The DDU was proud to sponsor the Best Young Dentist (South) category in December's Private Dentistry Awards. We grabbed five minutes with the winner, Rhodri Thomas.

What does winning this award mean to you?

It is truly a privilege to just be shortlisted alongside such great and inspiring clinicians. Of course it is fantastic to win, but everyone would have made a deserving winner and it was an honour to be among them.

Do you think it's important to recognise talent in dentistry?

I do think that within dentistry, like many careers, it is important to recognise talent and hard work. Doing so helps to set a standard whilst also providing an opportunity for individuals to be recognised.

Hopefully, awarding talent can help to produce better results and encourage everyone to strive toward the highest quality dentistry, improving the profession overall. As a dentist you can become isolated and occasions like this help to bring us all together and create a supporting network.

Rhodri Thomas and John Makin

John Makin, head of the DDU, presenting Rhodri Thomas with his award

Photo credit: FMC

How might it help you in the future?

It was great to bring this award home to the practice and share it with all of the staff who have helped and supported me. Of course, patients also love to hear that you are doing well and hopefully they will share this with their friends and family. When applying for further training in the future this will definitely aid my applications and help me to stand out.

What do you see are the main challenges faced by young dentists?

As dentists qualify, and particularly in aesthetic dentistry, they are now much more exposed to other professionals' work, often through social media. Pressures to build a high standard portfolio of their own work are therefore much more apparent these days - although in some respects this could also be a blessing, as I believe it means we can share, review and improve our work faster than before.

Legal worries will always be a part of dentistry but if you can go above and beyond for your patients and treat each one as a family member then avoiding these troubles becomes a natural outcome.

What advice would you give to any young dentists following in your footsteps?

If you can love what you do and find a passion within dentistry, then work very quickly becomes something you look forward to each day. Once this happens, building a portfolio, putting in extra hours, reading papers or even preparing lectures when nobody has even asked you to becomes much easier.

All of these things in my experience have helped me not only improve my own standards, but also to really enjoy dentistry; which I consider to be one of the best careers you could have!

Elective photo competition

This article was correct at publication on 28/02/2017. It is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.