You could say that my destiny was already planned out for me! This was because, before I was even born, my grandfather Harold Peacock was a dental technician working for various dentists in the 1930’s. My father, Derek, followed in his footsteps and became a dental technician. My father then went on to build a successful dental laboratory called Ecodent in Leeds West Yorkshire.
My father told me that I could work at Ecodent when I left school, and when I did eventually leave I did just that, joining him, along with my older brother Daryl, shortly there after, followed by my younger brother Christopher. It would have been a great achievement for my grandfather, to see his descendants all following suit, but unfortunately, he died before this could happen.
I left school and joined my family’s business full time. It was some time after that I made the decision to attend Kitson College of Technology in Leeds I was awarded the dental technician’s certificate with credits in 1978. I worked along side my father and brothers for many years, until my father became ill and sadly had to give up his much loved work. At Ecodent I began to realise that many patients were suffering with their dentures and that some dentists struggled to understand the mechanical side of dentures. This became clear to me when dentists began sending their patients to our lab, to adjust their dentures correctly. Occasionally they would ask us to re-make the dentures, taking the impressions ourselves. I discovered some dentists were avoiding making dentures all together, and with this knowledge I began planning my own practice where I could help these patients.
After extensive research, I finally made the decision to leave Ecodent and set up my own practice in Shipley. This was a life changing decision, as I had worked with my brothers for so long, and to make this step was not only risky but also very emotional.
In 1995 I eventually opened Direct Dentures; I continued to work along side Ecodent, as I was their only crown and bridge technician at the time, portioning my week between the two companies.
A year or so after I opened, and built up the business in Shipley. I realised that I needed someone to help with the general running of the practice. This was another big decision to make, as I never really knew how Direct Dentures would evolve. However it was also very exciting for me as the business was expanding. In 1998 I employed Amanda as a helping hand, I knew that at some stage I might even train her up as a full dental technician, but at the time I needed someone to help with the telephone and deal with organisation.
Amanda was very eager to learn and it wasn’t long before she almost took over the crown and bridge side of things. With Amanda and myself seeing patients, it soon became apparent we again, needed someone to answer the telephones and greet the patients. It was then that I realised I had to focus my attention to patients and their dentures, after all, this was why I had started the business at the beginning.
It was the end of an era working at Ecodent, and at times, I wondered if I was doing the right thing for the family. But I knew deep down it was the right decision. I left Ecodent in 2000 and ploughed all my time into Direct Dentures, I began training Amanda how to make dentures. She took to it quite easily as she already had the dental experience with the crown and bridge. It was difficult at first as we had a large time gap to fill, which we would usually have spent on crown work, but any free time turned into training time and we became busy enough for even this to be limited.
Amanda qualified through work experience in 2007, and as we still had little time to get our work done, I decided to employ a new member of staff, to answer the phones and greet patients This took a massive weight off Amanda and me, and we were able to focus fully on our patients. I heard about a course for technicians who worked clinically with patients to become qualified as Clinical Dental Technicians. The George Brown course, however, was based in Canada! How could I possibly find the time and funding to travel so far? And there was nothing to say that this qualification would even be recognised in England, I would almost certainly have come back to a failed business, as Amanda was only half way through training with dentures and she had never even seen a patient before, other than for repairs, with over 2000 patients, how would she possibly cope?
When the KSS deanery developed the Clinical Dental Technology diploma in 2008 we were so excited as a dental team as it meant a way forward for us in a more professional and convenient manner. I was very apprehensive about the course initally, as it has been a number of years since I last attended anything of this magnitude. But it meant so much for expanding the business and more importantly, for our patients. I can honestly say, our practice has moved so far forward on a professional scale, it truly is an achievement, and I feel proud and honored to have experienced this wonderful opportunity. I now have 3900 patients on file and a very successful business.
I qualified as a CDT with distinctions in 2010, and made yet another vital decision to enroll Amanda on the CDT diploma. She followed suit, qualifying in 2013. So we now provide both male and female clinicians, which is quite unique.
Moving with the times, we decided to have a major refurbishment, adding 2 new clinical rooms, new equipment and changing our name to Smile on the square.
I hope that I can continue to serve the patients in their best interests for the foreseeable future.
PS and No, my children did not follow in my footsteps but have successful careers of their own.