Shaping Faculties for the whole dental team

It has long been a vision for the College to form distinct Faculties for the different professions within the dental team. Faculty Chairs, Louise Belfield, Bill Sharpling and John Stanfield, update us on the progress they have made so far.


Louise Belfield, Chair of the Faculty of Dental Nursing & Orthodontic Therapy

I am delighted to announce the formation of the inaugural board for the Faculty of Dental Nursing and Orthodontic Therapy.  Combined, Dental Nurses plus Orthodontic Therapists make up around 50% of the dental workforce, and it is our privilege to represent our registrant communities at the College of General Dentistry.

Our Board brings together a wealth of knowledge and expertise, along with a broad range of experience in general dental practice and beyond, including practice management, NHS and private practice, civilian and military, workforce, postgraduate education, academia, and research, as well as representation from the United Kingdom nations.

Our Board members are:

  • Louise Belfield (Chair and member of the College Council)
  • Debbie Reed (Vice-Chair)
  • Jane Dalgarno
  • Angie Heilmann
  • Amanda Knight
  • Katheryn Marshall
  • Sharon Morrow

All of our Board members are passionate volunteers, dedicated to the advancement of career opportunities, recognition of achievement, and parity of esteem for our Dental Nurses and Orthodontic Therapists.

Developing our new Faculty board presents some unique challenges, and with those come unique opportunities. Perhaps more than other registrant categories, Dental Nurse training is varied and diverse; there are multiple qualifications that can lead to GDC registration, and they are typically delivered outside of Higher Education Institutions, which can funnel graduates into well-established career pipelines. Combined with the lack of an obvious direction for career development once qualified, these factors can make the waters of career advancement rather muddy. Therefore, a key objective for our inaugural Faculty board is to implement the newly developed Career Pathways framework, led by our Vice-Chair Debbie Reed.

We have also prioritised development of the Faculty membership pathways for Dental Nurses and Orthodontic Therapists. Our newly developing Faculty membership criteria uphold the highest clinical standards and are relevant and accessible to our community of professionals. It is also important to note that for the first time, all levels of membership and fellowship of the College are open to all dental professionals, and we encourage our eligible members to consider application. Our Career Pathways framework can support our members to meet the different levels of Faculty and College criteria.

However, our Faculty is only as strong as its membership. It is imperative that we work together with our members at all stages of their careers, including trainees and newly qualified members, to develop the Faculty in a direction that serves our community. We are determined that both registrant categories within the Faculty have equivalent voice, and as such we are especially keen to engage with our community of Orthodontic Therapists.  We know that amongst our Dental Nurses and Orthodontic Therapists there are many experienced, talented, highly achieving professionals who have made significant impact on patient and public health, and the dental profession. Our ultimate aim as a board is to provide means to fully recognise those contributions, in parity with other registrant categories, and to provide support and guidance for our members to realise their career ambitions to their fullest potential.

Louise Belfield AssocFCGDent is a dental nurse, research scientist, lecturer, Health Education England Dental Clinical Fellow, and National Examination Board for Dental Nurses Trustee. Louise is a member of the College Council, the Professional Affairs Committee and the Membership Admissions Panel.

Bill Sharpling, Chair of the Faculty of Clinical Dental Technology & Dental Technology

It has been a pleasure to be involved in the College of General Dentistry since its very early days, after registering as a supporter in 2018. In 2020, I was invited to join the College Advisory Strategy Group and I built a team of Clinical Dental Technicians (CDTs) and Dental Technicians (DTs) who were keen to work together for the greater good of the College and the profession. I Chair the CDT and DT Working Group that has contributed to the development of the Career Pathway and Professional Framework and am a member of the College Council.

As soon as the opportunity arose to progress the creation of the four College Faculties, work began on assembling what would become the Board of our own Faculty, the Faculty of Clinical Dental Technology and Dental Technology (FCDTDT). It is worth noting that the actual final title of the Faculty is still under discussion by the Board and has not yet been finalised.

The Faculty Board members are:

  • Bill Sharpling (Chair and member of the College Council)
  • Steve Taylor (Vice Chair)
  • Mike Brindle
  • Lee Butler
  • Tony Laurie
  • Jiri Matl
  • Caroline Persaud
  • Emily Pittard
  • David Reay

The Board are a great bunch with a real mix of experience and huge amounts of enthusiasm to see real progression for our CDT and DT professions. Each member has shown such dedication to their role and have all taken on specific positions to enable progress. With such a small group it is not possible to replicate the structure and member roles of the full College Council but we have hopefully been able to cover most elements with this select group.

Each of the devolved nations has representation should it be needed. Mike, Jiri and Caroline have made themselves available to consider issues relating to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively. Tony and Steve are overseeing the faculty’s CPD activities and Emily is the Early Careers representative. Membership admissions will be managed by Lee and David with Caroline and Mike having the extra responsibility for Career Pathways activity.

The Board has met a couple of times and is scheduled to meet at least three times each year just ahead of Council meetings. Each meeting will have a principal theme. So far, the schedule has included CPD, membership levels and Career Pathway work. During the CPD meeting, Board members were joined by Robert Dyas from ProDental CPD and good progress was made regarding arranging a CPD programme for both DTs and CDTs.

DTs and CDTs are encouraged to join CGDent and once they have done so, will automatically also become a member of the Faculty. Members will be able to apply to join the Faculty at a certain level which is dependent on qualifications and/or experience. The level that one can join then determines the post nominals that a Faculty member is entitled to use. Members will also be able to join a Certified Membership Scheme which will enable them to be supported and mentored at the same time as progressing through the Career Pathway, mapped against certain criteria.

These are very early days for the Faculty, but with the continued support from the Board and the guidance and direction from the College, progress will continue to be made and the profession will see significant benefits for the long term.

Bill Sharpling FCGDent is Associate Dean (CPD) and Director of the London Dental Education Centre (LonDEC) at the Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences, King’s College London and Honorary Professor at RAK College of Dental Sciences, UAE. Bill is a member of the College Council and the Careers and Training Committee.

John Stanfield, Chair of the Faculty of Dental Hygiene & Dental Therapy

Throughout the formation of the College of General Dentistry, the creation of Faculties supporting each of the dental team groups, with membership levels that are attained by progression through the Career Pathway, has been a key vision.

The work that has been ongoing in a multi-threaded stream, has now allowed us to start to form the faculties.  To this end, we have appointed an inaugural board to the Faculty of Dental Hygiene & Dental Therapy which will guide the Faculty until we have enough members to have elections.

The Board members are:

  • John Stanfield (Chair and member of the College Council)
  • Frances Robinson (Vice Chair)
  • Sarah Hill
  • Laura McClune
  • Sarah Murray
  • Fiona Sandom
  • Miranda Steeples
  • Deborah Stratford
  • Kirstie Thwaites

The Board, as you can see, brings together a huge amount of experience and qualifications to lead us forward in this historic and bold move for the profession.  Our tasks, as we go forward, enthuse each of us, knowing this can only improve our standing both within the dental profession and that of the general public.

Our Faculty has to grow, we require members to become part of our community, to set and raise standards, and to have input into how the Faculty and the College are run.  We have our voice on the College Council, with full voting rights, this task has been appointed to me until we vote for a chair of the Faculty who will then join the Council. 

Previously I had been involved with FGDP, both as a member and vice-chair of the DCP committee and as the editor of ‘Team in Practice’.  However, we couldn’t be full Members, nor did we have any voting rights.  I took on this role to support the vision of a College that would represent the whole dental team with an opportunity for all to be full Members.  We all have the same chance to be admitted to the community as Members, Associate Fellows and Fellows of the Faculty and the College.  Many have already been admitted as Associate Fellows of the College and we have just had our first Faculty member admitted as a Fellow of the College – my congratulations go to Fiona Sandom.

Currently, the Board is working on adapting the Career Pathways in Dentistry Professional  Framework to meet the needs of our constituents, mapping this against the expected career stages.

The Faculty will be expected to contribute to College publications, standards and guidance, to any of the press releases which involve our members and to this end we will be bringing on board those of you with particular experience and expertise.  We are very aware of the increasing academic achievements of our constituents and the research they are carrying out and want to make the most of this.

