I went sailing last week with Alpha Omega Dental Fraternity. They hold this event every summer and I have gone for the last number of years and every year I enjoy the day. The event is held at the Toronto Island Yacht Club.
This year I brought my daughter with me. She just finished first year at York University in sciences and is working this summer on a concurrent Bachelor of Education. We played tennis in the morning then went swimming before lunch. After lunch we spent 4 and a half hours on Lake Ontario on just a glorious sailing day. The sun was shining, but it was cool out on the lake and it was just a beautiful relaxing day.
Throughout the day many discussions ensued regarding all kinds of topics, of course mainly dental, but as my daughter and I sat with 3 sailors(dentists), UofT class of 52, 56 and 62. An interesting discussion took place. One of the gentleman (our skipper later that day) at his 55th class reunion was asked to speak on the major changes that have occurred in the 55 years since they graduated. He asked the other two what they thought was the single greatest change or innovation they had experienced in dentistry since they had graduated. They both replied "the air rotor." To those non dental people, the air rotor is the high speed drill that we use to drill teeth. When these gentleman graduated, they were trained on the low speed drill , the same drill that had been powered by a footpedal for so many years. (theirs had been electric but still very slow.)
He asked me what was the greatest change that I had seen since I had graduated (class of 86). I said that it was the advent of the dental implant to general practise. The implant has changed so much in terms of the way we do dentistry and the solutions that we can now give our patients.
Well as I sat there with my daughter, I reflected on the passage of time and the work and contribution to the profession of so many who have come before us. I remembered that when I attended my first Ontario Dental Association meeting as a student in 1982, I had met a retired dentist who liked to still attend the meetings. He had graduated in 1923 and he spoke to me about what he had seen in his lifetime as a dentist. Unfortunately, I don't remember his name but I do remember this meeting with him. So as I sat there with my daughter, who is considering going to dental school, I reflected on this gathering of generations and the passing of collective wisdom and knowledge from one generation to another in our profession. I think my daughter also felt that there was something special in this moment. I wondered wether in 20 or 40 or 60 years from now my daugher will be sitting on a sailboat telling some young dentist or dental student of all the glorious changes she had seen in her life as a dentist.