Heart in his fingers – The Father of Modern Dentistry in India—Dr. Sandesh Mayekar


How has the Dental scene changed in India, over the years?

When I started my practice 27 years back in 1982, as a general dentist, then I introduced aesthetic dentistry and cosmetic dentistry in 1990 in India. That time, they were calling me ..that I was a Quack and that there is nothing called as cosmetic dentistry taught in college in India, especially Orthodontist, dentists who put braces – they thought that I am going to take their market. So, I was called as a quack.

But, I saw what was happening all over the world. In 1988, I was the only Indian, who attended the world aesthetic congress in Boston in USA, where USA introduced cosmetic dentistry to the world. So, I continued in 1991 and found an academy. From that date to today, the scenario has changed, that every dentist calls themselves as aesthetic dentist. The reason being dentistry is aesthetics. Whatever you do in the mouth has to look nice. So the scenario has changed from dentistry being painful experience to a good feel factor that one should look nice also..that resulted in increase in demand and gave a different face to dentistry since 1991 onwards. Those days regular dentistry was called as ‘bread- butter’ and cosmetic dentistry as ‘Jam of practice’. Today Cosmetic dentistry is ‘Bread-Butter’ of practice…everybody does that. With the change and combination of cosmetic and aesthetic dentistry, we have got all the equipment and material that was available all over the world market to India. So, we are not backward in any sense. Everything that is available in the west from USA on one side to Tokyo, Japan in the East side, we have everything available in India.

In Modern dentistry –I have also introduced TMD – Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) i.e. headache, neck pain and shoulder pain could be due to jaw problem that’s a new thing that I have introduced 2004 onwards. I am the only Masters from Boston, practising this in India, so that’s the new thing that I have brought. So now, the combination of this all…initially we used to call ‘Smile Design’ and now we call it ‘Functional Smile Design’ – whether with smile they can chew properly or not. It is not only for the show business!

Your name has been associated with everything that is glamorous, beauty pageants, film stars—how do you define perfect smile?

There are actually 3 types of smile. One is called ‘designer smile’ or aesthetic smile, which means if there is a defect in normal human being teeth—colour difference, small teeth, gaps in the teeth, so getting towards nature is called designer smile or aesthetic smile…natural smile. The second smile is called attractive smile..what is attractive ..when you look at somebody, something is attractive in their face. So we say, little deformity is attractive, too much deformity is ugly. For e.g. Say Sharukh Khan smile is attractive, but his teeth are crooked, Akshay Kumar’s smile is attractive smile because of gummy smile, Priyanka Chopra towards attractive, one tooth in, one tooth out…is attractive smile. So usually, people who are in the glamour industry, they require some character, we need some character in their smile, so that it becomes their original smile…so this is attractive smile. Third is cosmetic smile…straight white teeth.In America everyone likes straight white teeth. So cosmetics is beyond aesthetics. Teeth is fine, but I want to put foundation, I want to put lipstick..so that is what is called cosmetic smile. And the perfect smile, is that which goes with the face of the person.I don’t measure, there are lot of people who say mid line, this, that is perfect alignment of teeth. But alignment of teeth, should go with the face. If the face is crooked, teeth cannot be perfect. So pefect smile is that smile, which merges with the patients face.

What will your advice to young dental aspirants or young dentists?

Nowadays people feel that market is saturated, it is not so. So, I want to advise them that every human being needs a dentist, like a car requires a mechanic for servicing and all. If they visit every 6 months or 1 year to a dentist, they will never fall sick. So,if every human being needs a dentist then there is lot of market for dentists. So, don’t get misled and misanalyse, there are lot of patients. The only thing is dentist don’t educate people that they need to go to the dentist. A simple example I give is that for children or old person what they eat is not important, what they digest is important. For digestion we need to chew the food properly..(What we say in Marathi – batees(32) vela(times) chavaycha(chew)). Chew your food, so that the digestive process start from the mouth and the stomach digests the food automatically. So if the digestion is not proper, the child is having cavities or the old person is not having teeth, then they will get all the diseases. So if teeth is not in proper condition, it will have problems of growth in child, and in old persons, they will have problems of acidity etc..that is the reason we have patients who want to maintain their teeth. So when you maintain the teeth, you have to remember that god given teeth are the best, try to maintain the natural teeth. Don’t try to do a cosmetic procedure. Try to keep original teeth. So, those orthodontists who had thought that I will kill their market, today I have three Orthodontists working for me.

