If you’re a regular conference-goer, today won’t be the first time you’ve heard Yasmin George—a regular and engaging voice on the lecture circuit.
This week, Yasmin chats with Payman about her journey so far. She reveals what it’s like to study and teach at the legendary Pankey Institute and how working with the institute has shaped her approach to patient communication.
In This Episode
02.11 – Backstory and education
12.03 – Schools and social standing
18.05 – Choosing and studying dentistry
24.04 – Gen Y and Gen Z
28.35 – First job
33.44 – Entering private practice
36.41 – Pankey and communication styles
55.09 – Patient retention and treatment longevity
01.01.01 – Ortho journey
01.04.41 – Orthopaedic orthodontics
01.07.53 – Curiosity, perfectionism and development
01.12.16 – COVID and reassessing commitments
01.14.57 – Darker days
01.24.48 – Blackbox thinking
01.31.36 – Different roles
01.36.13 – Fantasy dinner party
01.38.17 – Last days and legacy
01.39.47 – Fantasy podcast guest
About Yasmin George
Yasmin George graduated from Guy’s Hospital Dental School in 1988. She is a teacher at The Pankey Institute in Florida, US, and a former member of the Panel of Examiners for the Certificate in Dental Sedation for Nurses. She was also involved in the development of the orthodontics for general dentists with Dr Derek Mahoney and the City of London Dental School.
I know why I did mini smile because I knew that my composite bonding wasn’t at the level it could be from what I was seeing out in social media and stuff.
But the fact that you’re even looking and you’re paying attention and you’re trying to improve at this point in your career where you just told me you’re looking at winding down. Yeah, but you know what I mean, that that curiosity to continuously improve. I mean, to go to Pankey, to learn ortho, to the level that you’ve learned it. Where does it come from?
I just love making a difference to the patients. See, I’ve always mixed with people at quite a good level, like Bard. And, you know, I’m blessed at having colleagues and friends who are some of the best dentists in the country. You know, I’m really, really lucky. Always look at anything I’m doing that. Could that go on a screen? Could you show that at Bard? You know, could I show a colleague that and be proud of it? You know, And no, I saw that composites had gone to another level. I wasn’t doing these beautiful, layered composites with all the halo. And I needed to learn that if you could do that, then why wasn’t I doing that?
No, But why?
Because you want to give the patient the best.
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 Yasmin George onto the podcast. Yasmin is a dentist of over 30 years experience who I still see on the lecture circuit. It’s a great thing that there are people you qualify with that you never, ever see on the lecture circuit. And then there are people like Yasmin, who I’ve been seeing for the last 20 years on different events. Dentists with an interest in orthodontics has been a principal, has been a teacher. The Pankey Institute. It’s a massive pleasure to have you, Yasmin.
Thank you. This is an honour to be to be here.
So, Yasmin, we tend to start with sort of where did you grow up? Why did you become a dentist? When did you first have dentistry on your radar?
So I was born in Kent, in Chatham, in the Medway towns, which isn’t a terribly exciting place. And still isn’t. I went to the local grammar school. Girls, girls, grammar school. And okay, we’re going back to, you know, born in 1965. So there weren’t many brown people in Kent then, and there certainly weren’t any Indian restaurants. And we were the only me and my sister were the only brown kids in school. So it was all rather interesting. But mean, you just accepted this, this was life and you got on with it. And my father was a chartered civil engineer and he worked abroad in the 70 seconds because there was, you know, economically Britain wasn’t investing in the same way that, say, the Middle East was. And there was very interesting, exciting work abroad. And he took an overseas contract or he took a number of them. Actually, he was in Iran and then he was in Saudi Arabia. And my sister and I went to boarding school. So I was in the girls grammar school, got my what were O-levels in those days? And I got my eye on the King’s School, Canterbury, because I was really into music. I was obsessed with music. I was going to be a professional musician. I played the flute, the piano, the piccolo. I was also singing. But in the girls grammar school I felt a bit limited and I couldn’t wait to get to another school. My sister also went to boarding school. She went to Benenden School and she went a bit earlier than I did and parents lived abroad.
And as I say, we we boarded and I went to King’s Canterbury in those days, didn’t have girls until 1982, which was the year I went there. And they took 24 girls in the sixth form. Competitive entry, 300 girls applied. And it was very interesting. They certainly weren’t coming from the local Kent Grammar School sort of thing. There were girls there. We all had a stunning set of O-levels. We all had 910 A’s type thing. And the boys that we were mixing with certainly didn’t have those grades. So that was very interesting. And the girls came from Cheltenham Ladies College, they came from James Lane’s in Dulwich. And you know, I mean. Top schools, but places I’d never heard of, you know. And I was from a state school and there were a few other girls from state schools as well. But, you know, there’s 500 and something boys and 24 girls in the school. I mean, now it’s co-ed and now it runs very, very differently. But some of the experiences we had. Oh, they they’re just off the scale in terms of political incorrectness or, um, I mean, the things that happen would make your hair stand on end now. And I look back on it, especially in this world that we’re now in, where, you know, you can’t say anything to anybody. Yeah. So, yeah, very interesting experience, quite bruising at times, but quite a sheltered, sheltered home Indian background. You know, two sisters. You know, I hadn’t been exposed to some of what I did get exposed to.
So I went to a boarding. I went to a school that had boarding. I didn’t I didn’t I wasn’t a boarder. But that experience that you had in boarding school and I know it’s very different now, did that affect whether you were going to send your own kids to a school like that?
Yeah, it absolutely did. And both my boys have been to the most fantastic boarding school from the age of 13. Um.
So you wanted that for them even though you’d been through this?
Yeah. I mean, it’s it’s really interesting. I mean, it wasn’t great to be a girl at this boys school. Yeah. You know what I mean? But it showed me that private education was better than state in my mind. There was no doubt the teaching was of much better quality, all of that side of things. So the academic side. Yeah, the music, the drama. I mean, I was in productions, I was in choirs, orchestras. I was busy, busy, busy doing all the things I wanted to do. Yeah. So it opened my eyes that there was a difference between state and private, which some people would dispute. But my lived experience was that I don’t think I’d have got two guys to read dentistry unless I’d been at King’s. If I’d been at my grammar school with the fairly mediocre science teaching. You know, I got good grades at A-level, but I don’t think I would have done an A-level.
Yeah, but specifically with regards to boarding, I mean, you could have put them in a private day school. Was it? Was it were there loads of benefits to being a boarder that you now you wanted for your kids?
If you’re doing sport music, drama, if you’re busy, busy, busy, yeah, the schools run a certain way. So some run on a boarding school timetable where they do all the sport in the afternoon and they do all, you know. So then other schools run on on a day by day thing. And then I, I marry a man who who went to private school from the age of seven and boarded from the age of seven. Now, that isn’t something I would recommend. And and I think he wouldn’t recommend it either. But in the 1950s, 60 seconds, when he was going to school, that is what you did. Yeah. So, you know, it’s times have changed. But he was fairly adamant that that with the incomes that we both had as two professional people, we needed, we both wanted our children to have the best. So it’s then a question of what do you think is the best? And he was adamant that he wanted his children to go to the type of school he’d been to in terms of facilities and teaching and at prep school level. That’s what we looked for locally. And the best school, in our opinion at the time was ten miles away. Well, our friends in the village weren’t sending their children ten miles away, but we decided to and we had a full time nanny and she drove 40 miles a day, you know, taking them to and from school and picking them up. And then from there, we then went round a lot of boarding schools, all the top schools, Winchester, Tunbridge, Seven Oaks, Charterhouse, you name it, all the ones around here. And we were looking particularly for weekly boarding where they come home at the weekends or you’ve got the flexibility to do that. And Tunbridge ticked the box for us and.
Is it co-ed or is it.
Boys only? No, it’s all boys. And again, we debated this long and hard and I read up a lot about, you know, what’s the best for boys, what’s the best for girls and all the rest of it. And and they obviously we only have two boys. They don’t have any sisters, but the school does a lot with all the local schools in terms of drama and, you know, productions. And suffice to say, my son had a steady girlfriend by the age of 15, so I really don’t think it mattered.
