Dentist Bashing

Posted in: Blog, by Mark Topley, on 14th April 2015 | Comments Off on Dentist Bashing

A post this week aimed mainly at non-dentist readers, but which I hope is an encouragement to dentists and the profession as well.

IMG_0965There’s a great deal of ‘Dentist Bashing’ in the media at the moment it seems. Mainly coming from the Daily Mail from what I can see. Although a lot of this passes me by being based in East Africa, an article last week was shared on Facebook and made me so angry I felt I had to respond.

I won’t share the ‘article’ because I don’t want to give it any more air time than it has gained already. In summary, it set out what an outrage it was that a group of dentists had made a large sum money from the NHS last year. Presumably these dentists had delivered services to patients in return for that money, and with my limited knowledge of the way the NHS works, they must have had multiple contracts across several practices in order to obtain those payments. They will have had many people working for them and invested a large amount of money in acquiring, equipping and running those practices to the required standard. Unfortunately the article took exception to people with a highly technical clinical skill who invest their own money and risk in running a clinical facility gaining the commensurate financial reward that results from a job well done. It also failed to point out that the vast majority of dental practices providing NHS dentistry are by no means making large sums of money.  It did the usual poor journalistic job of taking a stance, supporting it with limited one-sided quotes and demeaning the only response from the profession with a cursory mention at the end.

We have no problem paying surgeons, specialists and other highly qualified clinicians appropriately, so why such a problem with dentists?

Before I get too far into this (and these are my personal views), I want to steer away from the article and talk about my personal experience of the dental profession. I’ve worked alongside a fair number of dentists over the past 10 years. As with all sections of society, you will find a range of people. Are they all perfect – no. Do they deserve the bashing that they’re getting – absolutely not.

The overwhelming majority of dentists I meet are highly professional, caring clinicians with a genuine desire to help people. Once you get past the dental phobia (let’s face it – a trip to the dentist is no-one’s idea of a good time), and consider what a dentist actually does inside the mouth, it’s incredible. The level of skill required to pull off what they do, day in, day out, is immense. That takes a level of focus and technical expertise to achieve that in my opinion, means they earn every penny they earn.

The dentists that volunteer with Bridge2Aid do so because they care about people in pain. They help huge numbers directly, and make an investment on other clinicians by training them in emergency dentistry so that communities can be free of pain in the future. It costs around £2,000 to volunteer with Bridge2Aid, but dentists give up a huge amount more. Typically they are either business owners or self-employed, so 2 weeks away from practice can lose them tens of thousands of pounds in turnover.

So to the dentists – I salute you. I am full of admiration for the job you do, and to those involved with Bridge2Aid – thank you for giving so much back.

To the non-dentists – don’t believe all you read in the papers – dentists and the profession are a great group of people when you get to know them.


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