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Life Long Learning as a Generalist

Twenty-one years ago, after graduating from Dental School, I was unsure in which area to specialize. The Oral Surgery department wanted me to enroll in their Masters program while the Orthodontics Professor invited me to have a talk with him about pursuing his specialty, but I felt that the right move would be to step back and not make any hasty decisions which I might one day regret. To keep my options open, I took a position with the Government of Hong Kong as a Dental Officer for a 5 year commitment to hone my skills in General Dentistry.

It was not until I moved to Toronto in 1994, however, that my eyes were opened to the fascinating world of North American Dentistry. Here, learning was not restricted to a privileged few. Anyone with the desire to learn had opportunities to access resources and to be trained in advanced dentistry. I was among the first class of general dentists trained to do implant surgery at the University of Toronto. Starting in 1998 I began taking courses and mentorships in advanced orthodontics, and later, Dr. Kenny and I were fortunate to attend the Specialist Conference Program at Damon System Orthodontics.

By 2004 I had begun to see that there was something missing in the field of occlusion/bite, especially in prosthodontics, the branch of dentistry dealing with the replacement of teeth and related mouth or jaw structures by artificial devices. It was then that I started my journey to search for the truth about the human bite. This decision ultimately led to the development of our unique, holistic approach to dentistry through a greater understanding of neuromuscular physiology. We call this approach Total Patient Care.

From cosmetics to orthodontics, single tooth implant prosthodontics to full mouth reconstruction, we now have a wide selection of advanced tools to help our patients achieve optimal oral health. At this point in my life and career, I am happy to say that I am pleased with my decision to be a general dentist. As a generalist, I can use various combinations of treatment tools to achieve a better result with my patients, which is something that no individual specialist can do.

- Dr. Shirley Cheong


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