Well done. Well done. You know, because because I went to I went.
To a boys.
About it. I went to a boys school. And it’s made me adamant for my kids not to go to a single sex school. But then but then I didn’t have that level of success that your son seems to have.
Well, we you know, no, we honestly we debated it long and hard. And I cross-examined.
The headmaster at Tunbridge.
Who isn’t there.
Anymore. But he was a lovely, lovely man. And I said, Well, I said, you know, what about girls? I mean, it’s not very progressive, these in this day and age. And he gave me some sort of answer. Now we looked at this school when our son was two years old, so we didn’t even know what sort of child we’d got. But in those days, you needed to put their names down. You know, things have changed a lot, but 26 years ago, you needed to get names down at schools. So that’s what we did. And I can I can remember, you know, in 2002 going round Tunbridge, but we, we looked at lots of schools and, you know, yeah, we looked at schools that took girls in the sixth form, the same sort of, you know, model that I’d been to. But in the final analysis, we eventually let Harry choose when he was, because obviously we went back to the school when he was a bit older and stuff like that and let him look round the schools and we got it down to two. And then we said, Which one would you prefer? And he chose Tunbridge.
And it was fantastic choice. Fantastic decision.
And your husband, what does he do?
He was an investment banker.
He is a chartered accountant by training. But when I met him in 1987, he’d come out of a sort of he’d left accountancy, as it were, and he’d worked for Coopers and Lybrand, and then he worked for Nabisco, and he’d moved into investment banking with a French bank, Banque Paribas, and he was an investment analyst. And when I met him in 1987, he’d been in London six months.
As in where was he before that?
Well, he was based in Birmingham and and just around the world, really. He’s literally travelled the world before. He met me on audit in all sorts of places that Coopers sent him to.
So I’m interested, you know, we’re having these conversations about sort of private school boarding school and dentists do well, don’t they? And I guess they can most dentists can can afford to send their kids to to schools that are paying schools, although the cost is the cost is so high that it’s eyewatering. Yeah. Yeah, but I’ve got, I’ve got a friend who, you know, he’s, he’s got perfectly good means, financial means and, and he, he doesn’t believe in, in paying. He says it’s more to do with the kid than the school. I kind of disagree. I disagree with it. But what I’m interested in it in is, you know how much in Britain your your social standing is very dependent on the school you went to. More dependent on the school you went to than the university or. Everything else.
Somehow I think that is the case with some schools.
It’s surprising somehow.
Well, yeah, I mean, it is quite a sort of controversial subject. It’s always great fun at a dinner party when this comes up because.
You know, like you say, there are people.
That can well afford private education, but they don’t agree with it. And I sort of respect that, but I respect it.
I don’t agree with it myself.
But, you know, at the end of the day, I don’t know.
It’s all about what you think is the best. Everybody wants the best for their children. But we don’t all agree on what the best is. And there are schools, I think, that are more sort of famous, if you like, or whatever. But you see Tunbridge 26 years ago, Tunbridge wasn’t one of those schools. It was flying under the radar a little bit. It was getting really good results. I mean excellent Oxford and Cambridge entry, if that’s what you were after and all of this type of thing. But we didn’t we didn’t choose it for connections or name. We you see, I was very worried about letting someone else look after my children. You know, these are my children. And what if, you know, you were you were you were going to work, somebody was going to be in loco parentis. The housemaster was going to be an absolute key figure. Absolutely. And what happened was I, I met the housemaster that was going to be my son’s housemaster. But of course, stupid me didn’t realise. Time goes by, they get promoted and somebody else is going to be there by the time your son gets there.
So, so, so my son.
Wins all these scholarships to go there as well because, you know, he was he did quite well to get in. But all of that. But two years before he’s going there, we get told that the housemaster that I had chosen in inverted commas, isn’t going to be there anymore. He’s now deputy head, but there’s this other nice person coming in and would you like to come to a drinks party and meet him? I was beside myself.
I was like, Oh my God, what am I going to do?
And my husband was much more sort of sanguine about it. And I met this lovely man called Andy Whittle, who was a blue. He’d read maths at Cambridge. He was a Cambridge blue in cricket and he had played for the, I think the Zimbabwean cricket team. I’m going to get this wrong. But it was like he’s really famous in cricket and of course I hate cricket. So like that didn’t mean anything to me.
And I remember.
Meeting him and I’ve just sort of said to him, I didn’t choose you, you know, how dare you sort of thing. And we laugh about it because he turned out to be the most fantastic housemaster. He’s a lovely, lovely man. And for us, we shared the same values. And if you share the values with somebody, whether it’s your partner or your, you know, who you work with. But this was a man who was had day to day care of my son, sort of Sunday night to Saturday lunchtime, you know.
Very important job.
Yeah. And he was he was fantastic.
So let’s finish. Let’s finish the story. What did your sons end up doing?
Oh, so Harry.
Went well, He went to Tonbridge. He then went to Oxford, read history. Wow.
And then. Yeah.
And then. Oh, he was a choral scholar at Oxford as well. Sang in the Merton Choir for three years, which was incredible experience. Then he got a place at UI to train as a chartered accountant, and he’s a qualified chartered accountant.
Followed his dad’s footsteps.
And he’s still with the same girlfriend.
That he met when he was 15.
You’re kidding. How cute.
And they’ve just bought a house. Well.
So. And did you not want any of your kids to be dentists?
And I got told by my kids fairly early.
On, Forget that, Mum. We don’t like sciences.
They’ve got they’ve.
Got A’s at everything they could have done either. Yeah. Neither of them had any. And they just said mum going to tell you now. Not going to do anything like what you do.
Yeah. So both of mine are telling me that but both of them like science. I was, I was talking to Jack Basra. I don’t know if you’ve come across him, but. Yes, yes. His wife was telling me both their kids are in dental school. One just qualified and one’s in dental school. His wife was telling me, the secret is for you not to be the one to recommend it. The other other people need to do that.
So I don’t know. I think it’s I think.
It’s an Indian Asian thing.
I think we pressurise I mean, I.
Don’t particularly want them to be dentists, but I want them to want to be dentists.
Well, mine I think from what mine.
Have seen about.
How hard you have to work.
They think I think they think that they can earn their money easier, although I don’t think they are because my son is working very, very. Heart. And my my baby son has just started. Teach first. And he’s teaching in a school in South London, and he’s just finished his first term and he’s worked incredibly hard.
So I bet he has.
So when did you think of dentistry? Why dentistry? What age?
And so I liked sciences.
Okay. Asian upbringing. You’ve got to factor that in in the sense that it’s not really on your radar not to be professional. Yeah, it’s the professions, isn’t it? Doctor. Dentist. Lawyer. Accountant. Mum and dad were immigrants into the UK in the 1950s. What the culture is and it still is. And I told my kids, doctor, dentist, lawyer or accountant, sort of half joking, but not half joking, you know, but not, but half joking, you know.
So that was that. So, you know, I was, I was looking.
At those four things. I didn’t really wasn’t that interested in medicine. I was a bit scared about medicine. I thought it was too broad. And how would I. I could I couldn’t be a doctor, I decided. But I did have we had some close family friends who was a dentist, and I got on really well with him. Now I just got on with him as a personality, so I wasn’t that interested in the actual technical side of dentistry. But because I liked him, I sort of thought, you know, maybe dentistry might be good. And I liked the idea of being self-employed. I was mindful that I wanted to work. I was I was quite career minded. So I wanted something that would be flexible with motherhood if that was what I wanted to do. But I wasn’t really bothered about having a family mean. I didn’t really want children at the time. When we did have children, it was my husband was keener than I was, so it wasn’t really that. But I just my dad always said to me, If you can work for yourself, it’s better than working for somebody. So there was. There was that. There was. I like the idea of being self-employed, and I like the idea that dentistry was quite focussed and targeted. You were just going to learn about one bit of the body. Yeah. And yeah, so I think and then just, you know, compared it with different things.
And when you got, when you got to guys, when you got to guys, what was your initial reaction? Because if I’ve done my calculations right, 83, 84 around that time I was there.
