“I don’t regret it because you can’t stop kids eating toffees…..keeps your kids happy – fair enough…..if the teeth falls out – fair enough”. Welcome to my world.
I sat down with some trepidation to watch “The Dentists”, ITV’s new observational documentary filmed at the University Dental Hospital of Manchester. I tend to shy away from anything vaguely teethy on the tv – it only results in frustration on my part, but this was one to watch. Filmed in my own Trust, but with the safety of knowing I was on maternity leave whilst the cameras were on site, I watched with baited breath.
And so we met Kirsty Woodmason, a real gem of our team (and ooooh how glamorous). Kirsty is shown patiently explaining to a family that their daughter is going to lose 9 of her baby teeth. It’s a terrible sign of the times that I thought, “only 9?” because sadly it’s not uncommon for our team to have to consent parents for the removal of all 20 of their children’s baby teeth. I hope the nation gasped in horror, I pray it did, because this is, in my mind, one of the greatest modern travesties of childrens’ health. Removal of teeth under a general anaesthetic was the 3rd most common reason for a child to be admitted to a hospital in England last year. That’s appalling. Then consider that in most cases the reason for removal of teeth was avoidable – dental decay. That’s criminal. It is a constant struggle to keep up with the number of children requiring this procedure and that is a cause of constant sadness and frustration for me.
And to Erik, a real contender to my toothfairy crown. Oh man, I could watch the Erik show all day. He is as close to a legend as we have in the Dental Hospital. My favourite quote? “If people say to me they don’t like injections, I’m very honest with them, neither do I. I’m very biblical when it comes to injections. It’s better to give than to receive.” Erik once won our “Unsung hero” award – it looks like the secret is well and truly out 🙂
There were some lovely stories too – we met James at the end of his hypodontia (missing teeth) journey. Consultant Martin Ashley fitted his front teeth, a lovely moment and the end of a lot of hard work from a large team of orthodontists (brace experts), surgeons and restorative dentists. I was also touched by Professor Nick fitting dentures for the lovely June and Jo and Erik looking after Julie, an adult patient with learning difficulties. It was really great to see the positive work that we do, but not just that but the ‘human’ and humorous nature with which my colleagues go about their work. Jo was right, it is difficult not to get drawn in. Some of our patients do tug at our heart strings…..
I was delighted that “The Dentists” was able to demonstrate the skills and expertise of my colleagues in the Dental Hospital. A good dentist isn’t just gifted technically, they are great communicators, dedicated, caring, kind, passionate and patient individuals (and now we can add media skills and bravery, I reckon). I hope this programme provided an insight into the diverse treatments we are trained to provide and the expertise with which it is delivered. I watched my colleagues full of pride. Despite the fact we work in the same building, it was enlightening to see them at work in their own Departments.
For me, the greatest success of “The Dentists” was that it managed to showcase the wonderful camaraderie which exists in the dental team. It is this friendship, the teamwork and the support which I love so much about my job. When the going gets tough, when we take a hit, we pull together. Without my nurses, receptionists, admin team, lab and junior staff, I am nothing, and on that front I am blessed with the most dedicated, professional yet fun team it has ever been my pleasure to be part of. My Dad once said to me that if I found a career where I looked forward to going into work every day then I was very lucky. Fourteen years on I still look forward to the challenges ahead and feel grateful that I have the skills and expertise to help people. Believe it or not, that’s why we dentists are in this game. Bring on the series ITV.
“The Dentists” is available to watch again on itv player.
What did you think of “The Dentists”? I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