Ash Soneji is among a surprising number of dentists interested in stage magic. 

In this week’s episode, he tells how his hobby has found its way into his highly regarded teaching and lecturing on non-invasive dentistry. 

Ash also discusses his journey from early practice to education, the rigours (and joys) of new family life, and his commitment to the principles of non-invasive treatment.



In This Episode

01.36 – Meeting Ash

02.45 – Back story

03.35 – Discovering and studying dentistry

11.47 – First job
15.39 – Minimally invasive dentistry

21.05 – Pathways into practice

38.40 – Family life

40.56 – Teaching

50.07 – Magic

58.14 – Black box thinking

01.07.07 – Plans

01.11.31 – The next generation

01.13.14 – Regrets

01.14.51 – Fantasy podcast guests

01.23.32 – Last days and legacy


About Ash Soneji

Ash Soneji is a passionate proponent and teacher of minimally-invasive dentistry.

He graduated with honours and served as a Senior House Officer in Restorative and Oral Surgery at Guys’ Hospital in London Bridge. 

He gained the MJDF diploma from the Royal College and holds certificates in Cosmetic and Advanced Restorative Dentistry and Implant Dentistry. 

Ash was awarded the Aesthetic Dentistry Award in the Tooth Whitening category and recognised as the Best Young Dentist South West in 2018.

Yeah, I think if you’re going analogue, you know, and you’re taking implant impressions. Absolutely. There’s still still the gold standard. You know, I think it’s so dimensionally stable and even even when you’re getting those really deep margins that you know, and you’re finding it really difficult to isolate that. I mean, everyone talks about using gold standard kind of haemostatic agents and retraction cord and packing like in the heat of the moment and when, you know, you might be busy on the day and something might not quite go your way. Yeah. You know, you just need a reliable material that’s that’s going to capture those margins. And, you know, I do still use it. I mean, but a lot of my practice is now now scanning. Yeah, you’ve got the scanner in Queen’s Square and I have the Itero in BUPA, so that’s definitely the way forward.

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 Ash Sonejee onto the podcast. Ash is one of the crop of up and coming young dentists. You’re still a young dentist to me, but at ten years, ten years qualified or whatever you are, that to me, that’s a young dentist who has got himself properly into minimally invasive cosmetic dentistry and some implant dentistry and now finally teaching as well. Massive pleasure to have you, Ash.

Pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.

But remind me, I feel like I’ve known you for years. When did we first meet?

It feels like that we seem to bump into each other pretty much everywhere. But I think think going back must have been around 2013, 2014, and that’s when I was starting to hear about Enlighten a lot more. And I think it was at that time that we were discussing a lot about whitening. And you mentioned that you were setting up a course involving a lot more kind of resin based stuff, and I think that’s where.

Oh, did you come to Mini Spa Maker?

Was that the first time? I think it was the first one. The first Mini Smile makeover. So.


Really. Yeah, that was going way back now. But yeah, it was great. It was great fun. And almost the first sort of opportunity that I had to network with a lot of a lot of these up and coming guys and it was pretty inspirational at the time. So yeah, it was.

And you didn’t you win some award with an enlightened case, I remember.

Yeah. Yeah, that was so that was, um, I remember it well because it was aesthetic dentistry awards. So was it entering, entering a few, few times with, um, kind of single tooth ceramic and, and a little bit of composite stuff and yeah, it was, it was a tetracycline case, and that felt good. That’s right.

That’s right. So tell me, where did you grow up, man?

So a little bit of the backstory is I was actually born born in London, born in north west Northwick Park Hospital, and, um, spent a little bit of my early life there and then happened to relocate in Bristol. So my, my dad’s a mechanical engineer and he was working for Rolls-Royce. He, you know, he recently retired, but we had this opportunity to either kind of relocate to Derby or relocate to Bristol. And I’m glad he chose Bristol. That’s where where, where I’ve settled and spent a lot of my life, life in the Southwest. So from about two, three years old have been in the Southwest since and had various kind of job opportunities and roles, mainly in the south of England. Yeah.

And do you remember the first time you thought, I’m going to be a dentist? Do you remember that time?

