In the Chair | 15 October, 2018

In the Chair with Dr Richard Evans

We caught up with Capital Periodontics and Dental Implants' principal dentist, Dr Richard Evans to chat about his 30 years in the dental industry. Richard jumped 'In the Chair' and filled us in on his love for his hometown of Canberra and the adventurous holidays he embarks on.

How long have you been based in Canberra and what do you love about it?

I have been back in Canberra for 30 years. I grew up in Canberra and was away at University in Sydney and Brisbane but always in the back of my mind I thought that Canberra would be a great place to return to. That is because Canberra is an easy place to live. It is easy to get around Canberra and at the present time I live 20 minutes walk from work and 5 minutes walk from bushland. It is also a great place to raise a family. It is easy to get the kids to school and to sport. In fact, Canberra is spoilt with sporting facilities as well as cycle tracks and walking trails. Canberra is only 2 hours from the coast and 2 hours from the ski fields. Of course this also means we come with a cold winter which is an endurance test for some.

Explain the difference between a dentist and periodontist?

Well of course a periodontist is a dentist. Periodontists just have a focus on the supporting tissues for the teeth. Literally a periodontist is someone who specializes in tissues around the teeth (peri meaning around as in the perimeter of a circle). As such we look at the bone and ligament that surrounds and supports the teeth as well as the overlying gingival tissue. Infections around the roots of teeth cause loss of this periodontal tissue in susceptible people (periodontal or gum disease) and this is the main dental disease that we address rather than problems of the tooth structure (caries, endodontic infection and tooth fracture). As well, if a tooth has been lost the periodontium has also been lost. Periodontist’s therefore have a scope and interest in replacing the roots of missing teeth to support new crown or bridge restoration (dental implants).

Why were you drawn to Periodontics?  

I was fortunate enough to work as an intern at Westmead Hospital when I graduated from dentistry in 1983. This meant that I could rotate between departments. My interest in periodontics resulted from the infectious enthusiasm towards the discipline by a couple periodontists working in the periodontics department at Westmead Hospital: Tim Rich and John Pritchard. It was working in this department with these people that opened my eyes to the fact that periodontics is the foundation of dentistry and intimately involved in all aspect of dentistry.

How important is continued learning in the dental industry and how do you keep on top of your game?

Early on in my dental career I was told that the half-life of dental knowledge is approximately 4 years. In other words, every 4 years half of what you had learned is out of date and/or superseded. Obviously then to keep on top of your game it is critical to keep up with current research and technologies by reading (in my case) perio journals, attending hands-on courses  and of course attending regular scientific meetings not only to hear from researchers but also to discuss dentistry with your peers.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

The one piece of advice that really sticks in my mind is “tackle them around the legs and make sure you fall with your head on top of their legs rather than underneath”. It only takes one mistake to learn how good a piece of advice this is.

We’ve heard you love watching the Mighty Canberra Raiders in your spare time, but what else do you get up to outside the practice?

The less said about the Canberra Raiders at present the better. In trying to get over their dismal season I have been concentrating on my other pursuits.
These include a Bachelor of Arts, which I have been doing for the last 10 years - I must be a slow learner - majoring in philosophy and biological anthropology. In the latter discipline I have a great interest in human evolution and primatology. So when I travel overseas once or twice a year I like to incorporate observing primates in the wild as part of the trip wherever possible. This has led me and my family to many interesting places in Africa, Madagascar, South East Asia and Central and South America for instance.

Of course living in Canberra cycling and walking in bushland is a great pleasure both here and on these overseas trips. If I am really clever with my organisation I can organise primate viewing and walking at the same time. I’ve visited gorillas at the Virunga volcanoes, the baboons around the base of Mount Kilimanjaro - whose summit is about the same height as Everest base camp. No monkeys at Everest base camp but there are macaques in Kathmandu. On the edge of the Andes Mountains there are spider monkeys, tamarins and capuchins and not far from Mount Kinabalu in Borneo are orangutans and gibbons.

My wife who is keen to accompany me on the walks rolls her eyes at these places and says “you only organised to come here to see the monkeys didn’t you?”

And of course being a sports nut I have to have my weekly round of golf when in Canberra which has the possibility of being a great deal of fun although more likely proves to be a “good walk ruined”.


Schedule your next appointment with Dr Richard Evans and the team at Capital Periodontics and Dental Implants, Turner.