Dentistry Its Past, Present & Future [Archives:2002/02/Health]

January 7 2002

Adel Yahya
Dentistry in Yemen is still attempting to cope with the modern changes as those in the neighboring countries and the Western countries in which this science has been progressing by leaps and bounds.
In the past, dentistry was practiced in a wrong and a primitive way by barbers and/or circumcisers. They used to pull out teeth with any means they had without taking care of cleaning and sterilizing it. Sometimes conjuration and harmful herbs were applied resulting in gingivitis and other inevitable consequences.
Dentistry began to develop with the coming of Turkish and Jewish dentists to work in Yemen, particularly in Taiz and Sanaa during the Imamate’s rule. A good number of Yemenis were trained by these dentists. They were called Hukamaa al-Asnan (pl. of Hakeem Asnan) and these practiced dentistry before university graduates appear. The Hukamaa al-Asnan became skilled in this profession and they also applied developed means such as sterilizing and other means and tools that were available at the time. There were also a number of Hukamaa in the southern part of the country. These were trained at the hands of some Pakistani and Indian dentists. However, all were lacking a lot of developed means and instruments.
The real development of this profession was achieved after the arrival of some medical missions as an aid from international organizations from Egypt, Europe and Russia. Then a number of Yemeni students started to travel abroad to get knowledge. These helped right some of the wrong and misleading concepts and practices of Hukamaa al-Asnan. It wasnt, for them, an easy task to dissuade people, for example, from ruling out their teeth. With the passage of time people became more aware of their hygienic dentistry and the number of dentists was also increasing day after day. Similarly, Specialized colleges were opened. New branches of specialization have been widely expanded such as: mouth and jaw surgery, adontoplosty, teeth transplantation, gingivitis, children dentistry and preventive dentistry.

Yemeni Dentists Syndicate
The Yemeni Dentists Syndicate (YDS) is an independent scientific and vocational syndicate comprising the whole dentists in Yemen. The YDS was established after a long struggle by its members. After the elapse of a long time of practicing this profession in a wrong way, the Hukamaa al-Asnan succeeded in bringing all Hukamaa al-Asnan in the country in a society that was called the Dentists Society. The Society was established in 1990 and continued for about five years. It helped lay the basic foundations of raising the awareness of people about the correct means of looking after their teeth. During the five years four symposia were organized to discuss what was new in the field of dentistry.
In the course of time, and with the increase in the number of dentists, more emphasis was given to the expansion of specialized work and to the existence of a specialized entity that was able to cope with the increasing number of dentists. Therefore, during the fourth symposium on September 22, 1995, members of the Dentists Society presented their resignations and decided to set up an ad hoc committee to discuss the foundation of an independent entity called the Yemeni Dentists Syndicate. The work of the preparatory committee continued for five years during which five scientific symposia were held to shed light on the new in dentistry. These symposia were distinguished by the participation of many Arab and foreign experts. After this more efforts were exerted until the Syndicate was declared on February 17, 2001.
The YDS aims to improve the profession both scientifically and vocationally, defending the rights of its members, help bring dentists together and solve their problems, coordinate with other medical syndicates to improve the health situation in the republic as a whole, etc.