Yeah. Yeah. It’s a funny, funny story, actually. So I remember kind of year ten is when you have to do those work experience placements. And I was thinking of various things to do. I did actually do work experience with with my dad. I think he, he was saying, you know, I think engineering would be a good thing to do. So I started off with that and I’d I remember going in and I thought expected to see like loads of planes, loads of like testing and loads of cool stuff. But it wasn’t quite like that. There was a lot of kind of heavy mathematics and all that sort of stuff. And I thought, you know, this is more like an office based job. I kind of want something where I can get my hands dirty and get involved. I enjoyed kind of communicating the company of people, and I was pretty good at science subjects. So I thought to myself, let’s, um, let’s let’s try something else out. And one of my cousins, he was working in Central London private practice in Pall Mall and just sort of called him up on a whim. And I just said, listen, listen. Do you do you think there’s a chance that you could sort of have some work experience for me? I was like, yeah, absolutely, man. Come come down and see what’s about, see, see if you like it. And it all it all started from there.

But do you remember, Dude, I remember going to work experience when I did it and I remember not sort of seeing, not understanding what the hell was going on. And I went with an orthodontist and he was he was a good family friend. And I knew he was like, doing very well. I knew that. Yeah. And I could see he was sort of his own boss. But what was actually happening, I had no idea what was happening. And I remember being a little bit disillusioned with work experience thinking, Is that it, man? You’re just sitting in that chair all day. Oh, did you did you get something else out of it? Did you like really did it inspire you?

So So the day that I went there, um, I kind of got a feel for it. He started the day off and he was basically like, Look, this is what we’re going to do. We’ve got about kind of ten patients. We’ve got a couple of check-ups, a couple of extractions, you know. He gave me the whole spiel and he was basically like, You don’t really want to watch any of this. Like, I don’t think you’re going to take much of it. So he was like, If you want to, you can just explore Central London. So he literally was a 14 year old kid at the time, and he was basically like, look, why don’t you just explore a bit of central London, see, see what it’s about? And I had the complete freedom and was like, Whoa, this is crazy. So I actually think that was one of the best things they could have done because, you know, I got excited by that. I got excited about like being able to see the big city. It gave me that buzz and then actually said to him, Do you know what? I’ve seen plenty of London now. Like, can we quite actually fancy sitting in and seeing what you’re doing? And I think I just got really excited about the whole experience because there was loads of cool stuff going on. So I spent the first half of my work experience in Trocadero’s at the arcade, and then the second half of it I actually got quite interested in the dentistry and then I actually started watching and seeing what he was up to. And I think that that from then on, that kind of in, you know, in a way indirectly inspired me. Like, you know, first experience of the big the big city.

What were you like as a kid? Were you like a studious kid or not?

I think in in the early years, you know, I was intelligent, but I didn’t think I could apply myself as well as I can towards the latter years. I think that that was almost a turning point. Like around sort of year ten. I thought to myself, Look, if I want to, you know, once you do the research and you look at the kind of applications or this sort of stuff, like, you know, I’m like, dentistry is seriously hard to get into. And at that point, that was a turning point. I thought, you know, if I if I really want to do this, I’ve got to really knuckle down. And I think that’s when I started to become a lot more studious. But I wouldn’t say I’m like naturally, naturally gifted in picking up a lot of these things. You know, I think I have to work hard. But when I did apply myself, I managed managed to get the grades and and then, you know, the rest is history.

And then you studied in the best dental school in the country. In Cardiff.

I think we’re both biased there, aren’t we? And I know you’re also fellow Welsh graduate as well. And yeah, it was, it was great. Like I think that as far as a combination of juggling a good social life as well as a good kind of getting a good kind of clinical basis and a bit of academia, it’s a great balance between all of them.

I love Cardiff, absolutely love that town. And I’m sure people like wherever they study, like someone studies in Liverpool probably loves Liverpool too, right? But I love Cardiff. I love the people. And the size of town was perfect for me. Just. Just. Just the right size, right? Yeah. Do you go back? You must do. You’re nearby, right?

Yeah. I’m not too far. And, um, few few of my friends, I think half of the cohort of that year were from Wales. Yeah. So you know, really close friend of mine has settled in in Penarth so recently he had his, had his, his third kid. So we had a chance to go and go and see him. So only about 2 or 3 weeks ago we’d ventured across the bridge. So yeah. Still, still go back when, when can to see the people that matter.

