1. Tell us about your dentistry background, and how you became involved in periodontics.
I graduated from Birmingham University in 1997 with Clinical Distinction and undertook a vocational dental training in the South-West of England. After two years in General Practice I realised that Restorative Dentistry was the area of specialism that I wanted to embark upon. I completed a year of Maxillofacial training at the Royal Cornwall Hospital and whilst working as a Senior House Officer, passed my diploma examinations and became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons and Physicians of Glasgow. I went on to complete a Master’s Degree in Restorative Dentistry at Newcastle University and graduated with Honours in 2003. During these two years I undertook research in the field of ‘Resin-bonded bridgework’ provided for orthodontic patients, which was subsequently published in the British Dental Journal.
In 2003, I started a comprehensive five-year Specialist Training Programme at Newcastle Dental Hospital and passed the exit examinations in 2008. I was accepted on to the General Dental Council’s Specialist list in 2009 in the fields of Restorative Dentistry, Periodontics and Prosthodontics.
2. How does periodontics differ from general dentistry?
To the uninitiated, the world of periodontics may be perceived to be a ‘boring place’ only involving ’scaling and polishing’ teeth, and advising patients on what toothbrushes and toothpastes to use. However, to the initiated and inspired it is an exciting world involving true holistic care improving health and well being by treating disease and re-establishing the crucial gum and bone foundations to allow for a functional set of teeth.
What I particularly enjoy is the fact there are many challenges in the field of periodontics which can make life interesting! When assessing your patients you firstly have to listen to them intensely to hear what may or may not be of concern and this will help you to start to formulate an understanding of the person themselves. You then need strict vigilance when undertaking your clinical examination whereby a number of techniques need to be utilised. Diagnosing patients problems and the reasons patients have problems is also not a straightforward process, but once a diagnosis has been confirmed the exciting challenge then begins in how to resolve the problems and treat the patient.
3. What advice do you have to offer to patients with gum disease?
See your dentist right away and don’t wait until it hurts. Remember, most periodontal disease has little to no pain associated with it. This means people can go for years before teeth become loose or painful abscesses form and “force” them into a dentist’s office. Unfortunately, usually when pain is the reason people finally go and have the problem checked out, the teeth may not be salvageable.
4. In your opinion, how can patients best prevent gum disease?
Some people are susceptible to periodontal disease so they may not be able to prevent it. Again it is best to have routine dental check-ups to have this checked out. Plaque control on a daily basis is important and dental hygienists are a wonderful resource for this kind of information.