‘Fortunate I grew to love dentistry’ – an interview with George Cheetham

George Cheetham career Interview with George Cheetham about his life in dentistry and what he gets up to away from the practice.

Factfile

Name: George Cheetham

Position: practice partner

Practice: Ridgway Dental
Coming soon – Fulham Road Dental

Tell me about where you grew up and what your family life was like?

I grew up in Surrey and went to school at Kings College School Wimbledon, near to where my practice is now.

I have two sisters, my dad is a builder and my mum is a nurse. We have always been close – growing up with two sisters has been great, it has given me insight into the female mind. 

What led you to a career in dentistry?

During the school holidays I used to go to work with my dad and try to help out. I think my parents probably realised what a hinderance I was on a building site. They needed to work out a different career pathway so I didn’t turn into a drain on society.

I enjoyed the sciences so did work experience in medicine, veterinary science and dentistry and I quite liked dentistry and heard it was a good job so I went for it.

At that age I don’t feel that anyone really knows what they want to do so I’m super fortunate I grew to really love the career.

What do you like most about it?

I like that fact that you can continually improve clinically and academically – I love that feeling of growth and achievement. I enjoy sharing ideas with colleagues and providing solutions to patients’ complex issues.

What are you most proud of accomplishing?

I have really enjoyed turning a simple practice into a multi-disciplinary specialised practice to the point that it’s smooth running (even when I’m not there). The dentists, reception, nursing, and management provide a fantastic service to the local community.

I was pretty chuffed to win the Best Young Dentist prize.

I want to grow my career in dentistry and would love to look back one day and think I have shaped the profession in a tiny way somehow (not sure how yet).    

Who have been your strongest influences in life?

First of all I owe everything to my parents. They have worked so hard and devoted so much to provide me with opportunities for me to take advantage of, so I didn’t need to work out in the cold and the rain. I realise I have been spoilt and if I could even say I have a tiny part of their work ethic I would be a happy man.

Subir Banerji (a dental mentor of mine) has shown me what world-class dentistry is, but also what a humble attitude means. 

I owe a lot to my VT trainers – Karim Nasser and Karim Verjee at Nork dental. David Callaghan was very kind to give me the opportunity to work at his practice in Kew. There, I got to see what impeccable dentistry really is.

Aaron Yusuf my practice partner (and previous boss) has been an incredible friend to grow together through business and clinical dentistry.

How would friends and acquaintances describe you?

I’m not sure really, but I’m pretty sure I’ve heard handsome and charming being thrown around a few times.

Share with us something about yourself that you want to improve.

I think I need to learn to say no to some things. It’s good to take opportunities when they present themselves but it can lead to an obsession with the career.

I probably look at Instagram too much too.   

How do you keep fit?

I got a girlfriend a couple of years ago when I was at my peak physical form. I’ve got a bit fat since – but I’m at the beginning of a new mindset now and cut down Deliveroo from five times a week to once (two weeks into this mindset).

How do you unwind outside of dentistry?

It used to be partying, and I still dabble, but I’m growing to enjoy the evenings in, or a nice meal out.

Where’s your favourite holiday destination?

Haha that’s really hard to answer – one holiday that sticks in my mind was traveling to Panama during my elective. That was pretty fun – one of my body parts is named after one of my best friends Steve Johnson (another dentist) – because he saved me from extremely narrowly missing my return flight to England (I was flying solo). We had one shandy too many the night before.

Are you vegan or vegetarian?

Lol.

Sum yourself up in three words?

We had five words for our university leavers book. That was ‘Works hard but plays hard’ – so I’ll keep to that for now.

Anything else you’d like to add?

We all have low days in dentistry – and feel the stresses from patients and when things don’t go perfectly.

It’s about trying not to let these frustrations get to you and see the bigger picture (easier said than done). We are here due to a series of coincidences over 14 billion years or something. So if you expose a pulp due to rampant caries – maybe don’t blame yourself.


This article first appeared in Private Dentistry magazine. You can read the latest issue here.

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