And then what kind of dental student were you? Were you near the top? Near the middle. Near the bottom. Like me.

I would say the first. So I think when you first start to you get into dental school, you’ve almost got this euphoria and like you feel like you’re on top of the world. You feel like, you know, you’re you’ve done so well to get to that point. Yeah. And then all of a sudden, you mean Cardiff? They hit you pretty hard early on. Like there’s a lot of exams and a lot of kind of essays and they had these kind of almost like four serious exams in the year, and the first one actually failed. So I think it was a real awakening for me. I can’t really, you know, not not work so hard. I think like I’m one of those ones that I have to really apply myself to to actually get to get the results. So I think after that, it was just a case of, you know, trying to juggle freshers and trying to, you know, get through the first year. That was that was the main thing. And then once I got through that bit and we started to get into a lot of the clinical side, that’s when I really saw myself excel.

It’s a funny thing, isn’t it? Because, you know, it’s going to be a difficult course. You know, everyone tells you it’s going to be a difficult course, but I was shocked at what a hard course it was that the first year of dental school, I mean, proper, difficult, harder than A-levels for me. Yeah. Because I didn’t do Biology A-level. So it was even harder. I felt it was even harder for me, but shockingly hard. I thought the first year, shockingly hard. And you suddenly, quickly grow up right in One part of you wants to go berserk and party and, you know, do all the things that first year students do. And there’s another side where you realise, Oh, this is proper, serious stuff, right? So did you did you pass everything first time or. No. That was just that one little.

I think once once had that blip right at the beginning, I just said to myself, Look, if I’m going to get through, I need to make sure that I’m I’m passing stuff. I hate that feeling of of failure. Like the first the first set of exams that we had. And I think what was tricky as well is you’re completely right. A lot of your colleagues, a lot of your your, your mates that are in contemporaries. Yeah, they’re often, um, sometimes, you know, they have five hours of lectures a week and you’ll be there doing like up to 30 hours. So and at the same time you’d still be trying to join in and party with those guys. So after that, I really got my head down and made sure I planned for this and and knuckled down. So since then, I didn’t I didn’t feel to fail too many exams I got close to and a couple of the Vivas in in final year. But um after after that I really knuckled down and just made sure I got through.

So then your first job, what was that?

Uh, do you mean, like. Like df1 kind of thing. So. So basically, that is when the first year of national recruitment. That’s the first year they brought it in. So I almost had this this job lined up. I knew through a family friend, um, a guy practising in Wotton under edge. So a chap called Phil Loughnane and he’s the, the Bristol adviser and he still is. And you know, it’s that practice has always had a great reputation. So I kind of got the cogs in motion as we were coming to the end of uni and effectively just sort of teed myself up for that job and then suddenly heard that actually, you know, now we’re going to have national recruitment. So you could be placed anywhere in the UK. So anyway, as it happens, we kind of got our rankings and everything and I managed to get my first choice, which was Bristol. So we had ten practices that we’d have to choose from and then they have this kind of Meet the Trainer interview and that was actually in the bath scheme. So that practice happened to be in the bath scheme. So I really wanted it. So we went to the Meet the Trainer interview and then as, as it turns out, when we got, got our exact practices, I happened to get that practice anyway. So after all of all of that, a little bit of luck, little stroke of luck. I managed to secure that as my as my first role and I was chuffed to bits with that. So it was great.

Explain, explain to me how does it work? National recruitment. They rank you and then you say, this is my first choice. This is my second choice. If your rank is high enough, you get your first choice area.

Yeah, exactly right.

And then this thing, this thing that you just said, meet the trainer. What’s that like a speed dating where you meet several of them?

Exactly. So if you’re sort of ranked within a certain thing, I don’t know exactly how they work out, to be honest. But, you know, if you’re if you’re ranked high enough, presumably there’s certain cities that are more favoured by by certain students, you know, so the Capitals is probably where a lot of people tend to tend to apply. So once once I got to that bit, I knew that I was going to be in the South West. I knew that I was going to be within the bath area. And then you get like a little bit of a blurb about each practice. And then if you if you like the sound of it, you kind of put them as a number one. And if if they put you as their their kind of favoured, if you get kind of similar rankings, then you get paired together. So, you know, it just so happened that they they ranked me as number one. I rank them as number one. And there we go.

