Dr. Mark Botsford: Team player

By Jennifer Parraga, BA’93


For Dr. Mark Botsford, DDS’89, dentistry is a team sport. “Each player has a unique role to play and together we are all focused on a singular goal – treating our patient,” he said.

It’s a philosophy that his more than 4,800 patients benefit from. With his team comprised of two associates and three hygenists, he keeps things humming during the day in two busy family practices in Strathroy and London.

In the evenings and on weekends, Dr. Botsford shares his dental expertise and philosophy with a much larger team – the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. As the team dentist, Dr. Botsford attends every home game, and is there to support the Knights players, as well as the visiting team.

The sports aficionado, who has been working with the Knights since 2009, provides regular and on-demand dental care to the players, and supports emergency services during games. Well positioned at rink side, he’s seen his fair share of trauma – from knocked-out teeth to jaw fractures.

There have been some challenging individual cases too. Dr. Botsford shares the story of a young player who continued to have his teeth knocked out almost as soon as they had been replaced. “We would patch him up and fix his teeth, and the next game he’d get a another stick in the mouth; he was a magnet for injury. We ended up taking out seven of his teeth over time,” he said.

With 34 home games during the regular season and even more during the playoffs, it’s no easy task for Dr. Botsford to pick a favourite game. But for him, the most memorable three periods of play took place during the final game of the 2016 Memorial Cup.

Standing behind the team net, Dr. Botsford could feel the tension and the excitement from the players and the fans. “It ended in such dramatic fashion with the overtime goal,” he said. “It was really the best game.”

Dr. Botsford is as passionate about hockey as he is the players on the team he supports. “Those kids are great, they are so appreciative and friendly, so it’s really fun to be part of what they are doing,” he added.

Working with the Knights players reminds Dr. Botsford of his experience teaching dental students. For nearly 30 years, the proud alumnus served as a part-time faculty member – first in prosthodontics and then in operative care. “It was a good culture to be part of,” he said. “And I enjoyed working with the students, and watching them progress to where they would begin to hone their skills and develop confidence.”

Between his two practices, the Knights games, and work he does with Great West Life, it’s hard to believe Dr. Botsford has the time or energy to pursue some of his hobbies. But this weekend athlete has recently joined a competitive dragon boat team, travelling to Welland two nights a week and on Saturdays to practise with his 20-member team.

“It’s just like hockey and dentistry,” he said. “The challenge comes from getting the team to play their role and focus on the end goal.”