Sam Jethwa has come a long way since a mishap with a paperclip first led him to consider a career in dentistry.
This week, he chats with Payman about his journey from VT in Cornwall under the stewardship of an unusually accommodating principal to his current role of vice president of the BACD.
Sam also reveals the ‘a-ha’ insights on occlusion that transformed his practice and why he is vocal about dental tourism.
In This Episode
01.14 – Career progression and BACD
09.50 – Social media, confidence, and communication
16.50 – Backstory
20.06 – Deciding on dentistry
25.39 – London and Cornwall
33.31 – Into practice
44.56 – On occlussion
48.34 – A-ha moments
59.01 – Profile and dental tourism
About Sam Jethwa
After completing a postgraduate diploma in clinical education with the Royal College of Surgeons and Physicians of Glasgow, Dr Sam Jethwa has carved a career as an engaging speaker and educator on smile design, occlusion and functional success.
He is a board member and vice president of the BACD.
Tell me. Look, a. I know you can’t explain it to me in one moment. Right. But explain it. Explain it to me in a moment. Yeah, Like.
The light bulb was. Occlusion is chilling. It’s not.
It’s not bite. It’s chewing.
I get it. I get.
It. I remember where somebody said to me once we check guidances into out. Well, not everyone is the same way, but if if you’re cheering to do is moving a to out to in as well. Yeah we do. So there’s not one answer to what is the ideal, but you’ve got to check it in multiple different scenarios. And the most important one is chewing, because that is what breaks your restorations. That is what what goes to show in the first place. That is the thing you’ve got to get right.
This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts, Payman, Langroudi and Prav Solanki.
It gives me great pleasure to welcome Sam Jeff onto the podcast. Sam’s a dentist. I’ve known since before he was a den Sam since he was one of the student reps at the back. I think along the same around the same time as Richard Field and Simon Chard and those guys. And it’s actually pretty painful for me watching these these young students who start out as students. And then I’ve watched them go past me. And as far as their knowledge and to what someone like Sam go from student to associate to principal to now teacher and now leader at the last Sam, they became the vice president.
That’s right. Yeah.
It’s a real pleasure to watch it happening in front of my eyes. But this rate of sort of progression that, you know, you’ve got to you’ve got to accept or you’ve got to admit it’s a sort of an exponential up until the right kind of movement. Does it lead to any sort of imposter syndrome or the downsides of this sort of you must be a busy guy, number one.
Yeah. I mean, firstly, thank you for having me here. It’s it’s obviously, like you said, we’ve known each other for years, Right? You’ve known of other dentists longer. But my whole career in dentistry, I’ve known you. Right. So that’s quite big for me. I think in terms of what I guess you’re asking. It hasn’t been that long to have got to where we are in terms of what.
Did you qualify for.
2012? So you’re quite right. It was three years. My yeah, my, my kind of my back journey did start pretty much then maybe a little bit before then. And so it has been now ten years in the back. So I guess the the growth that you see and things like that, I would say it’s not been as quick as I would have liked. Not in BCD, but in terms of you and you look at it, anything actually wait, it hasn’t actually been that long because every year that goes by, I’m always thinking, you know what? What are we growing? What are we How am I growing? What am I learning? And sometimes you feel like nothing’s really happening, but it is happening. And I think that’s that’s the thing. It’s happened over the past ten years kind of quite organically and basically was fundamental for me for that because I wouldn’t be doing any of what I’m doing in terms of dentistry or even in life, because that’s what the industry has given me. If it wasn’t for that academy and it wasn’t for being pushed at that young age of actually going there. And I remember the first ever conference was I can’t remember where it was now, but I was I was alone. You know, I knew of people that these are these names. It’s like the owners of Enlightened, right? They are incredible. And then you have Chris, all who everyone says do his do his course. And I did that straight after tea. And and Tiff Qureshi at the time, who I think was Zach and Tiff and they were like vice president, president or something like that at the time a.
A new and rather Doshi was was up there as well. And some of these people that were doing incredible things. And James Gornick is somebody I always every time I’m at conference and he lives actually just down the road from me, we bump into each other. And I always say to him, you know, you were one of the pioneers. And I said, I still do. But at the time I used to look up and think, Wow, how have they done that? It seems impossible. But if it wasn’t about being around those people, I really would not have known what on earth to do with my degree or where to go or what to say, where to take it. And I remember sitting at one of these early conferences on my own, and people like that would come up to me and say, Hi, Joe Bansal. I remember him very, very clearly. One of the nicest people in dentistry.
Good, great guy.
Such a genuine guy. And he came up to me and he was like, Oh, is this your first conference? He started talking to me. He didn’t need to do that. And that is what I always hope still happens at conferences for the young ones, because that changes your life. Those conversations change your life.
You know, I was doing a podcast from the back. Wasn’t that you were too busy to, you know, around you’re running around. But but I remember I spoke to Nicola Gore and she said something about sort of the responsibility of the veterans to make the newcomers feel welcome, to have them keep coming, which I never I never thought about it as a responsibility in the way that she was saying it.
But it’s interesting.
But having seen your journey and Simon’s and Richards and so many others over the years, when I talk to the student reps now, there’s a part of me that says, Is this going to be the.
No, I don’t think I know. I’m Simon is the president this year and I’m the vice president. And we started that journey together, the both of us. And for us to both be here now doing things like this, it’s for us. It’s really special, actually, the two of us, because we were the same year at university and we’ve been friends since before this. We were friends. And Megan, Simon’s wife is really good friend of mine through through our university years. So to do this kind of together is special. But I never, ever had the ambition that I would become the president of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. It was never a it was never a thing on my mind, ever. And it sounds unrealistic for me to say that now. And I’m sure people are thinking, Oh, that doesn’t sound genuine, genuinely never thought I would be in a position where I deserved it. And I think that’s what you touched upon in terms of imposter syndrome and things like that. I wouldn’t say I’ve ever suffered from. I’ve never I’ve never put a label on it, what I was feeling. But I definitely been very, very reluctant to put myself out there in situations such as at a big city conference, having to stand up at the AGM and give a short speech as to why you think they should vote you onto the board. It is a democratic process as an election. It’s not just a case of who you know, although who, you know, is part of the back. And networking has changed all of our lives. You know, that’s that’s the reality. But when you come to the board, there’s an election and the vote the members vote you on.