So what was that like? What was what was your first boss like? I mean, I find the first boss is such a launch pad, right?

That role really, I think, set me into a good, good kind of stead. So I think that year is what really shapes your career clinically.

Yeah, I agree.

It’s, um. You come out of dental school with what you think is quite good clinical exposure and then the first day it’s, it’s a bit of a shock to the system. So, so they were really nice though. Like I remember the first day that I started, they were like, you know, so how many patients do you want to see at the beginning? And you know what things they’re really good at focusing on like strengths and weaknesses. They were quite, quite big on photography. They were really keen on that being kind of one one of the well known practices in the area and really supportive. So I think I got a huge numbers of quotas in terms of kind of restorative endos a lot of all surgery, I got a lot of experience and yeah, he was a great boss. You know, I think he, you know, super supportive. And in fact, to the point that I went on to do DF2, but actually when an associate job opened up at that practice, I actually took up, took up the job.

And now this interest in minimally invasive cosmetic dentistry. Did you feel like you started to get sort of the early signs that that’s the direction you were going to go in as early as one? When was the first time it came on your radar? That sort of work?

So I think I knew that I had an aptitude for that, for that type of work. During the case presentation. So I at the end of the day, one year you do your kind of case presentation prizes and things. And I happen to to win the prize for clinical photography. And the case that I, um, I treated was a kind of more cosmetic case. So I got a little bit of a buzz for that around then. And we had some great lectures from in the likes of like Louis Mackenzie. He was doing a lot of cool, like kind of cosmetic restorative stuff. And then, um, I thought to myself when I was at Guy’s, we, you know, we did do a lot more kind of treatment of hypodontia and more minimally invasive techniques for that. So I can remember doing, um, you know, treatment of tetracycline cases as well as more minimally invasive treatment of these, these hypodontia cases and often doing these composite build ups, something that I wasn’t exposed to a lot of in, in my df1. And after that I started to hear these, these kind of names being pushed around a lot. So for instance, Chris, Chris or yeah, I mean that that was, you know, one of the inspirational people, one of my kind of mentors and went on to do the course with advanced dental seminars in London. And from then on I just haven’t looked back, you know, I think that really changed and shaped my career moving forwards. Really.

So was your df2 in guys.

Df2 is it guys? Yeah. So had a combination of restorative and oral surgery.

And so explain that to me. Is it like optional to do df2?

Yes. So that time, the way that it was set up, I think the structure has changed now. But the way that it was set up is, you know, after completing your df1, you get your performer number, you know, you’re ready to go in practice. So a lot of my friends were kind of getting mixed roles, like a combination of kind of private practice or, you know, any kind of roles that were going really. Yeah. But that also became a national kind of recruitment process. So it was the first year for that. So again, I thought to myself, Look, this is the only opportunity that had advice from a few friends and some family members. They’re like, This is the only opportunity you’re going to get where you know you can still. You know, when you get a feel for earning a lot more, you basically will will find it difficult to go back. That’s true. So they were like, if you want to do it, you know, now’s the time to do it. And you know, you’re never going to be in that environment unless you really want to specialise and do specialist training. And I was undecided at that point. I thought to myself, like, I see myself doing a lot more kind of prosthodontic stuff. So, you know, if I could if I could get a decent role where I get exposure to that, maybe that would help to make my decision.

And then I just happened to again, it was it was quite a tough interview process. The the one the area that I really wanted to get into was I want to explore London a little bit, not just for not just to to get back the memories of my work experience, but it was more just a case of, you know, being at this kind of prestigious dental school and almost seeing seeing how it runs and operates. So happened to to rank really highly in that. And I got my first choice of role for that. So that was like started off the first six months, were in a restorative post and then that was great. I was working with Prof. Banerjee, David Bartlett, and you know, they were great mentors and they really, again, really shaped that that side of things in a certain way of treatment, planning and thinking. And then the second half of the year was focusing a lot more on the oral surgery side. So I had I was working with Chris Jerry Kwok, some, some great oral surgeons and got exposure to some to some really cool stuff. So that’s when I got a feel for more of the implant side as well. I got got to see a lot more surgery with implants.