Joining the faculty and the college brings with it certain benefits:                                              

  • Recognition of postgraduate training and experience, your pathway from Safe Practitioner to Accomplished Practitioner
  • CPD via ProDental CPD (over 1000 hours)
  • Primary Dental Journal
  • Certified Membership Scheme
  • Belonging to a community of like-minded professionals

John Stanfield AssocFCGDent has over 40 years’ experience as a dental hygienist, and works in private dental practice in Cheshire. He was Editor of the FGDP’s Team in Practice journal and Vice-Chair of its DCP Committee, and now serves on the College’s Membership Affairs Committee. John is also a member of the College Council.

Career pathways in general dental practice – filling the big void

In this article, originally published in the British Dental Journal, members of the College’s Career Pathways programme explore the need for defined career structures in the oral healthcare team and explain how CGDent’s Career Pathways aims to fill the big void. 

Those who carve out a career in primary dental care have been almost unique amongst healthcare professionals in not having defined career structures to support their professional development, notwithstanding the multitude of training opportunities open to them.

There are many causes for this: the high level of autonomy in general dental practice; the limited overall regulation of post-qualification training in primary dental care; and the limited support for both career enhancement and resulting reward from the NHS. Yet the vast majority of NHS dentistry takes place in general dental practice. Existing structured career pathways in dentistry have been successfully and comprehensively created under the auspices of the Faculty of Dental Surgery of each UK Royal College of Surgeons. However, these have been designed almost entirely for supporting dentists undergoing Specialist Training.

There has been a pressing need to create some form of structure that is fit for modern careers in general dental practice for the following reasons:

  • Providing recognition of professional development and training for all dental professionals working both in NHS and private practice, and salaried services;
  • Promoting job satisfaction and workforce retention;
  • Inspiring public confidence in the post-qualification professional development of dental professionals;
  • Complementing NHS workforce development plans;
  • Engaging the oral healthcare team holistically – not just individuals in isolation.

However, a delicate balance also needs to be struck between a structure for career development, minimising regulatory burden, and allowing for the flexibility and independence that have been an attraction for many in general dental practice.

The College of General Dentistry, the successor organisation of FGDP(UK) since July 2021, has been working for the last two years to create pathways for dental professionals which will allow for such a balance. Furthermore, since oral healthcare provision requires the involvement of the whole team, the pathways have been designed with all members of the team in mind.

Our starting point has been the definition of career “inflection points” for an individual’s professional journey. We have purposely not adopted terminology which might have currency today, but might well change as trends and policies evolve. In other words, we have gone back to first principles: what might we expect or wish a person to be able to do, as their skills evolve over a career?

Our next step has been to design a Professional Framework of capabilities that would be expected for each of those career stages. We convened Working Groups for each dental professional group: dental hygienists; dental therapists; dental nurses; dentists; dental technicians. Each group has drawn together these capabilities under five domains, which has resulted in a total of 22 skills. The five domains have been identified as:

  • Clinical and Technical
  • Professionalism
  • Reflection
  • Development
  • Agency

The result: our recently published College of General Dentistry Professional Framework. This publication lays out a blueprint, addressing a gaping void that has been present in primary care dentistry. Individuals are encouraged to use it in reflecting on their own progress, and organisations to adopt it in support of their teams, and their workforce planning and development.

Our own next step will be the introduction of our Certified Membership Scheme, soon to be rolled out. This will be the means by which an individual demonstrates they are practising with the capabilities defined for each career stage, and achieve recognition through College post-nominals. Unlike assessments of the past, this will not be based on examination. It will be a journey over two years along an individualised reflective personal development plan, where support from a Facilitator is provided. Gateway qualifications from a range of accredited providers will form part of this journey and our Scheme will enhance the value of these qualifications. The components of Certified Full Membership for dentists, demonstrating capabilities of an Experienced Practitioner, is illustrated below – allowing awarding of the post-nominal Cert MCGDent. This will typically, but not exclusively, appeal to those who have recently completed Foundation Training. Parallel pathways are being developed for each stage of the pathway and, most importantly, for all oral healthcare team members.

We think this is a fresh and unique approach to career progression, and we believe it is consistent with the needs and aspirations of the next generation of dental professionals. The time has now come for the profession to seriously consider the future of careers in primary care, and this College is mapping a bright future for the whole team.

Authors:

  • Abhijit Pal, President – College of General Dentistry
  • Janet Clarke MBE, Chair of Trustees – College of General Dentistry
  • Roshni Karia, Chair of Certified Membership Scheme Working Group – College of General Dentistry
  • Avijit Banerjee, Chair of Careers Pathway Programme Board – College of General Dentistry
  • Shamir Mehta, Chair of Careers Pathway Reference Group – College of General Dentistry
  • Simon Thornton-wood, Chief Executive of the College of General Dentistry

The Version of Record of this article is published in the British Dental Journal, and is available online at https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-022-4907-1

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My journey to College Fellowship

In March 2022, the College launched its landmark new route to fellowship based on experience, and invited dental professionals to apply. We asked four members who recently gained Fellowship through the new “by experience” route, to tell us about their professional journey and how their experience led them to Fellowship.


Anoup Nandra FCGDent

Q. Can you tell us about yourself and your career?

A. I graduated from Birmingham Dental School in 2002 and completed my vocation training in London. I returned to Birmingham to become an associate in a mixed practice, Edgbaston Dental Centre, becoming a partner in 2006. Later in 2014, I set up Rock Dental, a private practice.

I’ve been fortunate to have amazing colleagues around me, and together we have pursued various forms of post graduate education. Over the years I’ve completed restorative training at the FDGP/RCS, along with implant training at the Eastman. I became involved in vocational training early in my career, and through this was encouraged to complete a certificate in medical education. Most recently, I have started an LLM in medical law. I guess I could be described as a bit of a dental geek!

I still have a huge passion for clinical wet fingered dentistry with my main interests being surgical dentistry and restorative dentistry. Over the years, I have learned about the management side of the business and how to adapt to the changing climate in dentistry.

Outside of dentistry, I can usually be found playing cricket somewhere, or watching my children play cricket!

Q. Why did you decide to apply for Fellowship of the College?

A. Very early on in my career, I embarked upon the FGDP career progression pathway with the ultimate aim of Fellowship being a personal ambition of mine.

Throughout university and my early career, I was mentored by amazing clinicians, many of which were Fellows, or had encouraged me to aim to achieve Fellowship in the future.

On multiple occasions I enrolled onto the FGDP fellowship programme, but for various reasons I simply did not have the time to begin. Life got in the way, and a had almost given up on having the time to complete my Fellowship.

When the College of General Dentistry was formed, naturally, being a huge supporter of the College, I transferred over my membership and joined the College. At this point, I was approached by one of my mentors who suggested that I look at the “’by experience” route. I looked at the criteria, and realised that, over the years, I had gained quite a bit of the required experience, and now, I would meet almost all the criteria. Naturally, I jumped at the chance and the rest is history!

Q. Which three of the five fellowship domains does your professional experience meet?

A. Although meeting the requirement of only three domains out of the available five was required, I attempted to meet the criteria of all five.

For the Clinical Domain, I was able to use my MSc in Implant Dentistry along evidence of having worked as a referral practitioner to meet the requirements.

I satisfied the criterial for the Teaching, Learning & Assessment Domain as I had completed a PG Certificate in Medical Education and could provide evidence of my role as an educational supervisor / trainer in the West Midlands Deanery for at least four years.

To meet the requirements of the Leadership & Management Domain, I used a reference from my practice accountant showing that I had been a principal for at least ten years, along with evidence of my practice meeting the BDA Good Practice Scheme over the last three years.

As evidence in the Publications & Research Domain, I used my Masters research dissertation.

For the Law & Ethics Domain, I was able to demonstrate that I had completed the first two years of an LLM in legal aspects of medical practice (to certificate level) and was able to provide evidence of having completed at least 60 expert witness reports.

Q. What would you say to others who are considering applying for Fellowship through the experience route?

A. For all of you that meet the qualification criteria, the Fellowship is a great way of supporting your college and a way of recognising all the effort you have put into your career over the years!