First priority is maintain the original. On #Youtube you will find Youtube testimonial by Rajkumar Rao or R Madhavan or Hrithik Roshan. So don’t try to generate job and try to retain original teeth. So patient will be happy and they will come again and again. That’s my advice to young dentists. Think about the benefit to the patients. Not your benefit. That’s what we started in 1982 and still we do for the benefit of the patient.

What is your philosophy of life?

I started my career, when my father died in 1971. I did my social work in one hospital, I didn’t have money to go for vacation. I was in school. I was given a job on a table, there was a placard and I still use that placard—that is my philosophy of life, asking everyone “May I help you?” I don’t ask my patient “What’s the problem?” I ask, “How can I help you?”. That is my philosophy. I didn’t know who you are.. I said I can’t write and I talked to you. Because you are helping my profession indirectly, forget about me. If you help somebody, it will comeback to you…that’s my philosophy.

What is the Encode initiative?

I like to share knowledge. Two ways I share knowledge. I give lectures every week which is practically free of cost. People don’t pay me. If they give honorarium, I take it, but that is giving lectures – giving information.

If I give a lecture on say journalism then 80% of the information is lost, so what we do is this is a teaching course. In a sense, we don’t take more than 15 students and we actually teach them with eye-to-eye contact, they work as if they are working in a dental college. What is not taught in dental college, I teach them in Encode. Because dental college curriculum is for everybody, whereas Encode teaches latest technology. So we have students who are 15-20 years graduate to students who are 15-20 days graduate. So, we teach them what is necessary ‘now’ in 2019. We don’t want to teach you what you have learnt in 2014 or 2010. Technology has changed, so we teach them what is need of the patient in 2019. So we teach like the college i.e. lecture , then practical on artificial tooth, and they actually work in patient’s mouth, we give them the demonstration..i have got a charitable clinic, where they treat the patients free of cost at Krishnapattam in Nellore. So I take my students there, and they treat the patients. So Encode initiative is to teach the latest technology—anybody who wants to learn, a young graduate or experienced, There we charge, because it is one on one.

Lot of talks on AI, ML, and future that Robots will operate on people, how do you see dentistry in that context?

AI — like my daughter is developing an app, for gynaec question answers from conceiving to delivery. For that it is good. For dentistry we are doing in a mouth. Robots doing operation is after consultation. Now what happens in dentistry, Robots coming will take hell lot of time because other operations, delicate operations, patient is on general anesthesia, the difference between operations which the surgeons doing it under general anesthesia and dentistry is different. We do surgery of remains of a wisdom tooth, and we get paid minimum compared to an appendicitis operation, you know why …you know where appendix is located and is easier, because you do it under general anesthesia. You have got a mouth, you have a wisdom tooth, one side you have cheek, other side is tongue, back is pharynx, up is pallet, down is nerve, you have to look in small mouth and you have to drill the bone, drill the tooth and my patient is conscious. So we are better surgeons because we work on the conscious patients. If we move left or right, I will cut your tongue or cheek like a butter. So we have been very delicate. I have got a testimonial in my book ‘More than a Mouthful’ adventures of a dentist. Mrs Godrej has given me a testimonial that I have got heart in my fingers. Not only me, all dentists have heart in their fingers. So that’s the difference, so what happens in a Robot. Robots will not do question answer sessions with the patients,the patients will ask questions while the doing the dental procedure. So getting Robots work on a conscious patient will be difficult. The questions.There will million different ways and questions from the patients. To get that into Artificial Intelligence. Technique wise Standard Operating Procedures(SOPs) can go into Robot, but patient can ask any questions and those all questions getting into a Robot in dentistry will be difficult. That’s my take.

I have started a NGO – #HealthySmiles for #firstdecadenodecay we have signed MoU with Govt. of Maharashtra and we do checkups in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Kolhapur, Palghar, Raigad etc, we do it free of cost for poor children. We have finished 1,20,000 free checkups and education to people. We have some money from CSR, and when CSR money gets over I put in my own money..So an appeal for CSR to support the cause

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