And I had to stand there after having seen some of my really well respected colleagues who I would think, Oh my God, I can’t believe that they couldn’t get elected to the board. Who am I to think that I’m going to stand there and be elected? So but that first step had to happen. And people around me on the base had to say, just do it. You know, What is the worst that can happen? Okay, You don’t get it. And then the next year you try again. And I did. And so then every time I’ve had to go up for re-election, I’ve been voted in again, which is great because I do put a lot into the academy, but I didn’t do it so that one day I’d become president. I did it because it was part of my life. You don’t really think about it when you’re in that deep that this is a job or it doesn’t feel like a chore. And of course you have a day up, days and down days in any job. But it never felt like that. It’s just this is what I do. It’s part of my life. And I think then the time goes on and you learn a lot about the way the machine works. And naturally it gets to a point where there’s only a certain number of board members and someone has to go for those positions. And that’s just how it happened. But now I feel kind of ready for it. But I would never have thought this is where we would be at this stage. Never in a million years.
Let’s be a nice feeling, man.
Yeah, it is. It is. It is nice. And it’s I do feel a lot of privilege and I feel a lot a lot of thanks to people that have supported me through that. You’re one of them and the board members. Because if it wasn’t for people saying to me, Oh, go for it, or you can do it, I when I was asked to take on communications committee, it was like, you know, I always saw the communications director struggle.
Running communications of an academy the size of the Bay City and amount of events and now we’ve got every single platform. We’ve got tick tock now. And I don’t understand that I am young, but I’m definitely not at the generation where everything is natural to me, so I have to run in it. I have been running comms committee for years now and I used to think that was impossible to do, but people around me said that I could do it. So you always need someone to lift you up.
I think it’s actually been a good role for you because do you remember when when BCD, one of the the name of the conference was like, like from Facebook, like thumbs up and, you know, as, as an organisation, they didn’t take on social media very quickly. I mean, the world hadn’t taken on social media very quickly. But you kind of I mean, I guess at the time people thought, oh, he’s a young guy, whatever, but you you’re digitally native in, in in the sense that you seem to be very comfortable talking to a camera. You seem pretty comfortable now. You know, I come across different people in this platform as well. So I think it’s a natural job for you. But more than that, I think you’re as a communicator, very good with your patients. Just in a 1 to 1 conversation. If you want to take that back to where does that originate from? Did you were you in school plays or like with why is it I’m a really shy. I’m really shy. Yeah. And really terrible in front of a camera. I just You’ve probably seen me for years. It’s not good. Yeah. Where’s your where’s your sort of thing come from? That strength come from.
I think if I go back to. Childhood. I’m an only child that I have no brothers or sisters. Has that shaped me? I think so, actually, because it sounds pretty sad. But my mom always told me that family, they’re here, but they’re not always here. You know, and sometimes you can’t ever be in a situation where you have to rely on someone, whether it be professionally, whether it be personally, whatever you are on your own. And that was kind of drilled into me in a nice way, in a kind of in a teaching way. And so I always knew that I had to gain a personality possibly that allowed me to not rely on others. And so I was very shy. When I was at school, I actually was incredibly shy. I wouldn’t talk to anybody. I used to find social interaction very, very scary. And I kind of had one or two very close friends, but very close friends. But I wouldn’t be the popular guy. I was never that. And so when I think it’s choice of schooling as well, my parents really I was the only one and they were both working people really struggled to pay for the fees to send me to the best school they could. But they always chose a school that was small enough that they felt could nurture me in terms of the size of it.
So I was always sent to I was sent to main prep school and then high school that was small enough, but they felt that a personality like mine that was very shy and would never be the first one to volunteer for something or anything like that would not get lost. And I think that was very a smart move from them. And so I actually started incredibly shy, but I finished my high school as head head boy of the school. Wow. Which put me into a position again, I wasn’t expecting. And my best friend Nick was my deputy head. And we basically had the best year ever. But it meant I suddenly, having gone from a normal student, had to stand on stage every morning at assembly with the headmaster and give notices, announcements, give speeches. I used to be the one that would be there an open day, giving a speech to the prospective parents and stuff like that. It was I was not given any training and it was just that was it. That comes with the role. And so I kind of at that age then got a lot less nervous about public speaking because I was still young.
You know, you’re 17 and your mind is still malleable. And so you actually didn’t feel the nerves as much as, let’s say I would now. Right. And so I think that starting point was very helpful. And then you go to university and I because I felt like I did that, I would then put myself forward for some of the student council roles and those kind of things that kings. So I did a lot of that stuff. And so then when it came to being a BCD and, and having to maybe stand there and talk to people about why I want to be a board member on stage, I probably wasn’t nervous about the speech I was giving, but I was nervous about how I would be perceived. What do people think about me that obviously doesn’t go away? I mean, I’m still human, and I think that was the biggest worry. But now because of marketing and my my videoing and you mentioned I do a lot of stuff to camera just in general, of course, it’s like the courses and the academy, but also generally to my platform, my social media platform. There’s a lot of me talking to camera. And the reason why I feel comfortable doing that is because I will never I my processes, I don’t prepare.
I have a title. And I started doing those videos because of experiences I was having in the practice and with my patients. And so then I thought, I need to talk about this because I’m sure that other dentists are going through similar things to me and they’ll resonate with it. And these are things it’s important that cosmetic patients in high expectations, things like that need to know. Because I was thrown into a position again where I was doing really high end, expensive, small make overs for people. And so I had to learn a lot about the communication and a lot about the management personalities who can afford treatment like that and have the expectations like that, how to how to use that to help them without it turning into a difficult situation. And so I learnt a lot the hard way. And then I thought, I’m going to get in front of a camera, I’m going to tell, I’m going to talk about it. And then I started doing the series of like patient expectation videos and things like that, and it’s very conversational about me just relaying my opinion. And the response was quite good. So then I thought, Right, that’s that’s actually something.
Did you did you go through a phase of being not very good at it? Oh, yeah. You straight away very good at remember. But you were pretty good back then too.