To anyone considering applying for Fellowship through the experience route, I would say go for it! Give it a go, you will be amazed, as I was, how much relevant experience you will have gained over the years. The process of collating all the evidence itself is valuable – you will find that you have probably achieved so much more than you realise! The application route is fair and allows you to use a wide range of evidence to support your case. The College is also incredibly helpful in guiding you through the process and making sure that you are directing your efforts correctly.

I remain grateful for the guidance that I have been given over the years by my mentors, and by my peers. Although achieving the level of a Fellow was a personal goal, I think it also reflects the support I have received when following this structured career pathway over the last 20 years. I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone considering this route.


Wendy Thompson FCGDent

Q. Can you tell us about yourself and your career?

A. I have been a general dental practitioner based in Cumbria for ten years, but dentistry is actually my second career.

I started my working life as a Fast Stream Scientist at the Ministry of Defence, after graduating from the University of Warwick with a degree in microbiology. At MOD, I delivered policy and big projects, such as being project planner for the new aircraft carriers and establishing the missile defence centre (a government-industry partnership).

After my family and I decided to move back to Lancashire, I spent some time working for Lancashire County Council on partnerships and community engagement. During this period, I decided to do some serious soul searching about what I valued and wanted out of life.

That was when I decided to embark on a new career and go back to university. Luck was on my side because UCLAN is not far down the M6 from home and they had just set up a new BDS course with University of Liverpool. It’s now ten years since I graduated and I still love treating patients. But just treating patients five days a week was never going to completely fulfil me. As a foundation dentist, I undertook an audit about antimicrobial prescribing, which due to my background became something of a route map for dental antimicrobial stewardship. It wasn’t long before I became a member of the NICE antimicrobial stewardship guideline development. And then someone said ‘You should do a PhD!’. Ha! Me? A PhD??

Anyway, next stop was a PhD at University of Leeds with Prof Gail Douglas, supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) through a doctoral research fellowship (the first GDP to receive one). In hindsight, my PhD had the most ironic title – “Antibiotic prescribing towards a reduction during urgent dental care in England”. The pandemic hit just a few months after I graduated and antibiotic prescribing rose dramatically.

Throughout my PhD I continued to deliver clinical dentistry, as a GDP in Bradford, and feel that my academic work really benefitted from my clinical work (and vice versa). Following my PhD, I moved to University of Manchester as an NIHR clinical lecturer in primary dental care . The post is essentially 50% academic and 50% clinical dentistry (as a GDP in Kirkby Lonsdale). My first week coincided with the national COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020. What an interesting time to start a new job – especially when your research interest is antibiotic prescribing and urgent dental care!

Over the years, I’ve taken on various national and international roles, including the College’s lead on Antimicrobial Resistance, a member of the College’s research panel and a College Ambassador.

Q. Why did you decide to apply for Fellowship of the College?

A. Fellowship of the College has a kudos; it’s a mark that you have achieved a certain level of expertise and breadth in your career. College Fellowship is valued in academia and demonstrates I have a broad influence within the profession. I went for the Fellowship by experience route because I could see that I would meet the criteria needed to qualify and it would be a straightforward process.

Q. Which three of the five Fellowship domains does your professional experience meet?

A. I chose the Publications & Research Domain, the Teaching, Learning & Assessment Domain and the Leadership & Management Domain. I managed to achieve the gateway criteria in all three domains which meant I didn’t need to provide a full portfolio of evidence.

On taking up an academic post at the University of Manchester, the New Academics Programme (NAP) is provided which leads to Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). Having submitted my NAP portfolio in January, I was pleased when my FHEA was confirmed as I could use it as part-qualifying for the Teaching, Learning & Assessment domain. The other part was providing evidence that I have been a visiting lecturer on a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses at UCLan since 2015.

For the Leadership & Management Domain, I was able to reference my international work, including as a Fellow of the International College of Dentists (ICD). In addition, I referenced my work with the FDI World Dental Federation; I am a member of its science committee and chair of its antibiotics working group and early career research network, as well as lead author of its white paper on the essential role of dental teams at tackling antibiotic resistance which I’ve  repurposed as an online course (free via the FutureLearn website).

The Publications & Research Domain was achieved through evidencing my PhD.

Q. What would you say to others who are considering applying for Fellowship through the experience route?

A. Do it! The journey to fellowship has been hard work and enormous fun. Working towards gaining Fellowship through the experience route is a great way to plan out your career progression as you work towards broadening your skills, becoming a more rounded dentist, and enabling you to have a lasting impact on the profession.


Peter Martin FCGDent

Q. Can you tell us about yourself and your career?

A. After growing up in Portsmouth I moved to Liverpool to study dentistry, graduating in 1986. I became a father as an undergraduate and went into practice as an associate in a high-needs part of north Liverpool where I stayed for five years working almost entirely in the highly pressured NHS.

After this grounding and helping a colleague setting up a practice, I became a practice owner, buying a single-handed practice in St Helens in 1992. I was invited to be a Clinical Assistant in Orthodontics and expanded the practice by becoming a Vocational Trainer in 1998. After much toil and sacrifice, including a partial Denplan conversion in 2000, the practice grew. A part-time salaried position in a Dental Access Centre for three years helped to pay the tax bill.

I continued in Vocational Training and then Foundation Training and became a postnominal collector. I achieved membership of the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK) in 2002 and MFDSRCS(Eng) the following year. In 2004-6, I was in Cohort 1 of the DipRestDent at MANDEC. Lots of CPD and tutoring later, I still work in St Helens with a five-surgery practice, have a grown-up daughter, and live with my partner, while spending my little free time walking, quizzing and living a simple life.

Q. Why did you decide to apply for Fellowship of the College?

A. As mentioned above, I like to collect letters after my name. I received an email from the newly formed CGDent with details of the fellowship by experience path (having already been awarded AssocFCGDent because of my Postgrad Diploma), realised that I could tick the relevant boxes and applied. It is a nice feeling to be told that I am officially a senior member of the profession, despite still having a degree of imposter syndrome after more than 35 years in practice.

Many of my closest friends at Dental School had sat FDSRCS (the main means to have a career path prior to the FGDP) and developed specialist hospital careers before “specialties” existed. A feeling of inferiority was natural – it was implied that GDPs were lesser beings by our hospital-based undergraduate teachers – but it was also motivational.

 I have experienced many changes in dental practice – the expectations in 1986 were a job as an NHS dentist, possibly practice ownership, until retirement. Now we have huge opportunities to acquire skills and training and to enjoy fulfilling careers – the letters after our names massage egos, but the real joy is in knowing we have progressed in ways earlier generations couldn’t.

Q. Which three of the five fellowship domains does your professional experience meet?

A. The Domains I chose were Clinical; Teaching, Learning & Assessment; and Leadership & Management.

Having a large appetite for CPD meant I could demonstrate externally-verified clinical skills via the DipRestDentRCS(Eng).

To demonstrate my commitment to education I showed that I was awarded a PGCert in Teaching & Learning in Clinical Practice in 2017 and was Postgraduate Tutor in the Mersey Deanery/HEENW for 11 years. I was a Vocational Trainer/ FD Educational Supervisor for 20 graduates and a letter from Anne, one of my former Training Programme Directors was needed to verify this. I am also a member of the Faculty of Dental Trainers RCS(Ed).

Having been a practice owner since 1992, served on an LDC and experienced new contracts imposed by the NHS, the invention of the CQC, changes to employment law, the rise of the corporates and imposition of clinical governance, I had some experience of leadership and management in dental practice. This was accepted as satisfying the Leadership & Management Domain requirements. I also had membership of the BDA Good Practice Scheme and obtained a Postgraduate Certificate in Dental Health Service Leadership & Management from the FGDP(UK) in 2010.

Q. What would you say to others who are considering applying for fellowship through the experience route?

A. The application process was straightforward and open, not like my experience of the assessment for Fellowship of the FGDP(UK). The criteria are clear and I believe, highly suitable for the purpose of demonstrating the range of skills and experience expected of “senior” practitioners. I would advise anyone with a suitable career history to apply and for those at an earlier stage to use the domains as a guide to career development.


Kaushik Paul FCGDent

Q. Can you tell us about yourself and your career?

A. I am a General Dental Practitioner in the Midland and London areas and the Clinical Director for MyDentist for the North West and Central regions, covering 150 practices.

