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Issue 4 2013


Fear not: dealing with the problems of dental anxiety Also inside: new online programme benefits dental practitioners; work starts on landmark new dental hospital; the 2013 Child Dental Health Survey

The Dentistry alumni magazine



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Dentistry blog:

Welcome Time flies: another year and a new edition of DentalRoots. As I write this, in a couple weeks Birmingham will be hosting the Association of Dental Education in Europe Annual Conference. The theme of the conference is electronic education in Europe linked to Birmingham being at the forefront of the digital age. We have a long-standing reputation in e-learning which has been further enhanced this year with the launch of the distance learning version of our campus-based MSc in Advanced General Dental Practice. The distance learning students attended a residential course for a week at the end of July and it was very rewarding to mix with them and see the group gel. The next academic year will also see the release of our new iPad-based Clinical Assessment and Feedback System which will replace the Optical Mark Reader many of you will have been familiar with. Much of the last year has been spent preparing for our Research Excellence Framework submission and also the General Dental Council inspections in 2014. Both of these are very important to the reputation of the School and also the Hospital, who are commissioned through Higher Education West Midlands to deliver the clinical placements of our students. It has been my pleasure this year to attend dental reunions from 13, 20, 30, 50 and 60 years post graduation from the University of Birmingham. It was very enjoyable to swap stories and share memories of dentistry and dental training over such a long period of time. A topic that came up at every reunion was the new build project, something that you have heard about previously through these pages. I am pleased to say that Department of Health approval has been received and that it is on course for an autumn 2015 opening. This project has taken an enormous amount of people’s time. The momentum has been non-stop for the last year after a period of stop-starts over the last 12 years. The site remains at Pebble Mill, room data sheets have been checked in fine detail and working practices are being evolved to reflect practice in the new hospital and school.

Medical and Dental Sciences alumni website: mds-alumni

Congratulations Ian Hallam MBE (BDS, 1971) has won the Facial Aesthetic category at the Aesthetic Dentistry Awards 2013. The award recognises those skilled at using non-surgical methods to enhance facial appearance. Anoup Nandra (BDS, 2002) has won best Young Dentist of the Year 2012 in the Midlands category. The Dentistry Awards celebrate the best in UK dental excellence and recognise outstanding young individuals.

You are an integral part of a 4,000-strong worldwide dentistry alumni community which is going from strength to strength. Please do keep in touch with us; we look forward to hearing from you soon. My very best wishes.

What stories would you like to see included in DentalROOTS in the future? Let us know at Professor Philip Lumley Head of School of Dentistry Front cover image: Close up of angled mirror and pick.


Work starts on landmark new dental hospital Building work on the first integrated stand-alone dental hospital and dental school to be constructed in the UK for nearly 40 years started last month after the partners in the project reached financial close on the ambitious multi-million-pound project. The landmark development, led by Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust, together with its partners the University of Birmingham, Birmingham and Solihull LIFT (BaS LIFT) and Calthorpe Estates, was granted detailed planning permission in December 2012 for the site, which is the former home of BBC Birmingham’s Pebble Mill studios.

Totaling 15,465 sqm, it will house a range of services for the public, including walk-in emergency care, oral surgery, oral medicine, orthodontics, restorative and paediatric dentistry. The public will access all dental services in one wing of the building with a second wing providing world-class research facilities and a modern learning environment for more than 600 undergraduate and postgraduate students and trainees.

As DentalRoots went to press, lead contractor Galliford Try was expected to start work on site and it is anticipated the building will open to staff, students and the public in time for the beginning of the 2015 autumn term. Tell us your thoughts on this exciting new building. Tweet us @unibirm_MDS or email us at mds-alumni@contacts.

The development is seen as highly strategic for the city, being a key element of the new Edgbaston Medical Quarter and further enhances the city’s reputation as a hub of Medicine, Learning and Life Sciences. The development of the 1.23-hectare (3.05-acre) site will see a new four-storey dental hospital and school of dentistry constructed, with a build cost of £34 million.

