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Evening Standard - London's Most wanted



Kenneth Harper

Not only a specialist in restorative dentistry, but a consultant too.   No flashy celebs here; Harper’s popularity lies in his expertise in the serious business of implants and rebuilding mouths.

Careers - Daily Express

CAREERS Daily Express                                            Thursday 12 May 2005


It’s Worth Going That Extra Smile

Working Lives : DENTIST

He’s young and sensitive, has a dazzling smile and a string of letters after his mane. Michael Carling is part of a new breed of dentists who are raising dental science to a new level.


ANDREA WATSON finds out more…


Why did you first decide to become a dentist?

When I was 14 I started wearing a brace. While my friends feared going to the dentist, I was completely fascinated by everything – from the staff to the techniques and equipment in the surgery.   I realized then that dentistry would be career for me.


What’s the best aspect of your work?

The world of dentistry is improving in leaps and bounds.   Emerging new technology and techniques means that my skills are forever being improved and adapted.   I get to meet interesting people, and knowing treatments that will improve patient’s self esteem is really rewarding.


What do you do from day to day?

I meet patients, listen to their concerns, talk though possible treatments and provide treatments.   A lot are concerned about the appearance of their teeth, so I will chat through ways to brighten and reshape them.  

We also carry out general check-ups, teeth-whitening treatments and laminate recontouring. A lot of patients need porcelain veneers or crowns or other restorative dental treatments such as bridges or dental implants.   Another side of my job is to check the practice is running smoothly and liaise closely with the rest of the dental team to ensure that we are providing the utmost level of care.


What qualifications and skill are most important to succeed?

Qualifications are essential to making it in dentistry, and the way in is fairly strict. GCSE’s need to be of a good standard – mainly As and Bs.

A-levels need to be taken in chemistry and biology – and you must achieve a good level of maths or physics at GCSE level.

You then need to study your dental degree, which takes five years at university.   After this, you need a year practising in hospital or a year in practice training.   You’re then free to practice.

Many dentists like to practice for a year or two before specializing – which can be achieved by attending specialist training or studying for a masters. Several universities in the UK offer specialist programmes.

These vary depending on which aspect of dentistry you wish to specialise in.   I studied at the Guy’s Hospital, London, to achieve my Bachelor of Dental Science (BDS) and Licence of Dental Science (LDS), essential qualifications to enter the dentistry world.   I then spent three years in a specialist training programme in the USA. I also gained qualifications from the Royal College of Surgeons and the American National Dental Boards.

I was awarded a grant and had a Saturday job in retail which helped me fund myself through university.

After graduating I had to save relentlessly to fund my training in America.   However, I believe having a real passion for your work and a strong personal inner drive for perfection are almost as valuable for postgraduate training.


How important is networking and is there a lot of competition for dentistry jobs?

Networking can help you create the type of practice you want more quickly. As dentistry has changed so much in recent years it is becoming increasingly important to let people know just what we can do and the benefits dentistry offers.

The real tough beak is getting into university as competition for places is fierce.

However, there is actually a shortage of dentists, so graduates are in the fortunate position that positions can be found relatively easily once you have the qualifications.

Usually a new dentist would start off as an associate in a practice.   After learning about how practices are run, most look to buy their won practice, once the specialisms have been perfected and the money is saved.   Usually dentists can look into buying into a partnership after about five years of practising dentistry.


What are the perks of the profession?

Being self-employed means I can have the flexibility that I wouldn’t enjoy otherwise.


If you had your time again what would you change?

Perhaps I would have stayed on in America for a few years after I completed my training course there.


What is the worst thing you have ever had to do at work?

The very worst thing I’ve had to face at work has been treating a couple of patients and discovering that they might have cancers developing in their mouths.   With correct diagnosis they were able to get the treatment they needed and address the situation at an early stage.


What is your most remarkable achievement at work?

I had a patient who was suffering from Parkinson’s disease who wasn’t able to enjoy food or eat well.

Addressing his problem was really challenging, but seeing the huge positive impact on his life after completing his treatment gave me the highest satisfaction.

 INFORMATION: Carling Dental 020 7580 3168


NATIONAL  Smile week, which starts on Monday, helps boost awareness of a profession that has had a poor public image.   Many people wrongly regard dentistry at best as a necessary evil. Advances in treatment may mean we need fewer fillings but increased longevity means we need our teeth to last longer than in the past.   And that’s not counting the cosmetic side. National Smile Week – run by the British Dental Health Foundation – Shows that there is still plenty of work to do when it comes to long term oral health and awareness.  Less than half of the population have frequent dental check-ups and gun disease is one of the most common diseases in the world.   The illness is increasingly being seen as a cause of heart disease, lung disease and other health problems.   Bad teeth are also proven to have a big impact on confidence and happiness.   Many people make vital judgements about status and intelligence just on the basis of their teeth.

Find out more about the British Dental Health Foundation and dentistry today at

Daily Mail 10th Jan 2006