President Emeritus, Professor Nairn Wilson FCGDent, welcomes members to the College of General Dentistry and reflects on the impact of the new College for the general dental profession.

Congratulations on your membership of the College. Please use your new postnominals -FCGDent for Fellows, AssocFCGDent for Associate Fellows and MCGDent for members, to help raise awareness of the College. Also, please encourage the members of your dental team, together with your friends, acquaintances and colleagues in dentistry to follow your good example and join the College. The more members, the sooner the College is going to be able to make application for a Royal Charter, establish faculties and schools and much more besides.

If only dentistry had had its own independent Royal College in years gone by, the standing and status of the profession, the importance of oral health to general health and wellbeing and the impact of dentistry, both NHS and private in healthcare provision would be in a much better place. The College, which is going from strength to strength, intends, amongst many other things, to address these issues and while it is at it, work on transforming public attitude to oral health and the value of lifelong, longitudinal dental care. I see the introduction of the College being akin to a tethered boxer suddenly having full use of both hands. The activation of the College changes the odds which, despite the commendable, ongoing work of the professional associations, have plagued dentistry for longer than anyone cares to remember.

When the College is firmly established as a Royal College of high national and international standing, oral healthcare professionals will look back and wonder how dentistry managed prior to 2021 – no unified voice for the whole profession, a mishmash of career arrangements, exclusion from critical, high level considerations of healthcare, and, most importantly dentistry being undervalued and poorly understood. Our successors, in looking back, will recognise and thank all those who got behind the formation of the College, specifically those listed in the College’s Roll of Honour. As a pioneer in the membership of the College, you too could be included in the Roll, if you are not already listed – a once in a lifetime opportunity to be immortalised in the early history of the College. All you have to do is contact me (nairn.wilson@btinternet.com) and I will be delighted to guide you through the process.

In encouraging you to help fuel the College fire, and get behind our elected President, Abhi Pal, and the recently constituted College Council, the only way forward must be seen to be ‘up’. The College needs more than being timely, unique and forward thinking; it needs its members to be committed to its purpose and vision. Knowing many of the founding members of the College, hopefully including yourself, the College can be confident in going forward. No problem however difficult, no barrier however high, no disagreement however polarised should stop the College realising its transformational potential.

The future of the College and, in turn, dentistry, which I believe to be full of exciting opportunity, is in your hands, as members of the College. Get engaged, help recruit more members and together change things for the better – your College, your future, your call!