Last week was a busy week – ending with a fantastic day at the Dentistry Show. I’ve been on no fewer than 12 trains battled with signal failures on the Jubilee line, and got a lot fitter lugging suitcases through the tube network.
I also learned a lot about implants (dental ones that is). And over a steak.
Because on Tuesday I had the great honour of addressing the London Dental Fellowship meeting in Mayfair. The fellowship have donated generously to Bridge2Aid over the past 5 years, and I was very keen to show the members where that money has gone. The fellowship is a fairly serious group of dentists. You have to have been qualified for 10 years to join, guests are welcome but they have to be invited by a member, and be dentists too. The whole group are galvanised in their aim to learn and challenge each other to excellence in their chosen field.
And so it was a great honour for me, a non-dentist, to be invited to speak and explain the work we do. I spoke about how volunteering can make a genuine difference to development and the quality of people’s lives. How in responding to the huge challenge presented by the burden of oral disease, we have a responsibility to do so with integrity and in an ethical and integrated way, and how as clinicians, and a profession, the members have a wonderful opportunity to create a lasting impact with their skills by working with Bridge2Aid. Finally, how our vision is to be a leader in modelling dental charity work which is all about development, rather than short term aid, and strengthening health care systems rather than attempting quick fixes.
Because of the format of the evening, and the gracious invitation I had to speak, the event was restructured so that the main lecture by a leading implant dentist, Andrew Dawood, was over dinner. Normally the thought of eating whilst sitting through a clinical lecture isn’t my idea of fun, but I have to say I found the whole thing fascinating.
Because in this area of dentistry, it’s basically biomechanical engineering, and the level of precision and technology required is outstanding. I am in awe, as I constantly am, of the skills required for dentistry.
And so the evening was a juxtaposition of the most basic emergency dentistry, which is denied to hundreds of millions globally, alongside the precision and complexity of the most technical levels of dentistry. And yet one serves the other. Thanks to the generosity of groups like the London Dental Fellowship, the UK dental industry, and the individual members of the profession who dedicate their time and money to Bridge2Aid, we are able to move millions of people onto the first rung of the oral health ladder – an awareness of how to prevent disease, and access to simple treatments.
So – eating a steak whilst learning about implants gets chalked up on the ‘firsts’ list!