Alan Wright explains that DTGB came about from his time after leaving the bench in the Army where he was as a Maxillofacial tech and then starting his journey travelling around as a Technical manager for various company’s he worked for such as, Bracon, Chaperlin & Jacobs ltd, Skillbond and now his role heading up the laboratory division at Blueprint Dental Ltd.
Having never worked in a commercial laboratory and always being as part of a strong team always in the military, Alan struggled to come to terms with how many labs struggled to communicate and reach out to each other for help or just technical support it as this was second nature to himself.
So, to help to address this he started a local study club in his area, and it took off, then when online media became an everyday tool for people, the idea of a Facebook technicians group came to him as a means to get more technicians involved with the study clubs and speaking to each other, and it just grew from there.
The initial idea of Veterans Bite back came about as a conversation Alan had with a good friend of his, Colin Gaylor, they were at the Southampton Veterans breakfast club when they were discussing the amount of ex-military living on the streets struggling to get help not only with basic living but with getting access to Dental care.
Colin describes that, in 2017, Alan mentioned he would like to get proper dental care to their homeless Armed Forces Veterans. They had spent some time working out what they would need and decided that they would start Veterans Bite Back. Alan decided to introduce Colin to the Trustees of Den-Tech and they were subsequently invited to London to meet with them at their next trustees meeting. Colin and Alan gave a presentation at the meeting of what they would like to do and what they wanted to achieve. They describe the outcome of the meeting as being very positive in that Chair Andrea Johnson said if we could find a property then she was sure she could help make it work.
In 2018 Colin was fortunate enough to be given the use of a vacant NHS clinic where one of the rooms was considered by Alan and Colin to be idea for a dental surgery and another room suitable for a small onsite dental laboratory.
Sharaz Mir, Alan’s Boss at Blueprint Dental stepped up and very generously donated some equipment, including a team to help build the start of the dental treatment centre, which included a fully working and plumbed in dental chair.
Andrea at Den-Tech gave invaluable help and guidance all the way and it just seemed to make a great deal of sense to bring Veterans bite back under the umbrella of the well-established Charity that is Den-Tech.
Andrea also came down and started to kit out the technician’s room. Unfortunately, Covid-19 struck before we could get the rooms completed. Now that restrictions are lifting, yet more complications have been added to the project with new rules and regulations around air changes, ventilation, fallow times etc. However, not to be defeated, and with Veterans Bite Back project now firmly under the umbrella of the well-established Charity that is Den-Tech we have together been looking at new and innovative ways of working and have already helped two homeless veterans with full sets of dentures with yet even more on the books.
Although the original model and wish was to provide onsite dental services at the centre, this is not currently practical and so the room is to be utilised as a dental education and therapy room where a new counsellor at the centre who is also a trained and experienced dental nurse will help the veterans and their families to overcome their dental phobias, a place where they can explore and become familiar with the dental environment with no pressure and which will aim to lead them to seek out dental check ups and treatments before problems arise without the fear the phobia brings.
Through this initial chance conversation between Alan & Colin and then the subsequent introduction to Den-Tech, it has meant we are able to give something back and once the country gets back to normality, we can continue to take it from strength to strength.
The rest is history.
We would like to thank every member of the DTGB group that donates equipment to Den-Tech and the supply companies that sponsor the two causes via the collaborative coming together of DTGB and the Dental technician’s magazine, the help has been amazing.