Reassuring reading for “dental amputees”

After treating edentulous patients for more than 30 years, Dublin dentist Professor David Harris has written a book to inform and reassure the general public about becoming a “dental amputee”.

Prof Harris, who is a specialist oral surgeon and the clinical director at Blackrock Clinic Specialist Dentistry, wrote the book to highlight the severe mental and physical issues that the public and dental professionals don’t fully recognise.

He said: “After 30 years of treating people who had lost all of their teeth, I realised that there was a huge problem out there that was not appreciated by people who still had their teeth. I wanted to bring to attention the severe emotional, physical and quality of life changes that adversely affect people who undergo this – it takes them by surprise.

“When you have lost all your teeth it is more or less a seaside joke but it is a very cruel joke and people can suffer very badly.”

After writing countless academic papers during his career, The Dental Amputee marks the first time Prof Harris has written for the general public and he conceded it took a little getting used to. He said: “As an academic, you set out a very structured approach where you set out a problem and, at the end of the paper, you state your conclusions.

“If you are writing for the general public, you will have lost them in the first five words. So, you have got to come to the conclusions first, grab people’s attention and then work backwards.”

As a founder member and former president of the European Association of Osseointegration Prof Harris has been involved with dental implants since the early 1980s and worked closely with implant pioneer Prof P-I Brånemark for many years. He revealed that he was told of the professor’s death just hours before the book was printed and managed to stop the process so he could add in a special dedication to the man.

He said: “My whole career was built around him. He changed dentistry utterly and completely and I was very fortunate to become involved with him right at the very early stages.”

®The Dental Amputee is published by Londubh Books.

Getting to the tooth of the matter…

Professor David Harris’ book provides a clear and concise overview of the physical and psychological effects of edentulism.

And, while pitched as a book for the general public, there is plenty of interest for the dental professional, not least the excellent chapters on the ‘Emotional and Psychological Effects of Tooth Loss’ and ‘The Ageing Timebomb’.

Prof Harris manages to cover some complex ideas in an accessible fashion while not overly dumbing it down for public consumption. As an implant dentist, there is a heavy focus on the subject but, coming from one of the founding fathers of implants in Ireland, this is essential reading.

Published: 24 August, 2015 at 10:35