Dental alumna creates award-winning mobile app A Dental Surgery graduate has created an award-winning smartphone application to improve patient care. Dentify is an evidence-based application, started by 2013 graduate Yatisha Patel, and provides solutions to common dental problems such as toothache. This allows patients to receive temporary advice before visiting a dental healthcare professional.

dental problems on social networking sites and realising that there was nothing available for patients to use. The self-confessed ‘technology geek’, had no previous experience of coding applications, but decided to take on the challenge from scratch learning via online forums.

The application allows users to search for common symptoms, which dentists would normally look for, and then offers advice on what the patient can do next before providing information on finding a local NHS dentist. The app not only uses clinical knowledge to solve dental problems, but also contains a preventative section, in order to improve oral health overall.

Yatisha has been overwhelmed by the response to the app, with downloads from around the globe, as well as being listed as only one of two dental applications on the NHS Health Apps library. The application also recently won national recognition at the BDA/Dentsply student clinician awards that recognise emerging talent from dental schools across the country.

Yatisha, 23, came up with the idea for her fourth-year elective assignment after researching the quantity of people discussing

‘It has been amazing to see the recognition the app has gained. I didn’t think this would take off so much from being such a small idea. Moving

forward, I’m planning some new developments in the near future and I really hope that the app can continue to help people,’ she said. Yatisha also won the ‘Sands Cox John Rippin Memorial Prize’ for the Best Elective Report for her work on the app at her prize-giving ceremony. Congratulations Yatisha! Scan this QR code to download the app from the Apple App Store, or you can also download the app from the Google Play Store.

For more information, visit




Dental Hygiene and Therapy student celebrates prestigious award in the 2012 Queen’s birthday honours list Congratulations to Sufyaan Patel, a 2013 Dental Hygiene and Therapy graduate, who has been awarded Medalist of the Order of the British Empire (BEM) for voluntary work and services to the community. Sufyaan said, ‘Being awarded this prestigious honour has made me feel extremely humble, proud and honoured. The presentation held at Lancaster Castle truly was an amazing occasion, where I met some fascinating people who shared my enthusiasm for making our communities a better place, whatever their particular passion. I want to thank and extend my gratitude to the people who nominated me, and some others who I will be forever indebted towards: my family, friends, CVS volunteer

centre, my tutors at the University of Birmingham and Blackburn College, as well as the organisations that I have volunteered for, in the past and currently, for all their continued support, assistance and guidance.’ Sufyaan has been involved in extensive voluntary work throughout school and university for which he has now been recognised with the prestigious BEM award. Sufyaan’s volunteering activities include working with young people

New online programme benefits dental practitioners worldwide Remember those days of 9.00am lectures? Or perhaps trying to get hold of the book everybody else had reserved in the library? This is no longer the case with the introduction of a new and exciting distance learning programme within the School of Dentistry. The MSc in Advanced General Dental Practice (Distance Learning) is the latest addition to the large breadth of postgraduate opportunities within the College of Medical and Dental Sciences.

The distance learning programme provides practitioners with an online platform for enjoyable higher level study, without the need to take time off from clinical practice. The programme was developed in response to numerous requests from both home and international students who could not travel to the campus-based MSc course regularly. Content is delivered to students through a series of recorded lectures, videos and discussion forums; allowing users to interact with each other and create a friendly, but professional environment.

The first 20-strong cohort includes students from the United Kingdom, as well as across the globe, including Singapore, Antigua, the United Arab Emirates and New Zealand. In July, the students met up in Birmingham for five days of engaging lectures and intensive practical sessions.

The Masters course is led by Professor Trevor Burke and is designed for primary care dentists who want to advance their clinical skills and knowledge, with the key objective of enhancing the quality of patient care and promoting a strong ethos of evidence-based practice and self-development.

at the Risk-taking Behaviour Project, where he helped to raise awareness about substance misuse, community safety and general health issues through approaching young people in the community with educational materials and offering first-hand support and advice. Sufyaan also worked with Youth Action to help homeless people as well as doing unpaid work for the Royal Blackburn Hospital, the British Science Association, Friends of the Earth and Brownhill Pharmacy.

