On June 11, 1969 the Victoria and District Dental Society (Society) was incorporated under the Societies Act. However the Society has archival records going back to 1949. The first Constitution was adopted in 1969 with the object to promote the advancement of dental science in all its branches, and to foster a spirit of fellowship amongst its members. Promoting the advancement of dental science gave group access to professional development while practicing on an island without the ready access that being on the mainland would provide. At that time, it was rare to be in a group practice or working with an associate – the Society allowed practitioners an opportunity to develop friendly association with colleagues. Friendships would develop that would span far longer than professional careers.
The founding date of the Society has yet to be determined, however, there have been 71 President positions filled and recorded since 1949 by 67 individuals. To honour past Presidents, a podium with a plaque with each of their names was commissioned by the Society for $900 in 1985 and has been continuously updated. This podium has been the center piece of business meetings. Including the Presidents, there have been at least 155 Dentists within our archival records serving on the Executive. The Society has had countless others (dentists, spouses, children, CDAs, Hygienists, and Receptionists) volunteer their time to make the Society the success it continues to be.
It is common and remarkable that an event with the Society will find multigenerational collegiality at a single table. New graduates and other practioners with up to 40 years plus of service providing dentistry will share the common goal to strengthen the Society at Business Meetings. Records of business meetings back to 1972 show this thread has been common to the history of the Society. This same mix will be found at the Scientific Program. At Social events this mix of practioners will be present often with their significant others sharing in the fun. In some ways most touching, will be that of the multigenerational members present with family, children, and grandchildren at the Annual Family Brunch and Christmas Party since 1979.
Since 2000, we have seen an increased effort to build on multigenerational collegiality and to develop a sense of community for all involved with the Society. There was an introduction of the idea of a New Dentist Welcome & Mentorship program in 2000. In 2002, draw prizes were added to business meeting so that there was a chance of a Dentist being selected and recognized by name by all in the room just for being there instead being recognized for being one of the vocal members during the meeting. A New Dentist welcome event at the first fall business meeting was initiated in 2002. This was further developed in 2003 with an additional prior Executive hosted event for dentists new to the area – their significant others were invited as well in recognition that connecting families together helped the success of professionals from outside of the area being connected to and remaining in the community. Further to this in 2004 a New Dentist Mentor Program was initiated
Advancement of the dental community as a whole has long been a goal of Society members. The 1972 membership discussed the possibility of having a Certified Dental Assistant program added to the Camosun College curriculum. Members volunteered to approach the Camosun Administration and by 1975 a CDA program was initiated at Camosun College.
In 1986, there was discussion at business meetings to support Camosun College starting a program to educate Dental Hygienists as the result of a notable shortage. By the fall of 1989 Camosun College started a program. During that year, the Society donated to support the new Camosun College Hygiene Program. Again in the 1992 fiscal year, the Society collected from individual donations and added to this, from the Society as a whole, to support the Hygiene Program at Camosun College. In 1994, the Society donated to the Victoria Hospital Foundation towards the purchase of dental equipment. In the 2004 fiscal year, the Society agreed to donate to Camosun College for dental equipment.
Such donations were not passed lightly at the Society meetings as the Society is not a philanthropic Society. Just the nature of being a caring professional results in all Dentists having causes that they believe in – prior to 1985 it was common for support to be asked for various non-dental causes – into the 90s the Society even had an appointed annual United Way fundraiser. It was common for time to be given to presenting causes during business meetings. In 1985 a motion was carried to no longer entertain requests for money for purposes not related the function and purposes of the Society and for this motion to be added to Constitution and Bylaws. The 00s re-examining the purposes of the Society further helped define that the focus should be on fellowship and promoting the advancement of dental science – interpretation of this has led to supporting Camosun College requests.
Since 1972, there has been regular recorded business meeting with the Society. A presentation was often associated with this meeting. Sometimes the presentation was about dentistry, sometimes it was about small business and finance management, and sometimes it was extracurricular. The presentations at the Monday’s business meetings were sometimes open to spouses and staff when information was relative to them and their relationship with the practice.
By the mid 1970s increasing membership and attendances were sometimes pushing the limits of the venues that were being used. A report was made in 1976 that the College would be adopting a system of continuing education as a requirement for licensure. At that time the Society responded to meet the needs of providing CE without requiring community Dentists to go to Vancouver or Seattle. The College instituted the requirement for 90 hours of continuing education as a requirement for Dentist licensure in 1980. At the provincial level newly established Regional Co-ordinators for Continuing Dental Education started to meet once a year. The Society responded to the education demands so that by 1983 they endeavored to offer at least 30 hours of CE a year. In 1981 RDHs were invited to attend scientific sessions and by 1984 CDAs were also seeking mandatory continuing education but this did not come into effect until January 1, 1994. Both the BCDA and UVic have proposed to take on the Society’s position as the main Dental CE provider on the lower Island. However, the Society continues to pride itself on trying to keep members up-to–date with all aspects of dental sciences while giving access to courses to RDHs, CDAs, Dental Technicians, and other allieds. There are increasing numbers of proprietary offerings from Dental Companies but the Society’s non- proprietary offerings are unique and valued by Society members.
In 1977, the Society boundaries were expanded to include dentists in the Lake Cowichan and Chemainus school districts. The Society decided in 1977 to only have one type of membership, Practicing Dentists, in place to cover all meetings, luncheons, dinners, and social functions. That same year active membership increased from 97 to 128. In 2000 there were 212 active members which increased to 248 by 2010.
With the increasing membership in 1977, a request was made to employ someone part-time to manage Society administration but this request was declined. However, the Executive of 1998/99 chose to contract an Executive Cooordinator as a trial for 6 months to co-ordinate the activities of the Society Executive, Directors, and This contract position has been renewed on a continuous basis since that time. This position relieved Dentists, their families, and offices from the expanded demands that came with a Society growing in function and numbers. With the contracting of an Executive Coordinator, a more permanent mailing address was acquired, a dedicated phone and fax, and an email address coinciding with the creation of a web presence. With the Executive Coordinator the Society was able to further evolve and grow: adding to its sense of community; add multi-day symposiums to its CE roster; have accreditation with ADA CERP in 2009; evolve Golf Day to Sports Day; and maintain an overall corporate memory.
The Society has been capable of stewardship of dental practice impact on the community in a responsible way by being part of the solution. The issue of dental waste management was discussed at Society meetings in 1989 and by 1993 attention to the issue of waste disposal was sought by the Member’s Services branch of the College. The Society worked with the Capital Regional District (CRD) in 2000 for the implementation of their bylaws in Waste Management as Amalgam Separators were first implemented in the District as well as other recommendation dealing with practice waste by products such as those common with film processing. Similarly, in 2008 there was the implementation of a regional Cross Connection Control Program designed to safeguard Greater Victoria's Drinking Water System from contaminated water flowing backwards into the public water system as the result of decreased water pressure.
The Society has proven itself time and again to be a helpful forum to discuss and try to deal with the impact of changing health concerns and being a local voice to convey regional thoughts to provincial organizations. In 1986 a recombinant hepatitis B vaccine was made available and the Society discussed this along with the newly emerging human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and how to safely and adequately provide care. In 2002, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) became a health care provider concern as 44 Canadian fatalities join the 775 suspected worldwide deaths. In 2009, “swine flu” H1N1 was spreading faster than it had previously and the World Health Organization was concerned of a pandemic. By keeping a close watch on the changing health concerns, the Society has maintained an adaptive position to provide current information and education to dental health providers.
Fifty years on from incorporation, the Society continues to evolve, grow, and strengthen the community with which it serves.