Well, I don’t. I don’t think so. You know, when you guys you guys were one of the first to embrace this video and really cool editing before these platforms. It was just Facebook, really? Then when you were doing it and you would always have the enlightened video, which is always the thing. But that’s the thing we were most excited about to do, is are they going to ask you to be videoed? And I used to have to say it like two, three times. I would I would stutter and my words wouldn’t come out. And and then you start to forget that you’re being recorded. You start to forget the camera’s there. But it comes with time. And I’m working with dentists at the moment for our academy, where we’re collaborating with other providers and people who may not do as much of that as I do. And and they’re very nervous about it. And it’s kind of like, you know, you just have to the more you start talking, it’s ten, 15 minutes. You forget actually what you’re what you’re in, and then you just it just becomes a conversation.
Take me back to childhood. Did you grow up in London?
I grew up in north west London. Yeah.
Oh, so nearby to where you live now?
Not as now. I grew up in Harrow. Okay, So further out of London.
And the experience of being an only child. You haven’t got children, have you?
Would you. Would you. Would you? I don’t want to say do that to you.
But would I have an issue if that were the only one, you mean?
Yeah. Yeah, because. Because there’s some only children that I speak to say I would never do that. Would never have that my own kids. Because there was a loneliness to it or whatever. How do you feel about it? Because you seem like you’re pretty well rounded and grounded.
I feel in my case it was an advantage. It worked in my in my favour quite a lot because firstly I was had to communicate a lot with my parents, friends and things that older people. So I felt that I had to communicate at a different level. I was never treated like a child because I was not. They had to include me. I was there.
Yeah. You weren’t punching your sister in the face or something.
In the corner while they’re having an adult conversation. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, if they can’t just leave me to the side. So it was like, it has to be there. So I was there. And so I guess that helped in terms of maturity, possibly at a younger age. I don’t think that’s any different now. Obviously everyone is like, I hope I’m not more mature than my age because that would be boring. So I think that helped. But then I never felt lonely. I don’t remember ever feeling lonely and very close to my close friends. And I think that they are my siblings in a way, like my school friends that I’ve grown up with since the age of 11. We actually all live in the same area within like literally 5 to 7 minute walk away from each other. And we are very close and those are my siblings. In a way, family is around, but actually cousins. A lot of us have very different lifestyles and we’re not as close, but we do keep in touch. But my friends were kind of like my siblings and said, I know what you mean.
I know what you mean. Because, you know, I’ve got loads of cousins all over the world, but some of my close friends are closer to me than my cousins. Yeah, and I see them as family. You’re right.
So the whole, if you like, if there was a hole to fill, if the number that I felt that was that, that was it was. And I think actually it wasn’t a problem. And if it really were in a situation where we had a child and we had one child, I would be perfectly fine with that. So I don’t think so, no. I actually see it as an advantage. I do my best as a parent. If that is going to be the case. It may not is to try and replicate what my experience was as best as possible.
And your parents? Dentist or anything?
No. My dad worked for telecommunications company for his whole life and my mum worked in the NHS and started as a rep from like a rep for one of the private hospitals and then a receptionist, actually a GP receptionist said right at the beginning. And then after that she worked with Imperial College School of Medicine for a long, long time, and she’s still there now where she coordinates their undergrad medical course. Oh, so that’s what she’s been doing for over 20 years now.
So do you remember when dentistry first showed up on your On your radar? Yes. I think you were going to do.
Incredibly clearly, actually. Yeah. So Jamie Popper always gets a shout out in this stage of a question because he was the I don’t know if anyone knows Jamie, but Jamie is is a great dentist who great guy is also an incredible guy. One of the most fun people in dentistry.
Definitely. And Jamie live next door to me and his brother, who’s an orthodontist while they were studying at Kings, lived next door to my parents at the grandma grandparents house. And I was nine years old and Jamie qualified and in his vet bought a BMW Z three, which was brand new at the time. It didn’t have a driveway and we had a driveway. And so he came to ask, my mom said, Auntie, would you please let me park my car in the driveway because we don’t have one and it’s new and etc. And obviously we were very keen for that because I loved cars. I still do, but that was very exciting for me. And I used to watch him go to work every morning at the window and I’d wave and I’d look at the car and it was it was just like, Wow, I can’t believe that’s amazing. The mom said to me in a really just without thinking, Oh, he’s a dentist, you know, if you want to call it that, become dentist. Didn’t know anything about dentistry. I didn’t really have never even thought about that. And then I think it was just a seed that was planted.
It was nothing really about the car or about anything else at that time afterwards, because I kind of forgot about that. It all then was that. Oh, dentistry. Yeah, that’s, that’s obvious. That’s what I’m going to be doing. I was nine then, so by the time I was then 11, I started my high school. It was sort of like, Yeah, I’m going to be a dentist. That’s all I wanted to do. And so everything I did in terms of work experiences and various other things through summer was always geared to put me in a situation where hopefully I’d have a good enough CV to get into dentistry at least. So that’s how it started. And then one of my dad’s good friends is with his dentist and they became friends through my dad’s a singer and they love music. And so that’s where I then went to shadow him and I would get the opportunities that very hard to get in terms of work experience. My mum worked at North Park Hospital, so that was a way for me to go into the hospital and confirm I didn’t want to be there.
More than more.
Else. Lake Park Man Yeah, I can understand.
It was sort of like, I definitely don’t want to do medicine and I definitely don’t want to do a type of dentistry that puts me into the hospital. So that was, that helped. So by the time I got to applications, I was it was 100% dentistry and it was 100% cosmetic dentistry because by then I was introduced to ten years younger and these shows and I used to think, Wow. And I remember when I went to my dentist, my dad’s friend, I tipped my upper right one is still there. I can feel it. You’d never be able to see it, but I can feel it. While I was biting a paperclip and it was the most boring way of breaking a tooth. And anyway, so then I took I went to him and I said, Look, this is broken. He did something. At the time I didn’t know what it was, but now I know it was a tiny composite or a bit of bond or something. And the chip I was feeling on my tooth, I couldn’t feel anymore. It felt smooth and I couldn’t stop going on about it.
I went magic of it.
