Inspired by his father’s dedication and compassion towards his patients, Chrishan Fernando always wanted to become a dentist.

It was the Gold Coast’s buzzing atmosphere and thriving culture that convinced Chrishan to make the big move from Adelaide to pursue a Bachelor of Oral Health in Dental Science/Master of Dentistry at Griffith University.

From member of the academic committee in his first year to being appointed as representative for the Australian Dental Students’ Association (ADSA), Chrishan takes prides in playing a leadership role in the student community.

Last year, Chrishan was elected as Vice President of the Griffith University Dental Students Association (GUDSA). His main goal is to raise awareness for mental health and well-being amongst dental students and the dental profession. “This is an issue that is very close to my heart and I hope we will be able to organise more events to promote this in the near future,” he says.

Bottom row, second from right: Chrishan with other members of the 2020 GUDSA Executive Committee

“Whilst it may be worthwhile studying for long hours, it is always good to take the extra-curricular or community activities that are available to us on campus. Personally, I de-stress by spending time in the gym, going out for dinner with friends or even just taking a nap. I spend a lot quality time with other GUDSA members”, he adds.

At Griffith, the clinical sessions are extensive as they give the opportunity to students to practice and manage patient cases under the supervision of a clinical tutor. The sessions are split into various disciplines such as prosthodontics (crowns, bridges and dentures), endodontics (root canal treatments), periodontology (treating gum conditions) and paediatric dentistry (treating children).

Chrishan says he favours paediatric dentistry as he has learnt to embrace communicating with children. But mastering the art of prosthodontics has been quite a challenge so far. As he explains, “there is a lot of fine technical work and precision involved in making dentures, crown and bridge work for patients.”

“We are very lucky to have the Apex Dental Laboratory and the Dental Technology/Prosthetic students to help us with delivering care for our patients in this discipline. The tutors are always there to help us when things don’t go to plan and facilitate our learning,” he added.

Left picture: Chrishan at R U OK? day | Right picture: Chrishan perfoming an anterior restoration

His advice to fellow students: “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. In dentistry, you learn so much more when things go wrong than if you did something right to an average standard. My second advice is to practice, practice and practice! Dexterity is a key skill in dentistry. The more you practice, the better and more competent you will become.”

After graduating from his Masters, Chrishan plans to specialise in Oral Epidemiology and Dental Public Health to progress into an academic or research position alongside his clinical career.

“Dental caries is highly prevalent, particularly for those who live in remote, rural and disadvantaged communities. These communities, including First Peoples’, experience a significant gap in the standard and quality of oral health care than those in urban areas. Several oral health diseases, such as periodontitis and severe early childhood caries (S-ECC) are more manageable if they are identified or managed earlier, with frequent dental visits and diagnostic tools such as X-rays. I would like to dedicate myself to these causes in the future.”

If like Chrishan you have a passion for making a real difference in people’s lives through better dental and oral health care, learn more about Griffith University’s innovative dentistry degrees to become a competent and caring health practitioner who will meet changing community needs.