‘I have found the course really interesting so far. It made me do many things I would have never done otherwise and discovered new areas that I am interested in.’ Stella Rui Trevor said, ‘It is great to see how much the students are enjoying the distance learning programme and interacting with each other on a regular basis. This ultimately enables students on the programme to feel as if they are part of the University.’ The course was developed in conjunction with Professor Giles Perryer, Academic Lead for e-learning and Andrew Wright, Distance Learning Developer. To find out more about the MSc course, or if you are interested in applying, please visit dentalpractice-distance



Birmingham plays key role in 2013 Child Dental Health Survey A survey of children’s dental health in England, Wales and Northern Ireland has been commissioned by the Information Centre, and a team from Birmingham, led by Professor Deborah White, are part of the consortium undertaking this research. They are working with the Office for National Statistics, the National Centre for Social Research and the Universities of Cardiff and Newcastle, King’s College London and University College London. It will be the latest in a series of surveys which have taken place every ten years since 1973. These provide an important picture of how children’s dental health has improved over several decades and are unique to the UK. They have been instrumental in informing government policy and initiatives.

‘In 2003, tooth decay in five-year-olds was at about the same level as it had been ten years previously,’ explains Professor White. ‘However, mirroring trends in general health, there were marked social inequalities between children of the same age living in different circumstances.’ The 2013 survey will be significant, she says, as it is taking place at a time of major reorganisation of the NHS and dental services.

‘Information that is collected will be important to commissioning organisations and will provide a baseline for the more preventive approach to dental care which is being proposed. ‘The results of the survey will be published during 2014 and we await them with interest. It will be interesting to see whether tooth decay in permanent teeth has fallen.’

The Birmingham team is taking a lead on the recruitment of dental examiners across the three countries and in co-ordinating the examiner fieldwork. Around 78 dentists have been trained and calibrated for the survey (which was due to take place during September) and they were then going on to examine primary and secondary school children during the autumn and spring terms of 2013–14. They will be looking at the prevalence of dental decay, but also at gum health, tooth wear and whether the children have a need for orthodontic treatment.

A team from Birmingham has been involved in all of the children’s dental health surveys, going back to 1973, and over this period there have been some dramatic changes both in dental health and in attitudes towards dentistry. In 2003, for secondary school children, tooth decay was at an all-time low and most children and their parents were aware of good oral hygiene habits. Unfortunately, this is not the case for younger children and their baby teeth.

Average D(d)mft per child in England

Average D(d)mft per child in England 9 8

Information copyright of the Department of Health

Alongside the clinical examinations, questionnaires will be given to children and their parents to find out about whether they visit the dentist, what sort of tooth-brushing habits they have and how they feel about their mouth and teeth.

7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0

1973 5 years

1983 12 years

15 years





Fear not… Birmingham’s dentistry students are today better equipped than ever to deal with the perennial problem of dental anxiety, reports Jenni Ameghino.

As a child growing up in the mid-to-late 1990s, a trip to the dentist was invariably a fraught affair. After lagging behind my mother for the painful 30-minute walk to the surgery, there followed a horribly familiar routine: first being sick on the surgery doorstep and then, after being bribed and cajoled through the door to the waiting room, shaking with fear until my name was called.

Entering the dental torture chamber, with its glistening, spiky instruments and unpleasant, anaesthetic smells, I would stare into the magnified Cyclopsian eye of the stern, elderly dentist before he began to inflict several minutes of jaw-aching, nerve-jangling agony; the primitive drill burning and boring into my juvenile molars while a nurse held me down in the chair. The fear induced by such nightmarish early dental experiences has, thankfully, been exorcised over the last 40 years, thanks to a variety of sympathetic and understanding dental physicians who have gradually helped me to be much more at ease during the twice-yearly examinations. The legacy of fluoridation and improved public awareness of oral health means my daughters have never had to experience similar dental trauma. Neither of them has had a tooth filled yet. Maybe I was just an over-sensitive child, but to this day I maintain that I’d rather give birth than have a cavity dealt with without an injection. Awareness of dental anxiety has grown hugely in the profession and Birmingham’s students benefit from the latest techniques in learning how to deal with it. But fears remain