Previously to this, I was an associate dentist at High Street Dental Practice for the past 11 years and have been a Foundation Dentist Trainer in general practice. I was also a Tier 2 Oral surgery Provider involving sedation in various practices within the Midlands region. I work part time at the Birmingham Dental Hospital as Speciality Dentist in Oral Surgery and as Clinical Lecturer in Oral Surgery at the School of Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham.

In these clinical roles, I am actively involved in the delivery of General Dental Services along with Minor Oral Surgery services.

I completed my BDS in India and then undertook the IQE examination in 2005 to register to work in the UK. Following this, I completed a Diploma in Conscious Sedation from Newcastle University and my MFDS and MJDF from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and Royal College of Surgeons of England respectively. I gained the Certificate in Dental Practice Appraisal and Certificate in Minor Oral Surgery from the FGDP, along with a MSc in Oral Surgery from UCLAN.

I also hold a Post Graduate certificate in Dental Practice Appraisal and Leadership and Management. I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy having undertaken a PG Certificate in Education.

I have a great passion for teaching and am actively involved in teaching, assessments, career planning and supporting undergraduate teaching and recruitment within Dental school and in Dental Foundation training and have taught on the MSc programmes at Warwick University. I’ve also tutored for the MJDF and am now on the Advisory Board for the MFDS examination with the RCSEd. I am currently involved in shaping the delivery of local dental services in the Staffordshire and Shropshire area as a member of the local LPN.

 I have been closely involved in mentoring and have worked as a Clinical Practice Advisor for 18 practices and as the CPD tutor within the Rodericks Group. Further, I have worked closely with the deanery to support colleagues through design and delivery of individualised mentoring pathways for clinicians with varied needs.

Outside of work, I relish food, traveling and shopping. I support a number of charities and am passionate about equality of opportunity for all.

Q. Why did you decide to apply for Fellowship of the College?

A. The fellowship of a college usually signifies a recognition of years of work and dedication to one’s professional career and also to the wider profession. Having been associated with the College from its inception and indeed from the times when it was FGDP, it was but natural that I seek to be a member and when the opportunity arose, aspire to be a fellow of the College. The “by experience” route allowed me to showcase years of work and use it to gain the fellowship.

Q. Which three of the five fellowship domains does your professional experience meet?

A. I applied for the fellowship under the Clinical; Teaching, Learning & Assessment; and Leadership & Management Domains. In the Clinical Domain, I was able to meet the gateway criteria based on achieving a Masters in Oral Surgery, along with other qualifications. Similarly, my teaching experience allowed me to meet the gateway criteria for the Teaching, Learning & Assessment Domain. My work as a clinical director and as a clinical advisor within corporate dentistry meant that I met the gateway criteria for the Leadership & Management Domain.

Q. What would you say to others who are considering applying for Fellowship through the experience route?

A. I think it is a fantastic opportunity for practitioners who have diverse and enhanced careers in general dental practice, to be recognised for it through the fellowship by experience pathway. Additionally, gaining fellowship associates them to a College that is progressive, inclusive and recognises all members of the dental profession. As a young College that is seeking to enhance and widen its membership and scope, this is the time for members of the GDP community to contribute through their experience and skills and make a difference in the dental landscape.

Congratulations to new Fellows Anoup Nandra, Wendy Thompson, Peter Martin and Kaushik Paul, and to all those who have been awarded Fellowship of the College of General Dentistry.

Dental professionals can apply for admission to Fellowship of the College – the mark of accomplishment in dentistry – by two routes: Fellowship by Experience and Fellowship by Equivalence.

To apply for Fellowship by the Fellowship by Experience route, you will need to submit a CV and detailed evidence showing how you meet the eligibility criteria for three of the five fellowship domains. The domains are: Clinical; Teaching, learning & assessment; Leadership & management; Publications & research; Law & ethics. We have “Gateway” criteria which require less evidence and will be processed more quickly, if you meet all these requirements.

Full details about routes to Fellowship and how to apply are available here.

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What have we achieved one year on?

As we approach the College’s first-year anniversary, CGDent President Dr Abhi Pal looks back at all that we have achieved and considers our exciting plans for the future.

On 1st July 2022 the College of General Dentistry (CGDent) will mark its first full year of operation since its formal launch, and I mark the conclusion of my first year as President. The transition from the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCSEng) was five years in the planning and brought with it the hopes and aspirations for a whole profession. The transition period posed a number of challenges and I commend the hard work of the College staff and give thanks to the support of the College Council, our Trustee Board and our many members for helping to achieve a successful first year.

The first task for the College was the transfer of staff and the membership from the RCS, and automatic recognition of Faculty of General Dental Practice UK (FGDP) membership, fellowship and all FGDP qualifications for the purposes of our own College membership and fellowship. I am pleased to say we have achieved this successfully, despite significant technological challenges.

In line with our inclusive approach to membership, the College now welcomes all members of the dental team with relevant postgraduate qualifications as members. The category of Associate Fellow has been created, designed to be a stepping-stone to Fellowship. We have also launched our criteria for Fellowship by Experience, designed to give recognition to individuals with experience who have demonstrated achievement in a wide range of areas. Membership has also been opened up to non-registrants with relevant qualifications, such as dental academics.

Membership of the College speaks to the professional development of individuals through post-nominals: Full Members (MCGDent), Associate Fellows (AssocFCGDent), and Fellows (FCGDent). In addition, we have expanded our package of membership benefits for all members. These include a discount arrangement with the UK’s largest indemnity provider, Dental Protection, which recognises the high level of commitment to professional development of College members and fellows. College membership also gives access to the wide range of online educational content provided by ProDental CPD. Indeed, the College has now hosted 20 live webinars so far on everything from leadership and professionalism to managing traumatic dental injuries, and from sustainable dentistry to how to get the best from your career. They’re all available for members to view free of charge via ProDental, which will also issue you with an electronic CPD certificate and keep a record of your learning.

The College continues to be the publisher of authoritative guidance and standards documents, originally published by the FGDP(UK), covering areas such as Clinical Examination and Record-keeping, Dental Radiography, Standards in Dentistry, Research in Primary Dental Care, and Training in Implant Dentistry. The College continues to publish Implications of COVID-19 for the safe management of general dental practice, which was developed with the FGDP, and has just released its first sole-published guideline, Mentoring in Implant Dentistry, which was developed with the Association of Dental Implantology and has been endorsed by the British Association of Oral Surgeons, Association of British Academic Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons, and the UK and Ireland Section of the International Team for Implantology.

We continue to deliver high quality postgraduate training through our Postgraduate Diploma in Restorative and Aesthetic Dentistry, Postgraduate Certificate in Non-Surgical Facial Aesthetics and our recently launched Postgraduate Diploma in Primary Care Orthodontics which is delivered through IAS Academy.

The College has secured representation on over 25 committees and working groups across the UK developing national dental and oral health policy. Our College Council is now formed of 25 members from across the UK, as well as internationally. Most importantly we have representation on Council from not only dentists, but also dental nursing, dental hygiene, dental therapy, and dental technology.

The national makeup of the College is reflected in the work that is carried on by our regional groups. We have had very successful Study Days in Birmingham, Glasgow and Gateshead during our first year. The College Council will no longer meet exclusively in London but also in other UK cities from time to time, in order for the Council to engage with our local members.

At the British Dental Conference and Dentistry Show in May, I was delighted to meet many members and prospective members of the College. The plans for our Career Pathway was met with great enthusiasm and we also obtained some very useful feedback. The College also provided Core CPD seminars from some of our notable speakers.

Over the past few months I have been invited to speak to groups of final year undergraduates from various UK dental schools about Transition to Practice. It was a wonderful opportunity to engage with our colleagues who will be the future of the profession to discuss career planning and the College’s role.

Earlier this month, we held the College’s first Fellows’ Reception at Barber-Surgeons’ Hall in London where we unveiled our Professional Framework which will underpin the College’s Career Pathways.

