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A career in paediatric dentistry...

Considering a career in paediatric dentistry…Professor Paula Waterhouse shares her experiences in the field and insights into her inspiring career.

20 December 2023

The British Society of Paediatric Dentistry proudly welcomed Professor Paula Waterhouse as their new President at the recent BSPD Annual Scientific Conference. Continue reading below to find out more about her inspiring career. 

I attended my first children’s dentistry conference in 1991. It took place here in the northeast in my first year after graduating (from Newcastle). I enjoyed children’s dentistry as an undergraduate but thought I would specialise in perio. After that conference I became focussed on paediatric dentistry. An opportunity to become what in those days was a ‘junior lecturer’ became available and I snapped it up! I was supported to gain teaching skills and find a PhD project and funding.

By 1993 I had passed the various exams to be a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh (hardest exams I have ever taken). I also started a part-time PhD (pulp therapy in primary molars). In 1998 I completed the higher specialty training in paediatric dentistry and could call myself ‘a specialist’. By 2000 I had a PhD, a baby boy and successfully completed the final part of training to be a consultant. My older son’s first flight in an aeroplane was over to Dublin, as he came with me when I sat my final ever exams (I was ‘only’ 33!)

Move on to 2019… The British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD) was looking for confirmation of a venue for their annual conference in 2023. The northern branch of BSPD based in Newcastle stuck their toe in the water and their bid was accepted. I was nominated for National President 2023-24 by several of my colleagues here in the School/Hospital and I was very much humbled by that nomination. In September 2023, we hosted over 350 people comprising of paediatric dentists, dentists/therapists and dental nurses all with an interest in paediatric dentistry. I was inaugurated as National President.

My first few weeks as National President have been rewarding and extremely busy leading a vibrant society with a wonderfully supportive committee comprising of colleagues (dental and therapy) from across the UK. My presidential theme is working towards equity in oral health care for all children in the UK and inclusivity in education and clinical training. So far, I have been involved in radio interviews about supervised toothbrushing schemes in schools for 3-5-year-olds, blogs, NICE guidelines and presidential lectures. As well as many other things I don’t always get to do in my ‘day job’. Having been a member of BSPD for over 32 years, I feel privileged to be their National President and I hope I can be an effective advocate for the children who need our services.

I can heartily recommend a career in paediatric dentistry – I now work with so many dentists/therapists who graduated from Newcastle University whom my colleagues and I taught - what better job satisfaction can a teacher have! 

Professor Paula Waterhouse

Image credits belong to Vicky Matthers.