84. Yeah. So 84 guys was a, I guess quite a lot like your school, like a rugby dominated.
A little bit. 20% Asian. Yeah, 20% Indian. Asian, which shocked me. Yeah. Yeah. Was it the first time.
You were meeting lots of Asians? Yeah.
All of a sudden I said, Mummy, there’s so many Indian people here. My mum’s like, Really, darling, you know? But that hadn’t been my experience of life. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I was fascinated by all of that, but I didn’t.
Really hang out with that.
Were you a rugby girl?
No, definitely not.
Not. No. I was up for the all the socialising, dancing. Drinking. London Bridge.
London Bridge at that point was wasn’t what it is today. London bridge right now is this amazing area, right? It was a dump. It was it was proper dangerous wasn’t it. It was like a dodgy it was dangerous.
And also I got.
I went from glasses to contact lenses.
When I became a dental student. That changed my life.
Uh huh. As in. As in you reinvented yourself?
Boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses.
So whoever said that, that was my experience. So that was quite interesting.
Um, sadly, I dropped all the music. Sadly, I think I found the whole experience of being doing dentistry actually quite overwhelming.
And it is. And yeah, I mean I.
Found the first year okay, because that was fairly academic and it was a move on from A-levels and won a prize and, you know, all that stuff. But when we got into the practical side of things, I, I didn’t enjoy it. I found that really hard.
Yeah, me too.
You know, And other people.
Did you stay.
At Wolfson house? Sorry. Wolfson House.
Did you stay? I remember it well. Yeah.
We we’ve stayed in Saint George’s.
So I was they.
Had they put 20 of us in a medical school like housing accommodation place at George’s. So we used to commute in from Tooting.
We had a little sort of sub community there for the first year. And then after that you were on your own.
And were your parents still abroad when you went? Yeah. So, you know, I guess I guess you were already quite an independent person because boarding school does that to people. It makes you makes you quite self-reliant and all that.
Yeah. You learn to be. Yeah. Cried a lot. Cried a lot. Listen to a lot of.
Tapes they were called in those days. You know, every sad.
Heartbreak song that you could.
And I fell in love.
With someone I shouldn’t have fallen in love with. And.
You know, that ended badly.
But, you know, you’ve got to have your heart broken. So I did have my heart broken.
Did all of that.
Yeah. Well, haven’t we all? And then. And then. And then at what point did you or did you have any idea during Dental school of the kind of dentist you wanted to be? Or was that you were just just having a great time and learning? And, you know, some people have got like very early on ambitions about what they want to do. Maybe it’s more these days.
Back then I just wanted to qualify.
Yeah, All I cared about was getting qualified. Yeah, I was. I was so I was a real girly swot. I always worried that I hadn’t done enough work parenting to boys. And I’ve tried to parent them really differently and let and, and going back to the boarding school, one of the reasons I sent my boys to boarding school is I did not want to micromanage them on a day by day basis. Yeah. And I am that sort of person. I would be freaking out about whether they’ve done their homework. I’d be worrying about this, worrying about that. And so I just decided that it would be better if they were managed by somebody with a different style. And that’s worked well. This this blended approach to bringing up your children for me has worked really well. And my boys, they don’t overwork, they don’t swot, they do what they need to do. But and they get where they need to get, but they don’t make heavy weather of it. I made heavy weather of the whole thing.
Yeah I think I think this Gen Y, Gen Z, they’re just much more rounded anyway. You know, they seem to just understand the love of living more than, let’s say, our generation. That’s, that’s my feeling from them, you know, seeing them, they then we.
Were, we were brought up in a more.
Insecure environment, weren’t we?
True. You see.
We’ve given these kids unbelievable security. They’ve never worried. I mean. I mean, my parents, they. They. They struggled to give us what they gave us.
No, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t say that for me. I wouldn’t say that for me. Quite the opposite. So sometimes sometimes I wonder, you know, I’m not giving my kids as much as my parents gave me. Right. No.
I. I mean, I can remember when.
I wanted to play the flute. It it it wasn’t easy for my parents to afford a flute so that I could go and have lessons. And. And yet when my son decided he wanted to play the trumpet, I went out and bought him a £2,000 instrument immediately. Yeah. But I said to him, You better now. Make some progress. But. But he did. But you know, we’ve been way more comfortable in being able to facilitate things.
I’m not sure, but I’m not sure that’s the reason. I mean, I think even even even poor Gen Z’s today, people who didn’t have much, they’re just more rounded, you know, I guess people you know, there’s an evolution just in the same way as you’re more rounded than your mother. You know, it’s one of those things as as sort of information goes out, people, people, people understand more about. And it’s just my it’s just my sense of the youngsters these days. It just seem to have a lot of different strings to their bow. And this thing, what you said, what resonated was what you said. You know, they do they do what they do to get to where they want to get to. You know, there’s a balance about them, even even some of this politically correct stuff that one side of me just wants to just, you know, hate it on the other, on the other end of that, there’s a kindness to them that that wasn’t, you know, the kind of things that happened to you at boarding school and the things that were said. And just you’re just in this this current generation. You just can’t imagine some of those things. Now, you know, there’s the two sides to it, isn’t there? There’s the apparently these days you’re not allowed to ask people where they’re from, which is just just it’s making my life a hell because it’s it’s the first thing I ask everyone, every single person I meet. Yeah, but but but it but you know, some my kids, 13 year old cousin was telling me it’s very rude to say that. And I was I was saying, you know, come on, don’t be silly. And then she explained it to me. And once she explained it to me, the way that she explained to me was, you know, her her best friend’s mom’s black, and she went to a dinner party and it was the only question anyone asked her. And they asked her 30 times that night and no one asked her any other question. And, you know, the 13 year old was explaining something to me that.
I’ve been asked that so many.
Times. Where are you really from? They want to know why you’re brown and you were born in Chatham, in Kent.
That’s what they’re asking you.
If I ask you where are you from? And you say East Africa. Yeah, then then we can discuss East Africa. And that’s interesting. Yeah. For me, but, but the point, the point the 13 year old made me understand was that you asked that question based on the way the person looked. And if they were a white person, you might not have asked that, Although I do, I ask Polish people and Lithuanians, they’re white people. But but I get it. I do get it. And what I mean is this generation, they seem to have that side really clear in their head more. They seem they seem to be more rounded. It’s the best way I can put it. Okay. What was your first job?
Uh, the house jobs at guys to house jobs.
Oh, really? Which ones? Medicine and oral.
Professor Challacombe Scully. Professor Challacombe. But all was Crispian Scully.
Was he there?
Uh, no. No, I can’t remember.
But he came to Guy’s later.
No. So did all surgery. Dan, Mr. Haskell and I did oral medicine Professor Challacombe, and then I went out into general practice.
Did you enjoy the house job? Did you enjoy on calls and all of that?
Medicine. There wasn’t any on call. Um, oral surgery. Yeah, that was entertaining. It was very good experience. Yeah. Very, very good experience. I’ll never forget the day I somehow messed up taking blood on this oral med patient, and I had a bright yellow skirt on. And before I know what’s happened, we’ve got half a pint of blood all over my yellow skirt, and I just don’t know what to do with myself. You know, I haven’t come to work with two skirts and.
And I remember going on the back stairs at Guy’s. You couldn’t go in the lift looking like that, right? And I’m on the back stairs and I run into Professor Challacombe and I just want to die.
And I think he just said nothing. He just raised his eyebrows and walked past me.
You know, I just felt like that big.
So then you went to practice. How was practice for you?
The first in an NHS practice in Sussex in Horsham. Lovely, lovely market town. And the owner.
He owned he owned.
Nursing homes and dental practices and he did practice, but he was in a he had two practices in the same town opposite each other, you know, literally 500 yards apart. And I was in one and he was in the other. So I didn’t really see much of him. But in my building there was a senior associate called Tony Lawley, and he was really my my mentor. You know, he I turn up on the first day and don’t really know what to do. And he taught me how to work in the NHS and, you know, the forms and all. What you had to do in, in 1990, 89, 90, you know, when I started and I learnt a lot from him and he was very ethical, very proper, lovely, lovely man. And he then became a trainer so didn’t exist, then came in afterwards and we became a practice and he was the trainer and then and then associates came in under me, if you like, but he gave me a experience, if you like.
