Saturday, June 20, 2009

What is "Alamak"?

"Boy, lots of food here. Come down with Papa and your brother. I'm not buying dinner tonight, faster huh ."

Alamak Patient (in Hokkien or Teochew): "Nay, this one is the pull teeth one lor."

"I warn you first huh. (pointing finger at dentist's nose) I very scared of dentists one huh. You better don't frighten me huh."

It may surprise some people, but many heartlanders in developed and progressive Singapore still treat a visit to the dentist like a visit to the barber. They don't bother to bring any identification or make any appointment. They also may not co-operate in history taking. What's more, they often think that dentistry is a craft no more complex and demanding than changing tyres. In fact, they think that teeth are much easier to handle because they're smaller than tyres. Not to belittle mechanics, such unfair comparisons give patients the impression that we are always "overcharging".

The word "alamak" probably originates from a Malay slang meaning "oh dear". It is used here to describe a boorish, ungracious and kiasu heartlander who has no respect for dentists as professionals practising a complex and diverse form of healthcare that requires a tremendous investment in many years of education and training.

All the cases depicted below are real. Some are even typical and recurring. We are happy to note that our clientele has evolved over the years and currently, the majority of our patients are not alamak. This website has helped us a lot in our effort to upgrade ourselves to a cosmetic dental centre.

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