Harriet Moss (BDS, 200

and thousands of patients suffer every year in the UK. ‘Anxiety can be about all sorts of things,’ says Midland-based dental anxiety expert Harriet Moss. ‘It could be the drill, noises, injections, pain or just generally everything. It can also be part of a generalised anxiety disorder and is often linked with depression. A lot of people who suffer have had a bad experience in the past or have watched parents or siblings being anxious of dental treatment so they think it is something to be fearful of. The problem is that these people usually avoid dentists and their oral health deteriorates, then they become embarrassed about the state of their mouth and when they finally pluck up the courage to see us, they often think we will shout at them, which of course we don’t!’

‘A lot of patients can be treated with behavioural management techniques’ Dental treatment is often not pleasant, Harriet acknowledges. ‘By the time patients get to the dental hospital they have admitted they have a problem with anxiety. Many will say they feel stupid but our job is to reassure them it’s okay to feel frightened – they should see me if a spider walks across the floor! In a practice environment, patients don’t always admit it and there is a range of ways it can present: from the very quiet patient to the one who never stops talking. They can also appear a little aggressive, as well as the physical signs of shaking, sweating, gripping the chair and agitation. Here, students are taught in lectures and on clinics to look out for all of these things.’ It can take time and patience to overcome anxiety in a patient, which can be a challenge


for busy modern dentists. ‘A lot of patients can be treated with behavioural management techniques,’ says Harriet. ‘Much of the time if they know their dentist cares for them, is acting in their best interests and knows about their fears, that’s enough to help them through. Pharmacological techniques have changed a lot over the last 30 years also; most notably because we can no longer use general anaesthetic in practice. Most patients who can’t be managed with behavioural techniques can be treated with sedation, the sedative drugs and techniques have been developed over the years so we can treat patients safely and successfully.’ These days, standard sedation includes:

‘We had a 19-year-old man who came in with his dad last week for IV sedation,’ explains Harriet. ‘He had refused to have any treatment at his dental practice as he was scared of needles. He needed a filling and was very aggressive and rude to his dad as well. When we cannulated him in the back of his hand, he found this okay and then he started trusting us. We gave him the local anaesthetic and did the filling and he couldn’t believe it. He apologised to his dad too, afterwards.’

‘Treating anxious patients is one of the most challenging aspects of dentistry’

„„ Intravenous sedation with midazolam.

Given through a cannula, usually in the back of the hand or antecubital fossa. The level of midazolam is set against the patient’s response until they are relaxed then local anaesthetic is given and the treatment carried out while the patient is monitored clinically and with a pulse oxometer and blood pressure machine. „„ Inhalation sedation with nitrous oxide/oxygen. Given through a nose piece, the drug is administered according to the patient’s response and makes people feel relaxed and warm, some feel some tingling and a feeling of well-being. ‘This technique will only work if the whole dental team is working together as it combines a pharmacological approach and hypnotic suggestion so constant chatter is often required,’ says Harriet. „„ Intranasal sedation with midazolam. This is squirted up a patient’s nose with an atomiser. They require the same monitoring as for intravenous sedation and need to be cannulated in case of emergency. A difficult technique, only sedationists competent in IV sedation should practise it. At the University of Birmingham, students are schooled in behavioural management techniques taught in lectures and on clinics throughout their course. They have the opportunity to watch general anaesthetics on children and sedation on children and adults. In their final year they are split into groups of six and spend a week assessing and treating anxious patients with sedation. ‘While the students do not leave their course qualified to begin using sedation techniques, they have a flavour of what is required, which makes it easier for them to explain procedures to patients when they eventually start using them.’ The benefits are clear.