And so how many years of that practice did you do or not? That practice, but NHS practice in general.
Was there. That was the only NHS practice I worked in and I was there until 93. And I was working five and a half days a week. We then got the sort of pay cuts which basically, you know, you know, they had that contract where we all did too much treatment and they had to claw it all back. So the following year they gave you an 8% pay cut. And I was like, What? I was scandalised by the idea that I would work harder. I was getting better as a dentist and I was going to earn less or I was going to have to do 8% more hours or whatever. And I used to be quite tired after five and a half days a week. So I used to go, go get into bed on a Saturday afternoon in order to recover from working Saturday morning, especially if we were going out Saturday evening.
And it’s a lot. It’s a lot of five and a half days. It’s too much. Five and a half days. Oh.
Absolutely. I’ve never, never done it since. But I did then. I didn’t I didn’t know any different. Yeah. And we were young and we’d got 99% mortgage on the house.
And, you know, you know, interest rates were 15%, you know.
And also that day I’d heard the receptionist be quite rude to a patient.
I, I thought, I really don’t like.
This way that we have to treat people or whatever. I was quite upset by it and I started looking through the job pages in the bdj because that’s what you used to do.
Sitting in bed with my because I was a girly swot and, you know, God knows why I’d be reading that on a Saturday afternoon. And anyway, I looked through the jobs and I saw this job in Reigate and I couldn’t work out what which practice it was. And I thought I knew quite a few of the practices, but I obviously didn’t. So I went for an interview at Ringley Park and they were looking for an associate. They only had two days a week work. It was an all private practice which was quite revolutionary in 93 and long and the short got the job was an associate there and then became a partner.
What’s your advice to, you know, there’s a lot of young dentists now who just don’t want to do NHS and it’s a different NHS now to the one that you grew up in. I speak to people and it’s actually surprises me that people think that, you know, they can’t pull off a private job. Sometimes they, they, you know, they haven’t got the confidence to do a private job. What’s what’s your advice to a young associate now who is thinking, I don’t want to be an NHS, I want to get into private dentistry? What moves should they make? What should they be? What should their mindset be?
Mm Okay. So there’s, there’s two angles, isn’t there. You look at it from the dentist angle and you look at it from the, the, the principle, you know, employing. Yeah. So I would have said ten years ago I’d have said you should start in the NHS. It’s a good like training ground, you get experience, you get to work out what you don’t want to do, but it’s a good way to start. I don’t think I would say that now. And part of my reason for saying that is when I teach at Pankey, we have got very, very young dentists now coming on the entry level course, and I teach the entry level. So the institute is is a series of four levels, E one to E four, and there’s 200, 250 faculty. And we’re all divided up into teaching which of those levels we feel most comfortable in. And I teach in E one and we always used to have people coming to E one with like five years experience, six years experience, three years, ten years, 15 years. But more recently we have people coming with 18 months experience, 12 months, you know, or, you know, fresh out of dental school now what they’re saying there is I want to I don’t want to learn the wrong way. I want to start off the right way. And because that’s what we teach is how to do a complete exam, how to take good records, how to talk to the patient about comprehensive care and implement the good stuff you’ve learnt in dental school. And and obviously you don’t learn everything. But but so many people throw away a lot of the principles of treatment, planning and all of these types of things when they get into a busy practice because they sort of feel that they can’t they can’t work that way. And guess what we teach at Pankey is that you can there is a way there’s also a in America, there’s a bigger network of Pankey practices looking for these young dentists that want to work that way.
Oh, wow. In that. Right.
Yeah. And that is fantastic. And that’s what I’ve seen over the 30. Well, how long have I been associated with Pankey coming up? 30 years. Because I went there as a student, but as a dentist. But, you know.
Speak a bit more to Pankey because, you know, out of those I guess correct me if I’m wrong, but if we’re talking sort of Spear Khoy, Dawson Pankey, those are sort of the four comparable sort of angles there was that Las Vegas, but that became Speer, didn’t it? So the question of Pankey is different to those, right? Is it a non for profit, not for profit. Is that right?
Yeah, it is. It is. Having said that, you.
Know, all of the.
Mentioned, they’ve all taught at Pankey or been students at Pankey at some point, have they? So it’s an incredibly kind of like an overlapping sort of world. But yes, Pankey is the only not for profit out of all of them. And all of us visiting faculty teach for free. We even pay our own airfares to to get there. The students, what the students pay runs the facility, which is a state of the art teaching facility. And obviously there’s core staff that are there. But the the visiting faculty, there’ll be 3 or 4 and every course there will be anything between 15 and 24 students being taught. So it’s a very high ratio of faculty to student and it’s an all encompassing experience because it covers every aspect related to dentistry and even your personal life. It’s not just teaching you to how to do a full mouth rehab or how to prep veneers or, you know, it’s not just technical, it’s it’s personal development. It’s development of your team, it’s practice finances. It’s it’s planning your, your pension and your, you know, right at the beginning in E-1 when we’ve got 23, 25 year olds there, we talk to them about their pension planning and how are you going to save for your retirement, How are you going to structure it? And we show them all these graphs that show how much more money you would have if you start saving before you’re 30 and all those types of things which all young professionals should know about, not just dentists, but made sure my son knows all that stuff because. But, but we talk about communication. That’s my thing. I do the communication styles lecture on the on the first or second night where, you know, we talk about personality and styles and how people come across or how to communicate effectively within your team, but also with your patients. So yeah, I mean, going to Pankey has changed my life, changed my life personally, professionally, and I’m very, very grateful, very lucky.
And if you wanted to go to that, I mean, how long does it take? How many different classes you said ABCD.
Well, well this.
The the core program is is for courses that are about five days each. And they it’s it’s it’s they take you through a progression of of how to do big cases and and all the other stuffs built in. But Pankey run loads of courses to do with occlusion sleep apnoea you know anterior aesthetics you know there’s there’s a number but I would probably say to someone coming to it fresh, if you go in at E one, you know, we’re catering for people that have no.
Clue what they’re coming into.
You know, But if you know a bit about it already or you’ve been on 1 or 2 courses and.
Something else takes your fancy, the quality.
Is is excellent. But I don’t touch on those satellite courses.
Who are some of you know, guys who’ve been I know Mark Hughes has done a lot there that you were talking about before.
Yes. Um, Hap Gill. Andy Toye There’s quite a few open.
Vilani More recently, there’s another.
There’s, there’s, there’s so few youngsters that have been through like more recently and they’ve done like 1 or 2 levels. And then there’s like us older ones who’ve done done the whole sort of program.
So you’re teaching you said is on communication. Okay. Yeah. Communication with your, with your patients. Let’s start there. Give me, give me, give me your, your nuggets regarding that. Are we talking about different treatment plans recommending different treatment plans, the pros and the cons putting people at ease.
It’s it’s communication.
Social styles is.
What is what I sort of hang it around and there’s a couple of books written on it and it’s it’s really like perceiving or working out how your patient is going to receive the information the best. Are they an analytical type? They may well be engineers or that type of or those type of jobs, but they want a lot of data. An information. And until they’ve got data and information, they aren’t making any decisions. So give them all the data, all the information in whichever way you feel is appropriate. But probably, you know, I always do a if I’m doing a big treatment plan for a patient, I’ll always sit them down with all the records and the computer. It’s a no fee visit. It’s 30 minutes and we go through everything together and then they take everything in writing home. And again, this is something I learned at Pankey back in the 90 seconds, and it stood me in very good stead to give them a bespoke document, not something out of so that I’ve spent quite a lot of time on. But I have no bad debts and I have no misunderstandings with treatment because it’s all laid out and all my treatment planning is there and you just put it in a version, you must put it in a version that they can understand. But so that’s your analyticals They want that your your driver type personalities. They’ve, they’ve probably already decided when they came to the consult that they’re doing the treatment anyway because they wouldn’t waste their time coming to see you unless they weren’t already fairly confident that they have confidence in you and they want. So they’re going to say, okay, that looks fine. Boop, boop, boop. Yeah. Okay. When can we start? So you need to have next step ready. Yep. Yes, we’ve got some appointments next week or next month or you know, and they’re going to ask you maybe, how do you want this paid? And that’s your driver.
