Gordon Christensen talks to Diana Spencer about the highlights of a remarkable life in dentistry ahead of his lecture later this month.
Gordon J Christensen is one of the dental world’s most well-known authorities. A practising prosthodontist in Provo, Utah, he is founder and chief executive officer of Practical Clinical Courses (PCC). He is also chief executive officer of Clinician’s Report Foundation (CR).
With his wife, Dr Rella Christensen, he has been conducting research in all areas of dentistry since 1976. He has published the findings to the profession in the form of Clinician’s Report.
Gordon helped to initiate the University of Kentucky and University of Colorado dental schools. He taught at the University of Washington. He is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Utah School of Dentistry. Gordon serves on the board of directors for the non-profit organisations Dental Lifeline Network and the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation.
Gordon will be presenting a three-hour live lecture for Alpha Omega’s London chapter later this month (March). It is titled ‘New aspects of dentistry’, discussing how to tackle changing patient attitudes compounded by the impact of COVID-19 and come out ahead.
Why did you choose dentistry?
Dentistry is a specialty of medicine that meets my personal characteristics and abilities perfectly. I am people-oriented, with a great desire to help others.
I have interests in all aspects of the human body, aesthetic interests, research interests, and integration of the importance of the appearance of the face to success in life.
What excites you most about dentistry?
The dental profession is of major importance to overall body health. It is primarily an outpatient specialty, allowing freedom for the practitioner to be autonomous and involved with other aspects of the profession and of overall life. It has great importance to patient personal self-esteem, well-being, and interaction with others,
How do you unwind?
I have many interests including family, grandchildren, great grandchildren, horses, motorcycles, cars, religious activities, writing, photography, the profession, assisting young people to succeed in life. I have very little time left for the ‘normal’ time involvements like television and so on.
What advice would you offer an upcoming dental student – and why join Alpha Omega?
Dentistry, as the largest specialty of medicine, affects almost every person in some way. It is a service profession. Learn to accomplish the preventive and treatment procedures to an excellent level: do NOT concentrate on just making money. Excellent service to patients brings abundant money and many other, more important rewards.
Belonging to Alpha Omega allows interaction with other peers in professional and religious settings, social events, ability to help people, and continuation of your education on a routine basis.
Where do you see dentistry in five or 10 years?
Constant changes are present in the profession. The future will bring more technology, more preventive procedures, better patient education and overall health, a majority of women dentists, and a continuation of the most preventive specialty of medicine.
What’s been your greatest challenge to date?
Rearing children and their children in a world full of conflict and hatred. Helping other professionals to recognise the blessing it is to be a dentist.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you?
Maybe I am abnormal, but I don’t remember any.
Who was your mentor?
I have at least 10 major mentors who were true professionals – honest, altruistic, empathetic, willing to teach others, clinically excellent, family-oriented, trusting in a power higher than themselves, and devoted to serving the public.
What’s been the funniest thing that’s happened to you in a dental surgery?
I have worked in dental operatories/surgeries in churches, bars, tents, military facilities, in mountain retreats, and there are hundreds of funny things that have happened. Perhaps the funniest but most frustrating was the inability of my associate to get a 400-pound patient out of the dental chair because the patient’s weight had broken the chair motor.
What advice would you give to someone setting up their own surgery?
Adapt your working environment to your body, not some other person’s idea of what you need. Get quality equipment and supplies. Hire competent staff, and pay them well. Have affordable fees. Be honest.
Do you have any regrets?
Only that I can’t repeat my life.
This article first appeared in Dentistry magazine. You can read the latest issue here.