She cites the case of a lady who had most of her teeth kicked out by her husband during an abusive relationship. ‘Consequently, she had to wear dentures and was embarrassed by this and worried about anything going on in her mouth. She required some work on her remaining teeth and her dentures needed replacing. She wouldn’t let anyone see her without her current dentures in, to the point where she finally let me see her but the dental nurses had to turn their backs. ‘Over time, she built up confidence in us and we managed, through a variety of behavioural management techniques and intravenous sedation, to complete her dental treatment.’ Treating anxious patients is one of the most challenging aspects of dentistry, says Harriet, but it is also one of the most rewarding. ‘It’s great when a patient first comes to see you, crying and struggling to sit in the dental chair, and by the time you have finished a course of treatment they are happy, more confident, pain free and recommending you to their friends. However, it is time consuming and you do need to be patient, and the stress of working in a practice, particularly if you are in an NHS practice chasing units of dental activity (UDAs) sometimes means that dentists don’t always want to try to treat these patients. But I would encourage them to try – treating a patient successfully who initially feels beyond help is something really special.’ * Harriet Moss (BDS, 2003) works three days a week as an associate and running a sedation referral service at LHDP Smilecare in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. She works two days a week at Birmingham Dental Hospital as a specialty dentist.

MOOC… The School of Dentistry is leading the way with a free and brand new ‘Massive Open Online Course’ (MOOC) covering Dental Photography in Practice. MOOC courses are aimed at large-scale interactive participation and open access via an online platform. The Dental Photography course is led by Mike Sharland, Technical Lead for Clinical Photography and promises to promote the use of digital photography in dental practices, and give participants the information and techniques to achieve good quality consistent results. The course will cover all aspects of the use of digital photography in dental practice. Participants will be taken through photography from the basics to choosing correct equipment, setting up equipment to optimum settings, techniques for consistent imaging and the safe storage of images. Mike commented, ‘We’re really excited to be leading the way with online courses, especially one which will allow participants to fully understand how to improve dental photography. We believe this will be a hugely popular development to the programmes we offer within the School.’ The course starts in December and comprises of six weekly sessions. Visit and register your interest now.






Alumni profile: Karen Elley (MCDH, 1989) Having her teeth examined was never a problem for the young Karen Elley. ‘I found it really interesting whenever I went to see the dentist,’ she recalls. ‘It all fascinated me. In fact at school I said I was going to be a dentist from the age of 14 years. My English teacher said I would not become a dentist as I had wanted to be one for too long. Little did she know that this made me even more determined!’ It wasn’t long before she found out what it was like to be a dentist herself. Between 1980 and 2007 she obtained an enviable list of dentistry and other medical qualifications, including a Master of Community Dental Health from the University of Birmingham in 1989. Today, having held numerous high-profile posts in both hospital and salaried dental services – including consultant dental public health posts in Staffordshire and Sandwell – the woman who was the first Dental Public Health Trainee in the West Midlands has come to be one of the leading lights in dental public health in the country. She is now Postgraduate Dental Dean at Health Education West Midlands. This primarily allows her to work towards creating a vision and strategy for shaping high-quality dental postgraduate education and dental workforce development. She is also an honorary senior lecturer in dental public health at Birmingham. Although she only studied at Birmingham for a year, Karen remembers her time very well, and with affection. ‘It was a very good course. It was important and I needed to do it to get on in the sphere. I learned a lot but I also met a lot of people and that has made me a great believer in networks. I have worked with nearly all my fellow students at later times. We were all doing dental training but have gone on to do other things too.

‘A big factor was that the people who taught us went on to be movers and shakers themselves in the field of dentistry. It’s been the same throughout my career to date; various key stakeholders of today were at the same stage. I knew Phil Lumley (head of the School of Dentistry) when we were juniors together; now we have responsible roles and work together. It is a recurring theme.’ She goes on: ‘When I qualified I can remember thinking, “well, no more exams,” but in fact that was just the beginning. I did not know where I was going in my career and how much I needed to train and develop to get there.’ Among her key achievements is the fact she led the West Midlands dental workforce survey in 1997, which provided the first figures indicating there was an undersupply of dentists at the time. She has developed interests in evidence-based dentistry and was involved the development of the NICE dental recall guidelines. She has also chaired the dental public health training committee for the Royal Colleges in the UK. Asked about the forthcoming relocation of the dental hospital and School to its new home at Pebble Mill she says: ‘As a senior registrar in dental public health in the 90s, one of my projects concerned the relocation of the dental hospital. I was involved from very early on in the

