Straight talking

With just under two months until the nominations deadline for the Scottish Dental Awards 2018, we talk to 2017 Young Dentist Award winner Lauren Anderson

05 February, 2018 / indepth
 Bruce Oxley    Scott Richmond

When Lauren Anderson’s name was read out at the Scottish Dental Awards on Friday 19 May 2017 she became the third recipient of the Young Dentist Award. Lauren, who graduated from Glasgow in 2010, works at Milngavie Orthodontics and spoke to Scottish Dental on her career so far and how dental awards provide much-needed recognition and acknowledgment for dental professionals.

Why did you decide to study dentistry in the first place?

Growing up, I would frequently sneak to the ice-cream van without my parent’s permission to buy sweeties, which unfortunately resulted in frequent visits to the dentist! I was fortunate to have a lovely dentist, Stewart Paul, who looked after me and I think it was through my admiration of his care that I first became interested in dentistry.

As well as this experience, my older brother had go into hospital to have some dental treatment under general anaesthetic. I remember going to the ward to keep him company as he recovered and I was always intrigued by the profession. I didn’t realise that there were so many different aspects of dentistry.

Describe the journey towards practising at Milngavie Ortho

I qualified from Glasgow University in 2010 and completed my vocational training in a mixed NHS and private practice. I loved providing dentistry in practice. I enjoyed the variety of treatments and the fast-pace style of working. However, I knew that I wanted to find out more about orthodontics and that if I wanted to follow a training pathway then I would need to apply for Dental Foundation Training (Dental Core Training).

I started this training in 2011, and I worked in various dental settings including special care dentistry, inhalation/intravenous sedation, paediatric dentistry, domiciliary care and primary care. I worked in the maxillofacial unit at the Southern General Hospital (now the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital) and then in multiple roles as a senior house officer at Glasgow Dental Hospital in oral medicine, oral surgery, paediatrics, orthodontics and restorative dentistry. During this time I was successful in the MFDS exam and was participating in audits, presentations and publications.

Once I had the necessary three years post-graduate experience, I was able to apply for specialty training in orthodontics through the
London Deanery.

I applied for orthodontic training in 2013 and the recruitment process was very competitive. Candidates apply through national recruitment, which meant that if I was offered a job 500 miles from home then I had to accept it. I was matched with a post in Newcastle and completed the three-year MSc in orthodontics at Newcastle University and was also successful in gaining the Membership in Orthodontics (MOrth) at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. I finally qualified as a specialist orthodontist in June 2016.


Why did you decide to focus on orthodontics – was it always an area of interest?

I had adult orthodontics during university and having that treatment sparked an interest. I gained so much confidence from treatment that I wanted to help others. To learn more about the specialty, I sought work experience in an orthodontic practice and I absolutely loved it. It seemed like a very clean job (no blood and no needles!). I was curious as to how it all worked, so I continued to learn more about the specialty and my friend, who was a few years ahead, was also applying for specialty training in orthodontics, so I was also able to learn through her.

How did you hear that you had been shortlisted for the Awards and what was your reaction?

I was so surprised, I did not expect it at all. I received the telephone call just as I was boarding a plane to go on holiday (I am a nervous flier) so I have to admit that the news of being shortlisted was a very welcome distraction!

Can you describe your reaction on the night when your name was read out?

I was in total disbelief as my name was read out as I didn’t anticipate that I would win the award. It was a huge privilege to be in a category with so many accomplished dentists and the support from everyone was amazing. It was such a lovely atmosphere; everyone was excited for each other. I was so surprised and overwhelmed!

What has been the reaction of friends, colleagues and patients to your win?

My family were totally delighted; I don’t know if they are happier that I have won an award or have finally decided to stop studying. My husband was also absolutely delighted. We had just got engaged when I found out I was matched with the Newcastle post. He relocated to Newcastle with me and was absolutely delighted that all the years of studying (and student debt) had been recognised in winning the award.

The reaction has been incredible, so many of my patients have been coming into the practice to congratulate me, which is really overwhelming. The local newspaper heard about the award and published a lovely feature about it a few weeks ago. I am also delighted that Milngavie Orthodontics has been recognised through the award.

What do you most enjoy about dentistry?

For me, I love working with people, so I mostly enjoy meeting the patients. I also love the treatment planning involved in orthodontics. Treatment planning is the most important part of the job – if the plan is sound, then the mechanics should fall into place. I am definitely spoiled in orthodontics because patients want to come to see you (the more they see you the quicker their brace comes off).

I also enjoy that it is such a dexterous job and it is incredibly fulfilling. The majority of patients I treat are young people, and they provide lots of fun to my working day. I am also enjoying that more adults are requesting orthodontic treatment and wanting different types of appliances, so my days are varied.

What are your ambitions and dreams for the future?

I feel extremely fortunate to be in the position I am. I have been surrounded by wonderful dentists throughout my training who have helped me achieve my ambition to become an orthodontist. I hope to pass it forward and help anyone else thinking of orthodontics as a career.

In terms of ambitions for the future, I would love to eventually have my own practice and use the same ethics and morals that my practice principal, Geoff Glass, has used in building Milngavie Orthodontics.

How important do you think dental awards are in recognising achievements?

I think it is so important to be recognised. Dentistry can be a challenging job and sometimes the focus can be negative. As a profession, we are always faced with time restraints, funding restraints, patient expectations as well as ensuring we are keeping up to date with continuing professional development and the latest evidence.

I think the Scottish Dental Awards provides a platform to bring some much- needed light relief to the profession and where hard work can be acknowledged. I think dentists and dental care professionals need to be recognised more for the positive work they do.

What would you say to anyone looking to start studying dentistry? Any advice?

The advice I would give anyone looking to start dentistry is to get as much work experience as you can. I was very fortunate to find a dentist who offered me a Saturday job in his dental practice, where I nursed chairside and was able to see what dentistry was like as a profession. I continued to work as a dental nurse throughout university and it helped so much with the clinical aspects of training. I would also recommend to future applicants to gain confidence with speaking to people to develop and enhance their communication skills, which is really important in dentistry.

I am extremely honoured to have been given this award and I am always keen to help anyone who is thinking of applying for specialty training. Glasgow Dental School provided excellent undergraduate training and NHS Education for Scotland provided fantastic training opportunities to further my career towards orthodontics.

If I can help anyone or provide any information, please do not hesitate to get in touch. I am also extremely thankful to the panel at the Scottish Dental Awards who selected me as a winner; there were so many other fantastic dentists in the category so it couldn’t have been easy.  Thank you.

More info

If you want to get in touch with Lauren email the editor Bruce Oxley and he will pass on your message.

To find out more and to nominate for the Scottish Dental Awards 2018, visit

Deadline for nominations is midnight on 16 March, so get online now!

Tags: 2017 / Lauren Anderson / Young Dentist

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