And they’ve got to be somewhere else quite soon. So don’t run late.
You know, then you’ve got an expressive and I’m an I’m an expressive and I flex into being a driver at work, but I’m a natural expressive. I want to talk about the outcome and, oh, see somebody else’s pictures.
And oh, I want that. And you know, and more of a.
Chatty sort of.
So that’s an expressive. Now, if I get together with an expressive, I’m probably going to run late if I like them.
Because we just get talking.
And then you’re amiable. All your amiable is wanting to want sometimes wanting to please other people, but not always themselves. And your amiable may often have a significant person that they want to be involved in the decision. So they might want to bring somebody with them. They may or may not like want to, you know, take the information away with them. I mean, everybody gets the same documentation regardless, but it’s just how you handle the different.
They want to corroborate that with someone else, with a with another.
They might do, but they also might flex more because it’s a grid. They might flex.
More onto the analytical.
Well that that they they, they might not want to give you their their decision straight away. They want to go away and think about it. And so if you know what you’re dealing with, you can kind of then not be too concerned. If you don’t get any commitment.
How long will it take you to work out which which one of those for your patient is? Can you tell after the initial exam?
Um, well, by the time I’m.
Presenting something comprehensive, I will have met with them 2 or 3 times because they’ll have had their initial exam. I then will have maybe got them back for more comprehensive records, models, photographs, maybe we’ve got a wax up. We’ll have had some sort of dialogue, but I also spend a bit of time in the first appointment, not actually talking about I don’t put them in the chair and start looking at them. I have what’s called a pre clinical conversation, and I always used to like to do that in another room, go and meet them in another room and then take them into the clinical environment. Haven’t been able to do that more recently.
Space Yes, and but.
Now all the patients that come to me come to me on referral and pretty much I also do a lot of ortho, So that’s kind of changed the slant a bit as well. I would say my practice is 60 to 65% ortho, and so then I will always have an initial consult with the patient. And if it’s a teenager or a child, then with the parent. And then I’m really looking at do I get on with the parent? Because it’s very difficult if you don’t get on with the parent treating the child. So I sort of interview them both really. Um, so I don’t hang everything on this social style thing. I just.
Use it as what you.
But that, yeah, that’s what I teach and you can use it in the team as well. How to get the best out of your team and how to, you know, understand your team better.
It’s a fun session.
I bet. And is it the same for is it the same classification for your team members?
Yeah. Yeah. So we when.
We do it as a as a staff training sort of thing, there’s a questionnaire you fill out, first of all. So the questionnaire is a social style questionnaire. It’s something like 40 questions or whatever, and then depending. On the answers that that you give. You get a score and then from your score you work out where you are on the grid.
So did you go to Pankey saying, I’ve got this content that I want to teach, or is this kind of their their content that you’re delivering? No, no, no.
No, not at all. I went there in.
The 90 seconds as a student.
No, no, no.
But when it came to teaching.
They invited me to join the faculty.
But specifically the content. Is this your own?
No, no, no. Then.
So basically, you.
Then they. They.
I basically tried.
In different eyes, as it were. So in different levels. And then.
I, I, I found that.
I was most comfortable in e one, probably partly due to the other people I was teaching with. And there were some phenomenal, phenomenal people I’ve had the privilege of, of being on their teaching team, as it were. And then.
I used to watch this.
Presentation being done by other people. And then it sort of came up that I would quite like to have a go at it and in fact, it used to be done by the CEO, Ricky Braswell. She left a few years back and so she always did it.
Used to sort of do it.
And then when she moved on to pastures new and whatever, I kind of then sort of put my hand up and said, Oh, you know, if there’s a chance of me doing this, but you have a lead faculty on every course and the lead faculty person decides who gets to teach what. So we liaise a few months prior to a course and we all talk about who’d like to teach which bit. And if I put my hand up for that bit because I quite like that bit.
But it’s very interesting that they convince people to take time off from their own practice. Fly over on your own, back on your own.
They don’t convince you when they when they when they ask you to teach. It’s it’s an honour. The biggest honour was. I couldn’t believe it. I was like me. Yeah.
But. But what I mean is that the atmosphere, the culture of the place, I’d like to kind of get, get to know it a bit better. Where is it? In Miami.
Miami. Key Biscayne.
Oh, that’s a fun place to go.
Go in the winter. Go this time of year. It’s good. Wonderful. Wonderful. Yeah. No, it’s.
It’s an incredible sort of place with incredible people who, you know, when we’re there as faculty, it’s all about the students. It’s all about we work unbelievably hard to try and ensure they get what they came for. They get what they came for and more sort of thing. And someone did that for me nearly 30 years ago and supported me. I mean, I, I did the courses between 93 and 2006. So I was very slow progressing through the courses and there were 6 or 7 at that point because the curriculum has changed and whatever. So but every time I went, I came back feeling happier, more confident, a better dentist, a better wife.
Really? Yeah. Oh, loads of I mean, you really you.
Do some personal development there as well, which is not always it’s sometimes that’s a bit painful too, but yeah.
So if you were to sort of you understand what I mean when I don’t know if I’m saying it in the right way, but the straw man panky as in as in make the case against panky. What would that be?
What do you mean, make the case again?
So I don’t know enough about it. So. But if I were to make the case against it, I would say that by by British standards, there’d be an element of overtreatment. Is that.
Oh, is that true or not?
Oh, no, it’s not like that at all.
No, but if you had to make a case against it, what would be the the thing you would say? Mhm.
I mean, what’s bad about it is what you’re asking me.
What’s bad about it?
I like that long silence.
Because I know people think it’s all full.
Sort of thing. Yeah, but.
It absolutely isn’t, you see. So people do go there to learn more complex dentistry and.
Teach that. But we teach diagnosis. So you could get a patient that just needs a splint and a bite adjustment, a minor equilibration.
I mean, there’s some UK dentists who would say that about the whole of US dentistry, right?
Oh no, they’re so mistaken.
They are more interventionalists than we are. But, you know, in a way, I guess, you know, it’s the right thing to do sometimes, right? Well, I.
Don’t. I don’t know. Yes, I suppose. Okay.
So certainly one thing that I came back with right from the beginning is what is the best for the patient in the longer term? Yeah, right. And I’ve always said this to my patients, but I’ve always had it in my head when I’m treatment planning. And I think. Some of my training here. Fear of telling the patient they needed to spend some money. Yeah. Fear of of telling an adult they need ortho before they need restorative. Now, I know we’re doing it a lot, a lot more now, but.
Years ago, we weren’t right. So I think we went for a short or medium term solution. It was more palatable to the patient at Pankey. They don’t do that. Comprehensive implemented a lot of that 25 years ago. Bit by bit, those patients are still with me. Those patients have still got those crowns that I did 20, 25 years ago. So that investment they made has made their dentistry the most cost effective and best value for money ever. And they’ve had very little intervention because the work was done well and it was done properly at the right time.
So when we say at the right time, is there an element of treat that tooth early before it breaks?
There is an element of that.
If you’ve got a rare case, but you’ve see where is a really big issue and occlusal disease or.
What I learnt about there. We didn’t really learn that in the UK at that time, but then those cases are unbelievably challenging to treat because they do look like they might end up as 20 crowns type thing. But of course nowadays things have changed and some of my heavily restored, heavily, heavily restored patients did end up with, you know, a lot of crowns. But like I say, 20 years later, they’re sitting pretty and I’m not you know, I’m getting very few problems, very few patients needing endo, all of this type of thing. But nowadays, with the way composites have come on and the you got Francesca Velluti and that whole philosophy of sort of composite work and it’s still full mouth dentistry, but it’s with different materials. So I’m terribly excited that you, you merge this diagnosis and this full mouth planning, working from wax ups and, you know, designing everything like that. But then you’re using materials like composites. You literally are just bonding to the teeth. And the teeth with their wear are just underneath. And I’m doing more and more work like that.
