Oral Health Group

Honouring Tradition

September 12, 2022
by James Posluns, DDS, D Ortho, MEd, FRCD(C)

There are times when tradition is to be embraced – a marriage ceremony, a parade or a graduation.  And there are times when doing things the way they have always been done just doesn’t cut it.


If you are a practising or retired dentist in Canada, there is good chance you are familiar with the Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto (aka The Faculty). Even if you are not an an alumnus of Canada’s number-one ranked, first and largest dental school, you may have visited, taken a continuing education course or taught in one of its many graduate or undergraduate clinics located in downtown Toronto.

The Faculty is steeped in tradition.  Its origins trace back to the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario. The first class graduated around the time of Confederation. Graduates include Orders of Canada recipients, presidents of numerous organizations and veterans of both World Wars.

While tradition is largely a good thing, it falters when applied to infrastructure. The Graduate Orthodontic Clinic, in addition to the other Faculty clinics, is traditional, right down to the chairs, delivery systems and waiting areas.  Any graduate from the University of Toronto in the last 40 years could easily return, pick up a hand piece and feel very much at home.

Over the last 10 years, there has been a concerted effort to advance the infrastructure of the Faculty, under the stewardship of Daniel Haas, who recently completed his tenure as Dean. Under his direction, the top two floors of the Faculty were renovated to include state-of-the-art research labs – a driving force behind the school’s tradition of excellence. Numerous other projects were also completed including a new Student Commons, a library refresh and an auditorium update. During COVID-19, an off-site clinic housing 41 enclosed operatories was constructed in less than 12 months. In addition, the Faculty is immensely proud of its new hospital-grade central sterilization centre and it’s recent update to fully digital radiography.

Numerous hours have been spent developing a plan to renovate the aging clinics and associated support spaces. At the time of this writing, the pre-clinical simulation laboratory, located in the basement and original to the building, has been decommissioned and demolition has begun. Completion of the new lab is planned for early 2024. Next on the agenda is a revitalization of the undergraduate and graduate clinical areas.

The Faculty must continue its tradition of excellence, not only to ensure the practices and curriculum prepare the professionals of tomorrow, but also transition its spaces to ably educate the dentists of the future and to continue to deliver care to a population that depends on it. Without consistent support from the profession, it cannot move forward. Alumni support is critically important to reach this goal.
Please consider making a commitment to the University of Toronto’s Defy Gravity campaign to support the Faculty and secure its future. As a double alumnus and as a legacy and major donor, I deeply believe that without this much needed support, delivery of this vital community-based program will be in jeopardy.

Tradition is to be respected. Progress is to be embraced.

About the Author

James Posluns attended the Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto to obtain his DDS degree and Diploma in Orthodontics. He obtained his Masters of Education from the Ontario Institute of Studies for Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. Dr. Posluns has been a member of the Orthodontic Faculty at U of T since 1998 and Director of Clinical Affairs since 2012.

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