Posted on 11th July 2019
Although Professor Trevor Burke jokes that he graduated 100 years ago, he has certainly accomplished a great deal in his long career. Graduating from Queens University in Belfast, he worked as an academic before going into general dental practice for 25 years, before becoming an academic again.
Given his history in both academia and general dental practice, it’s not surprising he found his calling in restorative dentistry.
“Fixing teeth is what you do at general dental practice and I think it is arguably the most important aspect of dentistry,” he says. “It’s what you spend a lot of your time on; it is central to what dentists do.
“My research in the last 10 or 15 years has been on how long restorations last, because I think that is also extremely important.”
Research is a passion of Trevor’s, and through coordinating the Product Research Evaluation by Practitioners (PREP) Panel, Trevor, along with a group of dentists, has been able to complete more than 70 evaluations of materials and techniques.
“The PREP Panel is a group of 33 practising dentists in the UK,” Trevor explains. “We distribute the material to the practitioners. They use it for a period of 6 to 8 weeks, and they complete a questionnaire.
“The latest research project we did was on 3M’s Filtek Universal composite and we have just sent that off for publication here in the UK. It was very positive and well received by the practitioners. If I remember rightly, about 90% of them said they would buy it.”
With such a scope of research under his belt, Trevor will bring an abundance of knowledge to Perth when he presents his lecture on the latest resin composite materials for restoration of posterior teeth, and contemporary ways to treat deep caries.
Trevor says attendees can expect research and clinical examples. “I’ll be talking about the clinical applications of dental materials. In the business we call it translational research – in other words, how does research translate from the laboratory into clinical practice,” he says.
Trevor says the lecture will be a blend of practical tips and very up-to-date information on the latest dental materials, both from a practical point of view and from the latest research. “I will also be speaking about my database, which is the biggest in the world for dental research with 10 million restorations,” he says. “We have followed them for 16 years and I will be giving some tips from that; there is some very information that has come from that.
“Hopefully the lecture will be fun,” he adds. “I have a philosophy that every 15 minutes you have to show a video or say something stupid, so people won’t fall asleep,” he laughs.
Trevor is certainly practiced at lecturing, which means he is often travelling. When we spoke to Trevor, he had just returned from Kuwait and Dublin. After a short getaway to Tuscany, he will be lecturing in New Zealand before travelling to Perth for the August 5 lecture.
They say that if you want something done, give it to a busy person, and Trevor is a clear example of that. On top of his busy lecturing schedule, he has contributed to more than 350 papers, and is also the editorial director of the Dental Update Journal.
He says the key to fitting everything in is working in the evenings.
“Dental Update is my night job,” he says. “With the writing, I just have to lock myself away and write things down. I’m lucky enough to have a house in France, so I often go there for a week and have a good routine where I can go into town for lunch, drink some rosé wine and come back and do work,” he laughs.
Trevor also works at the University of Birmingham, where he runs a Masters course in Advanced General Dental Practice.
When asked about highlights, it is clear Trevor has had a charmed career.
“All I could say is if I were to come back again, I couldn’t be so lucky,” he says. “I have met a lot of very interesting, clever people … I am very lucky to have bumped into these people throughout my life.”