So have you.
Done some of Francesca’s.
Style of stuff? Yeah, and I love the way she explains it.
She talks about.
You know, this is like putting new.
Tires on your car, and depending how you drive, you will wear these tires down at a varying rate. And the patient has to understand this idea that we do dentistry that has to last forever. People go out and buy 40, 50, £60,000.
The whole time and they buy another one five, ten years later.
Even £10,000 car, 15,000 car. But the idea that you might have some dentistry done and then it might have to be done.
Again 20 years later, patients go.
Get all upset. I just don’t get that.
Have you followed up? I mean, you’ve worked in so many different places over a career of 30 years. The patients that you treated 20 years ago, are they still did they follow you around?
They followed me. I’ve only been in four practices in 30 years.
So they followed you? Yeah. Yeah.
Yeah. I haven’t got.
Anybody from the practice in Horsham. Yeah, I’ve got loads from Reigate. Loads and loads from Chertsey Courtyard and then am.
Where I am now. I haven’t, I’ve and.
I’ve stayed in Surrey. If you want to come and find me.
You can find me. You know, I haven’t run away anywhere. Now I’ve been in the same place.
I noticed you also. It’s quite, quite good with nervous patients. And it’s kind of a thing, a bugbear of mine that I want to get it more out there that, you know, be gentle, be gentle, give painless injections. It’s such a massive practice builder. The reason why people follow you again, it’s these days it’s quite common to understand all this. But it seems that you understood this a long time ago.
I’m a nervous patient myself. I had terrible treatment as a child. Really? Yeah. Yeah.
My parents didn’t know that the dentist was rubbish, and he didn’t give preventive advice either. So we used to go to Kenya because my grandparents were in Kenya and that’s where my mum and dad were born. And the water wasn’t safe to drink out there. So when we went out there for six weeks in the summer holidays, we lived on fizzy pop with sugar in it. There were no diet drinks. We’d come back to England and I would cop a load of fillings and the dentist didn’t use local.
It was awful. So I have.
Horrific memories of this practice in Gillingham that we went to, and I think that is a lot of where I want to help these other people. I also have had the been fortunate enough to work with the most fantastic sedation team and sedation Solutions, and I met Joe Omar back in the late 90s. I think it must have been. And he came to work with us with with his team so we could treat really, really nervous people with IV sedation and do comprehensive work. But it’s that initial consult when you meet them, they’re really nervous. They cry, they feel you’re judging them. You. That’s where the real I think the you’ve got to be patient and you’ve got to kind of like try and get over to them that you’re not judging them. You’re here to help them.
And oh, we together.
As a team. And I say, you know, we’ve got tender loving care, which is, you know, the wand and just taking your time and not rushing and and all of that. And then we move up into, you know, IV sedation and we talk about what’s going to be appropriate. But but yeah, I mean, I’m I am I’m very proud of some of the cases that we’ve we’ve been able to sort of help. And and yeah, those patients follow you. They follow you.
I think, you know what it is that we’re taught about the breadth of the problem. So in dental school, they talk about 50% of the population or whatever it is, a large percentage of the population is anxious about dentistry that we’re taught. We tend to forget it quite quickly. But what we’re not particularly taught is the depth of the problem, that if you can if you can solve anxiety for an anxious patient, it’s such a massive thing for them that they will literally stick to you for the next 30 years until everyone they know to come and see you. And that’s the competitive sort of advantage piece of it. You know that. Yeah. Okay. Be human, be kind, be do do the right thing. But it’s so huge as far as just just that a word of mouth thing. If you’re known as the gentle dentist or someone who’s aware of these things and the number of times, you know, Prav, she records phone calls and things, the number of times it’s missed by reception, You know, a patient might say, Oh, I want to have some implants or whatever, and then throw in, I’m terrified. And the receptionist just misses that completely and goes straight to the cost of implants or whatever it is. It’s such a big thing.
Understanding how people make decisions and the emotional side of things is really, really. And I think maybe women have a little bit of an advantage there, maybe for sure. I certainly seem to see that around me. And I don’t know, I’ve never really been that bothered about production, so I’m not bothered about being the fastest dentist. So I’m willing to give people time. I think I want to be given time as a patient and I always think that if you treat people how you’d like to be treated, that’s always been my motto, right? And again, like the the other thing was, was what’s best in the long term. So those two sort of things I think have been my guiding lights, if you like, for for how I decided I was going to work. And then I.
Money just came.
The money. Yeah. It tends to work out.
I mean, you.
Do have to structure your fees properly and you.
You know, treat people for hours and hours and not charge them an appropriate fee. But but that isn’t the most important thing. That’s not what gives me It’s.
Not the focus.
Yeah, that’s not what gives me a buzz.
Tell me about your ortho journey. When did that start? And you know, you’ve gone to all different aspects of it. You’re doing lingual, you’re doing Damon, You’re doing Invisalign.
When did it start?
So it, it started when I joined Ringley Park. And the one of the, the partners who was a real visionary and in fact had been part of the team that built that lovely practice because it was purpose built just a few years before Tom Heesom, who unfortunately passed away a good many years ago, probably about 15 years ago now, it must be. He introduced me to what we called orthopaedic orthodontics, and this was the ability to widen the dental arch and reduce the number of adult teeth extracted. Now, before that, obviously I’d worked in practice and I’d been sent letters from the local orthodontist asking me to take teeth out for some of my patients. And as you know, a newly qualified dentist I respected what was told to do sort of thing. But I do remember a couple of mums sitting there watching their children have these pre-molars pulled out asking me if there were any other options. And I said No, you know, because that was where my knowledge went. We’d had no inkling from the training as an undergraduate that there were other ways of doing things. Yeah. And so, so that, so then I go to this practice and I see this other type of work being done by a non-specialist. He was a general dentist.
And I was fascinated by it.
And because he was there in the practice doing it, that was a fantastic sort of place for me to sort of dip my toe in. And I started doing all the skip through IT courses. And he at the time was teaching a lot in the UK and the courses were criticised, you know. Oh it’s a. And course in a hotel. But but the people who criticised it never went on one of the courses and the amount of information and content that you got in three days, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
Unbelievable. It was exhausting. It was you had to repeat the course at least twice to get everything because there was just so much information there. It was unreal. So that’s where I started. But that then led me into training with with with other people. And but you couldn’t get a lot of that training in the UK back in the in the 90 seconds, there weren’t people willing to teach general dentists. It was difficult to get any training. So I went abroad, you know, if.
I heard of a good speaker.
Like, say, Dr. Derek Mahoney, he was lecturing in America. I went to one of his courses and there I am in this room with 98 American general dentists all learning this fantastic also. And he was going out there fairly regularly and he was their their teacher, as it were. I was blown away, you know.
Wow. And then you go to a Damon conference and you’ve got.
Dentists there, and some are specialists and some are not. And you all have a way.
Of looking at a case.
You know, there’s a.
Goes with it.
And it was yeah, it was incredible.
I’ve been I’ve been very, very lucky.
So, I mean, for people who don’t know, what’s the difference between orthopaedic orthodontics and sort of the traditional I mean, things have changed again. Now, now, now, now you do you do get more, more dentists that way inclined. But but what would you say is the key difference? Is it the facial orientation?
I think well, we.
Look at the face, look at the teeth. It’s our diagnosis. We take, you know, a care for a full records and then it’s it’s you do a space analysis.
My understanding and I’ve I’ve, I’ve trained at master’s level so I have I have looked at looked at all of this. And my understanding is that traditionally a lot of the planning is around the lower incisors. And there are certain sort of criteria that you stick to that you believe you can’t.
Like the crowding in the lower arch or something like that. I’m not 100% sure because I’ve never done a case this way. But this is my understanding was we look at things differently. We look at the upper Arch, we do a space analysis, a Schwartz courthouse, measurements to do with the size of the teeth and the width of the arch. And you can have situations where the teeth are really, really big and you’re going to have to extract. You can also have a situation where the teeth are really far forward and the patient can’t get their lips together. And in those cases you need to extract and pull things back. But those are different racial groups and you don’t tend to see so much of that in the UK. You know, your typical Caucasian European facial structure and everything is that that they might have very tight musculature and they might have crowding, but you can widen the arch and that’s that is the basis of where we start. And then what you find is when you start widening the upper arch, the lower arch, the crowding resolves because.
