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Smile…see your dentist

This article is from The Philippine Star Entertainment under JUST BE section by Bernadette Sembrano (June 2, 2013)

Smile…see your dentist

The dental nurse offered me a blanket making sure that I was comfortable during my tooth extraction procedure. My dentist Sherwin Villareal’s voice was reassuring, explaining what to expect every step of the way. As practice, the good doctor instructed me to breathe in and exhale as he was injecting my gums with anesthesia. To my surprise, it was not as painful as I expected. Bravo! Light as feather. “You’re brave,” Doc Win gave me some affirmation. As my mouth went numb, my mind flashed back on the patients we recently served at the medical and dental mission in Davao Oriental.

Most, if not all of the dental patients in our small tent, came for an extraction.

One of the patients casually told me, “I need to have this tooth removed because it’s painful already.” No X-ray, no nothing. While another patient told me, “bulok na ngipin ko.

I wondered if there was nothing else that could be done to save her tooth, and she showed me her mouth, her tooth looked like a craterin, in state of decay. Ouch.

The dentist from the Philippine Army prepped the patients in queue by injecting them with anesthesia, then he proceeded to extract the tooth of the patient seated on the dental chair. Very efficient as if he was working in a production line. After the extraction, the patient leaned to her side and spat blood into the box filled with sand. Just like that.

And I’m brave? I don’t think so.

My visit to the dentist was two years overdue, and had it not been for the black spot on my tooth — cavity. I’m not scared of the dentist, but rather I felt there was no need because I brush and floss my teeth regularly.

Dr. Sheryl Villareal skillfully drilled out the cavity placed a filling. It’s not as scary as it sounds. Problem solved, but then my third molar had to be removed or else it may cause headaches in the future. Enter Dr. Sherwin in the picture, an oral surgeon.

I’m lucky because I have competent doctors — Villareal family of dentists, with no less than Dr. Hermogenes Villareal — dentist to ambassadors and dignitaries — taking care of me! But, because I had such a comfortable experience in both my procedures, the more I noticed the glaring disparity between the rich and the poor in terms of oral health care. I’m not even talking about intricate oral implants but something as basic as oral prophylaxis. A regular visit to the dentist and oral health. (Simple dental services like cleaning and filling should be part of the Philhealth coverage.) It’s funny that I’m saying this now because I am guilty of oversight, but it was my choice, and the consequences are mine if still I decide to neglect my teeth. Whereas the poor hardly have any options. Many have missing teeth by default. Based on what I observed in our dental mission, the patients seem to have no apprehensions about losing a tooth. They make it look so normal.

I, on the other hand, even asked my dentist if I could bring home my tooth! “Sentimental about the tooth?” he teased. I just smiled.

Well, goodbye tooth, I’ll make sure to keep the rest of your brothers happy and intact!

See you in four months, doctors!

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