In the middle of the vast Atlantic Ocean, between Africa and South America, lies a group of 5 islands with a population of just 267 people.
Tristan Da Cunha has no airport and no sheltered anchorage. The nearest port is over 1,700 miles away. Yet despite this, Dundee Dentists have been going over there for the past 20 years.
When Dr Chris Southwick saw an advert in the British Dental Journal in 1995, looking for a dentist to visit Tristan Da Cunha, he almost immediately gathered a team and with backing from the University, they landed on Tristan de Cunha after a gruelling twelve-day journey.
They worked day and night to fix an array of dental problems, from pulling teeth out to fitting dentures. The work of Dundee graduates in Tristan Da Cunha has been so inspirational, that not only is the island just about to benefit from its very first dental suite but more importantly, a Tristan resident has decided to train at the School of Dentistry to become a dental nurse back on the island, becoming yet another Dundee student to work on the remote island.
48 years ago, most people over the age of 50 had no natural teeth, yet Dundee was unique. Established decades before the founding of the NHS, the Dundee Dental School has always led on dental innovation and public impact.
100 years of pulling teeth also spurred the development of the principle of “proportionate universalism” - meaning Scots can expect the greatest resources to go to the greatest need - a principle which in practice has meant a rise in caries-free individuals in Scotland by 20%.
While very few relish trips to the dentist, many locals rest easy in the knowledge of our highly trained students, who, through continued innovations such as Thiel cadavers, are well equipped to give anaesthetic- a major fear for those of us scared of needles.
Beyond the clinic, Dundee, through its close links to St Andrews, delivered the first dental science PhD by thesis and research in 1941 and remains the only UK dental school that offers dental undergraduates an integrated masters programme. Their own engagement has led to the development of the first publicly available and academically annotated set of interactive adult teeth through 3D modelling as well as a realistic artificial mouth model developed for dental erosion research.
The Dental Health Services Research unit has led on many public health initiatives, including an evidence based study into the improvement of the Travelling community's dental health and also that of inmates in HM Perth Prison through health coaching. Dundee shows no signs of relenting on taking top quality tooth care to the world.
At the time of recording, Dundee remains the best place to study Dentistry in Scotland, our alumni head up around half of British and Irish dental schools and have treated the smiles of so many including the rap artist Jay Z.
Cara Longmuir took up the post of Media Relations Officer in April 2016. Still fairly new to the role, Cara has enjoyed her time at the University so far and has helped to cover major stories such as Graduation, the Queen’s visit in July 2016 and Dundee being named Scottish University of the Year… Again.
Before her time at the University she was an Assistant Press Officer at Dundee City Council, but before that was a Broadcast Journalist for Radio Tay.
In her spare time she enjoys being on stage and is the member of a number of amateur dramatic societies, and taking pictures of her one eyed cat, Leela.