Raptors’ Dentist Rides High with the Team

Dr. Nkansah rides on the Raptors parade bus, June 17, 2019


Peter J. Nkansah, DDS
Certified Specialist in Anaesthesia

Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto, 1993

Partner, Sleep For Dentistry

Assistant Professor, University of Toronto
Editorial Board, Oral Health Magazine
President, Canadian Academy of Dental Anaesthesia


Toronto Raptors' dentist, Dr. Peter Nkansah, has been with the team since day one. Through all the ups and downs he’s taken care of the dental needs of players, staff, refs and even broadcasters. This spring he got to celebrate with the team that has been such a big part of his life for 24 years.


It was the thrill of a lifetime!

Nothing in my career can compare with the excitement of the 2019 Raptors play-off run. It was a 61-day marathon with a growing momentum and a determination to stay focused on the prize that inspired all of us.


At the beginning of the season, the coaching staff handed out bracelets that said AMJ.

It took a while for us to realize that it meant April/May/June. Playoff time, which is when successes are measured. There was the comeback from an 0-2 deficit against the Milwaukee Bucks… crucial 3-pointers when they were needed… outstanding defense throughout…  and of course, Kawhi’s legendary series-winning shot a round earlier against the Philadelphia 76ers. It was a magic run.

The fan support made an enormous difference.

I remember Game One of the Finals. The national anthems had just finished and the crowd was just insane. We saw the looks on the Warriors faces—they knew they had a hill to climb. We were all so pumped. And then there were Jurassic Park(s) full of fans across the country. The team knew they were playing for all of Canada.


Steph Curry’s dangling mouthguard got a lot of attention.

It’s like a trademark of his during dead-ball times. People may not realize that many players wear mouthguards. They protect against injuries and they give players added confidence when they’re on the court. I fit all new players for mouthguards and I encourage them to use them. Some of them even listen.


When they showed a close-up of Fred VanVleet’s broken tooth, friends and colleagues started calling me immediately.

What could I say? The game was in California. I was able to fix him up as soon as he got back. Something like a chipped tooth is very rare, but basketball is a lot rougher than most people realize. There are some big men out there.


It’s a long season for everybody.

I “report to training camp” with the rest of the players where I do dental examinations. I don’t travel with the team, but I’m at all the home games in a seat with easy access to the locker room if necessary. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen often. I treat both home and visiting players, and I’m usually working on soft tissue problems with lips, gums and cheeks, and sometimes there are issues with jaws and jaw joints.


Photo taken by: Ron Turenne, NBA, Getty Images


It’s special to have been with the team for the whole journey.

Twenty-four years—there are so many memories. The Raptors' first game. The night they beat the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in front of 30,000 fans at the SkyDome. Opening night at the Air Canada Centre. And there are the friendships I’ve developed with some of the players, especially the likes of Alvin Williams, Vince Carter and Jonas Valančiūnas, who stand out in my mind.


I’m involved in dentistry in many ways away from the court.

I love everything to do with the profession. I practise, I teach, I have speaking engagements at dental schools, hospitals and other meetings. It’s important for me to stay involved in as many ways as I can.


About half my practice is devoted to sedation.

I’m a big proponent of dentistry with sedation/anaesthesia. As most dentists know, there are some patients who really struggle with anxiety. And then there are very young or elderly patients who aren’t able to comply without sedation. I’m pleased that Dental Anaesthesia is now recognized as a specialty in the U.S. as it has been in Ontario since 2006.


I don’t know where I find the time.

I also enjoy exercise, music, reading, and travel, and most of all, spending time with my wife Chantal and our three children.


It would be great to hold that trophy again.

Six of the best hours in my life were spent on that parade bus. The energy. The joy. The love that everyone showed for our team. Even though Kawhi Leonard is gone, I’m looking forward to the years ahead with confidence!