After a huge entry, judges in the Sensodyne Sensitive Dentist of the Year came to a unanimous decision about the winner and the highly commended dentists. PAUL O’GRADY reports.

President-elect of the Irish Dental Association, Sean Malone, had no doubt when addressing the attendance at the Sensodyne Sensitive Dentist of the Year Awards ceremony: “The essence of the Awards is the testimony of more than 1,000 patients who saw fit to praise the treatment received from their dentist”.

His remarks echoed those of Michelle Darlington, Marketing Manager for Oral Health products with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), makers of Sensodyne and sponsors of the Awards. Michelle stated that the team at GSK was overwhelmed and delighted by the increase in entries this year. While the increased number of entries presented a challenge to the judging panel, it was evident from the remarks of the Chairman of the judging panel, Dr Barry Harrington, that he and his fellow judges (Dr Seton Menton and Dr Anne O’Neill), after some deliberation, had come to an agreed outcome. Dr Harrington read the citations for the winners in the Sensodyne Sensitive Dentist of the Year Competition for 2012.

Sensitive_Michelle, Jill and Sean

Dr Gillian Smith (centre) receives her award from the President-elect of the IDA, Dr Sean Malone, and her certificate from the Marketing Manager for Oral Health in GSK, Michelle Darlington.

Overall Winner – Dr Gillian Smith

Judges’ citation: “The oral health of patients with special needs has always been challenging. Progress in understanding the particular requirements of individuals has been significant. The success of Dr Gillian Smith in establishing a calm and trusting relationship with her patient, Neal Dhondt, was remarkable. Neal’s autism meant that treatment of his oral health needs was even more challenging than usual. Dr Smith’s human skills of patience, sensitivity and humour were allied to her clinical skills, especially her use of conscious sedation, to successfully achieve the appropriate treatment.

These skills were deployed initially over a four-month period to bring Neal’s dental disease under control and ensured that hospitalisation and general anaesthesia – which would be terribly traumatic for Neal – were unnecessary. Neal continues to attend Dr Smith to this day and it was his mother, Mary, who made the winning nomination.”

Highly Commended

Sensitive_Hannah and Claudia 2

Dr Hannah Flynn (left) receives her award from Claudia Long of GSK.

Dr Hannah Flynn

Judges’ citation: “A new patient was being assessed by Dr Flynn. On the first appointment, Dr Flynn spotted a suspicious lesion on the tongue. It turned out to be malignant and while the patient required extensive surgery, he wrote that his consultant ENT surgeon stated that he would not be alive were it not for Dr Flynn.

The patient’s partner also wrote in to support the nomination. She is also a patient of Dr Flynn’s and stated that the kindness and care taken with her, and the understanding of the difficulties being faced by the couple, was outstanding throughout the lengthy period of their medical and surgical treatment.”

Sensitive_Alistair and Orla 1

Dr Alastair Wood receives his award from Orla Sheehy of GSK.

Dr Alistair Woods

Judges’ citation: “Dr Woods has established a relationship with an extended family which goes to the heart of good oral healthcare.

Grandparents, parents and children all attend the practice secure in the knowledge that their long-term dental health is receiving the highest level of care. That has now reached the point where one member of the family returns from Germany to receive his treatment. Additionally, Dr Woods came to the professional aid of a very frightened patient who had been hit in the face by the boom of a sailing boat at a regatta on a weekend. He carried out the necessary emergency dental treatment and supported her and the family, and referred her to a specialist who succeeded in fully restoring the damaged teeth.”

Sensitive_David and Orla 2

Dr David Vard receives his award from Orla Sheehy of GSK.

Dr David Vard

Judges’ citation: “A youth worker nominated Dr Vard. She is a patient of Dr Vard herself and when several vulnerable young people from a deprived background came into her care in the same area, she contacted Dr Vard to see if he would provide their oral healthcare. Not only did he accept, but she noted he treated them with exceptional respect and dignity. In doing so, he also dealt calmly and very effectively with behaviourial issues which initially threatened to make treatment difficult. His success is best illustrated by the fact that these young people continued to attend Dr Vard into their adulthood. He even assisted one of them to access funding for major dental work following a childhood of neglect.”

Dr Robin Foyle receives his award from Claudia Long of GSK.

Dr Robin Foyle receives his award from Claudia Long of GSK.

Dr Robin Foyle

Judges’ citation: “One of the least common life-threatening emergencies in all healthcare services is anaphylactic shock. And although rare, it is the most serious, requiring immediate appropriate treatment by a highly-trained dentist and his dental team for the patient to survive. A worrying aspect of anaphylactic shock is that anyone who has suffered it once, is much more likely than the rest of the population to suffer another similar episode. In the light of that fact, accepting a patient with a history of anaphylactic shock requires careful consideration and then diligent preparation. Dr Foyle’s treatment of his patient over many years is testament to his professionalism and care.”