The British Veterinary Dental Association (BVDA) was established in 1988 by a group of Veterinary Surgeons who had a particular interest in Veterinary Dentistry. The aims of the association are to educate and train Veterinary and Dental Surgeons in animal dentistry and to promote practice, teaching and research of animal dentistry.
The association has an active membership who undertake the teaching of dentistry to Veterinary Surgeons, students and Veterinary Nurses. This teaching takes the form of courses and study groups. The membership is also involved with promoting veterinary dentistry to the public, highlighting the importance of good oral care. We also have presentations at BSAVA Congress and the London Vet Show periodically.
Membership is available to accredited medical professionals.
Each year the BVDA holds a Scientific Meeting where there are papers presented on veterinary dentistry, interactive sessions and state of the art lectures. This also gives the membership a chance to socialise and talk about particular cases.
At our 2021 AGM, I was voted in as the new president of the British Veterinary Dental Association. When I consider all the fantastic veterinary dentists and inspirational individuals who have held this role, I realise what an honour this is. I am passionate about veterinary dentistry and hard working and I will do my very best to ensure that the BVDA continues to be a success. This letter is an introduction to who I am, my background and some aims I have for my presidency.
Like a lot of us working in veterinary dentistry, there was no deliberate decision to dedicate myself to this discipline. Ten years ago I was told by my employers that I had been selected from the assistants to attend a dental wet lab and I remember I wasn’t too happy about it at the time. The strange thing was, I enjoyed it and I followed up on this beginners session with a more advanced course a year later. Slowly but surely I became more and more immersed in veterinary dentistry and by 2018, after completing my MANZCVS membership exams in Small Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery, I opened up my services to the South West of England where I’ve been running a referral service since. I smile when I recall how reluctant I once was to attend that first wet lab.
These last two years I have been on the BVDA committee as Education Officer and have been in a privileged position to watch the phenomenal growth in the BVDA. Not just in membership but also our reach and our relevance within the world of veterinary dentistry. I have also been well placed to watch and admire all the hard work of Paul Cooper. All his success makes his presidency a tough one to follow.
The BVDA is heading in the right direction with good momentum. Our growth on social media has been a tremendous success as have the “Talking Teeth” meetings. If we as a BVDA committee are just able to nurture and support what’s currently going well, my presidency will be a respectable one. I do however have some ambitions which I’m sure will prove challenging. I want the BVDA to do whatever it can to make sure dentistry is always done with the support of intraoral radiography. We know these radiographs are essential to make and perform effective treatment plans and to work without them is to work blind. It’s time to be more vocal on this issue.
To achieve this aim education is key and we shall offer plenty but I also hope that the RCVS will be the first college to make some sort of commitment to see that dental tables without radiography units become a thing of the past. I can’t think of any objective that would do more to raise the standards of UK veterinary dentistry. I also like to think that a good number of practitioners will get ‘the dental bug’ when imaging opens their eyes to the fact that teeth are very interesting little organs and not just hard white things in the mouth sent to frustrate vets.
Compared to that, these next ambitions seem rather modest but I want the BVDA to be even more proactive when it comes to lifting up the standards of first opinion dentistry. This is a generalised statement and they’ll be exceptions but there remains as big a shortfall as ever between the education and exposure students get to good dentistry and what’s expected of young vets in their first years of practice. I want the BVDA to use it’s position to push for more education in universities. I also want there to be a greater realization from the RCVS that young vets are unprepared for what can be very challenging procedures. I want the BVDA to continue to offer support for vets who need our help. Our facebook group and ‘Talking Teeth’ should not be underestimated with respect to educational value but they are no substitute for practical courses and I want the BVDA to once more run affordable accessible courses to get vets and nurses more confident and comfortable with basic dentistry so our patients’ needs are always met. The more people who are introduced to good basic courses, the more people we’ll get hooked. One day in the future, I hope a specialist may look back and say their passion was ignited on a BVDA run wetlab.
It goes without saying that I’ll be trying to match what previous presidents have delivered before and serve up some excellent content at our Annual Scientific meetings. With the help of those more able than me, we have an ambition to stream these meetings so they can be both face to face with a live audience and also something that can be accessed worldwide. I would love to see growth in veterinary nurse membership with more content and courses and engagement with nurses. I will continue to build relationships with sponsors and I want to develop closer links with similar organisations internationally.
Please get in touch anytime if you want to. I welcome comments and I’ll always come back to you.
All the best for these next two years,
Tom Williams BVSc MANZCVS (Small Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery) MRCVS
President of the British Veterinary Dental Association
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