UK’s best undergraduate dentist crowned winner in tense final

(L-R) Stewart McLean, Edward Newton, and Marc Harrington

The Dental Skills Competition to discover the UK’s best undergraduate dentist reached its climax at the grand final in Edinburgh this week.

Run by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) and Dentsply Sirona, the competition was won by Edward Newton, a 23-year-old University of Birmingham student, after a gruelling series of tests designed to push the finalist’s skills to the maximum.

‘It feels really good to have won. I didn’t expect it whatsoever so it was a pleasant surprise. The most enjoyable part was probably the laparoscopy, it’s something I haven’t done and it went quite well. It’s my first time in Edinburgh and at the College, the whole place is really nice and everyone is welcoming,’ said Edward.

He continued: ‘Going to the Dentsply Sirona’s forum in Germany is going to be a great experience; seeing some of the development that’s going on in technology and how that’s going to influence the future. This whole experience will help my career ambitions. It’s been a really fun, enjoyable experience. It’s been nerve wracking but rewarding.’

Edward earns an expenses-paid four-day trip to Dentsply Sirona’s restorative forum in Konstanz, Germany in June 2017.

Clinical challenges

Each of the finalists from the first round of the UK’s 16 dental schools undertook a series of challenges devised to test a wide range of clinical skills in dentistry.

‘This year’s dental skills competition really captured every student’s enthusiasm and drive by placing them in a competitive situation against the best students from across the UK. The final was extremely exciting but also very challenging as not only did the students’ have to show strong skills but they had to work in a high-pressure contest,’ said Mr Brian Nattress, a member of dental council at the College and a consultant restorative dentist in Leeds.

‘I felt honoured to see the students in action and witness again the great sense of camaraderie as they competed alongside colleagues from other dental schools in the grand final.’

Second place was awarded to 32-year-old Marc Harrington, who studies at Queen’s University Belfast, with third place given to 24-year-old Stewart McLean who studies at the University of Central Lancashire.


‘Following last year’s successful Dental Skills Competition, we are honoured and delighted to continue our partnership with the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh to celebrate the talented dental clinicians of tomorrow,’ said Gerry Campbell, VP and general manager UK at Dentsply Sirona.

‘This competition continues to bring the best out of students. Through our continued commitment to providing innovative solutions for better, faster, safer dentistry and our expansive education programme, it is our desire and privilege to support dental professionals throughout their career.

The competition is designed to both showcase the great dental talent of the UK’s undergraduate dentists and also to help to develop the very best skills and support for our future dental surgeons. More than 300 students competed for this title from approximately 2,000 final year undergraduates.

‘One of the major aims of the Dental Faculty of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh is to set and quality assure the highest standards for the dental profession, and recognise that with the award of Membership and Fellowship,’ said Professor William Saunders, dean of the dental faculty at the RCSEd.

‘The dental skills competition has proved to be both and exciting and challenging way of ensuring that those standards are challenged and updated annually, with students benefitting from competing against each other and networking between themselves. RCSEd is very keen to interact with the undergraduate dental schools in the UK and this competition provides an excellent way for dental students to engage with us at an important time during their training. We are most grateful to Dentsply Sirona for their collaboration to make this competition possible.’

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