Dentist in Geylang
The current location of Katong Dental is at one end of Geylang, about 400 meters from Paya Lebar MRT. Our nearest exit is Paya Lebar MRT exit D. If you come out from any other exit, you will have to cross at least one road to get to us.
There are quite a few other dentists along Geylang Road. Those nearer the other main roads, Guillemard Road/ Paya Lebar Road are conventional Division I dentists like us.
There are some very interesting dentists going further down the road, as you head towards the less reputable parts of Geylang.
By conventional definition, these are quack dentists. The proper and politically correct way to call them, is Division II Registered Dentists.
These are people who did not get formal qualifications for dentistry, but who were already practicing as dentists when the government decided to start registering and formally controlling the intake and practicing rights of dentists.
I don’t know of any barbers operating in Geylang. Clinics should be less common than barbers, but it seems as though in modern 21st century times, the barbers have all gone to the MRTs where you can find those 10 and 12 minute Korean/Japanese chains. Division II dentists were associated with barbers previously.
They are very interesting to me as holdovers from a previous, pre-industrial, pre-independence Singapore.
If you think about it, what happened in the past when there was no University of Singapore (now National University of Singapore)? What happened in the days before we had Western-style dental education and certification?
There were many traditional Chinese dentists operating, mainly in Geylang. These people learned their skills via apprenticeships to other people who learned their skills via apprenticeships to other people who… eventually learned via trial and error.
Reportedly, these Division II dentists were actually quite good. They often made their living with inferior equipment and low fees, so they had to treat many patients. Because they had a lot of practice, they became technically proficient even if their treatment philosophy and approaches are quite different from dentists with a modern Western education.
These division II dentists practicing in Geylang were old when I was young, and are mostly gone now. I did remember being pointed to a wooden vertical sign in Chinese characters many years ago by my mother, who told me that it was a ‘quack dentist’ clinic. Now I find it hard to even imagine a wooden sign in Singapore – haven’t seen something like that for decades, except in traditional Chinese establishments (not clinics!). In the 1970s Neon and fluorescent signs were still new and garish for Singaporeans. Most shops and offices were unlighted at night. But now you expect it to be bright all round the clock with the aid of LED lighting…
BTW, since this is Geylang, there are still traditional painted signs. As you can see of this establishment less than 100 metres from us. The Chinese character says ‘Home’.
I’m not actually sure what it is supposed to do. Are they selling antiques? It is definitely not a tourist attraction or museum, so who is funding this? I have never seen any students come over, so it is not some LaSalle art display. I have never seen anyone here, but this is the CCTV-and-post-on-youtube era so I don’t dare to go in and fiddle with the radio knobs. I used to be obsessed with radio knobs when I was small, and we did have a radio like that at home that we didn’t think would be an expensive antique in a few decades’ time, so I perpetually had my hands on that one and was always turning the knob…
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