In tribute to Dame Margaret Seward, 1935-2021

26 July 2021
2 min read

The British Dental Association has paid tribute to its former president Dame Margaret Seward, following news of her recent death.
The first female resident dental house surgeon at the London Hospital, she went on to edit both the British (1979-92) and International Dental Journals (1990-2000) and became the second female president of the BDA in 1993.
She was an elected member of the General Dental Council from 1976 and the first woman president (1994-99).
In 1994, Margaret was honoured with a CBE for services to dentistry, followed in 1999 by appointment as the first dental dame (DBE).  In the same year Dame Margaret retired from the GDC.
In 2000, Dame Margaret was head-hunted by the Department of Health to take forward the process of modernising NHS dentistry as chief dental officer for England.
Eddie Crouch, BDA chair, said, “Words cannot express the depth and breadth of Margaret Seward’s contribution to this profession.
“The first female chief dental officer, our second female president. From the BDJ to the GDC, hers was a career like no other, as a dentist who inspired every colleague she met.
“On her ascendency to the presidency she told BDA members that a profession which has forgotten its past can have no future.
“We can never forget Margaret, and the future for all dentists is brightened by every glass ceiling she smashed.”

Furthermore, it was Dame Margaret who set up the Dental Technicians Education and Training Advisory Board (DTETAB), under the auspices of the General Dental Council, in support of the under recognised UK dental technicians. The first meeting of this new group took place in January 1986 and was chaired by Margaret, and it quickly become the recognised body for dental technicians. The GDC was actively involved for the first three years as then DTETAB became an independent professional body in 1989. Her foresight was instrumental in developing the organisation that represents dental technicians today as the Dental Technologists Association. 

Tony Griffin, former president and chair of the Dental Technologists Association, said, “Dame Margaret continually strove to improve UK dentistry and in that to support the dental technicians’ role within the oral health care team. She inspired and encouraged all those in dental technology and clinical dental technology to develop their profession to meet the future needs of our communities.” 

The British Association of Dental Nurses have also released a statement, paying their respects to Dame Margaret.  

Dame Margaret was a great supporter of the dental team, and of dental nurses. She was an Honorary Life Member of BADN, and was a guest at most – and Master of Ceremonies of at least two - BADN Presidential Dinners, including the masked ball Dinner in Blackpool in 1995. 

During her time as president for the GDC, Dame Margaret supported, and encouraged others to support, the campaign for registration of the whole dental team. Following the publication of the Nuffield Report in 1993, she chaired several dental-wide debates on the subject and then formed, and chaired, the Dental Auxiliaries Working Group to further investigate and develop the Nuffield proposals. 

In their statement, the BADN shared that “Dame Margaret was an inspiration to those of us who struggled to be heard in a predominantly male environment; a great supporter of dental nurses and a formidable ally to BADN… always dignified, gracious… and with a wicked sense of humour!  She will be greatly missed.”


*photo credit: British Dental Association Museum