CDO’s ‘prides’-A A +A
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
ACCORDING to a Cagayana in her mid-seventies, when she was a child she had a classmate who had to fly to Manila regularly to have her dental braces adjusted: Orthodontics, the treatment to correct crooked or misaligned teeth and related problems, was then available only in Manila.
“It was considered very highly specialized. You became the talk of the town because people thought it was a form of cosmetic surgery. No matter how hard my classmate explained that her Manila dentist said crooked teeth were prone to developing cavities and misaligned teeth could lead to jaw problems, the gossip was, ‘She is just vain and so filthy rich, her parents don’t know what to do with their money,’ ” the Cagayana said laughing.
She further relates: “In my youth in Cagayan de Oro, people usually went to the dentist for three things only: You either had your cavities filled or had your tooth pulled out, after which you wore a 'postiso' (dentures). Thus, at the dental clinic the dentist would ask a patient, magpa-unsa ka—the way you’re asked in a beauty parlor.
“Cagayanons with a toothache would talk like this: ‘Magpa-pasta ko; magpa-ibot ko’. They diagnosed themselves even before seeing a dentist! In my time, cutting-edge dentistry in Cagayan de Oro was how natural your 'postiso' looked—kanang walay makita nga metal.”
Today you’d know your dentist is not of the “beauty parlor variety” if he inspects and diagnoses what ails you—and he does not ask, “Magpa-unsa ka?” (There are dentists who still do.)
Extracting a tooth with a huge cavity would not be his first suggestion. He would do this only if other alternatives are no longer feasible, and he would go to all lengths to explain why wearing a denture should be a patient’s last option.
As for orthodontics, this treatment is not just available in Cagayan de Oro; there are many dentists who specialize in the field.
Cagayan de Oro now prides itself in being home to many top-notch dentists.
But the name that’s mentioned foremost in conversations about teeth is Dr. Benjamin Sia. His pretty wife, Sandy, is also a dentist.
The Ben-Sandy tandem works as one, with Ben as the chief consultant.
It’s cute to watch this loving husband and wife observe a professional attitude toward each other as they work.
Sandy calls her husband “Doc” and always defers to him as chief consultant.
On the other hand in certain situations–such as color–matching a jacket with a patient’s natural teeth, deciding on the finer points of a “bite,” and handling root canal treatment–Ben defers to Sandy.
An “old money” Cagayanon used to go to Manila for his dental problems until he tried Dr. Ben Sia, after having tried others. “I no longer have to go to Manila. Dr. Ben is as good as the best in Manila.”
It’s heart-warming to note that the direction of Cagayanons going to Cebu and Manila for medical treatments is now getting reversed.
For example, in Cebu my son met a man who was on his way to Cagayan de Oro. This person, a Cebuano, needed to see Dr. Ben because he was recommended by his dentist in Cebu for the treatment of a possible temporomandibular joint dysfunction or TMJ for short.
A TMJ dysfunction, such as the misalignment of the joints of the jaw, could have been the cause of his debilitating headaches and backaches.
For many years the diagnosis of this Cebuano’s doctors was migraine, until his dentist suggested that maybe what he had was TMJ, the treatment of which is one of Dr. Ben’s specializations.
I haven’t done a follow-up on this Cebuano’s case, but two colleagues of mine in Corpus Christi School used to have terrible headaches until their TMJ was properly diagnosed and treated.
“Unbelievable!” one of them said right after she wore the special appliance to correct her misaligned jaw.
Dr. Ben also has patients who regularly come to town from Manila, and foreign patients who are called “medical tourists.”
To be continued
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 25, 2013.