Got you talking about it. Yeah. Yeah. And I just thought, Wow, like that. And I mean, it came off. It was such a small tip that it would never have lasted anyway. But I didn’t even care that it came off. It was that. That feeling I had after that smoothness, that this is something I would learn to give people that that how happy I feel right now. And that’s when I knew then cosmetic dentistry was what I was focusing on. And obviously that’s why I went to that first base all those years ago and that’s. What.
Did you not consider leaving London for a university?
No, actually, I was desperate not to leave London. I didn’t anticipate at the time London University life. I didn’t really think about it. I was thinking about convenience and it would be easy to go home and see my friends at the weekend or go back to parents, and I was thinking about that kind of thing. And the plan was always go out live in the halls for a year, come back because I was commutable to Kings. Obviously I never came back. I ended up staying for the whole five years, which was the best thing ever, and I did love it. I really. I look back on those days and they’re fantastic.
You know, I’m having this conversation with my son right now. He’s in this GCSE year and I’m number one. Do you want to be a dentist? And he’s like, Definitely not. And I even had him at my one of these photoshoots and I put him into canals, Lamborghini, and I said, Hey, push, push the accelerator there and see what that’s like. And you know, that’s what dentistry can get you. And he came back and said, Sir, where’s your Lamborghini? All right. But number one, that but number two, the question of leaving town for university. And I ended up going to Cardiff by mistake, as in so much as I didn’t get my grades for London but I wanted to stay in London as well because, you know, at 17 you kind of think you’ve worked stuff out. And so, you know, having a good life, good friends, going out for the first time, girls, the whole thing. But actually, thank God I left. Yeah. And, you know, there’s other more enlightened people than me and you to go and have a year off.
Travel travel the world and then go to university a long way away. Anyway, that question of reinvention of yourself in a new town. I’m I’m sure there’s an element of reinvention in a new part of town that exists, too. But student life in London can’t be that interesting because you’re just such a low priority in the town.
Yeah, I guess. But, you know, students have a way of finding student things no matter where you are. So we see you guys bar at Kings and Kings is listening to this. It will know about that. That’s and you had all the clubs we had on the Strand. We had we had our clubs and that was a big part of uni life. But then I actually feel really fortunate to be able to have lived in sort of zone one London as this is a very expensive place to live. As a student it was affordable because we had a student loans and back then it wasn’t as expensive. But you get a chance to learn about the city that you love, having grown and grown up in the suburbs. And now I can drive around London. I don’t need SatNav. My wife will disagree. I feel like I know the city really well and that’s from my student years. You know who gets to live on Tower Bridge Road by the river for four years? This is not normal thing. That’s amazing. And I loved that. And then my Out of London experience came in.
Oh, where did you go?
God. I guess if you think growing up in the suburbs of London going to Kings and then at the end of this, just before the end of the year, you get the email because it was the first year where they changed the way.
They decide where you go.
Yeah. So you have the ranking you rank.
And I thought I first ranked all the London and then, then I ranked all the stuff. I thought, well that might be nice where I would go on holiday. So obviously Cornwall came and then, then you had other cities up north and things like that. And I didn’t ever expect none of us knew what was going to happen. It was the first year it was 2012. We really didn’t know. And so I clearly underperformed in the interview and didn’t tick the boxes they wanted me to tick. So my ranking was not as high as I would have needed to get London. So I got the lark, the first one that I put after all the London ones, and that was Truro and Cornwall, and I was distraught. I just felt like my life was over. I would not be able to go and go there. It’s so far away. I just cried and I was on the phone to my mum and it was it was heartbreaking and how wrong I was.
Yeah. Best thing that ever happened, right?
Best thing ever. It was so much fun. I made good friends and had one, my friend. In fact, I ended up sharing a flat with a dentist called Jonny, who now lives in the Cayman Islands. As a practice out there. Yeah, with one of us. I should really be talking. Him and I met at the They do like a meet and greet with all the trainers and you get to matchmake basically it’s like a speed dating and we hit it off straight away and like, right, we’ll get a flat together, we’ll move in and, and we did it. And we had the best year in Cornwall, and I was teamed up with one of the most amazing people ever. Mark Smith, who is a does practice now is retired. He was he was my trainer and I learnt an incredible amount from him in terms of management of the practice, in terms of patients, in terms of the business of dentistry, but it’s also in terms of life work life balance. He really had it really well nailed and, and I just thought that was incredible. He knew that I didn’t want to be there initially because he actually is from Surrey and he moved down to Cornwall because they had a holiday home there.
They love going and he thought, Right, I want a better pace of life and saw the practice in Surrey and set up. Back then you could set up a new NHS practice on the High Street as you wish. So he did that and he he said to me on the first day I remember, Sam, I know you don’t want to be here. What can I do to make that better for you? And I mean, what an amazing thing for a trainer. I don’t know everyone’s experience, but I definitely know the experience of a lot of vets who went to the places I wanted to go to. And it wasn’t. It wasn’t like that. So that first question was, I want to go back to London. The answer to that question is I want to go back to London every weekend if I can, because friends are having birthday parties, this and that. And he was like, okay, fine, I’ll just close the practice at 2 p.m. on a Friday. That means you can get the 242 What.
A great guy.
Incredible at all. You can fly from Newquay, it’s a 40 minute drive and there’s a ten plus three, ten plus three flight and I did that for the whole year.
So every weekend.
Seven weekends of the year I was in Cornwall, of which one I was revising for MJF, one one of our v t and we had a birthday that we all attended and the other others were when people visited. A holiday destination. And I flew back and forth and it was brilliant. I used to because he he decided it wasn’t just me. He was going to let off it, too. The whole practice was going to just shut and he just changed that.
Oh, what a cool man.
And he and he did that for me. So I went back and forth. Now, I can’t imagine now having not lost Mr. Flight or Wonder Wonderful Cancel didn’t happen the whole whole year. And I was back and forth and I would get to London and my friends had finished work by 730. I’d be there at 730 at London Bridge from Gatwick, and it was great. And I’d fly back Sunday night and it became a routine. But it wasn’t just that. It was also then the he said to me, What else do you want to learn? You know, the clinical stuff. I don’t really need to teach you. This is NHS dentistry and you’re, you’re going to learn it. And I had incredible beauty training nurses who really taught me something. And the one thing I still do to this day, one of my nurses said, When you finish the day, just thank the nurse for sure. Just say thank you. Don’t just say see you tomorrow or bye or whatever, or just leave. Just say thank you to your nurse at the end of the day. And I still remember that even to this day. And I still obviously still do that. And now I thank the whole team. I say thank you, thank you. And leave that those simple things that from that one year really, really helped, I think shocking.