Proud as I am of everything we’ve achieved so far, we can look forward with even more enthusiasm and anticipation to the next 12 months, during which many other projects and initiatives will come to fruition. These include the launch of the College’s Career Pathways and Certified Membership Scheme, designed to provide a long-needed pathway for professional development in primary dental care for all members of the dental team. We will be launching Phase One of the scheme in the autumn of 2022.

Publication of the second edition of our guidance on research for primary dental care professionals, and of our new Standards for Dental Photography, is anticipated in the forthcoming year. PDJ issues on oral surgery, digital dentistry, aesthetic dentistry, and dental trauma will be published. Upcoming live webinars include social inequalities and dental school applications, periodontal-systemic links, LGBTQ+ inclusion in dentistry, and many more.

Finally, I hope you will be able to join in some of our planned conferences over the next year. These include CGDent Study Days in Birmingham on 1 July and Glasgow on 2 December, 2022. We also have the first CGDent—Quintessence Publishing International Conference in London on 24–25 March, 2023.

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Two dentists, one award and 6,000 subscribers

Award-winning early-career dentist, Pouya Zohrabpour, features in the College’s new film and tells us about the innovative educational work he has been doing to support dental students and young dentists.

I remember the day I was studying with my friends for our final exams of dental school and we received an email saying that all our in-person exams have been cancelled because of the Covid-19 lockdown. This was right at the start of Covid. Being one of the Covid year graduates was a very odd experience and I never thought the start of my career would pan out the way it has. I am now a first-year associate dentist and have been lucky enough to start and work on many additional projects related to my dental work.

With my friend Dr Ali Gowie, I run a dental YouTube channel and Instagram account called Two Dentists. This was something we started during the lockdown as we both got bored of watching long one-hour webinars and wanted to create highly educational videos which were professional, concise and easy to understand. So much of dentistry can be complicated but we felt that if we did enough research, we could script videos and break down difficult concepts into bite-sized videos for young dentists and dental students.

Our first few videos, which have been some of the most popular on our channel, focused on the new patient examination. We have made videos on seeing your first patient as a dental student, best way to take a dental history, dental examination, essential diagnoses, radiology and treatment planning.

We have since expanded and released a variety of other videos such as our series on dental photography and Loupes, which have been very popular. After launching and committing to releasing one video every week, which we maintained for a full year, we have been overwhelmed by the positive feedback received from everyone. My proudest moment of our YouTube journey was when a friend of mine sent a photo of a lecturer at the University of Bristol (where I graduated) showing my radiology video to a group of final year students.

The Youtube channel has allowed us to collaborate with many dentists and be in a continual state of learning. We have been lucky to be able to collaborate with Dr Shivam Divani who is the creator of the My Dental Care App. The app aims to educate the general public on the importance of good oral hygiene and to show you how to protect your teeth and prevent dental issues. With Dr Divani we created a six-part video series which accompanies the text and images in the app. These videos have also been released publicly on our YouTube Channel.

My progress on the YouTube channel was one of the factors that led to me winning the FGDP Foundation Dentist of the Year last year – which I am extremely grateful for. I am now extremely proud to also be an Ambassador for the College and to fulfil my role in spreading awareness of the new Career Pathways to support young dentists like myself.

In my foundation training year, I had to decide if I wanted to do Dental Core Training or not. This decision was based on speaking to my friends and colleagues but I found it difficult to make a decision as everyone had different opinions and I was unsure of the pathway I wanted to go down. I am sure many others have been in this position and this is where I believe the new Careers Pathways programme can come in. As a young dentist, having a career pathway which has been mapped by a professional body and shows clear steps in progression gives me security in knowing that I am on the right path for me to expand my knowledge and become a better dentist. Whilst doing so, it’s great to know that my progression will be recognised by the College and I can work my way up to becoming an ‘accomplished practitioner’. I believe the Career Pathway will be a must-use programme for every young dentist who is currently in general practice looking for a structured pathway for continual professional development, enabling you to move forward and enhance your career with confidence.

We plan to launch the College’s Career Pathways in dentistry, underpinned by the Professional Framework, in June 2022. Look out for details in the June issue of our monthly newsletter – sign up to receive it.

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Transforming oral health: A fellow’s journey

Dental Hygienist, Frances Robinson AssocFCGDent, has recently completed the Clinical Oral Health Transformation Fellowship with HEE. As the first ever dental care professional in any clinical fellowship role, Frances explains what was involved.  

A fellowship is a position, often combined with clinical work, that focuses on the learning and development of the individual taking part. Fellowship roles in the healthcare profession aim to expand opportunities for aspiring leaders; helping them gain the necessary experience and skills for future system leadership roles. As such, there are a range of opportunities to be involved with projects and programmes and to work in settings outside a clinician’s normal exposure. There can be specific goals of writing, submitting, and publishing papers, attending meetings and conferences, and working on particular projects, as well as networking. The balance of these is dependent on the host organisation.

I have just completed a one-year position with Health Education England (HEE) as their Clinical Oral Health Transformation Fellow. HEE’s purpose is to support the delivery of excellent healthcare to patients, by ensuring that the workforce has the right numbers, skills, values and behaviours. Thus, the areas I worked on related to the development of the oral health work force.

I was the first dental care professional (DCP) to be awarded the clinical fellowship, these roles are typically fulfilled by a dentist. I am extremely grateful for this innovative appointment both for my personal development and the development of my career, but also for other DCP colleagues, for now it has opened up new realms of opportunities for us to progress in system roles.

I applied for the role because of the potential to gain experience working in the public health sector, whilst allowing me to work clinically at the same time. Having completed a Masters in Dental Public Health in 2017 – spurred on by my interests in health inequalities research – I felt this position would be an excellent opportunity for me to develop my career.

At the CDO stand with Sara Hurley and other fellows at the BDIA showcase

During a fellowship there is flexibility to align the projects undertaken to individual interests, whilst working for the greater aims of an organisation. This means there is a real opportunity to tailor a role to where there is the most personal or organisational benefit. My aims for the year working with HEE were to work on projects that I’m interested in, for example oral health inequalities, oral health empowerment and promotion, increase my skill mix and exposure to multidisciplinary team working in primary care, as well and develop opportunities for leadership and management for all members of the dental team.

I am currently writing up multiple papers to be published; one evaluates the success of a pilot that aimed to reduce the number of paediatric patients sent to secondary care for dental extractions under general anaesthetic. A subsequent paper will evaluate the success of the “return to work” therapy scheme, a programme aimed at supporting Dental Therapists who have not been using their full scope of practice, back into therapy work by providing them with training opportunities, supervisor support and a practice placement. I will also be helping to write a concept paper for a Dental Hygiene postgraduate training programme.

During my time with HEE, I have had the chance to sit on various working groups like a “Managed Clinical Network” and interact with external organisations such as Public Health England, academic institutions, professional societies and local councils.

A clinical fellow may also have the opportunity to attend courses and gain qualifications that are not linked to their clinical work; I was selected to complete an Institute of Leadership and Management, level 7 qualification through HEE. I received three days of training with UMD Professional and then completed a research element which involved interviewing my colleagues at the HEE dental office.

Furthermore, I am currently completing a “Becoming an Expert Educator in the Healthcare Professions” course with the University of Nottingham. These additional skills and qualifications are important for demonstrating tangible outcomes from the year.

It has sometimes been a trying year due to the pandemic – working from home during a fellowship has meant less interaction with colleagues and difficulty integrating into an office very different from a clinical setting. Natural communication with colleagues is often stilted when working virtually. I subsequently created ice breakers for meetings with my peers to stimulate organic conversation!  

There are other fellows across the country with HEE and in other organisations for example with the Chief Dental Officer, General Dental Council, Care Quality Commission and NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I). We have a clinical fellow networking group where collaborations across work streams can be facilitated and a journal club takes place. This has given me the chance to network with new professionals across medicine and dentistry which has been really enjoyable! The fellows try to see each other in person despite being spread out across the country– the most recent of which was at the BDIA Dental Showcase at ExCel London.

As I was the first fellow at Health Education England to be a DCP I was – and still am – in a unique position to be an advocate for DCPs, working hard to make our voices heard across a variety of settings. I was asked to do a presentation at the BDIA conference on workforce and skill mix. I focused on the skill mix in our systems, policy, planning, commissioning, leadership and management. I am passionate about DCP representation in all of these areas as I truly believe that if we are represented throughout the system we will have a more empowered workforce. If you’re interested in taking up a Fellowship position, keep an eye on NHS jobs, HEE jobs, FMLM for dentists and your professional society pages.

