CDA Essentials 2018 • Volume 5 • Issue 3

CDA at W ork DR. MITCH TAILLON Hometown Dentistry For his entire 34-year career, Dr. Mitch Taillon, CDA’s incoming president for 2018–19, practised in Assiniboia, a small prairie community in southern Saskatchewan where it’s about an hour drive in every direction before you reach another dentist. There have been only two dentists for as long as he’s been practising there and the town’s population of roughly 2,500 hasn’t changed much over that time either. Assiniboia is the kind of place where families have deep roots in the community, where your children’s teachers are your friends; where patients are reluctant to phone their dentist for emergencies on weekends—even when you ask them to—because they don’t want to be a bother. “When I say I practise in a small town, people ask, ‘But doesn’t everybody know your business?’” says Dr. Taillon. “And I tell them, ‘Well I know theirs too!’ It’s the close sense of community and mutual respect that makes small communities a great place for a dental career.” Learning from his father It was in this small town where Dr. Taillon first sat chairside with his father Rod, a general dentist for over 40 years. Mitch had just finished grade 9, and he was continuing a family tradition where each of the Taillon boys (there are 5 of them, with Mitch in the middle) would take a turn spending the summer assisting their father at his two-chair dental practice. He remembers learning basic dental terminology for the first time, but what really struck him was the way his dad interacted with people; the way he spoke with patients and cared for people of all backgrounds. “Although I didn’t realize it then, what I learned from my dad that summer was about how to build trusted relationships,” he says. “That’s what it’s all about; connecting with people and showing that you care.” Mitch knew then that he wanted to become a dentist. Dr. Taillon speaks at length about the influence of his dad, who passed away in 2015 at age 91. He began his career in Assiniboia and worked for two years as a dentist in the children’s dental health program, occasionally travelling by train to treat patients who lived in neighbouring communities where there wasn’t a dentist available. It becomes very simple; you meet the needs of society and the population, the community, the person in front of you or in your chair—that’s your role. 10 | 2018 | Issue 3