concept stage. I’ve revisited it at various times since, including in education and training, and look forward to see it coming to fruition and the new opportunities it brings.’ Karen is a strong advocate of appraisal and would highlight its benefits to today’s trainee dentists. ‘It is really important because someone sits down with you and helps to guide you to where you want to be,’ she says. ‘I am an example of how successful a system it is. I would become interested in an area and, through appraisal, then go on to become expert in it. We are trying with Health Education West Midlands to develop training for the whole dental team so that everyone can benefit from appraisal. ‘Put it this way, I was never expecting to be dean,’ she laughs.


Prize giving Chief Dental Officer Barry Cockcroft recognised Birmingham’s outstanding Dentistry graduates at prize giving in July. Following the graduation ceremony, Barry handed out prizes to over 20 Dentistry graduates who had achieved academic excellence and leadership. Barry himself had been a prize winner 40 years previously, receiving his award as a new graduate in the same Alexander MacGregor lecture theatre. As keynote speaker, Barry congratulated the graduates on all their hard work and on finally becoming dentists.

‘As dentists we are part of a privileged few to be able to make a real difference to people’s lives. My advice to graduates is to always be professional, always act in the interests of the patient and you won’t go far wrong.’ Barry was presented with a gift of thanks from ex-BUDSS president Hurjoht Virdee on behalf of the students and the School. Congratulations to all of our 2013 graduates! Stay in touch and let us know what you become!

Barry said, ‘When I graduated 40 years ago I never expected that I would be back in the School of Dentistry giving the prizes. I am delighted that Phil Lumley asked me to take part in this wonderful occasion. ‘Since graduating I’ve seen significant change in the profession and practice will continue to change. The levels of decay, although there are still inequalities, are lower than I could ever have dreamed of. Our new graduates are the future and I encourage them to embrace change.

A gift from the 2013 graduating class… The 2013 graduating class presented Frances Deen, Karen Williams (pictured) and Jill Boylan from the School of Dentistry office with a special hand-made gift featuring a tree made from their fingerprints. This has been hanged pride of place in the School. What a nice gift!

We are delighted that Barry Cockcroft has agreed to be one of our Alumni Leadership Mentors for 2013–2014. The Alumni leadership Mentoring Programme (ALMP) offers students the opportunity to receive one-to-one mentoring from high-profile Birmingham alumni throughout their final year. Mentors offer practical advice on employability and support to students as they prepare to enter the workplace. All mentors have offered their time for free to provide students with invaluable advice and support.

West Midlands Ambulance Service Chief Officers Commendation Congratulations to Jasveer Poonian (BDS, 2013) and Jaskaran Mavi (MBChB, 2013) who received a West Midlands Ambulance Service Chief Officers Commendation while still students for saving their friend’s life. Jaskaran and Jasveer recognised that their friend Rajan Chaudhry (MBChB, 2013), had suffered a cardiac arrest when he collapsed during a night out and quickly started resuscitation. Paramedics arriving on scene continued advanced life support before Rajan was taken to hospital. At the Awards Ceremony, West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) acknowledged that the intervention of Jaskaran and Jasveer saved Rajan’s life. Rajan was discharged from hospital and assisted WMAS Chief Executive Anthony Marsh in presenting Jasveer and Jaskaran with their Commendation to recognise their prompt actions on that night.




