Christine McWilliams

Community Dental Officer @ South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust


Employee Image of Christine McWilliams

Christine is a Community Dental Officer, based in Bangor Health Centre. Shes been working in HSC since 2003.

Can you tell us how about your job and what you do from day to day?

I am a Community Dental Officer in the South Eastern Trust. I am based in Bangor Health Centre and have the luxury of working in a modern, well equipped dental surgery, with a wonderful view of Castle Park.

I see a variety of patients:

  • Children who have been referred by their General Dentist because of high levels of dental decay and may have to be assessed for dental extractions under General Anaesthetic
  • Children who exhibit behavioural difficulties relating to dental phobia or conditions such as ADHD or ASD
  • Children and adults with significant medical conditions, learning needs or physical disabilities
  • Adults with mental health issues or who reside in a supported living environment
  • Elderly, medically compromised patients

I generally treat patients in the clinic, but am also involved in screening patients in residential settings and in carrying out domiciliary visits to patients who are unable to leave home. Variety is the spice of life!

How long have you been in your current role?

I joined the Community Dental Department in June 2003. I had to pinch myself for weeks to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, because my role was to work in a lovely little mobile dental clinic which was situated that summer, at a primary school in Portaferry. The scenery driving down the peninsula was spectacular and the patients were delightful!

When my family came along, I reduced my working hours, and moved to my current role in Bangor Health Centre.

What experience/education is required in order to perform this role?

The Community Dental Service can be involved in Epidemiology and research. I have been very fortunate to be involved in helping gather information for the Child Dental Health Survey and for a research programme called NICPIP. I was able to attend regional training and to carry out the recording of information at a wide range of sites and locations, in conjunction with my day to day work in the clinic. It’s good to venture outside your comfort zone from time to time.

As with any position, additional qualifications are useful. I enjoy studying and had achieved MFGDP membership as well as a City and Guilds Certificate in Teaching Adult Learners, before joining the department.

Once in my role as community dental officer, I was supported by my manager in the pursuit of a Masters degree. It was hard work, but my colleagues helped with the research, the trust allowed me to use the hospital library to work in at night, and with no end of moral support, I felt very privileged to achieve my goal.

What is the biggest challenge in your role?

I think the biggest challenge facing any of the dental team working in the Community Service, isn’t about the dentistry, but winning over the patient!

No one likes going to the dentist. But our patient group are particularly reluctant, and managing to actually see a patients teeth, can at times be a major triumph!!

Also, as most of our patients are accompanied by parents or carers, it can be difficult to marry up the patients desires and needs with those of their family member, and with what is actually achievable.

What advice would you give to others looking for a job in your field?

I would advise anyone who was interested in a job in Community Dentistry, to get in touch and come and have a look at our service and what we do. It is a role packed with interest and variety and is incredibly rewarding.

What do you like best about your role and working in HSC?

What I enjoy most about my role, is that I am a member of a close knit and supportive team of like minded individuals. It’s never lonely, and I always feel confident and secure in the knowledge that between us, we will endeavour to give our patients the best experience possible.