And what do you say? You know, on this podcast, we’ve had a bunch of guys, men here who they kind of drum it into them, that they’re the best. Is it special? They’re. I mean, as a kind of gone. Be careful. Be careful.

I’ve got be super careful what I say here because. No, no, just.

Just say it. Say it. Say it how you see it, man. Like, really, Is it special? Like, okay, you’ve got these big names. I guess that must be a big thing.

There is definitely something, something special about that place. You know, I think the amount of research that they do there and they were definitely doing a lot more implant related work. So they were they were really ahead on that. And I feel that the vastness of it and almost like the location, there’s something prestigious about it. So I think there’s definitely something special about it. But then equally, I felt that from Cardiff, the amount of clinical exposure that, you know, I got as an undergrad is definitely a lot more than what I was. I was seeing a lot of graduates, you know, King’s getting, but the academia and the research and almost the prestige and carrying that name, I mean, that’s, that’s a great asset to anybody to have on their CV.

Yeah, for sure. So then tell me, first job in practice.

Yes. So that’s that was when there was a turning point when we were coming to the end of DF2. Almost had to had to sort of decide, do I go on to do kind of prosthodontic. Training? Do I apply now? Because there are a lot of a lot of the kind of supervisors there to say, look, look, I think you would enjoy cross training. I think you’d be a great kind of candidate candidate to apply. So they were kind of hinting that, you know, you should apply. And one of my a couple of my friends from Cardiff were actually on the programme at Guy’s and they were comparing it to the Eastman programme and just saying like, listen, like if you, you know, if you’re going to take Eastman or if you’re going to apply there, you have to accept that pretty much, you know, four years of your life are just out. You know, you’re going to be doing your own wax ups, you’re going to be doing a lot of kind of research and that sort of stuff. At least with guys, they’ve got their own kind of lab department and it’s hard work, but it’s it’s more doable. You know, I think it’s a more viable option. So I was seriously considering that and then got to the point where an opportunity came up at the practice where I did my vocational training. And I just thought to myself, Do you know what I think? I just want to get out there and earn exposed, you know, expose myself, get into doing more treatment. That’s where I felt the most comfortable. I just couldn’t see myself almost being a student again for another four years. It just it just didn’t didn’t feel right. And I’m glad I took that path. Like, I think I’ve been a lot of kind of private courses and had lots of great opportunities with a few few companies and that’s really set me up well. And I’ve learnt a lot, you know, in a different pathway.

Yeah, I mean, it’s a question that keeps coming up. You know, should you or shouldn’t you do the sort of the training that gives you letters after your name? And is that sort of traditional path or should you go and do courses? I don’t think it’s an awful thing, really. It’s you know, you can do both or, you know, I know some dentists who’ve got no letters after their name and they’re just brilliant, brilliant dentists. And then and the opposite side of it is true as well. Right?

You’ve got I think everybody kind of paves their own path. And I think that a career is almost built by like a series of opportunities. And, you know, it’s almost like placing yourself in in the right position. And, you know, they talk about about luck. You know, I think you can get lucky, but you can almost prepare yourself and place yourself in the right position for for that luck to find you. And I think that’s kind of kind of what what’s happened with me like I’ve almost been had had like a rough plan in my mind as to the direction I want to go and just had a series of opportunities. This led me into that pathway. So I don’t think, you know, for certain people specialist training is definitely the way to go. It’s a much more structured approach. Yeah, For me, it’s almost like self-directed learning, you know, I think that that that is what suits me a lot better.

But then. Okay, what was someone look, someone wants to take it the way that you took it. Yeah. What were the key conversations you had where or the key courses you did or the key moves you made to turn you into a guy who’s, you know, looking at being a know, very highly sort of quality led dentist. Right. What was it like? Who said what to you and what did you do if you had to sort of distil it down? What are the key things?

Yeah, I think it was more so. There’s a combination of things. I think when you first take an associate job and you think to yourself, Do you know what like six 7000 is like, that’s definitely achievable. Like in your head, you think, I could easily do that? And I was. I’ve always been quite efficient and proficient the way I work. So I thought to myself, you know, I can definitely do that. And you know, that that first year in practice was tough. You know, I really, really struggled. I think that part of me said like, there’s got to be another way. There’s got to be another way to to work where you’re you know, I always wanted to practice ethically. You know, I think that’s the most important thing. And I always wanted to deliver the best care for patients. And I just started to realise that this is, you know, I can’t do this for like another 40 years. There’s got to be another way. And part of that is when I started to then think to myself like, what are the ways are there? And that’s when I started to kind of approach family members. I had advice from a lot of my family.

