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Could a robot replace you? Dentistry and our future

Blog Author Nikki Patel

Blog Date 26/03/2018




This story - about robots replacing dentists - from the BBC really made me laugh last week – the face of the presenter whilst a robot approaches him with a drill is priceless (and says it all really!). 

I don't think we are quite at that point yet, but joking aside, keeping an eye on the future of dentistry is something we all need to sign up to doing.


Here we are

I was very grateful to my Young Dentist Committee colleagues to be elected as their Chair. It's an honour to be at the helm of steering the future for the younger dentists in our profession and with such a wealth of knowledge and experience in our new committee, we really hope to make some changes that will make a positive impact on lives of young dentists working today.

I'd like to thank outgoing Chair, Harman Chahal and the last YDC for their tireless commitment to furthering young dentists' issues, they selflessly gave up time to fight on our behalf, and we hope to be able to continue and build upon their good work. Our new Committee is currently working on a 'road map' strategy for our next three years as a Committee.


Big issues and you

Some big issues that have been ongoing and will continue to loom are the future of dental training, an issue we've already engaged with Nicholas Taylor at HEE on; career development and leadership, the issue of rising stress and falling morale for dentists, and how we can deal with this, as well as working to engage better with all of you young dentists out there.


Some younger dentists have told me that they don't think the BDA is for them.

Finances are tough, with many dentists graduating with more than £60K worth of debt, falling UDA rates being offered by practice owners and increases in indemnity. This reduction in spending power can make dentists more discriminating on what they spend their money on, so BDA membership may be something that some dentists feel can be lapsed.

The trouble with this is that, if you don't sign up to being a part of making your own profession better, then who will, and how can it get better?

The BDA is well aware that the structure of career paths for dentists is changing, and the things younger dentists need today, and will need in the future, are likely to be very different from now. And we are here to work on what you will want and need, now and in the future.

But the BDA can only be as good as its membership to support it; today as well as for the future to ensure it is tenable. It's about the power of numbers: 40,000 dentists have a stronger voice than just a few.


Careers, women and you

Talking of support, we celebrated International Women's Day 2018 in March by staging the BDAs first ever Facebook Live event. Our Committee colleagues, Sahar Aghababaie and Alice Duke, kindly gave up their time to talk about their experiences of working in dentistry today, alongside two female practice owners.

The engagement and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and we hope to do more sessions like this, on a variety of topics and themes (and not just about women!)

I encourage you to watch it particularly if you have just started out in your career – and these issues are pertinent to all dentists – again, not just women!

Many dentists want flexibility from their job, and put a greater emphasis on job satisfaction– many are not content with the treadmill of the NHS and are looking for more diverse paths. I, myself, work part time in clinical practice as well as in a clinical leadership role - I find it immensely challenging and rewarding.

But, how can we support one another to make our ambitions a reality?

My main take home points from the FB Live discussion were that role models encourage greater participation for women in career development (and leadership); children and family life appear to be a huge barrier preventing career progression for women, and that women are unclear on their maternity rights.


If there are any questions you want answers to – maybe about your contract, your career development or if you are wondering how to develop your, please get in touch – we (as a Committee and the wider BDA) are here to support you - get in touch.


Your colleagues (and you!)

Our Joy Harrild Award for Young Dentists is now open for nominations.

Do you know a dentist within 10 years of graduation that has inspired you, or one that you know who has made a great contribution to the profession, doing some great voluntary work, some interesting research, or doing oral health promotion activities perhaps, or someone taking on an active role in their BDA Young Dentist Group, or BDA Branch/Section?


Or if you feel you are doing something special, ask a colleague to nominate you.

Help us get younger dentists recognised for the brilliant stuff they do – nominate online now.


Nikki PatelNikki Patel, Chair

Young Dentists Committee