In this section we focus on the different types of dentistry and speak to dentists who have chosen to follow alternative career paths. In this article we focus on Orthodontics written by Leila Khamashta-Ledezma.
Leila is currently working as an orthodontist. If you would like to contact Leila, her email address can be found at the bottom of the page.
Why did you go into dentistry?
I always wanted to do dentistry! I used to be in and out of my mum's dental surgery as I grew up and occasionally helped her by nursing. I used to get my neighbours and friends to sit on the dental chair for me to take a peek in their mouth. I loved dressing up in my mum's tunics (which looked like full length dresses at that stage) complete with gloves and masks (which covered half my arms and face). The artistic and communication aspects of the profession, as well as the impact the treatment has on patients was a great attraction for me.
Where and why did you decide the advanced training that you undertook?
I underwent orthodontic treatment and was fascinated by how teeth moved and how a smile could be changed so dramatically with braces, giving a huge confidence boost, especially during one's teenage years. That's when I realised my dream was being an orthodontist, which I confirmed during my dental training. I thoroughly enjoyed my undergraduate training and all dental schools in London have brilliant orthodontic training programmes, excellent consultants and a brilliant opportunity to be involved in research and multi-disciplinary cases, so I applied to London programmes and was fortunate to undertake the specialty training where I did undergraduate training, at King's College as well as St George's Hospitals.
Why did you think you were accepted?
I think my enthusiasm for orthodontics and drive to reach this dream may have helped me achieve most of the desirable criteria (including MJDF) within two years of qualification from dentistry. I focused my work towards this from an early stage. During my undergraduate training, I organised my elective in an orthodontic department in Argentina, chose paediartic/Orthodontic dentistry as my special study module and achieved the BDS Gold Medal and Laurence Usiskin prize for orthodontics and paediatric dentistry in my final year. During my Max-Fax Senior House Officer post at Royal London Hospital I asked to stay in the orthognathic firm for most of the year. This was a brilliant experience and gave me the opportunity to undertake an audit and project involving orthognathic patients which I presented as a poster at the British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Conference (BAOMS) and then published in the British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.
What active steps did you take before applying for your post-graduate programme?
As mentioned above, I targeted any opportunity I had during undergraduate training and posts after qualification to become involved in orthodontics and increase my exposure to patients being treated orthodontically. In addition, I completed the desired post-graduate examinations (MJDF) and actively searched for the opportunity to undertake audit/projects within this field and present this work as posters/publications. I asked orthodontic trainees about their experience in the different training programmes and attended the London Deanery Open Day to gather more information about them.
What part of your training did you find most rewarding?
Seeing the changes we can achieve for patients, the effect this has on them and gradually understanding what we are actually doing and how we achieve this throughout the training programme. It was like slowly discovering and solving a mystery puzzle!
What part of your training did you find least rewarding?
I enjoyed my training and had the good fortune of meeting very pleasant friends through it. I cannot think of least rewarding aspects as I was expected to devote my time to work/studying throughout the training.
Where do you work now?
I am a Senior Specialist Registrar (formerly known as FTTA) in Orthodontics at the Eastman Dental Hospital and Croydon University Hospital. This is the optional two year consultant training undertaken following the orthodontic specialty training.
Can you run through your working week?
My week involves treating my own list of orthodontic patients at both hospitals as well as seeing new and review patients during new patient consultant clinics and multi-disciplinary clinics (e.g. orthognathic,ortho-restorative). The majority of the patients I treat now require multi-disciplinary treatment, such as orthognathic surgery, restorative treatment for hypodontia patients or have complex medical conditions or behavioural management challenges. I love treating these types of patients and the multi-disciplinary management of these challenging cases provides an excellent opportunity for me to improve my skills and understanding. I also enjoy teaching and supervise orthodontic specialty trainees clinically on a weekly basis, supervise audit teams and critically appraise journals with them during journal club lunch times.
What part of your work now do you find most and least rewarding?
The most rewarding aspect is learning more and improving at managing complex multi-disciplinary cases and seeing the results this combined treatment achieves. As well as this, I thoroughly enjoy being involved in teaching and seeing trainees improve and increase in confidence and understanding is extremely rewarding! I love my job and I am enjoying the consultant training, hence there is nothing I find least rewarding. In anything we do in life sometimes things may not go as planned but this is part of the training and learning from these experiences I think is essential.
What equipment could you not do without?
I love stainless steel ligatures to tightly engage teeth in the archwire and correct rotations.
Who has inspired you within dentistry?
There are a number of Consultants who I have had the honour to be trained by so far at King's, Guy's and St George's Hospitals and I am currently being trained by at Eastman and Croydon University Hospitals who I deeply admire and inspire me. I feel very grateful for the training I have received already and I am continuing to receive and hope one day I can make them proud of having taught me and shaped my career.
Whom or what inspires you in general/outside of dentistry?
My parents are my biggest source of inspiration for their incredible qualities which I admire and aspire to emulate. Their devotion to their patients and work, sacrifice and perseverance with their dreams until seeing them realised and kind, generous hearts...I love and admire them deeply.
Where is your favourite holiday destination?
Somewhere with sun, beach, lovely places to explore, delicious food to taste and new cultures to discover complimented by that sense of happiness and friendliness in the people living locally.
What makes you happy?
Seeing others around me happy.
If you were something else in the dental field what would you be?
I enjoy many aspects of dentistry but developed a special interest in surgical procedures hence potentially either a career as a maxillofacial surgeon to be involved in orthognathic surgical patient management or implant dentistry.
If you weren't in the dental field what would you be?
I love creating things and art so possibly an architect or interior designer.
What advice would you give young dentists going into your field?
To love what they do, enjoy the journey and make the most of it and realise we never stop learning and its fun when it is shared. Learning brings good to others like our patients, so take their satisfaction with the changes they see to push you to learn more and improve every time.
Who am IP
Qualifications: BDS Hons (Lon)., MJDF RCS Eng., MSC Orth (Lon)., MOrth RCS Ed., GCAP
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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