Are they dentists?

Yeah. So I have quite a few cousins in London that are dentists. And, you know, some of them are working in, you know, great locations, great practices, and they’re almost like the family dentists and I’d call them like the dentist, dentists. You know, a lot of our family members that are dentists, there’s one of my cousins that I did work experience with. A lot of them go to see him. So he himself has always like delivered very high quality of care. And I think I thought to myself, you know, I want to strive to achieve that, you know, that I’ve seen that. And I think that’s something that struck a chord there. Like it definitely is achievable. And then I think seeing the work of some more kind of inspirational kind of lecturers and the people that kind of really inspire you. I saw a lot of kind of Jason Smiths and stuff that inspired me early on when when I went to Mini Smile Makeover, I was I was really inspired with some of the things that he was doing. And then going to these awards ceremonies, like a lot of this is like, what is it? Is it all about marketing? Is it all about PR? But for me, it wasn’t about that.

It wasn’t about like, you know, taking home an award. It was actually about the journey that that took you on. And I remember sitting there and it was the year that I won the tooth whitening category of the aesthetic dentistry, and I saw some of the work that was coming out of the Palmer Brothers that year. They they almost got ten, ten awards. And that, you know, that really inspired me. I thought to myself, like, look, these guys are at the top of their game. And that kind of actually led me to to think that, you know, there is definitely a different way of approaching this. And from then I just went on loads of loads of different courses, you know, some, some stuff by, by Tiff Qureshi I think he’s been he’s been a kind of great inspiration and a lot of the other guys, in terms of the more aesthetic Crown work, seeing Chris’s work during the course. Crystal. Crystal Yeah, seeing some of his cases during Brilliant Teacher.

Brilliant teacher.

Man Yeah. I mean, I think that just that year itself, like, really instilled the kind of. Side. And that’s when I decided to step back. And I really I just realised that in the practice that I was in, it was going to be difficult for me to achieve what I wanted to clinically. And I almost felt like I outgrew the practice. And then another another opportunity came up where a friend of mine, Alan Bergen, he was moving to Cornwall at the time. So great.

Great guy. The Cornish dentist.

The Cornish dentist. Yeah. He was just setting up that that profile at the time. Great guy. And he just said, listen, you know, I’m moving to Cornwall. And I was I was. Were you in.

The same year?

We were, yeah. Yeah, we were. We were in in Cardiff together. So we’ve actually travelled together as well. We did, um, me and Alan and one of our other friends, um, Viraj Patel, who’s he’s quite a prominent implant dentist. We all travelled. We did the Interrailing trip around Europe.

Oh, amazing.

So, yeah, that was great with those guys. And yeah, I mean, it’s great you develop these connections in uni and then later on you find that these are the same people that kind of you bump into inspire you. So he basically said, he’s like, listen, there’s, there’s a, there’s a job going near Bath. If you feel, you know, it sounds like it might be more what you’re suited to. It’s much less NHS and an opportunity to kind of grow your private. So I thought to myself, look, he’s a great guy. He’s a good guy to take over from.

Oh, you took his job.

I took his job. Yeah.

Oh, I see. I see. I see.

So when he moved to Cornwall, he actually mean he teed me up pretty well. He got some pretty nice, juicy cases ready for me. And I think from then on, like, that was. That was a great transition. It was like the smoothest transition I’ve had into an associate job in a new practice. And I stayed there for a good couple of years. And that was with a guy called George Maccius, who’s quite well known in the implant world. And from then on that’s where I got a lot more experience in implants, restoring a lot more implants. And I did a course with Nobel Biocare it’s the year long course with them and placed about ten implants as part of that. So yeah, from, from then on that was really my conversion from doing a lot more heavy NHS to a lot more of the private side.

And what an acceleration man. What an.

Acceleration. Yeah it was, it was. I think that’s the thing is sometimes you have to really change the environment that you’re in. And if you want to excel at something, I think you’ve just got to throw yourself in the deep end.