Presenting at the BDIA showcase

The College of General Dentistry has a unique structure with exciting opportunities to create connections between different dental professionals against an academic backdrop. There are no other organisations in the industry now that represents all dental registrants in this way. The careers pathway programme will be able to support individuals navigating their fields; there will be guidance, support networks and mentors available to enhance learning and progression. I personally am very excited to have a structure in which to work, with industry recognition of the level attained. I know that many DCPs have much to offer the wider industry with postgraduate qualifications and extensive experience in many areas, as well as evidence of enhanced learning. The College will enable these efforts to be verified through a framework where all dental professional are assessed equally. This certainly is an exciting time for us all.

Frances Robinson chairs the Dental Hygiene & Dental Therapy Group on the College’s Career Pathways programme.

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An Historic Event, the first Annual Members’ Meeting – were you there?

Following our first Annual Members’ Meeting on 11 March 2022, Chair of Trustees, Janet Clarke MBE FCGDent, shares the meeting highlights, including upcoming developments in membership and further exciting plans for the future.  

A new organisation will have many firsts – the first chief executive or the first mention in print for example, and the College of General Dentistry chalked up another first on Friday 11 March 2022 – the first Annual Members’ Meeting.

As we are in “just post-unprecedented” times, the meeting was held virtually, with members dialling in from around the UK. Online meetings have many faults, you miss the atmosphere and buzz, and the opportunity for a drink and a gossip afterwards. But a huge advantage of virtual meetings is that many people can attend without taking too much time away from their working day or their evening relaxation. This was the case with the Members’ meeting, which lasted almost exactly an hour and included plenty of time for questions. Attendees avoided the hazards, time and cost of travel and the College bank account avoided the expense of hiring a venue and associated costs. So, win-win perhaps? We would welcome your views on this, as on any other issue touched on in this blog.

So, what did we cover during that hour?

Simon Thornton-Wood, CGDent Chief Executive, chaired the meeting and welcomed members, encouraging them to ask questions either using the online chat function or by the old-fashioned method of raising their virtual hands. He introduced me, as Chair of the Board of Trustees and Abhi Pal as President of the College.

I took control of the slides (always a dangerous moment, I do like to be in control!) and started my presentation by looking back at the transfer of FGDP(UK) from the Royal College of Surgeons to our new College in the summer of 2021, and its establishment as an active College. Members might not have realised that the College has only three permanent, full-time employees and so operates very much as a start-up, where agility and flexibility are key strengths. The College is not just the old FGDP with a new title, it is a fundamentally different organisation, which is building on the many strengths of FGDP to support the whole range of dental registrants across the whole of the UK and Northern Ireland.

I discussed the role of the Board of Trustees, who are a mixture of registrants and lay members, in supporting the CEO to run the organisation, setting priorities (very important with such a small team) and ensuring financial viability. Much of our work has been around setting up the new body, focussing on the initiatives that will help build membership by providing the services and support that dental registrants need and deserve.

I shared photos of our soft launch in July 2021, noting the small number of key CGDent officials present at the event in order to support social distancing and then the formal launch in October 2021, which was a much more social occasion.

Abhi then took over and shared information about the new Council which he chairs as College President. He noted that it now includes a wider range of members, representing most registrant groups, and stressed the breadth of discussion that this facilitates. More socially-distanced photos were shown, but Abhi was delighted to note that the Council is now meeting face-to-face and is also meeting outside London, to emphasise his commitment to the pan-UK nature of the College. Meetings have been held in Birmingham and will be held in Cardiff and Glasgow during 2022.

He shared his enthusiasm for the new initiatives that he, together with Council, is taking forward this year. These included the work on the Career Pathways for all registrants, which has been led by working groups from each registrant group and is being prepared to launch in the summer. Questioned about the timing and the fact that the career pathway is hotly anticipated, he explained that a lot of work was going on behind the scenes to get it right and make it work smoothly, so that once launched it would be fit for purpose.

He went on to the describe the proposed Certified Membership scheme and the benefits that being a Certified Member would bring. Certified membership signifies a member’s commitment to continual development and includes working with a College facilitator, who will provide support and aid reflection. There was a lot of interest in the scheme from attendees and several questions about the role of facilitator and who could apply to become one. Questioning and comments drew out the fact that the important aspect is the skills of the facilitator rather than their registrant group, and Abhi asked those who might be interested in supporting the College and their professional colleagues to get in touch with him. Several keen members volunteered on the night!

We’ll publish more details about the new Certified Membership scheme, and how it can support your career, very soon.

Abhi also covered the work he has led to produce clear criteria and a roadmap to College Fellowship. This will open up Fellowship to more registrants who fulfil the criteria and this initiative is going live now.

Finally, Abhi reviewed the existing benefits for CGDent members including our highly-rated Journal, Primary Dental Journal, and the suite of exclusive and linked webinars produced with our partner ProDental CPD. He explained that the seminal set of Standards & Guidance that had been a hallmark of FGDP would continue to be available to all online, and the College is developing exclusive content on implementation and use of the standards in practice, which will be available for members only.

He finished by highlighting another first – the first International Conference for the whole dental team in partnership with Quintessence Publishing, which will take place 24–25 March 2023 in London – a date for your diary.

All in all, this was an exciting run through of the work the College has been doing and comments by email afterwards from members showed how welcome this was.

I concluded the meeting by thanking members for their time and their enthusiasm. I asked them, as I ask you now, to talk about the College to colleagues and encourage them to join up. It is a cliché I know, but together we really are stronger.

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Sustainability: what is it and how can the dental sector contribute?

Professor Paul Batchelor FCGDent, Associate and Dental Group Chair at the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, explores the issue of sustainability in dentistry and what practices can do to support it.

Introduction

While sustainability has entered the lexicon of everyday language , its precise meaning and the key issues surrounding it can appear vague. Without this understanding of meaning trying to address issues becomes almost impossible. This blog attempts to overcome the lack of clarity by providing a definition to sustainability and how the dental sector can potentially make a contribution to what is becoming one of the most critical issues of our time. The blog is divided into two main sections: the meaning of sustainability and the contribution that the dental system could make.  

What is meant by sustainability?

In broad terms, sustainability refers to the actions taken to ensure that the activities of the current generation in meeting their needs have no, or minimal, impact on the environment.  The key document influencing current policy on sustainability was published by the Brundtland Commission titled “Our Common Future” 1. The report recognised three pillars to sustainability: the environment, the economy and society. For the environmental pillar the underlying philosophy was underpinned by a need to reduce the current human consumption of natural resources to a level at which they could be replenished. The economic pillar, referred to the ability of communities to maintain their independence, not least to secure sources of livelihood and the third pillar, social sustainability, meant access to resources to keep their community and society healthy and secure.

The United Nations, as part of its role in sustainability, established a knowledge hub to provide guidance on sustainable development issues, one of which centres on health2. Although high level, the material presented covers a wide range of activities highlighting how individuals and agencies can help and engage in the challenges. Indeed,  FDI World Dental Federation (FDI) issued a statement on sustainability in the dental sector with policy recommendations including:

  • The prevention of oral diseases and the promotion of health should be recognized as the most sustainable way to ensure optimal, accessible and affordable oral health with minimal impact on the environment.
  • The dentist as leader of the dental team should take steps to educate all of the dental team on sustainability practices and simultaneously reinforce that the safety of the patient and the quality of care provided should always be the team’s primary concern3.

This work has been taken forward and the FDI will be publishing a consensus statement in the next month or so on the major challenges facing the oral health care sector and the opportunities to deliver sustainable oral health care.

How can the dental system contribute?

Dental care delivery is provided in the vast majority, through a series of small businesses. However, the actual dental ecosystem is far wider. The day-to-day running of a dental practice requires energy, materials and transport to name but three items.   Each of these businesses can make a contribution through initiatives that help create a sustainable environment in a logical process similar to those found in a business plan. The first step is to understand the impact that the business is having: how much waste is the business creating, issues such as energy usage within a practice, the use of materials and their packaging. A good example of this is the work by Duane et al. (2017) 4 .

