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The sad passing of Dr Tony Druttman

It is with great regret that BES Council reports the passing of long-term BES member and Past-President, Dr Tony Druttman. 

Tony was a highly dedicated, skilled and experienced endodontist who worked in his London referral practice for many years. In addition to providing an excellent service for his patients and referring dentists for over 30 years, Tony was also a well-respected educator, sharing his deep knowledge and understanding of clinical endodontics to many cohorts of postgraduate dentists at the Eastman Dental Institute.  

A staunch supporter of the BES, Tony was President of the Society in 1994/95 and many members will have gained the benefit of his experience and influence on Council. A regular attender and contributor at all BES meetings Tony will be greatly missed by his many friends and colleagues in the Society.

A Personal Tribute to Dr Anthony Druttman, President BES 1994 by Dr Richard S Kahan

In my last conversation with Tony at his bedside in early August 2023, he told me that he was ‘coming in to land’. This confused me at first. In most of our religious texts the descriptions are mainly alighting to heaven in an upward direction, not landing. I understood it later on reflection. Tony had truly soared high in his life, achieving both personal and professional pinnacles few could aspire to. Now, after a prolonged and truly brave fight against a ravaging disease, he was landing.

He asked for a hug as I left, and I rather awkwardly stooped down to manage this. Tony was a big hugger. In fact when I first personally experienced his brand of dentistry his practical philosophy to achieving perfect control of the handpiece in the mouth was to attach himself to the patient in an all-embracing head hug. Strangely comforting when exposed to as a patient, it provided encompassing accuracy, it was something I learned from him but was never able to replicate. Hence my dodgy preparations and poor restorative dentistry.

I first encountered Tony in 1987, 3 years post qualification, at his family practice in Barons Court, Kensington when I answered an advert for an associate dentist. Originally set up by his father, Dr Henry Druttman who graduated in Poland before the Second World War, Tony was looking for someone to replace his brother George who had gone to Chicago to do a Masters in Restorative Dentistry. After a couple of poor experiences in General Practice, I realised that I had stumbled on a practitioner of rare excellence who had the gifts of wonderful communication and outstanding clinical skill. I was delighted to be offered the job and Tony went on to generously take time to watch my progress, teach and mentor me. He was just starting his time doing a Masters in Restorative Dentistry at the Eastman and he instilled in me the enthusiasm for excellence and post-graduate education that directly led me to the doors of the Eastman myself.

His passion was endodontics and with also an engineering degree he looked at all challenges from a completely logical viewpoint. I remember that his dissertation under the supervision of Chris Stock was on the use of endosonics using the Cavi-Endo, which had become the big endo revolution. It turned out that Tony and Chris Stock were the only clinicians at the Eastman that could successfully dampen the vibration of the file through heavy lateral forces to stop the tip from ledging the canal, and that version of endosonics faded from use. 

After his MSc Tony moved his practice to Wimpole Street and later Devonshire Street in London - the heartland of private medicine and dentistry. He also worked in the City of London with George. I started my own MSc in Endodontics at the Eastman newly pioneered by Professor Kishor Gulabivala, as a result of an excellent reference from Tony. Although I no longer worked as his associate we would keep in contact chewing over the endodontic issues of the day, with me invariably being tutored in Tony’s opinion. His inaugural speech as President of the British Endodontic Society in 1994 was about recoverability in endodontic treatment and planning ahead for failure. This was typical of his practical approach to dentistry.

In 2003 I became Head of Endodontic CPD at the Eastman and started the Certificate in Endodontics. The first lecturer I recruited was Tony. When feedback forms were gathered in after one of his days the reviews were always perfect. He was greatly admired for his practical wisdom and teaching. The post-graduate students would flock around to hear his views. Although there was a titular reversal, I was still being told how to do things by Tony. 

Last year I suffered a fall and could not work for 6 months. This coincided with the end of Tony’s lease in Devonshire Street and Tony quickly instituted a plan we had started discussing before the accident for him to join us in the Academy of Advanced Endodontics. Despite suffering terribly from the effects of chemotherapy and persistent abdominal pain, Tony increased his working time to cover for me during my absence and kept the practice afloat. Even though he was only there for under a year the staff got to love and appreciate him and were devastated when he had to finally retire as he was too ill to work. In transferring the trust of his referrers and patients over to us, his only concern was that they would receive the same high level of service he had provided throughout his working life.

At his memorial service on Sept 1, 2023 attended by hundreds of family, friends and colleagues I realised that I was not the only recipient of Tony’s largesse. His kindness and generosity was shared around a multitude of people. A speech by his practice manager Emily reminded me that throughout his working life Tony always had the most loyal and caring staff. The reason for this was obvious. They rewarded him with the same love and respect he gave them. 

Tony finally landed at the Royal Marsden Hospital on 14th August 2023. He leaves behind an adoring family, his wife Lea and grown-up children, Helena, Ollie and Benjy, as well as three grandchildren. He also leaves the legacy as one of the most admired members of his profession and his specialty, respected and admired by his peers and referring dentists as well as remembered so very fondly by the very many patients he treated over his professional lifetime. I am reminded of this day in day out as I communicate with his referrers and patients and hope that I can emulate the achievements of this true mensch.





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