Shocking the number of people who don’t think their nurse you know, or who don’t make a cup of coffee for them.
Would I have known to have do that naturally without having had some.
Other work to do? This Marc seems like a great guy. He does. He’s great. And, you know, like you said, the idea that he helped you both in the clinical, non-clinical, the management side and then this sort of way of looking at life way of things.
And I have that right, by the way, I definitely failed on that front.
But what I was going to say was that I had a similar experience. I had a very excellent boss. I had him on the show, just one of my favourite, still one of my favourite people, and my business partner who, you know, had a tyrant. Tyrant of a boss.
But I’d argue that, you know, he learnt what not to do and you know, in life, learning what to do and learning what not to do are both important. Did you consider did you consider staying on in Cornwall at all or. Absolutely not.
It crossed my mind definitely, because obviously willing to accommodate me. But it wasn’t really it was always I had to come back to London. It wasn’t ever really a thing.
So where was the first place you worked after call?
After that? It was a case of sending CVS Blanket to every single practice. I mean, I’m sure at the time when you owned the practice, you probably ended up with one of my CVS.
I never owned a practice. Yeah.
Oh, did you not?
But did you what, Blanket send them out or did you send them? Send them out to people. You wanted.
Jobs. I sent it to every practice. I went to Mum’s work. We photocopied, photocopied, printed, printed, printed, unsolicited. Right? Yeah. And just sent it to everyone. And hardly anyone got back to me, I guess, because I. I think about it now. Do I open the post at the practice? Do I actually see what’s coming in? Probably that wasn’t right. And do I see the emails? Do I. I mean, I do log in now and then, but I don’t actually. So it went to the wrong people. It didn’t go to the decision makers. That’s the first mistake. The thing that did happen is, you know, it’s someone knows someone, someone knows someone. So I ended up being introduced to a dentist called Sunil, who had a practice just near Brent Cross in Hendon. I now have met these lovely, as I keep saying, these lovely people, but they genuinely are the best people. And that’s, I think really what’s helped me. He met me. He said, Come to my house, Let’s go through your CV. I don’t have a position right now, but I’m on the local dental committee, NHS in the area and I’ll, I’ll, I’ll take some copies and I’ll give them to everyone there. And I said, Oh, that’s amazing. Thank you. And we got on so well at his place and turned out, you know, that Asian community in London, north west London, the Gujarati community specifically. It’s like.
Everyone knows everyone turned out that his this, that and the other is cousin whatever knew this person that person and there wasn’t really a connection but it’s roundabout here and there and I think those things that did help because he then called me and I remember sitting at the airport to fly back to Cornwall, and I was really getting a bit nervous by this point because I’d only a few weeks before the end of the year and I hadn’t found an associate position and I was I had found a position in a private practice where I was doing a Saturday. So about three or four months before the end of my duty, I would fly back and do a Saturday with private practice. But it was kind of mentoring me a little bit on various things. And then then I’d fly back. So I had that. But that was a day and it was kind of half a day and it wasn’t really there wasn’t capacity for me to be there more, and I wasn’t sure whether I felt out of my depth entirely. I really have no idea what I was doing in terms of the clinical. I was really lost and it wouldn’t have been the right decision. But then I was sitting at the airport and Sunil called me, goes, Do you have a minute? Yes, because I have an associate who has decided to hand this notice because he’s he’s working. He’s going to move into private practice and I have a position available at the end of next month, and I just couldn’t believe it.
Place? Yeah, his practice in mixed practice in London. And I started there straight after, pretty much straight away. And that was where I stayed right up until that transition. Then I transitioned. I really like a day at a time into private practice in around about 2016, early 2016, and then a little bit before that, possibly. And then and then that became fully, fully private about a year and a half after that.
Where was the where were the private practices?
And then and then and then it comes down to BCD, because this is where I got a call from or a message, I think, on Facebook from Rahul Doshi basically. President, you had a practice in Hertfordshire, perfect small studio, beautiful place, which was, if not, is the pioneering practice, I believe, for, from what I know, 20 or 20 plus years ago, bringing cosmetic dentistry to the UK. And it was sort of the founders of the BCD and then this sort of Larry Rosenthal inspired practice that I was introduced to at that time. And I remember this and I’m sure I won’t mind me saying I remember going to the interview and this is I guess it’s the imposter syndrome. Again, something I felt like I wasn’t ready. I felt like I wasn’t ready for it. I also felt an incredible amount of loyalty to Sunil and my practice in Hendon, and I was earning well as a mixed practice and I was happy. I didn’t really know what else was out there for me, and I felt that I was and I dragged roll along for six months. I was like, Yeah, yeah, I’ll give you a starting date, I’ll give you a start date. And meanwhile I was plucking up the courage to like, almost like breaking up with my, like my uncle.
I’m leaving. And I just felt like, oh my God, I can’t. And I asked everyone, is this the right decision? People who wouldn’t even be able to help me with the answer I asked like, should I do this or not do it? And I was really worried about my income. I said, Now I’m earning a decent amount. I’m happy. I’m worried about that. What can he say other than don’t worry about it, The system here will help you.
And did you not have insight into what kind of earnings you were going to make at Raffles?
Yeah, but only from what he would tell me.
Right. You weren’t sure? Yeah.
And how do I know what to really believe? I know he, you know, and there’s that suspicion that comes in, like, why is he asking me? I remember the interview I said. He said to me, Why do you want to work? And that like, I don’t want to work you asked me for it.
Was Laura Horton there at the time. I know she’d, you know.
And, and then and that was the that was the reality. It was sort of like I really did feel out of my depth again, another stage in my life. I felt like I said to him, But why did you why did you ask me? You know, there’s truly more qualified people. I’ve done Crystal’s one year, which is an overview because again, I’m not confident in every aspect.
Had you done Rahul’s course?
No. He had stopped his course by then.
