Dentistry fifty years on…

Michael Watson reminisces about how dentistry has changed in the 50 years since the BDA has moved to Wimpole Street.

Having qualified in 1965, I was invited to a ‘do’ at the BDA to celebrate the 50 years since it moved to Wimpole Street and was opened by the Queen.

The BDA Museum is showcasing dentistry in the 60s and they took the opportunity to ask us ‘oldies’ for our reminiscences of those days.

They have set up a surgery as it was in those days and it is well worth a visit if you are in London.

Qualifying as a dentist

When I gained those magic letters after my name, it meant I was competent in restorative dentistry, able additionally to carry out oral surgery, orthodontics, endodontics, periodontics and prosthodontics.

I was able do laboratory work, which few, if any of us, ever did.

I was also qualified to give general anaesthetics.

It was nonsense of course, but we came away from dental school brim full of confidence, secure in the knowledge that, unless we wanted to specialise, we need never attend another lecture again.


I was reminded of how things have changed last week, when the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK) celebrated its 25th anniversary, a quarter of a century in which they have built a secure home for general practice dentistry.

Last week they also published new Good Practice Guidelines on Dementia-Friendly Dentistry.

The faculty says that dental professionals need to understand these, and adapt their patient management and clinical decisions accordingly.

Paul Batchelor, editor of the new guidelines, explained: ‘Dementia affects many aspects of an individual’s life, and these guidelines are designed to help the profession understand the condition and its implications for dental practice.’

Dr Mick Horton, FGDP(UK) dean, said: ‘The faculty’s core function is to raise the standards of care delivered to patients, and the provision of guidance by dentists, for dentists, is central to achieving this.’


The contrast of a profession willing to learn, with the concept 50 years ago that, at age 23 you knew it all, could not be more stark.

The faculty is now working on plans, announced in January, to become independent of the Royal College of Surgeons.

General dental practice needs it more then ever over the coming years.

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