And the thing is, it’s the story of every young associate right now, isn’t it, who wants to leave the NHS? Every single young associate I speak to wants to leave the NHS. And now, you know, Rishi Sunak just said, Hey, we’re going to make you all work in the NHS and and then we’re all saying, Hey, why don’t you just fix the NHS? But, but you know, everyone wants to do it, but what you’ve done there, talk to the right people. I mean, I guess, you know, having, having family who are dentists are actually a massive advantage that those of us who don’t. I mean, I’ve got a couple of dentist uncles back home in Iran. Right. But, you know, it’s a massive advantage. Yeah. To be able to bounce ideas off someone. Dipesh says this too, you know, he’s got his brother who’s a very sort of experienced implant guy, and then he’s got his other brother, who’s a very experienced technician. And he said that the conversations while he was a 16 year old, conversations in his house were about dentistry. And so he sort of hit the ground running in that sense. But yeah, I like the story a lot, buddy. I like the story a lot that you’ve gone and gone and fixed it for yourself, right? You’ve gone and talk to the right people and done it like that.

Like I said, I think you’ve got to put yourself in the right opportunities. You’ve got to put yourself out there and the opportunities will come for sure.

So then how long do you stay there? Was there another practice in between there and Alfonso’s Queen Square?

No, no. So I was based there for nearly three years, and I think this was an interesting one, actually, because that’s when Covid hit. So I was working there. And it’s a practice which is is pretty close to where I live. Like it’s which is nice in some ways. But what I was starting to realise is that actually it’s nice to have a little bit of separation between your patients and where you live because during, during lockdown I can remember I was kind of going for walks around in our allocated one hour that we had and quite a lot of the time I’d bump into some patients and it was a bit of an awkward one because they would almost be like, look, you know, we, we, we, you know, we need some of them did need dental care. And I was just like, I can’t see you, man. Like. It’s it’s the rules at the moment. So I think there was part of that that I thought, eh, like the idea of having a little bit of separation between kind of work and and home life. So having a bit of distance from the practice. So that was always playing on my mind. And then during that time I’ve always known Alfonzo for a while. I met him at, um, one of the, the dentistry awards. This was in Leicester and, you know, he’s a great guy and we had a lot of fun over a few drinks and then, um.

He’s a brilliant guy.

No, he’s a, he’s a top man. And he randomly kind of calls me up shortly after practice was starting to reopen and it was like, ciao. Um, listen, he was like, Listen, Ash, how how’s it going? And I was like, it was I was a bit gobsmacked. I was like, you know, he never calls me. And he he basically sort of called me up and was like, Um, I have a position for you in Queen’s Square. I was like, What? And yeah, he basically was like, look, you know, there’s a couple of days going in Queen’s Square. I’d like you to work here. You know, I never applied for the job.

And how did how did he know about you?

I still don’t really know. I think that he’s very kind of knowledgeable in the area and a lot of the way that he grows his practices and grows his team is kind of from reputation in the area. So I don’t know whether that part of it is his. His brother in law had worked with me in one of the practices where I was working. And I don’t know whether he put a tip in, but to this day, I don’t I don’t actually know. You know, I’m not sure exactly how we’ve kind of found out, but it was it was quite a nice interview because I kind of knew that the job was there waiting. And we just did a couple of formalities and we had a bit of a chat. He said, You know, if you’ve got a clinical portfolio, it’d be good to see it. And, you know, I’d set up quite a lot of things.

So was that Richard Fields, patients that you took over?

So it was it was always a combination. You know, I’ve taken on a lot of Richard’s list, but not from the beginning. There’s one of the long standing associates, Mark Gillis, who was working there, and he wanted to refine a lot of his practice into doing oral surgery. So he had a general list kind of pretty much ready to go to maintain. And that’s the list that I kind of initially took over. And, you know, again, it was it was it was great because from the beginning, Alfonzo was pretty supportive. He was like, look, there’s no pressure to see a certain number of patients a day. Like, you just want you to feel comfortable in the practice and grow. And this is when I started to see like another standard of dentistry. This is when I was like, Look, it’s Alfonzo doesn’t compromise on quality. You know, it has the clinical standard has to be high. And that’s when I saw like another, another level of dentistry. And I think again, it was one of these situations where you just throw yourself in the deep end and you either sink or swim. It was it was one of those ones. And, you know, I think I’m still swimming at the moment.

