Obituary: John Forrest
Wednesday 15 July 1992
AS AN AMBASSADOR for the dental profession John Forrest was outstanding. His considerable authority in the worlds of dentistry and clinical publishing reflected his standing as a London clinician celebrated for his sensitivity for the feelings and needs of colleagues and patients. His skill in saying or writing the right word at the right time led to many books and articles and his professionalism, integrity and courage were always unobtrusive.
Parental influence temporarily guided Forrest away from his original ambition to become a writer which could not match the economic security of the dental profession. After graduating from Guy's Hospital in 1940, his professional development, ultimately to lead to a West End of London practice, included wartime service with the RAF Dental Branch and founding an NHS general practice in the Maida Vale area of London. Guy's Hospital, which had appointed him on graduation as a house surgeon, later invited him to start a training school for dental hygienists. He was an honorary lecturer from 1969 to 1971.
John Forrest never underestimated the psychological distress of tooth loss or unsightly teeth. His advice to patients, whether received at the chairside and interspersed with his wry humour, or delivered through one of his books, The Good Teeth Guide, revealed a highly effective communicator and motivator.
He was a pioneer of preventive dentistry. His early clinical practice convinced him that many patients needlessly lost teeth from the bacterial diseases of caries and periodontitis. Caries is the destruction of mineralised tooth substance; periodontitis the progressive loss of the bone, ligaments and gum tissue that support teeth. Scientific confirmation that individuals vary widely in their susceptibility to these diseases, and that caries and periodontitis comprise multiple diseases with markedly different patterns of clinical behaviour and outlook, emerged in the later years of his career.
He published widely and well. His several textbooks include Preventive Dentistry (1976) and A Guide to Successful Dental Practice (1984). His chairmanship of the Editorial Board of the bimonthly magazine Dental Practice ensured discussions that were vigorous and far-ranging. Even the most senior contributor would find their words and thoughts distilled to give maximum benefit to the formidable editorial partnership of Colin Davis and Mary Newing. Within Britain his chairmanship skills were also deployed as president of the British Society of Periodontology, the British Endodontic Society, and the Metropolitan Branch of the British Dental Association. His international work included the European Dental Society and honorary membership of the American Dental Association; at the time of his death he was president of the International College of Dentists.
His modesty extended to academic achievements that included the Fellowship in Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the Gibbs Prize Scholarship which he used to examine (and dramatically improve) the dental health of the Olympic athletes in Mexico City.
To younger colleagues, embarrassed and uncertain how to proceed in their early clinical career, unsure of committee work or how to develop a writing style, his guidance was charmingly old-fashioned. 'Do the best you can and the best will come back to you,' he would murmur.
- 1 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 5 Men behaving badly: Urinating while standing, 'manspreading' and the gendering of selfishness
Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
UK weather: Snow to fall during coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign
Ellen DeGeneres leads Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow and Paul Bettany in revealing game of Never Have I Ever
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...
£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our Client has been the leader ...