Every couple of weeks I will get asked by a patient why I became a dentist and admittedly I do agree that to some people it may be considered an odd career choice.
As a child, I had healthy teeth but they didn’t all fit in my mouth in a straight line and so I always knew that at some point I would need braces. I also didn’t get wiggly teeth, the adult teeth would just grow around my baby teeth and so I ended up having most of my baby teeth removed by the dental nurse at school. At around 12 to 13 years old I went to see my Dad’s Dentist and had my last four baby teeth and four of my adult teeth removed to create a bit more space in my mouth. I will never forget being numb and dribbling orange juice all over Dad’s carpet! Then one week later I had my braces put on. Below is a photo of me that Mum took the night before I had the braces on but after the extractions – a distant memory now and I was a bit surprised to find this picture a few years ago!
When I finished at high school, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in the future. I liked maths and science, but I also really enjoyed my hard materials classes where I got to use tools and be creative. I also really enjoyed being around and talking with people.
I left Christchurch and moved to Dunedin where I studied first year Health Science at the University of Otago and applied to dental school. I was lucky to be offered one of 68 places in my dental school year. Realising that I too could be a Dentist and help people to feel confident in their smile just like the experience I had from my first extraction to having my braces off was pretty cool.
“After a couple of years of braces treatment I had lovely straight teeth, a boost in confidence and I was ready to take on university”.
In my final year I applied for one of five New Zealand positions on Dental Corporations graduate program and I was fortunate enough to be offered a position in Wellington. After a year at this practice I started working at Angela McKeefry Cosmetic & General Dentist where I received fantastic mentorship and guidance from a wonderful Dentist which is Angela, and I have been here ever since.
One of the most important things after having orthodontic treatment, whether it’s braces or Invisalign®, is to wear the retainers given to you after treatment to stop your teeth moving back. And as a teenager/young adult I wasn’t so great at doing this. I got to the point where I decided that my teeth weren’t as lovely and straight as they used to be and so I was lucky enough to be able to have Angela treat me with braces again and some little composite build ups to camouflage a couple of my tiny teeth. I was back to having healthy straight teeth and another boost of confidence.
“So to answer the question of why I became a Dentist I think there is probably two reasons. The first is because it combines many of the things I enjoy doing; science, using my hands, creativity, learning, problem solving and being around people. The second is that I get to try and make peoples experience and happiness and healthiness with their teeth be as positive as possible, just like the opportunity I got growing up”.
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