A VISIT to the dentist can fill many people with dread, but with empathy and dedicated passion, it can put a smile on their faces instead.
This is Eshmie Maharaj’s mission.
The 34 year old is a dentist at Dr S Bhorat Dental Clinics at Melomed Bellville Hospital.
From a young age, she has been involved in community work and helping the less fortunate.
During school holidays, she would accompany her elder cousins, who worked in the medical field, to hospital and observe them.
An unfortunate experience during one of the observations led the Parklands North resident to consider dentistry as an option.
“My parents, Suresh and Hemie, were very dedicated to promoting academics to my sister Varsha and I.
“My mother always got involved in community volunteer work at the Child Welfare Society and Friends of the Sick Association. Weeks were spent at school and studying hard, while weekends had us in some sort of outreach programme.
“This instilled a sense of compassion and ethics in us. By assisting the less fortunate, we appreciated life more. We realised that helping people, healing people and giving people back their dignity was our calling.”
Maharaj was born in Durban but moved to Cape Town in 2004 to complete her tertiary education.
In 2010, she completed her Bachelor of Dental Science at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and achieved membership into the Golden Key Honour Society, an international non-profit organisation that identifies excellence in academics, leadership skills and community involvement.
In 2011, she completed her community service at Maitland Community Health Clinic and then worked in various private practices. In 2015, she joined Dr S Bhorat Dental Clinics and completed her postgraduate diploma in cosmetic dentistry at UWC in 2016.
Maharaj specialises in cosmetic and paediatric dentistry, among others. On average she extracts two teeth a day, 38 a month and 400 a year.
“I try to save teeth as much as possible. Thus, I always advise patients to save their teeth if there is a good prognosis. At the same time, I would not save a tooth that is severely decayed or with a very poor prognosis. I do not extract sound teeth.
“Some of the reasons for extractions are fractured teeth due to function, failed root canals, severe periodontal disease that has caused mobility of the teeth, and severe cavities.”
Going for regular check-ups, even if the patient does not have any problems, is important.
“By having a regular examination, we are able to diagnose problems before they become symptomatic, and treat them before the prognosis worsens. We can anticipate future issues that may require specialised help, such as orthodontics or surgery.
“It is also extremely important that your gums and the bones that house your teeth are checked regularly.
“Even the most astute of us cannot remove every bit of bacteria in our mouths, and regular cleaning will lower the risk of periodontal disease.
“I have had patients with beautiful teeth, but their gums are so unhealthy that they have recession and sensitivity, spontaneous bleeding of their gums and generalised pain in their mouth. This is easily prevented by attending your sessions.”
When not making her patients’ teeth look good, Maharaj enjoys being creative, writing poetry and cooking.
“My signature dish is probably a spicy lamb chutney (Indian style lamb chops in a spicy tomato-based curry).
“Making my Christmas turkey, with all the trimmings, has also been a hit. However, nothing beats my mother’s chicken curry with rice.”
The owner and founder of Dr S Bhorat Dental Clinics, Shamima Bhorat, said Maharaj was focused on education and prevention.
“She believes that education is the cornerstone of successful dentistry.
“Eshmie has a caring and friendly nature and this enables her to put anxious patients at ease.
“She is hard-working, dedicated, focused and always has a smile on her face. Eshmie treats her patients with empathy and understanding.”