Celebrating 100 years of women dental professionals
Where did you qualify and when?
King’s College London 2016
What attracted you to dentistry?
The ability to be able to change people’s lives and help them to conquer their fears
What are your current responsibilities in the profession?
General dentistry, training of dental nurses, charity work, helping to train current foundation dentists, facial aesthetics.
Claire’s dental story:
I’m a dentist in Bexley Heath, Kent. My career in dentistry started in 2005 when I became
a trainee dental nurse. I worked in a practice in Lancashire that was owned by Nicolas
Taylor (now the postgraduate dental dean of COPDEND). I loved the job and loved seeing patients overcome their fears and get their confidence back, and I wanted to be a bigger part of that. So in 2007 when I qualified as a nurse, I applied for the Dental Hygiene and Therapy course at the University of Liverpool. I was accepted at first application, but it was a hard time for me. I was commuting long distance every day as I couldn’t afford to live out of home, and as well as that I was caring for my ill mother whilst holding down an extra job to pay the bills and fund the course. Despite this, I would go on to collect 4 out of the 5 awards at the end of the course awarded by Oral B and Colgate. Just before I qualified in 2010 my mother died and to be honest I wanted to end my career in dentistry. She didn’t get the chance to see my
graduation. However, I had decided that she would want me to continue and I decided to apply for the BDS programme at the same university. I was accepted and started the course in 2011. After two years I transferred to Kings College London so that I could have the support of friends in the South and concentrate on becoming a dentist. During my time on the BDS course I worked all the hours I could as a hygienist to fund my stay in London. This included weekends and late nights. I collected many silver and gold commendations during the course and also won the prestigious ‘Koran Feray’ prize for highest mark in case presentation in
the final BDS year. When I qualified in 2016 I managed to get a VT place at the same practice I worked as a hygienist. I quickly built up a new list of patients as a dentist and I loved seeing all of the very anxious patients, helping them to overcome those fears I first saw back in 2005. Becoming a dentist was long and hard but it has been worth every step. I feel that I am different to other dentists not only because of my experience in treating patients in the past, but because of my sheer will and determination to get here. Now that I am a dentist I try every day to ensure that my patients have the very best of experiences, and I combine that with ongoing education so that they also receive the highest level of dentistry. I took home the prize for ‘Best Case Presentation South East London’ at the end of my DF year, and in 2017 I was the first dentist in the UK to win the National prize for ‘Best Foundation Dentist of the
year’, awarded by the Royal College of Surgeons (FGDP). I have since been approached to be a part of NHS organisation of dental education and have also been asked to be included in a book about influential women in dentistry, written by Janine Brooks which will be released in 2019. I have undertaken a number of courses since being a dentist, including more recently an advanced and masterclass facial aesthetics course. I have been to lots of ethical sales courses and also a hands-on practical restorative course. I am lucky to be able to help out with the current DF dentists in our practice, and have the opportunity to run staff meetings
and also help with dental nurse training. Every year I provide dental services for the ‘Crisis’ charity. This mainly takes place over the Christmas period and involves providing general
dental services to the homeless. It is a very hard job, not only due to the number of patients being seen but also because of seeing their circumstances. You need a lot of strength to do this job. I usually run one of the teams and act as co-ordinator for my mobile unit. The day can be more than 12 hours long with little time to rest.
What has been your most memorable achievement in the profession?
Winning the National Foundation Dentist of the Year Award 2016/2017. I was really proud of that.
What advice would you give your younger self on qualifying?
I would say don’t spend most of your time worrying about what patients will say or do. If you do your best every day then you will never have to worry.
Which of your mentors have influenced you the most?
Probably my DF trainer and friend for the last few years Dr Baber Khan. He pushed me to work harder and achieve more. Without that, I don’t think that I would have had the confidence to do some of the treatments that I currently do. I know I always have his support.
How have you used mentoring throughout your career?
Since being a nurse I have always had someone to turn to, whether that was an appointed person or just another friend in dentistry. I have met so many outstanding professionals along the way, most of whom I am in awe with at what they have achieved, and I strive to get to that level.