DENTISTRY FMC AWARDS: HOW ONE PRACTICE 'LOST' BUT WON BIG
The founder member of Greener Dentistry explains how the impact of their green efforts helped them show up in the world.
As a dental practice, we are pretty unique. This is because we designed and built our dental practice with the environment in mind. So not only did we want to deliver excellent dentistry, but we also wanted to do it while mitigating our impact on the planet. Using the experience of building and running a dental practice more sustainably gave us the necessary expertise to set up Green Dentistry UK: an online platform built to help dentists become more environmentally friendly.
Our efforts were acknowledged when, earlier this year, the FDI World Dental Congress featured our practice on implementing sustainability within dentistry: we were recognised as advocates of sustainability. Quite an achievement for a small independent dental practice in Bognor Regis.
And this year, the year that the UK was hosting COP 26, I entered the practice in the category "Best Dental Practice" at the FMC Dentistry Awards.
We want to use this to springboard Green Dentistry movement.
Knowing that we can't continue with business as usual and that everyone (including the dental profession) needed to embrace sustainability, I felt that winning the "Best Dental Practice" award would help springboard awareness of sustainability within dentistry. Furthermore, in the wake of COP 26, I thought the planet's well-being would be foremost on the judging panel's minds and would recognise our practice's uniqueness.
I also decided to enter the practice in the "Best Patient Care" category. Well, why not, as I knew we delivered excellent patient care?
Shortlisted as finalists from over 300 entries, I felt we would win best Dental Practice.
And then the results were announced: we DIDN'T win.
Despite being disheartened and a little dumbfounded, the team cheered that we were winners regardless and smiled and danced their way through the rest of the event.
We were "Highly Commended" for "Best Patient Care", but we didn't win "Best Practice". To be honest, we didn't need external validation for patient care (I did enter with a "why not?" blasé attitude), but I wanted the practice and my team's approach to sustainability to be recognised nationally as being exceptional.
I really hoped the acknowledgement would highlight how dental practices could implement sustainability and use our "Award Winning" dental practice as an example for other practice owners to follow. I couldn't understand why we weren't recognised as a genuinely forward-thinking dental practice: after all, we had just featured on the World Dental Congress. I believed that the judges had missed an opportunity to spotlight sustainability within dentistry.
Perturbed, I questioned Dentistry FMC about the decision. I expressed my sadness at what I believed was a missed opportunity for their judges to help promote a different type of dentistry: one that considered the impacts of delivering optimal oral healthcare.
And, to be fair to Dentistry FMC, they listened and acknowledged that the current judging criteria weren't weighted enough towards sustainability and that they had been slow to act on this. However, they would now like to draw attention to sustainability within dentistry and, furthermore, will introduce a new award in 2022 recognising dental practices leading the way on "Greener Dentistry".
So, despite not winning the "Best Practice" award, getting Dentistry FMC to support sustainability in dentistry feels like a much bigger win for me, an even bigger win for the profession... and planet too.
Now, that's a truly exceptional result..!