Hyderabad: The news of a qualified dentist applying for a job as a peon in West Bengal has brought to the fore the lack of well paying jobs in dentistry, forcing qualified dentists to seek employment in other sectors.
Dentist Dr Priyanka Marthieni who has been fighting for the cause of junior dental doctors in the city explained: “Last year we carried out an agitation that dental doctors must be appointed in public health centres. This has not been done by the state government. There are 1,500 dentists graduating from the state every year but only 100 opt for the profession after six months. There are 12,000 registered dentists in the state. Those who work at dental clinics are paid Rs 8000 or Rs 10,000 per month.”
Dentistry is often a second option for those who have not made it into medical courses. Eighty per cent of dental graduates are women and they are now eager to work.
Dr K M Reddy, a senior dentist, has another take on the subject. He says, “The dental course is designed in a manner where a qualified doctor can start her/his own clinic. They have to wait and set up a practice. They cannot expect to get lakhs of rupees in a few months. The first step is to practice and get the right skill which they are not willing to do.”
The highest concentration of dentists is in urban areas where people understand the need for treatment and can pay for it. “There is not much practice in smaller cities as the people there do not come for teeth problems to doctors. There is not much awareness. Young doctors are also not willing to set up practice there and explore the niche areas,” said Dr B Srikanth of the Indian Dental Association. “We have set up a help centre for young doctors and assist them in terms of purchase of dental chairs, which is a must for the treatment. It is a capital investment that they have to make.”
With 80 per cent of the course comprising women, setting up a practice is difficult. The procurement of equipment, moving into rural areas and other aspects are a bit difficult and they look for work in urban settings.
A senior dentist says there are hardly any female dentists who have been able to start on their own and sustain the practice. It is costly and in urban areas there are many dentists and fewer patients.
Dr Martheini’s point is thus valid, that dentists should be attached to government health centres, though whether this will be welcomed by young dentists is a moot point, since postings could be in remote areas.
Whatever the difficulties for young doctors, the dental course has a lot of takers every year which does not allow the Dental Council of India to reduce the number of seats....