the latest technology in dental care, not all dentists are experts on working with them. Around 70% of implants fail because patients and dentists are not patient. We have seen cases in which doctors promise to put implants or dentures in a day, which is not medically possible.