Thank you from the School of Dentistry Several projects in the School of Dentistry have been funded over the past two years thanks to generous alumni donations to the Innovation and Immediate Impact fund, as part of the Circles of Influence fundraising campaign. Here are four of them:

Enhancement of e-learning: histology teaching using virtual microscopy ‘Thanks to the funding received from the Circles of Influence campaign we have scanned over 100 normal histology slides to generate an extensive searchable digital library of high-quality images. The resource, now accessible at www., contains over 450 histological images captured at different magnifications to highlight different tissue types and specific structures. Staff and students from the University and around the world can freely download images for teaching, learning and research purposes. This library is the world’s first digital library to contain colour-enhanced images to allow colour-blind individuals to “see” confusing colours in histological images.’ Dr Ana Maria Gonzalez, Senior Lecturer

Seeing the light: using an advanced dedicated spectroradiometry system (MARC) to enhance the training, assessment and effectiveness of dental clinicians ‘Thanks to the funding that we received we have been able to introduce a specific piece of advanced equipment into our teaching. This has added enormously to our students’ understanding of restorative dentistry by helping them appreciate the impact and relevance of some of our theoretical teaching. It provides instant feedback on how they should handle the blue light guns which are used to polymerise tooth-coloured dental fillings. This is a very important aspect of clinical technique and students enjoy being able to come back and monitor how they are improving over time. We can see that they now pay more attention to how they manipulate these blue lights and have noticed improvements in their clinical technique.’ Dr Dominic Stewardson, Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Restorative Dentistry

Purchase of inverted light microscopes and cameras ‘Alumni funding has enabled us to buy a second inverted microscope and camera for the Biomaterials students for teaching cell biology and microscopy, which are essential for learning how cells interact with biomaterials. It will be fantastic to have a microscope dedicated to teaching without having to rely on borrowing the research microscope and annoying the project students!’ Rachel Sammons, Senior Lecturer and Programme Lead Biomedical Materials Science


Dental photography ‘Teaching of dental photography was added to BDS curriculum in 2009 as part of the Introduction to Clinical Dentistry module. (Specialised camera equipment was funded by alumni). This innovation was driven by an increased interest nationally, from qualified dentists, to become skilled at photographing teeth for legal documentation, staff training and patient communication. Some of the advantages of pursuing a dedicated course of study in dental photography are: „„ Close up images of natural teeth facilitates the detailed study of tooth anatomy „„ Mastery of operative dentistry is enhanced when practitioners are able to reflect

on highly magnified images of simulated and clinical procedures „„ Students realise the importance of photographic records for dento-legal purposes

in their postgraduate careers We have also recently had alumni funding for encrypted memory sticks for students to have access to the images they have taken of their patients.’ Mike Sharland, Technical lead Dental Photography

Thank you: Your gifts ensure that Birmingham continues to attract outstanding students and offers them an exceptional educational experience. Thank you!

To make an immediate impact, give today. For further information, contact Laura Fairbanks on Tel: +44(0)121 414 8894 Email:

Staff news Glyn Thomas, an Instructor in dental technical methods and who has taught thousands of Dentistry students, has retired after 39 years in the School. He is internationally recognised for his expertise by various organisations and institutions who have invited him to present and teach in locations such as Argentina, Finland, North America and Poland. Glyn said, ‘I started in the School on 1 February 1974, which was a Friday. Why at the end of a week when I was such a young married guy with little money did our Dental School, as it was named then, expect me to start on a Friday when I had to travel all the way from and to Cardiff? I was to find out; it was a “personal” matter. I had a beard! No one employed by Birmingham Dental School or Hospital was allowed to have a beard.

The Director was leaving for an overseas tour that weekend and he felt it was a rule that had to be enforced from the “top”. A month later following a warning he was returning from his “tour” I appeared back in our school, “naked”, facially that is! ‘My best memory of the School is being informed by my first Director that whatever I do, I will be accounted for on my own merits. Since then I have been fortunate to plan and execute numerous courses with departments’ acceptance. ‘The working days have never been long enough; I’ve thoroughly loved the challenging teaching. Of course what I will miss the most are the students, past and present. ‘In retirement I plan to try to stay healthy, happy and to devote time to my family for as long as I can. ‘Thank you to the University of Birmingham for a wonderful career.’