So was just back. He’d.
It was just VCD and other courses through CD. That was it. And in Cornwall I’d done Jason Smith and stuff because I was shadowing him every week because, Oh, where are you Road from him. And again, Mark, let me do that because he knew that’s what I wanted to do. So there were things that I had done, but I didn’t feel confident with it. It wasn’t using Rubber Dam to put composites on it, but if I did, it would be like a struggle to put it on and I was still really inexperienced. I’ll go into a private practice where they’re doing full month rehabs and stuff. That makes no sense to me. I can’t do that. So it took six months for me to agree to do a day at the studio, and that then turned into another day. Another day, and it turned into five days.
I mean, Perfect Smile Studio was a real pioneer insomuch as it was an It’s Hertford, isn’t it?
Hertford Yeah, it’s not London, it’s not central London practice.
It’s not like I mean, look, if you talk pioneers, I think I think Surinder in Knightsbridge.
I used to watch on ten years younger, right? Yeah, me on TV.
He was as far as that shop front, cosmetic dentist. Of course there’s been cosmetic dentists in the West End for yonks for 50 years. There really has. But as far as that question of being sort of out there right in front of people, but what was amazing about Roland and Place, and I think both of you were there was just Rollo’s place, was it? Yeah, Was it was in this middle of just this regular town in Hertfordshire. It was like I remember the first time I walked in, I could not believe they’d done that in this location. And I remember Laura Horton was the practice manager when I first went there and just so well run, man, just so well run, you know, they, they just knew something that everyone else didn’t in so much as they just went for it. They said, We want to be the Rosenthal practice of this this town.
Know, impressive. And Rollo’s was a great guy. I mean, he’s a good teacher.
And that’s what then introduced me to this level. And I created a bit of grief. I’d get treatments wrong. And I remember I would refer me things and I would be again, so like not skilled enough to do that. And, and it would create problems because some things had to be redone. And, you know, I wasn’t great at this stuff, so I felt I needed to up my game a lot. Went out to RCD Did Jamie put on a DSD course on a yacht, which some people are Christian coachmen? And I learned a bit of that. That was incredible. And just kept. I used to spend all my money on courses and holidays at the time. That was it. And I was earning more than my friends were. Right. My friends are now partners at law firms and from the school friends who’ve done really well. But at the time everyone starts off a little bit lower income levels than dentists do. And so we have spare money. So actually I even say that now to our academy dentists look put, put that on towards your education because that extra worry that’s you go to self invest and that’s what I did and I begged roll please run your course once more just for me and said look I’ll make your life easier because you won’t have to sort of have to keep fixing my stuff and and it will mean that I can learn properly. Like it’s one thing to go in and watch someone doing something they’ve been doing for 15 years and come out of it and be like, Wow, that’s amazing. But you actually don’t learn anything. Yeah, they make it look easy because it is easy for them by that stage.
So what do I get out of that? Like other than being an all of you? Well, not actually that much. So I needed to make the mistakes. I needed to learn the hard way, but I needed a I needed a workflow. And so I begged him to please teach me about occlusion or whatever you knew about that, which is one of the big things he used to teach on his course. And so I did that and he kind of rallied. It goes, He’s my implant guy now who I met there. He had already done the course. All said, Do it again, Sam, Let’s do it. So let’s do it again. And then we’ve got a couple of other people in. And we had a small group and that then clarified a lot of things for me that were clinically confusing, specifically occlusion. And then I went and did more and I met some mentors of mine. And on that course that Shramik organised on the yacht, there were of course trained people, extreme expense, and I met some people there and Sandra, who like is in who’s in Hong Kong, she’s a course mentor and I think she may be accredited. I don’t want to say the wrong thing, I’m not sure, but she remotely helped me a lot from from Hong Kong. She I would send her cases and pictures and she would reply and help me with what? Do. And combining that choice kind of occlusal principles with some of the stuff that Rahul was, was teaching me as well, and then making the mistakes and learning and doing indirect work so much. I then kind of figured out my way and that’s how it started.
Tell me, look, Occlusion for you, what was the aha sort of moment with occlusion? Because, you know, we all think we understand a bit of it. And then the more you look at it, the more the less you know and all of that. But specifically, especially with the work you’re doing, yeah, it tends to be anterior indirect, Right. Most of what you’re doing. Yeah. So you’ve got these shortened teeth, something shortened those teeth, right?
Just I know you can’t explain it to me in one moment. Right. But explain.
Explain it to me in a moment. Yeah.
Like the light bulb was. Occlusion is chewing. It’s not.
Quite okay. It’s not the mood function.
It’s not fight. It’s cheering.
I get it. I get it.
That was then. Oh, right. Okay. We move our teeth. I can’t remember where, but somebody said to me once we check guidances into out, but we chew. If not everyone feels the same way. But if you’re if you’re seeing a jaws moving you tune out to in as well. Yeah. On another we do. So there are not there’s not one answer to what is the ideal, but you’ve got to check it in multiple different scenarios. And the most important one is chewing, because that is what breaks your restorations. That is what got those teeth show in the first place. That is the thing you’ve got to get right. So checking, chewing passes, understanding that, and then training our eyes to see it. Even before the patient said a word. You know that casting this is a category. The way the way I teach at the academy is we need to categorise the bite. You see someone look at their teeth, right? They chew like that. Then you go to confirm it, doing the test and then, you know, right there, this type of chew, this is not workflow, whether it’s a rehab, whether it’s veneers, whether it’s bonding, whether it’s also I’m seeing a lot of cases constricted is also being done and not enough IPR or not enough debt and things like that. All that stuff then came from that light bulb which was occlusion is chewing vision is not.
It’s very interesting thing to say, you know I’ve never heard it said like that before that out to anything particularly very interesting. It’s actually very true now that you think about it.
