“Open wide and let’s have a look.” These are words that have been repeated countless times by Hout Bay dentist, Dr Andy Effting over the years that he’s been in practice.
Dr Effting, who recently celebrated 40 years of being in the industry, spoke to Sentinel News about how dentistry has evolved over the years.
In the early days, the dentist used “amalgam” fillings and gold crowns, which were were highly invasive types of procedures, he said.
“They certainly did not look great and have thankfully now become largely redundant. Modern adhesive bonding techniques and advanced dental technology now enables us to employ much less invasive techniques and attain beautiful, natural-looking smiles and restore excellent function for all our patients,” he said.
Dr Effting added that implant dentistry allowed the dentist to rehabilitate severely compromised dentitions in a much more effective way.
“These fantastic technologies enable us to achieve phenomenal treatment outcomes, thereby further enhancing dentists job satisfaction. The profession is now rapidly adopting digital technologies that are very exciting,” he said.
“Nowadays, we have a much better understanding of the causes of dental disease. There’s more awareness of the impact diet has on dentition, improved home maintenance and hygienic measures that we can employ to protect our oral health.”
Dr Effting’s journey started when his parents immigrated to South Africa with their five children in 1954 in search of a better life.
After the Second World War, the Dutch economy was in the doldrums, and the Netherlands made bilateral immigration agreements with many foreign countries to accommodate 500 000 of their nationals. The Efftings were among 45 000 of those who left to come to South Africa. They received one-way sea-passage tickets, and settled in Grahamstown, where a job as a butcher awaited his dad.
“My twin brother and I were born two years later to make up the final complement of seven siblings. It was a fantastic experience to grow up in such a large family,” he said.
The family then moved to Uitenhage when Dr Effting was about four years old after his dad got a better job offer.
When his dad passed away, Dr Effting was forced to change schools from Marist Brothers in Port Elizabeth, where he had been a boarder, and started Grade 10 as a day scholar at Muir College in Uitenhage.
He matriculated in 1974.
“As a child, I grew up in a very loving, God-fearing family, but we were not financially well off. My father never even obtained a driver’s licence in his life as he could never afford a motor vehicle,” Dr Effting said.
It was then that Dr Effting committed to providing a better life for his family when he grew up.
“I studied diligently and hoped to one day become a medical doctor.
“When I was in matric, I visited a class friend whose dad was the local dentist. The dinner discussion inevitably revolved around what we were going to do after school. I felt I wanted to go to university, but wasn’t sure whether to apply for medicine or pharmacy. Both were very ambitious aspirations, as my widowed mom would never manage to afford tertiary studies for me,” Dr Effting explained.
His friend’s father then suggested that he should also consider dentistry and that he would put a good word in for him with the secretary of the dental faculty at Wits University.
“This suggestion immediately resonated with me as I felt that I would love to work with my hands whilst also being able to have my own business one day,” Dr Effting said.
The following year, after completing matric, Dr Effting completed his year of compulsory national military service. It was during this time where he decided to apply for both dentistry and pharmacy, relying on his academic results to obtain bursaries or scholarships.
“I was delighted to have been accepted and awarded bursaries for both options. I decided on dentistry, and here I am today, with no regrets whatsoever,” he said.
“I always wanted to be part of the health industry and serve my community to the best of my ability. I chose Hout Bay, as having grown up in a small town, I enjoy a smaller village type environment.”
When he is not caring for your teeth, he enjoys cycling, having completed 23 Cape Town Cycle Tours (previously known as the Argus Cycle Tour). He also enjoys walking his dogs on the trails in and around Hout Bay.