Oral Health Group

A New Beginning

May 1, 2004
by Cameron M.L. Clokie, DDS, PhD., FRCD(C), FICD

This has been quite a year for the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency Program at The University of Toronto. Only 12 months ago, Ontario’s only training program in this specialty was on the verge of extinction. The Toronto General Hospital, one of Canada’s largest, was questioning the need for the presence of oral and maxillofacial surgeons, or any dentist for that matter, in the hospital environment. As a result, a decision was made to close the dental department and the division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery by June 30, 2003. All the while, the people of Ontario were enjoying the benefits offered by some of the best-trained and most industrious practitioners in the province.

Fortunately, at the 11th hour, it was the Ministry of Health of the Ontario government who stepped up and came to the rescue of one of Canada’s premier oral health programs. The Minister himself insisted that Ontario must not lose this important world-class health care program, and their partner in maintaining the program was Toronto’s Mt. Sinai Hospital. Dr. Mike Sigal (Chief of Dentistry at Mt. Sinai Hospital) and Dr. Gerald Baker (Head of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Mt. Sinai Hospital) led the charge, spending tireless hours working with government trying to establish a new home for the program. The result has been something very special for dentistry and oral health in general; a hospital program that is second to none in North America. Offering a comprehensive oral health program with specialty services ranging from oral medicine to dental care for the disabled, the Department of Dentistry at Mt. Sinai Hospital has become the new clinical home for The University of Toronto’s oral and maxillofacial program.


Today, two teams of oral and maxillofacial surgeons, including those in training, operate along with the other oral health care workers at their new home offering the full scope of surgical services for patients with head and neck disorders. Ranging from the extraction of third molar teeth to the management of congenital and acquired deformities of the orofacial complex including the treatment of benign and malignant disease, these patients’ special needs are being cared for.

More recently, The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario moved to recognize the established scope of practice for oral and maxillofacial surgeons in Ontario. Together, these kinds of advancements should enable The University of Toronto’s Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Program to maintain its world-class position at the forefront in the surgical management of orofacial disorders.

The dental profession must continue to be proud of its ever-expanding role in total health care. Moving forward, our challenge will be to improve public awareness and education concerning the specialty of oral and maxillofacial surgery. Hospital administrators, in particular, need to understand the special training and educational requirements of the oral and maxillofacial surgeon and the significant contribution that he or she can make to the well being of patients who require their services.

On behalf of oral and maxillofacial surgeons throughout this country and those involved with the program at The University of Toronto, I would like to say thank you to everyone who helped make this happen. This is a new beginning so let us continue to work together for the ultimate benefit of our patients, residents and colleagues.

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