Dr. Clifford Tym has been fixing teeth for half a century.
The Innisfail dentist, from Innisfail Dental Centre, recently received the Alberta Health Services Long Service Award, honouring his 50 years in dentistry.
“Dentistry’s been good — I even get a few hugs once in a while,” said Tym. “People appreciate what you’ve done for them. I’ve had people come in who hadn’t smiled for years because they’re missing teeth … and feel self-conscious.”
The 75-year-old, who has four daughters and eight grandchildren, said he’s seen many patients come through his door since he opened his office in October 1968.
“I’ve seen four generations from some families. You start to think, ‘Man, where did the time go?’
“They appreciate what we’ve done here, so we must be doing something right, because they keep coming back,” Tym said.
Tym grew up on a farm in Consort, but after his father died in a farming accident, Tym and his family moved to Lacombe.
“I began looking at medicine as a (career) option between Grade 7 and 10. I decided dentistry would be a good path,” he said. “I had an uncle who was a dentist and that may have been a factor.”
There have been many technological advancements throughout Tym’s 50 years as a dentist — 3D printing is the next big thing for the industry, he added.
“That’s going to affect how dentists can provide a service. It’s really going to benefit the patients,” he said.
Tym said dental offices began using computers in the 1980s – one of the most significant changes since 1968. Dentists are also able to make and insert crowns for patients in just one visit, with the integration of computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing technology, which wasn’t available when Tym’s career began.
Tym has also been involved in the Dental Outreach of Red Deer (DOoR) Program for nine or 10 years. The program, which has existed for about 11 years, provides free dental treatment and prevention services for youths between five and 18 years.
Treatment is provided for families with lower incomes who do not have the Alberta Child Benefit, or other benefits, to cover dental treatment.