Charles David Parker (1929-2022)

LDSRCS Leeds 1951 BChD Leeds 1952, D.Orth RCS Eng 1957, FDSRCS Eng 1958

Charlie Parker was a plain-speaking Yorkshire man. Born in Bradford he and his brother both qualified from Leeds Dental School. Charlie was more interested in dental development than dental disease and so entered the Schools Dental Service in Bradford in 1952. In those early days of the NHS dental extraction of childrens’ grossly decayed deciduous teeth under general anaesthesia was commonplace and Charlie soon realised that he needed to know more about the effects these unplanned extractions on the child’s developing occlusion. To this end he gained a place on the newly established postgraduate orthodontic course run by Professor Clifford Ballard at the Eastman Dental Institute in London from where he achieved his postgraduate diploma in orthodontics in 1957. By then he had decided on a hospital career. He obtained his FDSRCS the following year and after Registrar and Senior Registrar posts was appointed to a newly created consultant appointment at Leicester. Here he was given a disused ward of the former Groby Road Isolation Hospital to convert to an orthodontic outpatient department.

From this challenging beginning by the time he retired in 2002 the unit he had built up comprised three full time orthodontic consultants, a Senior Registrar, a Consultant in Restorative Dentistry (one of the first to be appointed outside a teaching hospital), and 8 clinical assistants. In the intervening years Charlie had been Treasurer and then Chairman the Consultant Orthodontist Group (COG) as well as a member of the BDA’s General Dental Services Committee and was co-opted on to the BDA Working Party on Specialisation in dentistry. Through the latter he added his voice to those pressing for the establishment of dental specialist lists and the introduction of orthodontic therapists to increase the availability and reduce the cost of UK orthodontic treatment. The latter had first had been first advocated by the COG in 1966 and was finally approved by the General Dental Council in 2002.

At the inception of the NHS its three dental divisions (Schools Dental Service, and General Dental Service and Hospital Service), operated independently and by 1976 each had its own specialist orthodontic society. Charlie with his experience of the former and with a brother working in the GDS soon formed the view that as far as orthodontic treatment was concerned each had a role to play if only they could be persuaded to talk to each other. It was therefore appropriate that in 1981 Charlie became President of the British Society for the Study of Orthodontics when the first British Orthodontic Conference was held. This highly successful meeting provided a forum in which all 5 specialist orthodontic societies took part and led to their unification 1994 to form the British Orthodontic Society.

Charlie made another major contribution as a member of the Dental Estimates which at that time authorised payment for all dental treatment undertaken within the General Dental Service of the NHS. He was also its Orthodontic Adviser (1981-1992) and during his time greatly improved its efficiency by streamlining its system of prior approval for orthodontic treatment.

He was a devoted husband to Margaret and their three children and well known in the local professional community where the couple’s parties and hospitality were legendary.



Personal knowledge of colleagues

British Orthodontic Society Oral History Archive

Parker CD. Oral history recorded May 2018, held by the British Orthodontic Society.

Parker CD. Orthodontics in the General Dental Service – a review of its aims methods and achievements. Br J Orthod 1986; 13: 125-134.

Parker CD. Chairman of the Consultant Orthodontists Group. Letter to the Secretary of State DHSS. BDA News 9th June 1989