Every year, the British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry hosts a national award open to all undergraduate students. It is known as the Keith Woods Essay Competition and each year there is a different theme.

It is not just open to dental students: this competition is open to any undergraduate dental, undergraduate dental therapy, undergraduate dental hygiene or undergraduate dental nursing student registered at a Dental School in the United Kingdom.

I am so pleased to have won it this year (2018) after making a submission on a topic within dental public health that is so important.

The title for this year’s competition was: 

“Sugar, sugar everywhere. Can we really save our children’s teeth?”

To enter the competition, all you need to do is write an essay discussing the specified title with a maximum upper word limit of up to 2000 words.

The winning submission receives a monetary prize of £200, a certificate and free attendance to the BASCD Conference. The closing date for entries is usually in early September.

As with the other two awards that I won this past year, I had no expectations to win when entering. I just thought you have to be in it to win it so I may as well at least try! It was such a great surprise when I found out that I had been selected as the winner.

Honestly, I am no different from any other undergraduate dental student. There is no special formula for being successful in this way – all it takes is research, time and ideally also a genuine interest in the subject matter. I want to encourage anyone reading this who might be considering it to absolutely go for it and make an entry next year! Ultimately, it is no major burden and definitely worth an attempt: all you need to do is write a 2,000-word essay (which really isn’t that long at all).

The money is obviously amazing and a great incentive to enter, but the certificate is also really helpful for the dental portfolio of work/achievements when applying to jobs in the future and of course being able to attend the annual conference for free – having the opportunity to network and learn more is incredible.

Aims of the Competition

BASCD is the UK’s professional association for the science, philosophy and practice of promoting the oral health of populations and groups in society. The British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry was founded in 1973 by leading dental professionals concerned with the needs of populations and groups in society, with a specific emphasis on preventing and controlling oral diseases and conditions.

The essay completion is designed to foster the interest of the next generation of dental professionals in public health dentistry.

This competition is dedicated to the memory of the late Keith Woods, a distinguished former member of the Association.

The front page of the Essay should contain:

  • Your full name
  • The pseudonym you have chosen to use for your essay.
  • Your Course of Study
  • Your Year of Study
  • Your Dental School
  • Your postal address
  • Your formal university e-mail
  • Your telephone number
  • The word count of your essay (excluding the above details and references).

This front page will be removed from your essay, and the essay judged by a panel selected by BASCD. In this process, you will be identified only by your pseudonym.

It was quite interesting having to make my submission under a pseudonym, which is basically a fake name (I had to look up what it meant). I kept changing my mind over what fake name to choose, I came up with some rather bizarre names that I considered choosing before deciding they were far too outrageous and would possibly hinder my chances of winning!

In the end, I settled for the name: Francois Sable. Don’t ask me why, it is completely and utterly random!

One thing I never really appreciated before entering this competition was what the BASCD actually does. They do quite a lot of amazing things, but one in particular that I was very impressed by is their involvement with producing some of the keystone documents that we as dental students (dental professionals) use all the time. One of these is the Delivering Better Oral Health Toolkit.

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Some of the BASCD’s activities – see their website for more

It was nice to get to write on this important topic, where I was able to utilise a lot of the learning I have gained through the dental curriculum thus far via our Dental Public Health module.

The topic changes each year, so look out for next years title via the BASCD website. Good luck to any students who choose to go for this award in future years! I wish you all the very best of luck. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

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