dentistry, yet I often sensed that the holistic nature of caring for our patients was perhaps subservient. Dentists must of course be clinically competent; however, in addition to this, it is our focus on the patient as an individual that complements the care they receive. Therefore, being a successful business is important, but even more crucial is performing our caring role as members of the healthcare team. Dentistry is an ethical exercise Patients always come first and, in my career thus far, I have witnessed some practices who simply try to adhere to standards and neglect the importance of complete dental care for the patient. First and foremost, dentistry is an ethical exercise: as we are trusted by our patients, it has to be. While preventing and curing disease is the main focus of our clinical activities, to be a successful practitioner in terms of effective and patient-centred care, we must also demonstrate ethical competency. Our ethical obligations are as serious as the physical act of dentistry. We take ownership of what we do and are honest, delivering a total commitment to our patients to build these relationships. I always advocate personal authenticity from the clinician alongside a strong commitment to professional responsibility. For us, dentistry is not just a job and commercial self-interest does not dominate our actions. We always aim to give more than we receive, and we have promoted an environment in which there is a revulsion at self- interestedness and commercialism. Our commitment to this supererogation means that our patients never feel belittled or sidelined and know they have our full attention. Our professional Developing genuine connections
responsibility is manifested in our attitude towards sector regulation. It is easy to complain, but there are a number of reasons why we have the governance we do, and we embrace clinical governance and respect the expectations it places on us as a care facility. We are always fully present for the patient without distraction. This type of commitment is a genuine connection of not merely the continuity of the patient receiving the same care or seeing the same dentist, but it is also the patient receiving support from a professional that is dedicated to them as individuals. This brand of engagement aims to be wholly centred on the patients and respecting their informed choices. Developing professionalism among younger generations A key interest of ours is grassroots dentistry. The young graduates of today have an excellent education in the theory of dentistry and good supervision in the practice, but I wonder if they have had the complete education in the ethics and professionalism that connect to dentistry. The profession’s newest colleagues need to develop and broaden a deep, ethical reflection and understanding to support their decision-making.
Dentistry is an ethical exercise; as we are trusted by our patients, it has to be
Collaborative clinicians focused on patients’ needs