So that that’s changed that change everything for me because then it was all the stuff I knew how to layer composites because I’ve done Jason Smithson’s and I’ve done I was not have been on deep and things like that. So I’d seen these things, so I knew that. But what I didn’t know is I couldn’t say to my patient that is going to last or that is not going to last. And why? Yeah, I remember being in the practice in Hendon and one of the dentists there, he’s the founder of that practice. He was nearly 80 when he retired. He loved dentistry. He was he still is fit as a fiddle, amazing guy. And he was saying to his patients, don’t worry, that is going to be absolutely fine. It’s going to last few years. And me having been graduated 2012, rolled up with defensive dentistry, how can you ever say that a patient is going to last years? And what if it doesn’t? And I used to sit in my surgery because my surgery’s next to reception. Hear him say that. Oh my God, How is he saying that’s such a mistake? You can’t say that to a patient. We’ve been told never guarantee anything. Never say anything is going to last. Because, you know, But now I do say that and I’m confident in that. I can sit there with a patient and say to them that this treatment that I’m going to do is going to give you this amount of predictability.
I love I love I love the way you came up with that Aha. On occlusion. So let’s let’s continue with the AHA’s. Maybe we should have a whole section of this podcast called Aha. But look for me, I did a lot of veneers by the way, because back in my day there, that was the only thing that you could do, two years of train tracks. And I was at the very beginning of the Rosenthal, you know, hang out with Larry in New York and all that stuff and. I never had to do it. I didn’t do anywhere near the number you’ve done. Yes. So let’s let’s get a get that clear first. First of all, I did maybe, I don’t know, 40, 50 cases in total. Beginning to end. Yeah. Now, I never had any fall off. Yeah. I never had any chip in the short period that I stayed around, by the way. Yeah. Because I wasn’t there for that many years. But staining. Yeah. Staining was my. Aha. On, on veneers and specifically in the proximal staining because you know the, the recession type staining and I know there’s things you can do about that but into proximally and you know the extending, extending the prep a bit further proximally Right. So that you wouldn’t have that problem. So something as simple as that. Now later on I was doing all of this just, you know, off the back of a Larry lecture later on. You know, you watch Gallup talk about bonding to enamel and not dentine. I wasn’t doing that. I was I was prepping it. The more you prep, the easier it is right to make it look good. But but when when you hear the stats on on the survival rate of the thing while you stain enamel and then the minimal prep through the temporary and all of that. I wasn’t thinking about any of this stuff. Right.
But in my short crappy little career in porcelain veneers, staining was my. Aha. Yeah. Give me a couple of yours. You a couple of years. I know you have a whole course on it and let’s not let’s not let’s not be silly, but couple a couple of things regarding I know prep regarding small design.
One of the things I would say is I make I hand make my temporaries go to. I don’t have whacks ups unless it’s a specific type of workup I need for a rehab and then it would be sexual and all this sort of stuff for that. We don’t need to get into that. But in terms of you asking for like a light bulb moment, yeah, my goal always is to give my patient the best possible version of their smile, right? Not a new smile that has been transplanted onto them.
Hence, peace broker.
Exactly. That’s where the name came from. This fake smile. Right. And that has been a shift in what patients are asking for. I don’t think Michael APA is one of the people who’s who’s created that look incredibly well. And it looks so attractive and it’s all it is. Millions of people see it on social media and people are seeing that. And Dennis is trying to have started to replicate that. Patients are starting to ask for and of course, it’s regional. My my patients specifically tend to ask for 90%. They want a naturally perfect smile. That’s why it’s on my Instagram page and you scroll, you’ll see a video called Natural versus Perfect. What does that mean? What are those words mean? So my goal is always to try and create that. If we ask a lab for a waxer and we say to the lab, wax up 5 to 5 veneers, please. And we’ve all been there. What on earth are we asking for? Whatever’s going to come back will be the lab technicians Best attempt. It’s never their fault because you’ve given zero information of what they think 5 to 5 veneers should look like for that patient. They’ll base it on if they have photos. Great. They’re based on the model and then based on golden proportions and ideal length. I went to a lecture recently where someone mentioned still 11 millimetres should be the height of the central absolute nonsense that is historic and the height of the sensor should be for the rights of the patient. It might be eight, it might be 14. It’s going to be according to what they’re showing when they’re talking or smiling, all that stuff. So there’s no parameters like that that you want to stick to, but that’s what the tech will stick to. Then you get the wax up back and you put it in the mouth and you have basically a new mouth to work with. And we all know as cosmetic dentists to get a good smile to look great is much, much harder than getting a real mess to look.
Average right to go to a plus one rather than a zero, right?
Exactly. And by asking the lab to just create your wax up with no information and no guidance or even a little bit of guidance, you’re making your life much harder because then you have a good smile to improve upon. And I found that that’s what I was I was doing. I was getting these wax ups and I was having to adjust. And then I was adjusting and I was adjusting wrong because my hand skills were not there, my eyes were not trained. I was doing that wrong and I was messing it up. And then I just realised that why don’t I just start with the pre-op and IV treatment plan the case with the patient or on my own saying this is what I need to do from the pre-op, so I need to add length there or I need to bulk that one out or I need to rotate that one. That is all useless exercise. If you’re going to get a wax up that is doing something else and then you have to retreat and plan. But you were planning in the patient’s mouth in the chair, which is really not what you planned for. So you do all the planning and it’s pointless. So I just thought, I’m just going to start from the beginning, from the pre-op and then use floatable composite to shape each tooth to be what I want to be as an enhancement of the original shape and actually ended up finding that easier to achieve my desired aesthetic. What I was wanting to create. I want my cases to look a certain way generally, and luckily my patients tend to share that. And so that’s where I then started that technique and that was.
Do you teach that?
Yeah, that’s, that’s one of the.
Is there not a degree of like composite artistry that you need to have to, to, to be that guy. Or if you got a technique that you can teach easily to people.
There is a technique and everything comes with system. I’m very system based in the practice, I’m very system based in life. I try to be a system based as I can and consistency and habits. And I’ll always do a trial, smile the same way, but always start with the same surface. I’ve always put the same line angles in and it creates a consistent workflow and that is what we teach, because there’s no point me teaching someone something that they’re only going to be able to use if they’re super talented.
Run me through it. Run me through it. What do you do so well?
It would be based upon the small design that we’ve decided before.
So how do you how do you get that? Do you draw on an iPad thing?
