Saturday, March 1, 2014
He has peered into more mouths than he can ever remember.
But after 37 years inspecting, drilling and capping hundreds of thousands of teeth, Dr Peter Williams has taken a step back from his work at the Williams Dental Practice in Regent Road, Lowestoft.
Dr Williams, who has spent nearly all his dentistry career at the practice, is heading into semi-retirement.
From Monday, he will only be working one day a week treating private patients at the practice, which has been taken over by Southern Dental and will continue to offer the same services.
Dr Williams, 60, joined the practice in January 1977 when he went into partnership with John Burt after studying dentistry at London Hospital and working a locum in the capital. At that time, his patients sat in a upright chair, a set of dentures cost £12 and there was no emergency cover.
The main change he has observed over the years is the way in which people are now taking much better care of their teeth – although he says fizzy drinks do still pose a menace.
“Over the past 37 years I’ve seen many changes,” Dr Williams said. “In the beginning I was making full sets of dentures nearly every day, but nowadays I make them very rarely. It’s not unusual now to see patients in their nineties with many of their teeth.”
Dr Williams said that fizzy drinks still caused dental problems, and even drinking one can or bottle a day could lead to an eventual visit to the dentist’s chair.
But he added: “Children’s teeth have improved beyond measure. Better diet and flouride in toothpaste have been the major factors, as well as dentists spending longer on prevention and education.”
The Regent Road practice has about 5,000 patients on its books and more than 90pc of Dr Williams’s treatment of patients was on the NHS.
Over the years, he has forged a strong bond with his patients and had seen generations of the same family.
He said: “It has been a privilege to have looked after thousands of patients in 37 years and many have remained with me all those years.”
Dr Williams has been married to his wife, Claire, for 33 years and the couple have four children and one grandchild. He is a member of Christ Church and, as a keen sports fan, he volunteers as a hockey umpire and is involved in a local cricket league and the Lowestoft and Oulton Broad Swimming Club.
Although Southern Dental is taking over the practice, its other dentist Dr Noel Patten and all of its staff will be staying on and a hygienist will be joining the team.
Dr Marcela Cocarca will also be joining on Monday as a dentist from the Oasis dental practice.
Practice manager Jo Woolnough, said: “Today will be an end of an era.”
The Williams Dental Practice is open 8.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday. For information, ring 01502 572467.