Following on from understanding the issues, opportunities for  addressing the problems need to be identified and while no two dental practices are ever the same, potential solutions would have common themes. For example, are there opportunities for using (more) sustainable materials? How might energy usage be both reduced  or more reliant on renewable sources? Are there ways to explore how patients use services and do opportunities for health promotion programmes exist at differing sites as opposed to one-to-one interventions?

The dental professions can make a contribution to sustainability both within their professional roles but also as individuals. Sustainability is not simply about the environmental aspects; it also involves the economic and societal aspects. A number of these lie outside of the control of the profession but Government can make  contributions, perhaps not least with appropriate contract reform. To tackle these and other issues, including how covid-19 has impacted and what lessons are being learnt, the College is running a webinar on 28 February at 7pm ( Sustainability in Dentistry and Healthcare). For individuals with an interest, the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare also runs a programme on some of the key issues and how it relates to dental care (https://sustainablehealthcare.org.uk/courses/sustainable-dentistry).

Summary

Sustainability has grown in importance with the recognition of the negative impact that uncontrolled economic growth is having on the planet, the negative consequences of which would be felt not just by present generations but those of the future.

All societies have now recognised the importance of managing the environment to help address the negative consequences of unchecked growth but also how developments in the economy and society can also contribute. Provision of health care, including oral health care, is a fundamental right and Government needs to work with the profession to ensure that care arrangements are developed in a manner which is coterminous with sustainable goals.

Each individual dental care worker can contribute to helping achieve the sustainability goals both through their professional roles and as individuals on a day-to-day basis. While such contributions may appear to be small or even insignificant, together they will make a major contribution to a better world not just for the present but also the future.

References

  1. Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future. The Brundtland Commission. United Nations.(1987) Available at: http://www.un-documents.net/our-common-future.pdf (Accessed 20 February 2022).
  2. Sustainable Development Goals: Goal 3 – Good Health & Well-being. Available at: https://sdg.iisd.org/tag/global-sustainable-development-report-gsdr/ (Accessed 20 February 2022)
  3. Sustainability in Dentistry Statement. FDI World Dental Federation. May 2017, Madrid, Spain. Available at: https://www.fdiworlddental.org/sustainability-dentistry-statement (Accessed 20 February 2022).
  4. Duane B, Lee MB, White S, Stancliffe R, Steinbach I. An estimated carbon footprint of NHS primary dental care within England. How can dentistry be more environmentally sustainable? Br. Dent. J., 223 (2017), pp. 589-593. Available at: https://www.nature.com/articles/sj.bdj.2017.839 (Accessed 20 February 2022).

The upcoming live webinar Sustainability in Dentistry and Healthcare, takes place on Monday 28 February 2022 at 7pm – to take part, please register here.

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Face-to-face study days with colleagues again!

After the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years, the College was delighted to be able to connect with dental colleagues at two recent, major face-to-face study events in Gateshead and Glasgow. Valerie Silver, CGDent Northern, and Patricia Thomson, CGDent Scotland, describe the joy of getting back in touch with other dental professionals and updating clinical knowledge with some of the profession’s top experts.

No More Nails – a new look for Northern and dentures!

By Valerie Silver MCGDent, CGDent Northern

Although the Northern Study Day had been planned well in advance for 2020, we hadn’t anticipated that a pandemic would sweep in and stop the world in its tracks. We made the inevitable decision to cancel in 2020 but, following months of restrictions, knew there was a demand for face-to-face events in the North East and so – while the second (or was it the third?) wave broke in early 2021 – we began planning again. 

In July 2021, FGDP transferred to the new College of General Dentistry giving us the opportunity for a fresh start for the Study Day and we were delighted that Abhi Pal, the first elected President of the College, accepted our invitation to join us in his new role.

‘The whole day was fantastically run. So good to have face-to-face a CPD event. James Field is a brilliant speaker and I learnt loads about prosthodontics, a very complicated clinical thing to provide for patients but taught in a way that is relatable and constructive.’

Top prosthodontic tips from James Field

We were hugely grateful to welcome James Field, a Senior Lecturer in Restorative Dentistry and Honorary Consultant in Prosthodontics, back to the North East to share his knowledge with us. ‘No More Nails’ was jam-packed with prosthodontic tips and advice designed to ensure that denture patients will sing our praises for years to come!  

James Field

Top tips included invaluable information on the critical success factors for complete and removable dentures and how to implement techniques to achieve a strong border seal on the upper arch and optimally stable denture on the lower arch. He followed this by demonstrating simple and efficient methods for partial denture design and discussing the clinical stages of implant-supported over denture provision.

‘I thought the presentations by James were excellent. I definitely learned many tips and tricks over the day that I will implement into my clinical practice.’

Building communities 

Despite the difficulties resulting from the pandemic, close to 100 colleagues and a core group of exhibitors and sponsors joined us at the Gateshead Marriott MetroCentre. Many of them were Foundation Dentists and we are delighted to have retained and strengthened our links with the Northern Deanery and Health Education England as it establishes our goal moving forward of engaging with the whole dental team with an emphasis on mentoring and supporting early years colleagues.

‘An excellent speaker and a very well run event. Will look forward to another one. I particularly liked the friendliness of the committee.’

With that in mind, we are towards becoming a CGDent Affiliated Group. We plan to run local events when and where they are needed and, in particular, provide support for young dentists in the North East.

If all goes to plan, we will hold an informal virtual event in late spring or early summer 2022, before organising our follow up Study Day in the autumn. This is provisionally being planned to focus on oral cancers and treatments, and colleagues from across the UK (and further afield) are most welcome to join us!


The biggest one-day dental event in Scotland returns – with a new name

by Patricia Thomson AssocFCGDent, West of Scotland General Dental Practitioner, founding member of CGDent Scotland and Council member of CGDent

As we are all too aware, when the world locked down in March 2020, opportunities to engage with colleagues became virtual with face-to-face events banished from the diary. But in mid 2021, with society benefiting from double (then triple) vaccination and a lifting of restrictions, large scale dental events began to make a return, including a highlight in the calendar, December’s Glasgow Study Day.

The Faculty Study Day, as so many of us knew it, was an institution – thousands of dental professionals having attended since its inception in 1992. It featured some of the legends of dentistry from Van Haywood and Gordon Christensen to Didier Dietschi and Serpil Djemal. Arguably the most social event in dentistry, it catered for 400 attendees and culminated in a drinks reception overlooking the Clyde.

Hosting the Study Day as a CGDent Affiliated Group

In the West of Scotland, we have formed a CGDent Affiliated Group, supporting the principles and ethos of the College. We hope the College’s Career Pathways for all dental professionals will provide many opportunities for mentoring and tuition to foster dental careers in Scotland. So, after our Covid-induced break in 2020, the Scotland Study Day was back with a new name, but with all of the popular elements intact.

Abhi Pal, President CGDent

We marked our first meeting under the banner of CGDent by welcoming the first elected President of CGDent, Abhi Pal, and we were hugely grateful to our excellent speakers Iain Chapple, Carol Tait and Steve Bonsor for sharing their expertise. In particular, we were also thrilled to host the first major face-to-face dental meeting in Scotland since the start of the pandemic.

‘Brilliant organisation, world-class presenters, fantastic atmosphere and lovely to be back at a face-to-face event.’

Safety was paramount with lateral flow tests requested alongside mask wearing in the IMAX lecture theatre while, for those who could not attend in person, live streaming was also available. Even so, we felt incredibly lucky to be able to hold the event just before the Omicron wave broke and all large-scale events in Scotland were either cancelled or postponed by the Scottish Government. We were delighted to be joined not just by dentists and hygienists but all of Glasgow’s BDS5 cohort and more than 100 vocational trainees from across Scotland. Equally we could not have run the event without the support of more than 20 sponsors and exhibitors, many of whom have endured a torrid time during the pandemic.

‘Great to see the final year students and VTs so well represented and supported’ 

 The Study Day brought together three of the UK’s most experienced educators. 

