Dr Phil Dawson – Day in the Life

Matthew Henry


Ever wondered what life might be like after graduation? Sometimes it might feel too far away to even think about but we caught up with Dr Phillip Dawson, Clinical Tutor at the University of Manchester and he continues to work in practice a few days a week. We asked him to keep a diary for a day in the practice and this is what it was like:


  • Arrived at work 7.45 for 8 am start

Had a quick chat with 2 of the receptionists about the work’s Christmas party on Saturday. Held at Case de Cuba in Wigan – food pretty poor but overall we all had a great night with no-one (I don’t think) embarrassing themselves, but I’ll find out later!!)

  • First patient

This is a molar RCT referred to me by a colleague at another practice as the MB root in particular was q curved. All went really well (yes, I found and obturated MB2) and the patient was referred back to his own dentist for the provision of a crown on this tooth, as it is important to protect the remaining tooth tissue from potential fracture.

  • Second patient

The next patient was in for the cementation of a 3-unit bridge that had been prepared 2 weeks previously. She had been wearing an upper acrylic partial denture following the extraction of her UR2. She was very pleased with the aesthetic appearance of the bridge, and left the surgery saying “we had made her Christmas”. This is such a good feeling and has to be one of the reasons why this is the best job in the world!!!!


  • Check-ups

I then had 2 routine check-ups in, both of whom required no treatment other than a visit to the hygienist for routine RSD. One of them asked about the “Airflow” procedure that the hygienist performs which is brilliant at removing certain extrinsic stains – like tea, coffee etc. I think she has booked herself in for this.

  • Foundation Dentist

My Foundation Dentist (who qualified from UCLan) buzzed me down on the intercom, asking if I would check some bitewings with her. As we have digital radiography, I was able to access them on my computer and talk over the radiograph results with her. I am careful not to tell her what I think first as this stops me from learning her opinion – these opportunities often lead on to further discussion in our tutorial which are on Wednesdays and are usually very enjoyable as she is very knowledgeable and keeps me on my toes! On graduation, you guys really have an immense amount of theoretical knowledge – much more than your average dentist!

  • Challenging Case

My next patient is a very challenging case as she is continually requiring some form of restorative work – very high needs and I can’t seem to get her oral condition stable. She was in for 2 more restorations but still denies consuming any sugar! We have been through numerous diet sheets etc. To make matters worse she always appears to be going through some type of drama in her private life – and today was no different – the sale of her house is falling through due to her ex-husband!!! We spent 10-15 mins chatting over this – part-time dentist, part-time counsellor!

  • Last of the morning patients

I finished the morning with the fitting of a crown on LL5 on a long-time patient of mine – all went smoothly.

I checked via the intercom if my FD was ok but she said she was about to start the extraction of an UR6 and could I hang around in case she needed me. 5 mins later, she buzzed me asking me to come up and help!!!

Fortunately, she had called me up before she had fractured the crown, but it took me a good 15 mins of luxators/forceps before I could successfully deliver the intact tooth. NOT an easy extraction, but very useful learning for the FD to see her ES struggle to extract a tooth – and to see that sometimes these take time (the 3 roots were VERY splayed, hence the tooth time to extract)

  • Afternoon

A very enjoyable afternoon – I only have 2 patients in this 4 hour slot. The last patient is another referral for molar re-root canal treatment (it went very well), but the first chap was in for 3 hours having 7 of his upper anterior crowns replaced. We had spent previous appointments planning these and showing him with wax-ups from the lab how things may look and he was looking forward to having new crowns that “looked more like teeth”. Careful planning is absolutely key in cases like these and I can often spend almost as long over this as I do in actually prepping the teeth! They are going to be rushed through from the lab in time for Christmas (he is going on holiday on Saturday)

So, overall a very successful and enjoyable day!


  • Getting home

Tonight I have emailed a patient of mine who has had work experience with me as she has an interview at UCLan tomorrow for dentistry – hope she gets an offer as she will make a brilliant dental undergraduate!

I will also need to prepare for a workshop I have been asked to give to the NW Educational Supervisors on assessment of FDs. It often feels scary doing this with your peers as you often feel out of your comfort zone – that’s why I like to be fully prepared.

  • Evening time

If I have any time left and the house is quiet enough (3 of my 4 kids have returned from Uni for Christmas hols so peace and quiet will be in short supply for the next 4 weeks!) then I will try and get a couple of assignments marked for the FGDP’s Diploma in Restorative Dentistry I run here in ManDEC – they are about the range of cements available for use today; their chemistry and most importantly the evidence base around each of them and why, therefore, they use which particular cement when

After that it’s time for bed…….all starts again tomorrow


Hopefully this gives you an insight into what life might be like after graduation (if you choose to go into clinical practice) and give you that extra boost to work over the next few months!

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