Gerry Flaum, associate specialist in Oral Surgery retired in 2012. Gerry qualified from Sheffield Dental School in 1972 and then worked in practice in the Birmingham area. In 1979 he took up a part time position in the Dental Hospital as Associate Specialist in Oral Surgery. He is an enthusiastic teacher and was President of BUDSS Dental student society for the year 1986/87. He has not only been a valued member of the team in Oral Surgery but has run many Sedation dental postgraduate courses over the years. Many dentists and patients in the West Midlands have benefited from his care and knowledge. Gerry was a popular member of staff and nothing was too much trouble for him. He loves his sport and is an avid follower of Tottenham Hotspur FC. We wish Gerry well in his retirement and already he has plans to visit New Zealand which is one of his favourite parts of the world.


In remembrance

Ralph, who died in August 2012, was born in 1928 and went to Bury Grammar School where his leadership skills showed early promise as Captain of School. In 1945, Birmingham Dental School was to become his home for undergraduate training and after a couple of years in the RADC and then general practice, Ralph chose to pursue a career in academia. This proved fortuitous for the profession as he was instrumental in pioneering new techniques in teaching, identifying the hazards of the air turbine spray and introducing innovative changes to the dental curriculum. In 1953 Ralph secured a lecturership at The London Hospital in the conservation department before moving on after five years to Manchester from where he was later to receive the MDS degree by research. Ralph returned

to his alma mater in 1961 as senior lecturer and consultant from where he retired after 30 years dedicated service to the School, University and patients. He was highly respected by his peers and became President of the British Society for Restorative Dentistry in 1980 and also held numerous external examinerships. After retiring to Poole in 1991, Ralph and his wife Margaret, a colleague and distinguished consultant in paediatric dentistry at Birmingham Dental School, continued to indulge in their passion of sailing and extending hospitality to their many friends and former colleagues. Sympathy is extended to his wife and family who can be reassured that the contribution to dentistry of this modest gentleman will be long remembered. Witten by Robin Basker and Margaret Seward Previously published in the British Dental Journal David Shovelton It is with sadness that the School of Dentistry was notified about the death of Professor David Shovelton in November 2012, former Director

of the School of Dentistry. Professor Shovelton was a highly respected clinician, academic teacher and researcher. He held several high-profile positions on the national stage including being a member of the General Dental Council and the Royal College of Surgeons. His research work on the repair of the human dental pulp following cavity preparation published in the 1960s and 70s was pioneering and was responsible for a new understanding of the response of odontoblasts to caries and mechanical insults. Professor Shovelton was also part of the Department of Health team that published the Schanschieff report into unnecessary treatment in dentistry. Don Glenwright It is with sadness that the School of Dentistry was notified about the death of Don Glenright in September 2012. Don was a very longserving, loyal and hard working senior member of staff who retired in 1997 to spend time with his family and garden. Don was former head of Periodontology and Chair (Assistant Director) of the Curriculum Development Committee, responsible for the new curriculum that still runs today. Nationally Don was President of the British Society of Periodontology from 1980 to 1981.

Competition time!


Fancy winning a £50 Amazon voucher?

Copy deadline for 2014 issue: April 2014 Editor: Michelle Morgan email: Feature writer: Jenni Ameghino

If you would like to be in with a chance of winning this great prize, all you have to do is identify what four images have been framed below and what dental specialties do they belong to? To enter, please email with the subject line ‘Dental Roots Competition’. Competition closes on 1 December 2013. The winner will be drawn at random from the correct entries. (Designed by Kris Coomar).

College of Medical and Dental Sciences Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, United Kingdom

DentalROOTS is the alumni newsletter for Dentistry at the University of Birmingham’s College of Medical and Dental Sciences. Views expressed in DentalROOTS are not necessarily those of the University or a statement of University policy. All submissions may be subject to editing. The Editor’s decision is final.

8636 © University of Birmingham 2013. Printed on a recycled grade paper containing 100% post-consumer waste.

Ralph Grundy Many generations of dentists, including the writers of this obituary, owe much to the inspirational teaching of Ralph Grundy during their undergraduate years.

Dental Roots - Issue 4 - 2013  

The Dentistry alumni magazine

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