So why being a dentist is great?
1. I met my husband because I’m a dentist. Sad but true, we met at dental school as our eyes met over a cup of mouth rinse. It is totally unbelievable how many of our dental student friends married other dentists, we’re obviously an insular bunch with humour that doesn’t extend much past jokes about fillings and small pricks.
2. There are few greater things as satisfying as being able to help someone with pain; maybe its the dental version of a God complex, slightly downgraded perhaps. Accepting true gratification is a pleasing feeling. That’s my Florence nightingale answer.
3. My job sometimes feels like one long coffee morning, but with a corsodyl rather than caffeine fix. Getting to know people whom I have been seeing regularly for more than 12 years and I sometimes have to remind myself I’m here for the teeth. I’m sure there are rafts of people who detest their dentist, luckily, I don’t seem to know any of them. AND I listen to the radio all day, though I have ‘upgraded’ from Radio 1 in my 20s to classic FM in my 40’s.
4. It is the most flexible job I can think of for a woman. No glass ceiling, no gender pay gap. Time off for families and aside form the fact that when I’m not actually at work, I’m not earning anything, I can work when I want. I leave at 5.30 and I rarely have to bring work home.
5. There’s no office hierarchy or corporate backstabbing in a dental practice. Everyone is equal, a fact that is occasionally disputed by the male members of Botley dental practice who are very quickly knocked back into shape. I spend more time with the people I work with than I do with my family some weeks and they are lovely even if they do plan what they are wearing to a Christmas party in October. We don’t speak in business euphasisms; there’s no blue sky thinking, ducks in a row or low hanging fruit. We’re a straightforward bunch.
6. Making someone’s teeth look better or doing a complicated procedure is on a par with putting the final piece in a very large and complicated jigsaw. I spend the rest of the day feeling a bit better about life. Being married to a dentist, we can (sadly) share in this smugness and have been known to compare xrays and photos over Saturday night curry. I’ll accept, a molar root canal treatment is not brain surgery, but it still gives me a buzz when I’ve finished it well.
7. It is a job that is afforded a degree of respect and everyone knows what it involves without explanation. Having spent my teenage French lesson trying to say ‘ Mon Papa est une inventour’ I always longed for a one word job that no one questioned. Obviously dentists are much further down the food chain than doctors who are still elevated to near Godly status but that’s fine. I’m not a banker and that seems to earn me an idiom of respect.
8. Ok, I’ve saved it to number 8; but this is the Goldman Sachs answer. It’s a well paid job. There’s very little financial progression in dentistry which means that a cosmetic dentist in their 20’s earn on a par with a dentist in their 60s. In my 20s this meant nice holidays, flash cars and a healthy bank balance. Twenty years and 3 children later, it means a shiny people carrier, an eye watering mortgage but a lovely home and a bank balance that every now and again tips into credit.
9. There is no better way to shut up the dull person you get stuck next to at a really boring middle class dinner party than describing a particularly gruesome tooth extraction or similarly graphic surgical procedure. Granted, I have been at many such occasions where a mouth has been craned open in my face for an opinion on some dental disaster, but I can usually manage to deflect any dental advice to my husband on account of being blonde.
10. I have met some people whom I never would have crossed paths with otherwise. Some good and some… interesting. I’ve worked in an inner city dental practice equipped with a panic button linked to the police station because of the huge numbers of undesirables and outreach clinics in Vietnam. I’ve got to know almost every sort of person you can think of and realised that everyone has something interesting about them if you are lucky enough to be able to spend the time to find out.
By Katherine Rees … read more