Welcome to Julian Webber's blog where he muses on a range of topics including some of his most interesting cases,
stories from his travels, the latest from the clinic and news on our Saving Teeth Awareness Campaign.

Class of ’74

Next year holds an exciting prospect – a 40-year reunion with  all the dentists in my year at Birmingham dental school. There were 75 of us and most are still going strong. Interestingly, one fifth of the group were – and still are! –  women. I don’t think any dental school today would launch a cohort with less than 50% women. I hope this reflects the greater equality in society but it might also be simply that women get better exam results!

I am sad that there are some colleagues who won’t be there: Four have died and two have been forced to leave the register.  Quite a few colleagues have retired although I’m hoping that they will come along anyway.

It’s a shame that the new Birmingham dental school won’t quite be ready. This is going to be the site of the former BBC Pebble Mill studios and will be the UK’s first stand alone dental school and hospital in 40 years. It will open its doors, so I’m told, in 2015. So, in the next two years I will be paying two autumn visits to Birmingham, one in 2014 looking nostalgically backwards in time and then again in 2015, looking to the future of the dental profession.

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Keeping competition healthy

Competition is an infinitely complex area among dentists and dental specialists. It’s not like supermarket conglomerates battling each other out over price. In dentistry, your friends and colleagues are your competition. People who go to the same meetings or belong to the same societies or love what they do as much as you do.


In my case, this is Endodontics. The Harley Street Centre for Endodontics is competing with dentists who are highly competent at Endodontics and then there are endodontic specialists who run rival practices or work as visiting specialists in general practice.


Do I mind? Do I take a leaf from the book of a supermarket and put up a sign in my window advertising that my price is the same as the Endodontist down the road? The Office of Fair Trading would take a dim view of this, of course, but more importantly, this is not the way I want to promote myself.


What matters most to me is that patients get excellent treatment wherever they choose to go. It is with this in mind that I have worked with Dentsply on the development of WaveOne, which simplifies Endodontics. And the reason that I lecture as much as I do is that I love to share what I know. I’m not sending myelf a herogram here, I really enjoy teaching.


As I write, a new Facebook movement has launched dedicated to Cosmetic Orthodontics by general dentists. This is in reaction to an advertisement placed in the national press advising patients to be wary of the “quick fix” in orthodontics.  I understand that some orthodontic patients can be treated very well in just a few months, while others would benefit from long-term orthodontics or even inter-disciplinary treatment by specialists.


The trouble, I think, arises with the use of the word “cosmetic” which some dental practices are using as a key marketing issue. This is not a word we hear very often in the world of Endodontics. We don’t differentiate between specialist and non-specialist, we just want excellent Endodontic treatment to be available to all our patients, regardless of who provides it.

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A mammoth experience

Right now I’m sitting in Moscow’s Domodedevo airport, in transit to a place called Cheboksary, about 500 miles to the east. I am going to present a 4 hour lecture on the application of endodontic concepts in the development, design and usage of a new endodontic instrument used in reciprocation.

The instrument is Dentsply Maillefer’s WaveOne of which I am a co-inventor. After the lecture I will give a masterclass using the microscope and extracted teeth to illustrate three dimensional obturation with Calamus and Gutta Core, also working with WaveOne.

Actually, I have already done the same lecture twice this week. Firstly, in a place called Khanty Mansiysk in Northern Siberia and Rostov on Don in southern Russia.

Khantiy is the home of many preserved mammoths found in the ice – pictured below. Fascinating archeological park. We lectured to around 100 dentists in a government run clinic. They liked the idea of a single file system. Endodontics can never be simple but we can try to make it simpler.

Afterwards I could have done with an early night but was taken out to eat in a local restaurant to enjoy huge piles of food, mainly fish, and of course many vodka toasts. I have learnt to sip the glass rather than finish it off because there are so many toasts, including mine. Always fun, the Russians are such warm and welcoming hosts.

Rostov is a beautiful place on the Don river. The room was packed with general dentists and local opinion leaders who had travelled over 500 miles to see me. Russia is simply huge

I enjoy my visits to Russia. They are so keen to learn here, especially new technology and as you know I so like teaching.

Sadly, as I travel home, I will miss my beloved Spurs play Chelsea at the weekend, but you can’t have it all!


Mammoths on show in Khantiy, Russia


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Barstools and bonuses

I was in India for the launch of a piece of new clinical kit that I co-developed over the summer. Like many visitors, I was struck by the extremes.  The standard of dental treatment I witnessed was high yet many millions of people do not even own a toothbrush. Outside of the lecture theatre, I was delighted to go to Leopold’s cafe, the place frequented by the writer David Gregory Roberts. Having read the novel Shantaram several times, largely true and largely set in India, it was amazing to walk in Roberts’ footsteps –  perhaps I even sat on the same barstool as he did…. a bonus of being on an international speaker list.

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Leigh Lawson and Julian Webber reminisce

When I treated the stage and screen actor and director Leigh Lawson last month, we were both in for a surprise. His visit to the Harley Street Centre for Endodontics came about because he needed a root treatment and his dentist referred him to me. Leigh, who is married to actress and model Twiggy, sat in the chair and said ‘I once knew a Michael Webber, was he any relation?’ Off came my mask and off we went down memory lane.

It was quite an emotional appointment  for us both. We chatted about our first and only previous meeting, roughly 50 years earlier, when Leigh worked in my father’s barber shop in nearby James Street.Leigh remembered me as a boy visiting my father. At that time, I was keen on acting and was offered a part in Lionel Bart’s show Oliver but my father wouldn’t let me take it. Ironically, my father was a bit of a father figure to Leigh and encouraged him to pursue his career in acting. To this day, Leigh remains very grateful to him. I have gratified my thespian inclinations through amateur dramatics and presenting on Endodontics. Harley Street is no Hollywood but I wouldn’t have missed a career treating patients for anything.


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Treating patient as part of lecture – a first

On Friday (30-09-11) I will be travelling to Bulgaria for the Sofia dental meeting, the largest dental meeting in south east Europe.  I will be lecturing on WaveOne, the new single reciprocating file to shape a canal and then give a live demo on a patient in the auditorium. This is is a first for me – to treat a live patient in front of an audience of 300 using the microscope with a camera so the delegates can see all on the big screen. Little nervous!
On Sunday morning I drive to Belgrade Serbia for the meeting of the Serbian Endodontic Society and then on Tuesday I fly to Irkutsk, Siberia, Russia to give 2 lectures and 2 hands on workshops.
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2011 – the travelogue year

Lecture requests have flowed in this year from overseas and I have been to India, Indonesia, Singapore, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Spain, Bulgaria, Poland and Russia. Everywhere I go, I experience an impressive thirst for learning. This was particularly noticeable in Mumbai, India, my first stop of the year, despite the imminent beginning of the One Day International cricket World Cup (how times have changed!) Happily, I continue to be invited to lecture in the UK and the last event for this year is on Friday, December 9th at the Royal College of Physicians. For more information: http://www.independentseminars.co.uk/content/seminars_detail.php?id=1801. I am also at the BDA metropolitan Branch on September 21st. BDA headquarters at 18.30.

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