The lower crowded because it was trapped so free it and then.
And similarly, class twos become class ones because the lower jaw can come forward and you have natural growth at puberty where the lower the mandible comes forward anyway. So you quite often don’t need to treat a class two because it’s going to sort itself out if you expand the upper arch impacted canines. Similarly, you.
Know, I’m passionate about.
The fact that you that we should be taking appgs around the ages of eight, nine, ten, assessing the position of the adult canines. And if we’ve got them overlapping the incisors, you need to expand. You need to, you know.
Canines getting impacted.
So so yeah, I mean, I’m I’m, I’m really passionate about this. Probably, you know, more than I should be. But we can.
Make such a difference to young kids, you know, Such a difference.
Yes. But, you know, I’ve met you a long time ago in Courtyard Clinic, I remember. And in courses before then. But then I met you recently on Mini Smile Makeover. And, you know, you and I were the oldest people in the room. You know, we were. We were.
We were. You’re right. I hadn’t thought about it. But you are right. Yes.
The the you know, there’s a reason why there’s there’s associate young associates come to Mini Suamico. But, you know, it helps them get jobs or whatever. And then, of course, you get principles, but it’s more young people. And yet. Ever find you again on a composite bonding course. You seem to have, like, an insatiable curiosity for dentistry. What is it? Is it. Is it? Do you love it? Or are you just that sort of super perfectionist who wants to always improve in your life?
No, I don’t think I’m super perfectionist. No.
You come across as a perfectionist. You do?
Do I really? Oh, gosh. Yeah. Maybe. Maybe am with my work.
Maybe I’m with my work. I’m not with my Christmas preparations.
All the state of my study. You should see it. You think it’s, like, tidy? From what you can see, it’s horrendous down here. Um, I know why I did mini smile.
Because I knew that my composite bonding wasn’t at the level it could be from what I was seeing out in social media and stuff.
But the fact that you’re even looking and you’re paying attention and you’re trying to improve at this point in your career where you just told me you’re looking at winding down.
Yeah, but that’s now.
And Mini Smile Maker was a.
Few years ago wasn’t.
It? It was.
It was. It was pre-COVID. It was pre-COVID. Yeah. But you know what I mean. That question, that curiosity to continuously improve. I mean, to go to bank, to learn ortho to the level that you’ve learnt it. Where does it come from?
I just love making a difference to the patients. I just. I just. And I do. I want, I.
I see. I’ve always mixed.
With people at quite a.
Good level like.
Bard and you know, I’m blessed at.
Having colleagues and friends who are some of the best dentists in the country. You know, I’m really, really lucky. So I suppose I like. I’ll always look at anything I’m doing that. Could that go on a screen? Could you show that at Bard?
You know, could you.
Could I show a colleague that and be proud of.
It? You know.
And no, I saw that composites had gone to another level.
I wasn’t doing these beautiful.
Layered composites with all the halo.
And I needed to learn that if you could do that, then why wasn’t I doing that?
No, but why? Why?
Because you want to give the patient the best.
Lots of dentists want to give the patient the best. Yeah, but to keep that level of learning and curiosity going for as long as you have. You know, look, I know a lot of dentists, don’t I? I know a lot of dentists. Yeah.
You know what? It’s.
It’s. I don’t know, really. I mean, I know what you’re saying, because people say to me, Yasmin, you’re never going to quit. We can’t imagine you not being a dentist.
But I do want to quit. I really, really do.
But, but but you know what I mean.
There’s not many over 50 in many small makeover. Why? Why haven’t all the other. They all care about their patients, too, don’t they? But why aren’t they coming?
Do they say they do? No, they do. They do.
Come on. They do. You know they care about their patients. But, you know, people kind of wind down. They know what they know and they they kind of. But that’s not you. You seem to keep building on it.
Yeah. I mean. Yeah. I mean, I’m incredibly.
I’m overawed by Depeche as well. Okay, so I did choose it because of him.
He is great.
He is absolutely fantastic. And he does not have an ego. He’s not up himself. He doesn’t make you feel small, you know?
I mean, there.
Were so many factors that made me choose him as opposed to many, many other excellent composite courses that are available. And I’m really glad I made that decision. And I’ve sent loads of colleagues to him. You as a result, which you know, which you know about. And but I say it as it is, you know what I mean? And I think shortly after I did the course as.
Reached out to him with a question or a query or something. And, you know, he was really, really nice in how.
He dealt with that.
And not everyone is like that when you’ve attended one of their courses.
Yeah, you know, um, yeah, no, I just. I don’t know. I mean, it’s my since.
Covid, there’s been a dramatic change since COVID and the level of I was doing, I have not returned to that.
At all. Go on.
Tell me about that. Did COVID sort of was it like a wake up call about, hey, live your life a bit more rather than being a worker bee? And did you have the three months off like some of us did?
Some absolute agony the whole time.
Well, I couldn’t look after my patients.
Yeah, but didn’t.
You barbecue and chill?
And I think I stressed too much.
Yeah, well, none of us knew what was going to happen next, did we?
I hated that.
That was a big worry. You know, I’ve talked to lots of people who say that it changed their outlook a little bit.
Yeah, it did a bit.
Because I got to exercise every day. I got to look after myself. I got to sleep a lot more. And it did show me that actually I quite liked all of that.
So when I went back, I went back three days a week. I think I was already three days. I used to do Saturdays. Saturdays went out the window. I used to do one Saturday morning in for that went for me. That was a big thing. I went to three days, but my husband’s been wanting me to retire for a long time. He’s been retired five years.
But he also knows.
That you can’t force retirement on people no matter who they are. But certainly not your wife, because you’re not going to have a very happy.
Life otherwise, are you?
And it’s taken me.
Covid was part of.
It in that I haven’t gone back to the same level of See, I don’t go on many courses and conferences like I used to. I used to travel the world the whole time.
I’m not going to complete my master’s.
Which was a big decision, but I’ve just decided it’s not a priority for me anymore. So I did most of my masters, but I won’t get my won’t get it because I didn’t finish my dissertation and I’m not going to finish it now because I’ve decided that I just don’t want to spend the free time that I’ve got doing that.
So was it.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I mean, it’s a funny thing, isn’t it? Because it affects nobody. I mean, there’s one part of me that says, Hey, it’s just a dissertation, do it. But there’s a, there’s a definite other part of me that says, Hey, do what makes you happy, right?
If I tell my husband that I’m going to spend the weekend six hours at the weekend working on my dissertation, he’ll say what?
You know, you’ve got all these.
Commitments with your patients, your treatment plans, your you’re.
This, you’re that. I mean, I do so much for.
My patients anyway. And he gets that.
That. That’s that’s my job, you know. But he says you don’t need the masters even paid for it. Paid for the whole thing.
But so look the question of, you know, we haven’t it’s quite late in the day to get to my darker part of the podcast, which which I so enjoy, but I want to sort of wrap it into the fact that you’ve been an associate, you’ve been a principal. Those journeys come with all sorts of, you know, in a 30 year career you would have had massive highs and massive lows. Tell me. Tell me about some of the darkest days that you’ve had in dentistry. And.
I think probably.
Time. Well, it would probably be both would be at the transition of when you move from one practice to another. You know, why? Why did I stop being an owner? In 2005, I stopped being an owner because I was part of a partnership. We were six. We were six individuals running a ten surgery practice with 27 staff, big overheads. I’ve got younger children. I’ve got a husband whose career is is off the scale, so he’s out the door at 530 every morning. He’s back home around 730. Well, the body comes home, but the the man doesn’t really come home. You know, it. He’s he’s busy. He’s busy and he’s he’s doing very well. So. So he isn’t interested in, you know, what’s going on with me, but not in a disrespectful way.
But there’s only a certain amount. You’ve only got brain power so much.
