It wasn't like pulling teeth to convince Prince George dentist Richard Wilczek to decide to take on being president of the BC Dental Association.
Wilczek has been involved with organized dentistry virtually his entire career, first locally and most recently at the provincial level. He joined the dental association board six years ago as a director and subsequently got involved on the management committee before letting his name stand for election.
His goal for the next year as president is to help the association form closer ties to other dental organizations in the province representing dental hygienists and dental assistants.
"Sometimes these groups develop on their own and go out on their own little path," he said. "Lately there hasn't been a lot of communication between the groups at the provincial level. I'm trying to see if we can foster a better working relationship."
It's something he's familiar with due to his work in Prince George. Three decades ago, he helped push for a new dental hygiene program at CNC and has taught at the college for the past 25 years. Locally, he also helped set up improved dental care at seniors' homes.
Wilczek was actually elected back in 2011 and spent last year as president-elect of the provincial association. It allowed him to get his feet wet and understand the issues.
With roughly three quarters of the province's dentists in the Lower Mainland, Wilczek said he can bring a new perspective to the board and represent the views of dentists from smaller communities.
"To have a voice that's outside of the Lower Mainland is probably refreshing for (dentists there)," he said. "Also, it's like anything, we don't like to be governed by them."
Prince George has been lucky in being able to attract and maintain a strong stable of dentists in recent years, according to Wilczek. He said the city has enough dental professionals to serve local needs, but some other areas in the region are currently experiencing shortages.
"The harder areas are little communities like, say, Fraser Lake," he said. "It's barely enough of a base to support a dentist. Those are the communities that struggle."
The new position means lots of travel for Wilczek. He goes to Vancouver a couple of times a month and will make a handful of trips to Ottawa.
"It takes a drain on the family and the practice," he said. "I have to be thankful for my family and my staff for being so understanding."