Oral Health Month

In celebration of Oral Health Month, we are proud to highlight some of our amazing alumni as part of a special “in conversation with” feature to learn more about their time at UBC Dentistry and where they are today! Our first connection is with Dr. Derek Decloux, a dental anesthesiologist in Southern Ontario, who graduated from the Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) program in 2011.

Can you walk us through your career journey?

When I started dental school in 2007, we took classes with medical students for the first two years of the program. In my second year, I was introduced to anesthesiology in my medical classes and sedation in my dental classes, and from that moment on, I was completely fascinated by it.

My path was unique because I joined the military shortly after I enrolled in dental school. My education was subsidized, and once I graduated, I served as a full-time dental officer in the Canadian Armed Forces for four years. After my obligatory service was completed, I enrolled in the dental anesthesia Master of Science specialty training program at the University of Toronto, where I learned how to give general anesthetics and my passion for dental anesthesiology was set.

My career journey continues as I’m currently working on what I think will be the last piece of the puzzle: completing a Master of Science in pharmacology and toxicology, which will complement my existing education and skill set. I should be done within the year!

Tell us a bit about your current work.

If I only did one thing, I would go stir crazy, so my week varies quite a bit. On Monday mornings, I teach at the University of Toronto. One of these courses is teaching undergraduate dental students how to provide dental care to medically complex patients. In the afternoon, I work at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, where I mentor dental anesthesia residents and take care of adult patients with special needs.

About one Monday a month, I help the military as a reservist dental officer. The rest of the week, I work in private practices in Southern Ontario, where I treat mostly children who either require a lot of dental work, are very young, or have special needs.

What first got you interested in pursuing a career in dentistry?

My grandfather was a dental officer in the military who served in the Second World War, and my mother was a dental hygienist for some time, so you could say dentistry runs in the family.

Where was your favourite place to study when you were at UBC?

I used to study at Regent College, the building right across the street from the Nobel Biocare Oral Health Centre on campus. In the basement, they had chairs set up that overlooked a little reflection pond, and it was a very serene place where I could get a lot of work done.

What advice would you give to students currently in the DMD program?

There are different stages of dentistry, and the survival stage can be really tough, but if you push through and make it to the growth stage, it’s a lot of fun. There are many opportunities in the field, and it’s okay to come in with one idea of what you want to do and leave with another. When I first entered the program, I thought I wanted to be an orthodontist, but I quickly realized that wasn’t for me.

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday afternoon?

Going to the driving range with my sons, watching an F1 race with my wife, or taking a mid-day snooze are all perfect Sunday afternoon activities.