Smiles of McGill Dentistry – Basem Danish

January 2018

One day I was correcting papers for a class on Community Oral Health Services. This one reflection paper in particular left me very surprised and hit home in a profound way. In it, the dental student expressed his frustration about his patient not showing up for his appointment. When calling him back, the patient apologised, explained his reasons for being late, and expressed his willingness to come in again. However, the student believed that the patient was lying and careless, because he was stumbling at every word while speaking on the phone. For this reason, the student did not wish to book him again and informed the clinics’ supervisor. Luckily, one staff member called the patient again only to discover that he suffered from a speech impediment (stuttering), which explained his stumbling. When the student learned about this, he felt guilty for judging the patient, but was happy about now being aware of this communication disorder.

Being born with the same hereditary disability that is “stuttering”, life was very challenging for me throughout my school years and my career as a dentist. But what makes it more challenging is the lack of awareness in the general public about such a complex communication disorder, even today. My stuttering has manifested itself in a variety of ways over my life and now most would not even notice it. But it can still strike at any moment unexpectedly, especially during stressful situation. Through it all, my stuttering disability has instilled in me a heightened sense of empathy for all types of vulnerabilities. Hence, promoting social equity became my passion. This is why I decided to pursue my career in Dental Public Health after working five years as a dental clinician.

Listen to the complete interview with Dr. Basem Danish here

Dr. Basem Danish completed his undergraduate degree in Dentistry at King Abdulaziz University (KAAU), Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and then worked as a general dentist for five years. He earned an MSc in Dental Public health from University College London (UCL), London, UK, and is now a PhD candidate at the Oral Health & Society division, Faculty of Dentistry, McGill University (supervisor: Dr. Christophe Bedos/co-supervisor:Dr. Mary Ellen MacDonald). His PhD research focuses on understanding the oral health issues that Aboriginal people face in Montreal. He also currently holds an academic position as Lecturer in Dental public Health, in the Faculty of Dentistry (UQUDENT), Umm al Qura University, Saudi Arabia.

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