I have completed a bachelor of dental surgery (BDS) from India. This requires four years of classroom training and one year of externship. In addition to that, I practiced dentistry in a private setting for a year and that has helped me understand dentistry from both an academic as well as a professional point of view. After moving to the United States, I wanted to pursue the same path and learn how dentistry is being practiced here. I was lucky enough to get several volunteering and shadowing opportunities and learn about dental practices in the U.S. I gained invaluable experience and it strengthened my decision to pursue dentistry here. In the process, I also observed some of the differences in dental practices between the two countries.
In India, common procedures like cleaning, filing and root canal treatments are very inexpensive and hence most people do not carry any dental insurance and prefer to pay out of pocket for those. However in the U.S., dental insurance for these common procedures is more common.
People in India are much less aware about their oral health as compared to people in U.S.
In India, people are less aware about the importance of their oral hygiene and thus they hardly go to the dentist for routine checkups and cleanings. Most of the time, it is only when dental problems reach the extreme that they visit the dentist. While in the U.S., people are more aware of the importance of oral hygiene and they do routine checkups. This allows the dentist to identify and to contain any potential dental problem at an early stage.
Dental Hygienists and Dental Assistants
In the U.S., dental hygienists and dental assistants receive formal education and training for the work they do in dental offices. In India, most of preventive services are provided by the dentists themselves so there is no concept of dental hygienists. Also, dental assistants do not get any formal education but are usually trained by the dentists.
Use of Latest Technology
In the U.S., many dental offices use technologies like digital radiography, lasers, CAD/CAM, CT Scan, intra oral cameras, guided implant surgeries and more. While in India, you can still find practices using radiographic films for taking x-rays. Most practices outsource crown and bridge work to the labs. But it is starting to change gradually now.
Dental Practice & Procedures
In India, all required procedures are done at the same location either by a general dentist or consulting specialist. While in the U.S., a general dentist may refer patients to a specialist and the patients have to go visit them at their location. In the U.S., some dentists recommend extracting 3rd molars at earlier stages to prevent potential problems. While in India, dentists recommend to not extract until it causes any trouble.
In spite of all the differences, dentists in both the countries always treat their patients in the best way they can with a sense of responsibility and aiming for excellence.
~Radhika Maniar, predental