News feature: Sitting pretty
I knew at school that I wanted to be a dentist. I spent some time out in Australia doing work experience and really enjoyed it. At school I really enjoyed art, and didn’t want to drop it at
A-level. I thought that the combination of sciences and art was a great way of exploring all of my interests. I won the East Sussex prize for my art A-Level exam and then went on to apply to study fashion design at St Martin’s in London. I finally decided that dentistry ticked all my boxes for a fulfilling career.
I qualified in 2005 from Guys, Kings and St Thomas’ University. Before that, I did a three-year degree BSc Physiology at Kings, London (1997-2000). Coming from quite an artistic family, I always appreciated the creative side of dentistry. I enjoyed making things look pretty at university and did well in all of the practical examinations.
I had a vision at university that I would work in an NHS family practice, and then quickly invest in running my own practice. I liked the idea of lifelong care for patients and wanted to build a practice where patients would return year after year.
“All of the dental chairs are bright pink – I was perfect for the job”
My VT trainer was an excellent teacher and taught me the importance of doing things to the highest standard. I found that working in the NHS sometimes made comprehensive examination and treatment difficult. I started to sit with my existing patients and discuss alternative treatment options. I found that by taking more time to discuss things and educate, patients were really interested in looking after their dental health with a long-term plan in mind.
I then joined Sparkly Smile in 2007 and went straight in to exploring my artistic side in
cosmetic dentistry. At Sparkly Smile, I have one-hour long comprehensive treatment planning/diagnostic appointments, specialists on demand, and hygienists who share a similar view of preventive dentistry.
I enjoy cosmetic dentistry, and being able to produce/fit beautiful porcelain work is very satisfying. My other vision, however, was always to try and commit a percentage of my time to work in impoverished areas, allowing me to travel and experience new cultures and offer my knowledge and services to developing countries.
Since qualifying only three-and-a-half years ago my learning curve has been huge. Trying to spend time volunteering in abroad has been hard. I only wish I could go more often! I am planning to travel to Cambodia in about six months time, as I miss everyone so much.
I carried out preventive work in Vietnam and Cambodia. Most of my efforts are concentrated in Cambodia now. I am trying to work with the clinic out there to supply Duraphat to the orphanages. It is one thing getting the Duraphat out there, and another to get the carers to learn how and when to apply it. Prevention is very important out there as most of the children are suffering from HIV. The need for education is so important.
At the practice we try and instil prevention also. We recently did a visit to one of the local schools. We sat with the children and discussed tooth decay, diet, and handed out brushing charts, toothbrushes and toothpaste etc. I also took along some photos of Cambodia to show them what the children were like out there.
I joined the Blackheath Village Dental Practice two years ago. I wrote to principal Phil Eisenberg asking him for a job. I started off with just one day a week, but now work there full time. All of the dental chairs are bright pink – I was perfect for the job. People do ask me if I came before or after the chairs!
I really enjoy making things. It took me quite a long time to put the Dentistry Award portfolio together, but I enjoyed it. It’s nice to see your achievements come together on paper. The creation of it was the fun part! We will soon be putting it in the waiting-room for all the patients to see.
I actually spend a lot of my time chatting to patients and building up a rapport with them first. The practical bit is obviously important, but making my patients feel relaxed and well-informed is my biggest aim during an exam.
I love working with children. I treat most of the children at Sparkly Smile, and thoroughly enjoy it. As a young dentist at the practice, I am trying to educate the children and will hopefully continue to treat them until adulthood.
I know I will have achieved something if, in 15 years from now, I look back and say that I had something to do with maintaining the oral health of all the children I see at the practice.
The meaning of success…
‘Winning Best Young Dentist in London in the Dentistry Awards 2008 has actually meant a lot to me, the staff, and to my patients. I had huge support from all of my patients when they heard I was entering for the award. It was a great feeling to tell them I had actually won it! The practice also won the Preventive Dentistry Practice of the Year award 2008. This allowed us to donate the prize money to the clinic we support in Cambodia. With all the money we raised, we bought a dental chair for the clinic and enough Duraphat fluoride varnish to supply 10 orphanages for a year.‘
You could be one of the winners of the Dentistry Awards 2009! Gain the recognition you deserve and enter by calling Elisa on 01923 851734 or visit www.dentistry.co.uk/awards2009 for an entry brochure.