Dr Holly Christmas is the lead dentist at Frankton Dental in Queenstown. She started pulling out other kids’ teeth as a 5-year-old and it was upon her mother’s suggestion that she decided on dentistry, enrolling at the University of Otago. She lives in one of the most beautiful parts of the world – however in the world of dentistry working in Queenstown also poses some challenges! Read on for Holly’s explanation.
When and why did you decide a career in dentistry was right for you?
I always knew that I wanted a career in health, but it was actually my mum who suggested dentistry. She thought that being a bit anxious about the dentist myself I would empathise with patients and make them feel more comfortable. She also knew I wanted a family and thought that the hours and lifestyle that would be possible with dentistry would be a better fit than medicine. She was of course right on all counts and I am so thankful to have a career I love that I can fit in around my other goals in life! It did come up in my 21st speech that I started my career early wiggling kids’ teeth out at the water fountain as a 5-year-old so maybe it was inevitable!
If you could give a patient ONE piece of advice on how best to look after their oral health, what would it be?
Just one? See a hygienist regularly, their focus on oral health and prevention is invaluable to patients. I believe a good hygienist is worth their weight in gold, and a great one will make your practice (thanks Jessie!). Routine dental hygiene treatment benefits patients in more ways than you imagine, encouraging patients to choose dentistry that is optimum for their overall health.
Can you tell us a bit about your interest around preventative, conservative dentistry and how that came about?
To be conservative with cutting teeth makes sense to me. Once a tooth has been cut you can’t go back and I always like to think ahead to the life time implications of treatment choices. Prevention is of course the gold standard but there are so many conservative options to improve smiles these days, Invisalign, vital bleaching, composite bonding, implants, digital scanning – these less invasive options that reduce the need to cut enamel are amazing and I think we will see much more in our lifetime.
You live in one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand (and in the world!). Where would we find you when not in the practice?
Jet boating up the rivers (my husband is teaching me to drive the boat myself!) or up the mountain skiing with our 6-year-old! Queenstown has so much to offer all year around and it is great to live somewhere where everyone has the same agenda – to enjoy the outdoors and keep fit and healthy.
It’s a great community to raise our daughter in and we are very lucky!
What do you MOST enjoy about dentistry?
My amazing team!!! Our work environment is so important and the people we surround ourselves with have a big effect on our overall wellbeing. I enjoy the logistics of supporting my team towards greater work/life balance and providing them opportunities to grow. If my team are happy then I enjoy my job a lot more, so I think that is an important focus.
I understand you treat not just humans? Tell us a bit about the work you’ve done with teeth of another kind!
Our local “Remarkables Vet” contacted us when they had a traumatic dental injury of the canine variety so Hannah my dental assistant and I attended to do a vital pulpotomy for them! The next time they needed help we donated the dental instruments, a light curing machine and amalgamator and assisted the vet in performing the procedure themselves, setting up a “how to” for the future. I have so much respect for the variety of work that vets need to undertake on so many species. I was amazed how large a dog’s canine pulp chamber is!
Working in the adventure capital of New Zealand, does your team deal with much dental trauma?! Yes, a lot of trauma, but also a lot of emergency relief of pain appointments for visitors – it’s actually one of the more challenging aspects of dentistry in Central Otago. We have a fairly robust local on call roster shared with the other practices, but it would fair to say that things are pretty crazy when our practice is on call.
And lastly, what makes you smile?
Family, Friends, Exercise, Dogs, Coffee….I’ll add Lumino to that list too- my quality of life has improved since joining with Lumino, a year in and it’s all positives for me so far!