A local dentist who visited Russian dental clinics says Russian dentists were curious about American dentists' techniques, workload and salaries.
Dental clinics in Russia may not evoke images of the most ideal places to have someone peer into your mouth.
But a Lawrence dentist who earlier this month was in St. Petersburg and Moscow demonstrating techniques said conditions in clinics there were better than he imagined. But they were a far cry from American dental offices.
"Dentistry has not had a high priority under the communist system," said Jerry Nossaman, who visited several clinics while in Russia from Oct. 2 to Oct. 12. "I think they (Russian dentists) were eager to learn, but anytime you have (political) change there is apprehension."
Nossaman, two dentists from Kansas and one from New Hampshire visited Russia as part of a private venture to help dentists there learn more about newer techniques practiced in the United States.
They visited a "nicer" clinic in a St. Petersburg hospital, which was used for government officials, and not-so-modern "polyclinics" for the general public.
Health and dental care in Russia are free.
"At the polyclinics, they do (nearly all) emergency care," he said. "There are lines of people who, when they have a problem, they go there."
Nossaman said preventive care is virtually nonexistent in Russia.
Also, he said, a shortage of needles and other supplies means that dentists there don't take the precautions that dentists take here.
"They resterilize their needles; that was a cause of concern for us."
Nossaman said the American dentists demonstrated procedures new to Russia, such as how to use white composite filling materials for cavities instead of silver fillings.
"At first they were kind of standoffish, but by the end of the week we had large crowds watching, and everybody was asking questions."
But he said some instruments needed for the new procedures, such as an "evacuator," a device that sucks saliva from the mouth, were not in any of the clinics he visited.
He also said that Russian dentists were interested in the workload of their American counterparts.
Nossaman said his Lawrence office, with three dentists, probably does more dental procedures in a week than at the Russian clinic, which has 22 dentists, he said. That clinic is the "limited" one used by government officials.
"They would tell us that they went to work every day, but that always didn't mean that they worked," he said.
Although the dentists were concerned about an increased workload under a new system, Nossaman said all were interested in the possibility of making salaries that dentists make here.