And I’ve got five partners who I’m really not getting on with all of them that well. And dentistry is changing. We’ve got whitening coming, we’ve got cosmetic dentistry coming. And I’m seeing all this and I’m wanting to drive forward in this to the point that I develop my own brand. So I am part of Wrigley Park dental practice. I am a partner. I am a, you know, a full owner, whatever. I’ve got two kids and I decide.
To start confidence, Miles.
With one of the other partners.
Well, looking back on it, I’m like, You did what?
Within within that.
Practice, we go.
Off on a photo shoot, we develop a brand. So of course it was the nail in the coffin, wasn’t it? And of course, with two different personalities and I’m the one with the big mouth. I’m the big gob that can’t can’t has to think.
Out loud instead of thinking and then opening your mouth.
And I learnt this about myself at panky. I, i, i, I speak think if you like you.
Process by talking. Yeah.
Not a good thing to do, especially with some of those individuals.
So. So go on the darkness. What was the.
Darkness. What happened.
So we fell out. We fell out to the point where.
Partners meetings became screaming.
The practice manager started playing the politics. It got really difficult and I decided to sell. It was sell the practice or lose my marriage. I was that stressed so.
I probably could move.
The market was really good. I sold above the asking price. I thought everything was great and I took a year off. Then I joined a courtyard and I was clinical director and I thought this was great. No financial investment at all. I would be paid as an associate and but I was in control. I was clinical director.
And, and this is described what.
That practice was because I came there and it was maybe the most state of the art practice I’d been to at the time, because your partner was someone who was supplying Sirona stuff, is that.
So the so he wasn’t really my partner. But, but, but, but.
There were two individuals that owned the business that supplied all the well owned a business that supplied sirona equipment. So they had this grade two listed building kitted out in three surgeries with all state of the art sirona everything. And it was used as a showroom. And then behind that building they had the company that supplied CEREC and all the equipment and the engineers and everything, and then they decided that they would make the dental practice into a going concern rather than have it as a showroom, make it into a dental practice. Yeah. So there were no patients at all. And it’s 2007 and we’ve got a recession coming. But we didn’t know. And I went out to lunch. I was introduced by George MANOLESCU, who was.
I know George. Yeah, yeah.
So I’d known George a long, long time. Good friend, lovely man.
You know, lovely guy. I think the world of him.
He introduced me and we all had lunch together and they said to me, you know, what do you think? And I went, okay. Shook hands and went to work. And building a practice from scratch is unbelievably difficult and it takes a lot of hard work. But after two, three years, you know, we were really doing quite well. And we got associates in and and I was clinical director and I did all my dentistry as well. And I was paid an associate and everything was great and I’d been promised a third of the goodwill and the plan was. They’ve got a plan to sell the practice. They were similar age to my husband and they’d got a similar sort of plan sort of thing, and everything was done on trust. I didn’t have a contract. I didn’t have any paperwork. I had nothing. And looking back, I think there was probably a plan.
All the way along.
Never to consolidate things in writing. I employed somebody to negotiate for me to to get everything in writing and get a contract because I couldn’t do it. It was too personal. So I employed somebody to do that. They failed. It didn’t work. Long and short of it is after eight years. I was driven out of the practice. I was on the edge of a nervous breakdown. I weighed seven and a half stone. I had all these patients to care for people in treatment who’d paid in advance. I was terrified of what the GDC would or wouldn’t do because the GDC are only interested in patient care. They’re not interested in the business side of things. Yeah, got support from MPs. I had to employ lawyers. I was on holiday and they wrote to all my patients and said that I was leaving the practice and I wouldn’t be working anymore. Now I was leaving the practice. I had handed my notice in and given six months notice. But I was going to be working.
But that’s the sort of thing.
They turned all the staff against me.
It was the worst time of my life.
Do you think being a woman made that more likely? More possible?
And I handled it like a.
Woman instead of.
Handling it like a man.
That’s a funny thing to say. Go on, tell me. Tell me. Tell me what you mean. Why? Why? Why? Why?
Women? I mean, I would.
Write emails to them, like trying to sort things out, you.
Know, it wouldn’t take you.
Oh. And then my husband would.
Say, the email is too long. Then, you know, you’ve got to be much more, you know, to the point and much more matter of fact and in my opinion, much more male.
And and I think my.
Husband’s right, but that’s not my style.
And I, you know, I trusted them.
I gave them eight and a half years.
Between 40 and 58.5 years, best years of my life. I should have built my own practice.
I mean, I would have the most fabulous practice now. Yeah. But, you know.
Thing, you know, things happen.
But it was very.
Very you’re learning point from that is that next time if something like that came up you what you would do differently is you would have contracts signed watertight or you wouldn’t trust people as much as did it. Has that affected how much you trust people?
Well, I will only work as an associate now.
No, but in general. In general, have you become a less trusting person because you feel like these people took advantage of you that way?
Now. I don’t think I’ve.
Become less trusting.
I think that’s nice.
Now I think. I think what I’ve done is, is look at all the good stuff in my life and whilst that.
That was awful and horrible.
All my patients followed me. They all left that practice. Not all, but, you know, really loads and loads and loads. So that was a bit sort of satisfying in a way. Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know. But my boys are fine. My husband is fine.
You know, those.
Are the important things. And I’m still a dentist. And I.
You know, I still.
Enjoy my patients enormously. And we can all look back and say, oh, I should have done this. I should have done that. You know, I look back at why I left Wrigley Park and if I’d handled those personalities better and those interactions better, maybe.
I would still be there. But then how would I have.
Felt during COVID with those massive overheads and not knowing what the future held?
Yeah, we’ll never know what the other side of the decision is, do we?
So, you know, when you when you think back, we do a thing on this show about blackbox, thinking about errors in clinical errors. Do you know about blackbox thinking is every plane’s got a black box. So when the plane crashes, they share with the whole industry the mistake that was made so that that mistake isn’t made again, for, you know, for flight safety and all that. But in in medicine, dentistry, we we tend to hide our mistakes a little bit because what tends to happen is rather than all of us learning from everyone’s mistake, it ends up pinning down on one clinician and that person takes the rap for it somehow. The culturally, that’s the way it is. So we tend not to talk about our mistakes enough. So if you had to talk about clinically an error that someone could learn from so that they don’t have to make that mistake that you made, what comes to mind?
I think there is something. And that is a case where I had done 6 or 8 veneers. I had. I’m at the fit appointment. I’m taking off the temporaries.
This has actually happened to me twice in 30 years, but the first time it wasn’t a disaster. But the second time it was in that these old these are older patients. I do veneers on older patients.
And I think.
You have to be really careful about how brittle the actual tooth structure is. And our temporary materials are getting stronger and stronger. And I damaged an incisor. I find this really hard to actually admit.
This is going out on a broadcast.
There’s nothing wrong with. There’s nothing wrong. We’ve all done things right. There’s nothing wrong with. Especially when you’ve done things like something like that. Are you saying you took the temporary off in a bit of the tooth?
I took the temporary off and I perhaps. Well, I wasn’t careful enough as I took it off the incisor tooth underneath that only had a veneer prep split or cracked. Yeah. You know, and basically we ended up the patient ended up not immediately, but ended up losing the tooth and needing an implant. And it was a really nervous patient. I’d got his trust, I’d got his partner’s trust. This was this was a really, really big thing. And I thought I’d sorted the problem. He needed to have a veneer, an implant. I thought everything was all right. But then he sued me.
So did you. When you say you sorted the problem, did you? What? Pay for the implant?
Um, I don’t.
You referred it.
You referred him for an implant?
In fact, No, What happened was. So he. I referred him for an implant and he didn’t want to see my colleague, so, you know, And then we could have worked something out.
Yeah, I just.
He. He just cut off all.
To a third party.
And then sued.
You went somewhere.
Else and then. Then eventually heard about it. Now, he then didn’t ask me to pay for the implant, which I would have probably been happy to do. He decided to go to lawyers, so it then went to.
And. And they they dealt with it.
Oh, so was it quite quick? I said you didn’t have problems with it.
No. No, because nothing like that.