I always wanted to be happy at work. From school days, I had this one goal in mind and decided that dentistry was for me. I wanted to work with people and not paper; I wanted to be creative.
I loved every minute at University. It was apparent to me that after uni was when you begin to learn your craft.
To that end my analysis suggested that joining the military, and in particular The Royal Air Force, would provide me with a career pathway of working and, very crucially, learning from excellent clinicians. The Air Force at that time had been very progressive. I learned that they were the body that introduced the concept of dental hygienists to the profession!
I had a wonderful boss at Cranwell, Colin Brookes. He taught me all about PREVENTATIVE DENTISTRY – a great benefit to those budding fast jet pilots at the flying school, the Budgies.
RAF Germany was next. I was the junior in a team of four with Iain McIntyre and Graham Smart as mentors – both outstanding clinicians. Germany at that time was the land of opportunity for dentists and whilst I was tempted to stay in the RAF, I had a great offer to go into German private practice. It really was fantastic. The dental technology available was some of the best in the world. We avoided extracting teeth and created happy, functional smiles. There were some situations, though, for which not even their resource and technology could provide the answers.
Then I read about DENTAL IMPLANTS. My boss said YES, go learn about it.
I did, at the Medical College of Georgia 1988-89 and there I met one of the most wonderful, generous people of my life. Dr Hilt Tatum saw something in me. He took me under his wing, taught me and treated me like a son. Over a period of 5 years I spent many weeks a year with him at the Edward White Hospital complex in Florida soaking up knowledge and experience.
I remember a lady from Chicago. She had had implants placed in her 80s and was now in her 90s, still mobile and fit. She said, “with dental implants I can eat good food. Before my implants I could only eat soft trash and afterwards I began to be able to eat good, healthy and nutritious food. You are what you eat and I feel great – all down to Dr Tatum’s wonderful implants”. This was repeated time and time again. The message was clear – this was the future!
Since then I have become an experienced implant dentist. I have to thank Dr Tatum for showing me how.
In Germany I also met the eminent English orthodontist, Dr Winston Senior. I also thank him and his students, David Barry and Chiara Menghi, for their superb support in helping me to re-create people’s dentition – giving our patients back their health, function, aesthetics, self-confidence and self-respect.
Member of the AAID (American Association of Implant Dentistry), ADI (Association of Dental Implants), SPOH (Society for Preservation of Oral Health) and SAAD (Society for the Advancement of Anaesthesia in Dentistry)