Carol Tait, Steve Bonsor and Iain Chapple

Based on current evidence, Iain Chapple discussed the relationship between periodontal disease and other chronic non-communicable diseases, and the role of the dental team in the medical management of their patients. He detailed the diagnosis of early peri implant disease, the consequences of late diagnosis, and reviewed the evidence for long term survival of implants versus periodontally involved teeth, before discussing the success rates and risk factors for implants and the associated legal issues.

‘I have never enjoyed a periodontal lecture/session more. Thank you for making it very interesting today and engaging. I really enjoyed it!’

Carol Tait continued the theme by discussing pulpal and periapical disease and assessment for endodontic treatment, delivering clinical tips on the way, before moving on to complex endodontic problems and techniques, and likely treatment outcomes and methods to increase success rates.

The day finished with the Caldwell Memorial Lecture delivered by Steve Bonsor, General Dental Practitioner and lecturer at the Universities of Aberdeen and Edinburgh, whose stimulating address on modern dental materials was delivered in his inimitable, engaging and informative manner.

‘Excellent organisation and presentations giving a very rounded day and all credit to the organisers to assembling such a great turn out.’

Delegates were almost universal in their praise of not just the speakers but of the luxury of being able to interact in person again.  Covid allowing, we look forward to welcoming them back on 2 December 2022 (put the date in your diary!).

*All quotes from our official feedback

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Giving back: what you can gain from volunteering

London-based Dental Hygienist, Frances Robinson AssocFCGDent, has volunteered overseas for several years, providing oral health care in communities where it is much needed. Here she shares some of her experiences and offers advice for anyone interested in getting involved. 

It might not be everyone’s idea of “time off”, but I’ve never spoken to anyone who regretted the volunteering they’ve done, whether giving a talk on good oral hygiene in a school assembly or an extended trip abroad with an overseas charity.

As highly trained dental professionals, there are so many ways we can give back to both our local communities and the wider global community. We have a huge skill set that prepares us for volunteering, even without using our clinical skills. Communication, professionalism, working in a fast paced, ever-changing environment, are all key skills needed for working in outreach settings, with dental charities and in overseas communities. Furthermore, dental professionals are registered health professionals with moral standards to uphold and appropriate safeguarding certifications – all conducive to humanitarian work. 

Clinical skills are a recognisable asset for any volunteer within the health sector.  Dental professionals can offer their skills as part of an emergency relief campaign: in humanitarian crisis; in conflict zones; after natural disasters; or in refugee settings. Overseas volunteers are often needed to increase the capacity of local health facilities, as well as training and up-skilling local health workers.

I have volunteered with dental charities in the UK and abroad for several years and have gained much as a dental professional. I was newly graduated when I first volunteered which really threw me in at the deep end, but my experiences helped me become a more prepared, flexible and innovative clinician, as well as being a more culturally-aware team member.

I first volunteered for Dentaid in 2016 when I travelled with the charity to Nepal, and then later to Cambodia in 2017. Dentaid has worked in more than 70 countries providing safe dental treatment in poor and remote communities. They support dentists around the world by providing equipment, running oral health programmes and sending teams of volunteer dental professionals to help reach more patients and support local charities.  

Conducting fluoride applications in Cambodia with Dentaid

I had only been qualified a year when I took part in Dentaid’s inaugural trip to Nepal. In some areas we were able to help communities with much needed extractions for patients who were in pain and simple restorations and fluoride applications for those we could. We used very simple equipment, often with no reliable electricity, sometimes working outside.

An outreach clinic in a school in Cambodia

On one of our clinical days, we travelled by bus for three hours, then in a 4×4 for two hours and finally walked for one hour to set up a clinic in a remote school in the foothills of the Himalayas. I was shocked having travelled so far to see the children consuming excessive amounts of sugary drinks and sweets. The subsequent decay rates were astronomical. We set up preventative dental clinics in the rural schools on classroom chairs and tables. I came across a similar situation when I took the opportunity to travel with Dentaid to Cambodia. These transformative experiences became a catalyst for me to go on to study a Masters in Dental Public Health.

At the start of the pandemic, I began volunteering in fundraising and logistics for dental charity Dental Mavericks, who work in Lebanon, Morocco and Greece. In September 2021, I travelled to Greece as the first Dental Maverick to support a new partner charity to help support the dental clinic with dental volunteers in the Kara Tepe 2 refugee camp in Lesvos. I worked clinically, seeing my own patients and assisting other dental professionals. I also helped the charity’s founder and the clinical coordinators devise more effective data collection methods, restructuring their research to better attract funders, new clinicians and other support.

Treating a patient in a clinic in the Kara Tepe 2 refugee camp, Lesvos, with Dental Mavericks

Dental Mavericks focuses on promoting oral hygiene education and practice, making dental care accessible to vulnerable populations, including refugees. Their priority is to address the root causes of dental disease and take people out of dental pain. They provide emergency appointments, routine and preventative dentistry. They are hoping to help the Greek charity they support to expand the preventative aspect in the future. I am currently leading on a collaboration between Dental Mavericks and the British Association of Dental Nurses to support humanitarian workforce training.

Working abroad is an amazing way to see areas of the world that you wouldn’t otherwise visit. Interaction with patients that may have travelled many hours to see you is humbling in a way that is indescribable. But there are also many other ways that dental professionals can volunteer their time and skills. If you’re considering volunteering, it’s advisable to carefully consider how much time you are willing to give and what type of work you want to do, before committing to any voluntary opportunities.

Children and young people

Connecting with a local school to give assemblies and classes on toothbrushing and dietary advice may be a suitable option and can tie in with a preventative dentistry programme. Toothbrushing programmes in early years settings are recommended by NICE (1) and PHE (2); the effectiveness of these programmes for reducing tooth decay in early years settings and schools has been well established. There is scope for dental professionals to support their local settings with the set up and provision of these schemes. Designed to Smile in Wales and Child Smile in Scotland have been implemented with much success.

Care homes

A critical but often overlooked area of volunteering is supporting older people. Care home residents suffer a disproportionate amount of dental decay. Evidence shows significant differences between ‘institutionalised’ and community dwelling older people, with those in care having fewer teeth and significantly higher levels of dental decay (3), which has ramifications for an individual’s systemic health. Dental practices could consider collaborating with their local care home by helping to provide triaging advice for carers and oral hygiene advice for staff. 

Outreach clinics

There are many ways a dental professional can volunteer with an organised charity too. As well as providing dental care in remote communities abroad, the dental charity Dentaid runs clinics out of its mobile units all over England. They focus on vulnerable communities, for example the homeless, refugees living in the UK, residents in socially deprived areas and those unable to access care.

Another avenue for dental professionals seeking opportunities to volunteer is to reach out to non-dental-specific charities like homeless charities or charities for specific health conditions, and offer to help up-skill carers or other volunteers in dental health and hygiene.

Working overseas

There are many organised groups that offer voluntary opportunities overseas. It’s important to conduct thorough research into an organisation before committing to them. They should provide help that is culturally relevant, includes the local community, is empowering for its beneficiaries and looks to build a sustainable local workforce, where possible. 

As well as Dentaid and Dental Mavericks that I have already referred to, other organisations that provide dental support overseas include Mercy Ships and Médecins Sans Frontières.

Mercy ships is a faith-based international development organisation that deploys hospital ships to some of the poorest countries in the world, delivering vital, free healthcare to people in desperate need. They accept all members of the dental team and can focus on more complex treatments due to their on-board facilities.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides medical assistance to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters, or exclusion from healthcare. This well-known organisation welcomes clinicians from most healthcare areas but has larger focus on medical care and sanitation. 

If I could give any advice to dental professionals wanting to volunteer, it would be to do a little bit of research before you decide on what you want to do and where you want to go. Then throw yourself in!

“At the end of the day it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished…It’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.” Denzel Washington

  1. NICE public health guidance 55 (2014). Oral health: approaches for local authorities and their partners to improve the oral health of their communities.
  2. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/321503/CBOHMaindocumentJUNE2014.pdf
  3. Steele, J. G., Sheiham, A., Marcenes, W., Fay, N. & Walls, A. W. Clinical and behavioural risk indicators for root caries in older people. Gerodontology 18, 95–101 (2001). 

Frances Robinson chairs the Dental Hygiene & Dental Therapy Group on the College’s Career Pathways programme.

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