Every couple of weeks a patient will ask me why I became a dentist, and I do agree that to some people it may be considered an odd career choice.
As a child, I had healthy teeth but they didn’t all fit in my mouth in a straight line and I always knew that at some point I would need braces.
I also didn’t get wiggly teeth, the adult teeth would just grow around my baby teeth and so I ended up having most of my baby teeth removed by the dental nurse at school.
When I was 12 years old I went to see my Dad’s dentist who removed my last four baby teeth and four of my adult teeth to create a bit more space in my mouth.
I will never forget being numb and dribbling orange juice all over the carpet!
One week later I had my braces put on.
"After a couple of years of braces treatment, I had lovely straight teeth, a boost in confidence and I was ready to take on university."
When I finished high school, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in the future. I liked maths and science, but I also really enjoyed my hard materials classes where I got to use tools and be creative. I also really enjoyed being around and talking with people.
I left Christchurch and moved to Dunedin where I studied first year Health Science at the University of Otago and applied to dental school. I was lucky to be offered one of 68 places in my dental school year.
It was cool to realise I could be a dentist and help people to feel confident in their smile- just like I did from my first extraction to having my braces off.
So, to answer the question of why I became a Dentist I think there are probably two reasons; The first because it combines many of the things I enjoy doing; science, using my hands, creativity, learning, problem solving and being around people. The second is I get to try and make peoples happiness and healthiness with their teeth as positive as possible, just like the opportunity I had growing up.