Summertime is a popular time for visiting guests in our home. Our most recent guest, Ivy, is a friend of my eldest daughter, Isabel. They met on Tumblr. My daughter was blogging about feeling low, a common feeling amongst teenagers, and out of the blue comes this other teenager in Vancouver, 1,000 km away, who reached out to my daughter and cheered her up. My wife and I had no idea this had happened.
Months later we finally heard about it and on a summer trip to Vancouver, Isabel begged us to find time to meet this young woman named Ivy, who Isabel described as her “best friend” though she had never met her live and in person. We agreed to meet in a public place, at a mall, and I have to admit, she was a delightful young woman who had a real head on her shoulders; she was brimming with confidence, positivity, and good vibes. We all fell for this charming young lady and a good friendship continued to blossom between these two young ladies. That was three years ago.
We just finished taking Ivy back to the airport in Calgary to have her fly home after a great 11-day visit with us. On her last evening here, I asked her what her favourite food is, so we could have a farewell meal in her honour featuring her favourite tasty treats. To our surprise, she said, “meat pies.”
Thankfully, there is a local restaurant that is known for its meat pies—the British Chippy—so off we went. It’s a little place in an out-of-the-way strip mall, but it has authentic British fare, homemade meat pies, British soft drinks that are hard to find elsewhere, and more. We all had meat pies and chips. (As an aside, why do the British people call french fries “chips?” Is it because they don’t want to call anything “French?”…even though french fries are not really “French,” and the French just call them frites…oh, it is all so confusing!) It was a delicious farewell dinner.
But it got me thinking about our British colleagues and dentistry. As a resident of a fellow commonwealth country, we have long considered British dentistry to be less than ideal, especially if it was done prior to 1990. For a long time, dentistry was a covered benefit in their health care system, but the system paid the dentists such a low rate for the work provided that only the lowest cost care could be reasonably provided. It resulted in lots of five-surface amalgam fillings, untreated periodontal disease, lots of extractions and dentures, but not much else.
Now I am not an expert on the state of British dentistry, but the National Health Service has relaxed the rules and “private” dentistry is now allowed. As a result, the quality of care and choices available to the general public have rapidly improved to be of the high quality seen elsewhere in the western world.
Unfortunately, as time has progressed, so has emerged the addition of more and more regulatory agencies involved in dentistry that have led to a confusing array of rules and regulations, which has our colleagues’ heads spinning…wondering just who do they answer to? And who is their advocate? It’s a troubling situation. It’s a situation that is not unfamiliar to me, due to the out-of-control Alberta Dental Association and College. Thankfully, a group of dentists in Alberta are working with the Provincial Government to encourage a separation of the regulatory college and professional association in order to improve transparency and protection for the general public we serve, and to have a valid, active, and compassionate voice of advocacy on behalf of the profession of dentistry.
It is time.
Larry Stanleigh, BSc, MSc, DDS, FADI, FICD, FACD