VOICING concern over increasing number of smokers, incidence of diabetes, prevailing poor oral hygiene and stress in the society, prominent periodontist, Dr Asher Jameel, termed them the root cause of periodontal diseases in the country.
Highlightingthe importance of producing more specialists in periodontology, he stressed the need for creating awareness about periodontal diseases among masses across the country so that such diseases might not assume alarming proportion.
Dr Asher, who did his BDS from Pakistan and Masters in periodontics from London’s Queen Mary University, was talking to Dental News.
Following are the excerpts from Dr Asher’s interview:
Q: Tell us little bit about your background, especially what made you chooseDentistry as your profession?
A: My parents are both doctors.My father is an orthopedic surgeon and motheris a gynaecologist.I hardly saw them as they were always atwork and saving lives which I understand now as I am also in the sameprofession. I chose dentistry as I would have more ease of timings so that I could spend more time with family.I have been very lucky by having beacons of light and role models inthe form of my parents.I didn’t have to look far to find inspiration.They havetrail blazed and pioneered many things in their field,I will be honored ifI reach halfway to where they are.I am grateful to my wife and my in-laws and my sister and brother in-law for all the encouragement I keep getting from them to push myself further in this field.
Q. How influential and useful it is to have a Dental background when choosing Dentistry as profession?
A. I do have friends who are dentists, but no family member in dentistry. If we strive for excellence in work and achieve it then sky is the limit in any field.In the end, we need to pray and work hard then leave it to God. God has been very kind seeing me through my difficulties and I have been blessed with countless things.
Q. When you first graduated from dental school, what was your vision for the dental career you wanted to have?
A. After qualifying my bachelors of dentistry, I was a demonstratorduring which I passed my American National Board’s exam,but decidedto do FCPS (Part-1) which I was fortunate to clear.I wanted to do post-graduation so I pursued training in Operative dentistry.
Q. What prompted you to select your particular specialty and who influenced or guided you?
A. I started my four-year operative dentistry FCPS(Part-2) training at Aga Khan Hospital.We had a lot of Periodontology
components, which were an enigma and hence led me to the quest for acquiring more knowledge to venture into London’sQueen Mary University so I could seek more knowledge. It was a delightful experience as the saying goes `you don’t work a day if you enjoy what you do’. My parents encouraged me and I have achieved these accolades because of my parents’ constant belief in me and their support and prayers.My mentors – Dr Tasleem,Dr Saqib,Dr Inayat,and Dr Farhan, Dr Wendy, Dr Dominiki,Dr Gillam also guided me throughout.
Q. Why is it that there are very few dentists with your specialty? CPSP president has urged dentists to come into this specialty?
A. It is the mindset that everyone took periodontics very lightly as undergraduates. We never had people to inculcate and ignite the flame or interest in it as other fields have had mentors to do so.The president of CPSP has rightfully hit the nail on the head to shed light on this to have more in this specialty and I hope, he succeeds in bringing more in, as he has made Lahore start a wide scope with Dr. Khurram and be at the forefront. He is a man of vision and I hope he can lead from the front by initiating and promoting this field.
The knowledge about this subject is also limited and underestimated and hence few have ventured into this. It is a fascinating subject with anyfacets of surgery like regeneration,crown lengthening,implants. I worked at the Royal London Hospital doing these procedures .I wasintrigued the very minute I entered into this arena and have found myinterest growing exponentially. The disease is neglected and on the rise in Pakistanhence we need more specialists in periodontology.
Q. What are the common periodontal diseases in Pakistan, what are the reasons of these diseases and how many of these are preventable?
A. We live in a society where stress,smokers and diabetes,and poor oral hygiene,were on the rise. These all are a cornerstone and key in periodontal diseases.We must start awareness nationwide with more diagnosis at all levels to detect the diseases on time so as to prevent them becoming widespread.
Q. You have worked in AKU, JPMC, Civil and FJ, how would you compare the same with similar institutions in the UK?
A. I found there was an influx and inundation of patient flow in JPMC,Civil,FJ and AKU compared to a much more organized system demarcating all the fields to streamline and make things less chaotic in the UK due to their patients guiding system.AKU facilities are very close to the Royal London Hospital.
Q. Why didn’t you pursue your FCPS and opted for masters instead?
A. I have completed my FCPS training in operative dentistry from the AKU and will be appearing very soon, Inshallah.
Q. According to you how important is post-graduation and what influenced you to go abroad?
A. My masters in clinical dentistry in periodontology was important as in Islam, it is said that one should go to China in the pursuit of knowledge. Working at the RoyalLondon Hospital and doing patients there gave me a lot of insight into howto treat complex cases.
Q. How was your experience at London’s Queen Mary Universityand can you draw a comparison with a local teaching standards?
A. Since Periodontics is now developing with more people coming back with foreign degrees, the standards were increasing with post-graduation e.g. in Lahore.
Q. What were some of the early successes and challenges in the field of esthetic dentistry early-on in your practice?
A. Innovations and revolutions of instruments and new machines make things better and their availability in Pakistan making things easier.
Q. What is your experience with regards to business and administrative side of running a dental practice?
A. It needs acumen which only comes with trial and error.
Q. Where do we stand when it comes to Medical or Dental research work and publications?
A. I have published articles in an international journal which was my dissertation topic about new bone grafting material relating to myPeriodontology degree at London’s Queen Mary University.Besides, my studies at AKU and dissertation were published in local journals.
Q. How would you describe your educational experience?
A. It was enlightening and thought-provoking as it has brought new dimensions to treatment planning.
Q. Can you tell us about the innovations in this particular field?
A. I could start with simple things like interdental brushes which are a need of the hour as they are simpler to use than floss. There are many regenerative and muco-gingival surgeries which are being used and seemed to becoming popular owing to awareness created through the internet and media.
Q. What is the quintessence of your career?
A. I was up against all of AKU doctors in a scientificpresentation competition.I got first prize although I wasn’t expecting it. I have won a few more prizes in scientific presentations. I represented Pakistan at a scientific conference held in Malaysia. At school, I took part in relay race competition and was presented a gold medal from the lateBenazir Bhutto.
Q. How do you think you can contribute for the betterment of the dental profession?
A. I would like to disseminate the knowledge I have acquired, make efforts to train masters students so as to bridge the gap of specialists inPakistan.
Q. Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
A. I want to treat as many patients and spreadinformation about diseases through my face book page ’Eliminate gumdisease’. I also have a plan to deliver lectures and conduct workshops.
Q. What advice do you have for future dentists?
A. Treat patients like their own family members. Keep on achieving skills. To make sure that sufferings of their patients are alleviated. To try and perfect the work be it surgeries or any otherprocedure.
Q. Beyond the scope of this questionnaire, please feel free to comment on any other aspect of public/private medical education and health care system in our country?
A. We have scope to develop the best health care system as had been done at the SIUT under the leadership of Prof. Adib Rizvi.