It is with huge sadness that I write this short tribute to COLIN HALL DEXTER having learned of his death on 6th July.
Sometimes in life you get lucky - and my luck was in meeting Colin Hall Dexter. I'd been to his lectures and marvelled at how someone could be so amusing and yet get across his very serious message about Prevention. At times I cried with laughter at his words yet to this very day I can remember all that he said (in particular the ‘Fruit Index of Periodontal Disease' and ‘Architectural Classification of Dental Overhangs') whilst lectures from other so-called eminent speakers have disappeared into the mists of time. And then I started work as the hygienist in his practice in Harley Street - it quite literally changed my life. His support and admiration for the work of dental hygienists knew no bounds. And he was a man so far ahead of his time with his skill in getting the preventive message over to patients. These days we hear people heralding ‘a new approach'. Co-diagnosis? - We did it 30 years ago in Colin's practice. Helping patients' to understand their own role in controlling dental disease? - We did it 30 years ago. Hygienists having an assistant to enable them to work more efficiently and effectively? - We did it 30 years ago. I could go on and on. Since Colin retired I have heard nothing new about the Preventive message - I'd already learnt it all from Colin.
Life around Colin was tremendous fun. He could light up a room with his energy and dynamism. This enthusiasm for life allowed him to encompass so many roles. To briefly attempt to touch on them all: he was instrumental in setting up the British Dental Health Foundation and in later years became the Chairman twice. He ran the Gibbs Oral Hygiene Service, and later on the UK division of Mentadent, developing many dental health products which are still in use to this day. He was involved in establishing one of the early Corporates, Dencare. He ran memorable courses for dentists in Majorca and in his very successful practice in Harley Street. His Christmas parties were legendary. He loved food, he loved wine and he loved France. But more than anything, even more than dentistry, he loved music and he eventually retired from dentistry so that he could spend more time composing. His efforts were brought to life on 2 CDs which he released privately to family and friends.
I feel enormously privileged to have known Colin. He was a funny, kind and most generous man. The last of the truly great characters in dentistry has gone. We will all miss him.
You can read the rest of the Tributes to Colin Hall Dexter by Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Bruce Mayhew, Graham Barnby, Lynn Walters, and Jocelyn Sampson by cliking on the link: Colin Hall Dexter - Tributes [PDF]