Articles, Dentistry

The Dentists

It was a real pleasure to review ITV’s The Dentists. How rare it is to see an intelligent and realistic portrayal of our work. The fact that it was so positively done was a real delight.

We dentists are not used to seeing our profession presented in a positive and caring light, so I’m grateful to the Manchester dentists for allowing the cameras access.

Wasn’t it tremendous to see the youngest of our profession come over as caring, honest and, in one case, with dentophobic fears too? I was very impressed with Kirsty, as she presented herself as a genuine, straightforward and very empathetic dentist. I thought she portrayed dentistry in an incredibly positive and professional manner via the values most of us embrace but that tend not to be evident to our patients.

Eric adopted a very humanistic approach, and I can see why the 55% irregular attenders were impressed with him.

I loved the description of the ‘tooth fairy godmother’ for the child in the chair – 10 out of 10 for connecting empathetically with young patients.

Did you detect how well the producers managed to minimise the number of clichés used? I expected to hear one every five minutes or so and was pleased to be proved wrong.

Shocking

I hope the people in this country were shocked to see a beautiful young child required to have nine of his first 20 teeth taken out because of his parents’ influence on his diet. How tempting it is to be judgemental and say ‘neglect’, but have we succeeded in getting our messages over to the parents?

Whilst I was surprised to see a second child having similar treatment, the take home message came to me upon seeing what his mother chose to wear. The fashion industry had successfully educated the mother on the ‘value’ of wearing a Barbour wax jacket at a higher cost than non-branded outer wear. Yet we had failed to help her understand the devastating results of high, frequent sugar consumption, which could save her money and help her child.

Whose fault is it really, when we hear a mother blaming her son for not wanting to brush his teeth and then feeds him oodles of ice cream with the final comment from her stating: ‘I don’t regret it’? This problem was neatly highlighted by the next big take-home message; that dental problems are the fourth most common complaint resulting in hospitalisation of under 17-year-olds.

Educating patients

This was a fascinating hour; helping people to learn about something most of us in the profession are ashamed of – the failure of successive governments to educate patients about the implications of high frequency sugar consumption.

It is such a pity that the health messages we would like to convey are too boring to work into the flow of this excellent documentary on the state of our children’s teeth and the wonderful work of the dental team, in this case those at University Dental Hospital in Manchester. That said, it beats previous programmes like Drilling for Gold hands down.

My congratulations go to all involved in the making of this programme. 

Dr Amarjit Gill is a preventative and cosmetic dentist. He is also is a lecturer, entrepreneur and businessman based in Nottingham. In 2010, he served as president of the British Dental Association. Amarjit has been the last chief dental officer for Practice Plan and chief dental adviser for Phillips Healthcare. He qualified from the Royal Dental Hospital London and he lectures around the world on the future of dentistry. Amarjit is a founder member of the International Tooth Whitening Association and has been a postgraduate dental tutor, an acclaimed lecturer and sought-after public speaker both in the UK and abroad. He has received many awards including Outstanding Achievement for Private Practice in 2012. 

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