Yeah. Is all of mine on the iPad? I don’t use any kind of softwares or anything at the moment because again, I’m still finding that template and teeth are what’s in the libraries on digital. It’s design, so you’re just swapping one issue for another issue. So until there’s some kind of I can’t imagine how it’s going to work until someone can be in my head and create the shape of that tooth that I’m thinking of using something digital, then I’m not even going to transition to digital wax. So I think is this is also equally compromised from what I want is starting a new starting point that isn’t it’s harder for me to rectify.
So interesting. I used to draw on the TV in a black marker pen. This is before iPads existed.
Well, I used to print them out. That was something wrong to me. Print out the photo and draw on it for the iPad.
Nice to draw than the TV. Yeah.
The drawing on the teeth is is perfect.
The TV. The TV. And then my nurse would wipe the TV.
But yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s how we did it. So based on the smart design but it’s always central.
So you just the dswd isn’t really part of your work then.
Not even like in a marketing sense. It isn’t like you don’t think that’s exciting for the patient, that that’s not the business you’re in.
We definitely have it because what people need to know is that also, yes, I place the veneers, but that doesn’t mean every patient that sits in my chair gets veneers. That’s not I mean, that would have been the case, you know, immediate orthodontics and those sort of phrases. It’s out of the window. And if that’s not justifiable, I could not sit here and lecture and be a genuine person advocating minimally invasive, indirect work and teaching that if really behind the scenes, I was prepping everything to death. That is, I put nearly every case on social media that I treat and people see it all, so there isn’t really anywhere to hide. And that’s why we have a clinic where I have Corinne and Lydia, who are my associates, who are restorative associates, who’ve done the trainings. And I know that if I send them a case that is not right for veneers, that will be an Invisalign treatment or something like that, they’re going to treat it with the right occlusal principles because that’s what we all follow. And so they’ll do that kind of work for those patients if they’re not suitable.
I always think in what is a veneer case, what is a what is a composite case? There isn’t You can’t categorise patients into that. It’s they want. We have tools in our toolbox of which bananas are one, Invisalign is another, whitening is another, icon is another. There are so many things we have to then pick and choose and come up with a recipe to get that patient what they want by balancing what their budget, their expectations, what its expectations in terms of also can they handle that kind of work. Right? Because to go through a porcelain smile makeover, they need a lot of patients need a lot of management, either from me or the dentist, or maybe they’re not quite there emotionally for that kind of permanent change. So you have to kind of tailor it. So I don’t think there’s a one size fits all. We have so much available now should be using everything and there’ll be a mix and match is you need a team really nowadays you can’t be relying on a one trick pony. You cannot do dentistry now cosmetically well.
I mean, I notice you out there in in the magazines and you were recently on TV. I saw.
Is that like, if you got a PR company, What are you doing regarding that? I mean, okay, you’re the communication king.
I think it’s come to a stage now where we have to find ways of putting yourself out there. We have to find connections. I have to. I’ve been part of this within dentistry, within dentists, what I would call a porcelain revolution, where it fell out of favour for the right reasons. And now it’s come back into favour because for those reasons that went out of favour have hopefully been rectified nearly 100%. So we’re now talking about minimally invasive doing things. I need to be out there and I need to be talking about that because that I do a lot of cases right. And I feel that I’ve been through so much with my patients and learned so much about how these patients who want this treatment and go through this treatment think and feel through it. I should be out there and I should be talking about that, especially when we have things like dental tourism marketed to dentists in this country. I’m sorry that patients in this country I was on the tube yesterday. We went to South Bank with some friends.
Who thought he had.
I couldn’t believe it, you know, and that’s one of the things that I have to I feel responsible to get that out there because we have to educate people. I don’t want to see patients coming back and crying in our room with crowns in their hand and nothing left underneath when they had healthy teeth before. And it’s not the conversation about, Oh, I can’t afford an NHS dentist here and I have perio and I need all four and it’s £30,000 and over there it’s less. We’re talking about the young patients who have healthy teeth who are going out and getting treatments in various countries abroad. I mean, one country that we have to be very careful, apparently when we when we when we single out Turkey because we get a lot of backlash. But frankly, this is a country that advertises the most UK patients.
I mean, at the same time. Gallet Right.
And then and then exactly. I went on, I went on ITV and I, well, I said he asked me to comment on it because the VA said right. So they wanted, they wanted a comment from the academy and they came to film and, and then I put that up and I got a load of backlash on my social media about it from various people. Some people had been out to Turkey, some dentists who said, How dare you single out turkey? And firstly, this ITV’s report. I said one thing which was, I don’t believe in dental mutilation. That’s what I said and that’s what I think it is. You know, I’m not singling out anyone. But anyway, the point got bit missed. The point is, is that the patients who are going out there for the tourism are not going to see Ghalib or sell cocaine. They’re going out and seeing God knows who. And everyone is blaming us either for being too expensive or not accessible, or they’re blaming the patient for making a can’t believe someone would do that to themselves. They’re not doing it to themselves. Someone is doing that to them. Where is the attention on the people who are actually doing that, causing that mutilation to the public? Why is no one trying to stop them? That’s where it should be in my mind. And so someone did say, Oh, you can’t single out turkey. Yes, I learnt a hell of a lot from Girl. You know, so much of what I do every day is gallops principles. And the fact is that they’re not going there and I’m sure gallop And it would be great for me actually. I should reach out to him. What is going on out there? How do you feel about what’s happening there? What is it at your end? Maybe they didn’t hear about it as much as we do, because.
I hear I hear they’re just as annoyed about it as we are. I’m sure.
They are. Yeah. And I wish I would gladly say, Oh, I’m going to go. And Turkey, can you take me with you?
All right. But they’re not. This is the reality. It’s not that. And they’re more expensive than we are. Or if not the same.
I think, look, the real worry is there was a time where the man in the street, like the cab driver in the street, would say, I’m going to get my teeth done and I’m going to put crowns on all my teeth. And he’d be this 60 year old guy who mistakenly thought that was the right move. But at least he’d be a six year old guy.
Now we’re getting 21 year olds.
You know, and I think Qadhi said something on talk about you’re going to end up with dentures. You know everything she just said like that? Yeah, she said she essentially said, Look, you’re saying whatever you’re saying and you’re feeling whatever you’re feeling. But also consider that you’re likely to end up with dentures now because of this. And we are, as a profession, guilty of not getting that story out enough.
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