When and why did you decide dentistry was right for you?
Like a lot of my generation, I went to The University of Otago to do Medicine. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the cut, got into Dentistry, and have never looked back.
What do you MOST love about your job?
Over the years I have built a friendly team atmosphere/workplace which breaks those hierarchy boundaries that can form in the workplace. Everyone is treated as equals.
Because of this, I can come to work, do what I do best, dentistry, and not have that added behind the scene stresses.
For me, it lets me focus on the challenges of Dentistry, and knowing that we are all working for the greater good of the patient, in a team-friendly environment, this is why I love coming to work. There is never a dull moment with my team.
You’ve been practising dentistry in Auckland for over 30 years – what do you think have been the biggest changes in the field over this time?
For me, the biggest game-changers for me have been the phrases: Mercury-free fillings, digital X-rays and the SLR camera.
I introduced these into my practice in its infancy, all at different times, and it always gave me a point of difference with the other local practices.
Tell us about your work with Global Dental Relief. How did you get involved?
Dr Sanjay Madhav and team members with a patient in Antigua, Guatemala.
GDR run clinics in Nepal, Ladakh, Kenya, Guatemala and Cambodia. You work in these clinics for one week seeing about 500-600+ children, aged from 3 years to 18 years. Non-dental volunteers are allocated roles like DA, fluoride application + oral hygiene, sterilisation or front desk.
In the past, my role was intake dentist. My role was to examine all the children, treatment plan them, place the LA and pass them on to one of the 4-5 dentists to carry out the treatment. This is very much a production line set up, but it is the only way to achieve maximum utilisation of time so we can see this volume of children.
It is heads down and bums up, stopping only for lunch. By the end of the day you feel exhausted, only to go back the next day to do it all over again.
What is it about volunteering, that makes you go back year after year?
The feeling you get making a difference to these children’s lives.
By the end of the clinic, you look back at the week, and say, well that wasn’t that bad, I could do that all over again. So, I go back for more.
And we understand you have plans to go back and volunteer some more later this year?
I try to go to a clinic every 12-18 months. I have decided to take the next step, and GBR is going to train me to be a clinic leader. So, in the future, I will be running one of these clinics.
Where would you find you, when not in the practice?
You will find me out in the backyard either landscaping, or building projects like my deck, or on the hockey field.
Finally, what makes you smile?
Just getting out there and living life to the full and having goals to tick off. Everything has to be a challenge.