So he’s, you know, with our Alphonso, what gets me about him is that, you know, he seems like the friendliest, funnest guy in the world. Yeah. But you just know like, you know, there’s no way you can be like that and run 14 practices or whatever it is he’s got. So so, you know, he carries off that tension between being your best friend and being your boss somehow. Yeah, that, by the way, from the outside, I’m not. I’m not on the inside. Right. He’s he’s not my boss. But I just. I just love the way that he manages to pull off those two things, you know? He’s brilliant.

It’s a tricky role. Like, I think that being an excellent clinician, when you’re focusing on your clinical work, like trying to pull off the management of staff, I mean, you know, I don’t know how he does it, to be honest, but it’s a very fine skill and I don’t think many people have that skill. Like, I think he’s got it, but I think.

He goes off instinct a lot, you know, like some people are like that. If something if someone feels right, they just they trust their instincts and they go with that person. And I guess he’s got that with his managers and and so on, you know? Yeah, yeah.

I mean, I’m sure there are always times when something doesn’t quite work out, but like, to get to that point, like I think you have to take risk, you know, he’s, he’s definitely not a person to shy of risk and I think um, you know to, to build like an academy to build that level of practice, to build a group like that, you know, it’s quite an achievement.

So now you also work at a BUPA.

Yeah. Yeah.

So tell me about the difference between those two. It must be a big difference working for Bupa on the one side and Alfonso on the other.

So part of it is working in Queen’s Square is a very it can be quite taxing. So clinically demanding, like it’s quite a physically demanding role because it’s such a busy private practice. It’s got such a high reputation. I think doing five days of that would just I just don’t think I could manage that level of concentration for five days. Wow. So, you know, I’ve got a young family and I think Covid sort of taught all of us, you know, it’s getting the priorities right. You know, spending time with your family, doing a lot of that. So part of the reason of the BUPA job is I mean, look, it’s it’s almost like a kind of it’s like a more of a private practice, but it’s more like a family practice. And in a way, when you’re working at a certain standard, you know, you work at your, your normal standard anyway. But I feel like at that practice, I can kind of just take a little bit of a step back and get a chance to just do the little things, do the nursery drop offs, try and try and just manage a family life in the background as well.

Love that. Love that. How old are your kids?

So our eldest, Serena, is four and the youngest aria has just turned seven months. So. Yeah.

Are you telling me I saw you at tubules? Isn’t it? Yeah. Yeah, I remember you telling me. Seven months. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Starting to get some sleep again, so that’s great. But, you know, she’s really, really starting to kind of grow now and looking kind of. She’s got super big eyes and looking super cute at the moment. So yeah, it means coming back home and, you know, getting a chance to spend time with them. That’s that’s really important to me as well. And I think it’s just striking that balance.

Although, you know, your age. What are you, 32 something, 34, 34, whatever those those ages. Yeah. And and in your early 30s. Yeah. And young kids as well. It’s a funny time in life man, because early 30s almost is. You’re peaking. You’re completely peaking. You know, you’re Peking duck, man. You’re like, you’re, you’re earning, you’re earning and you’re young here And then but then there’s kids and then the kids. And I notice a lot of friends and family at your age a little bit. Maybe it’s like a man thing. Don’t know, a bit under stress, man. You’re being pulled in every direction somehow, you know, because it’s the beginning of serious work. It’s the beginning of serious parenthood. And, you know, not five years ago you were just like this young, free and single guy. He was like going off to Ibiza whenever you wanted to do. Am I right about this or are you managing? Was it just me who suffered that?

No, it’s definitely a juggling act. Like I think there’s a lot of things that Yeah. On on my mind and you know definitely spending a lot of plates that’s that’s that’s.

What I was looking for.

But you do it right You do it like I think the things that are important and the things that matter, you find a way like I think, Sure. And right now I find the energy from somewhere, you know, to do it. And like you say, I’m at my peak, so why not make the most of it? Why not? Why not try and take advantage of that? And like I said, I’ve I’ve got some of the best opportunities I’ve had in my career. Um, you know, tell me, tell me.

About the teaching. Tell me about the teaching. How, how did this come about?

Yeah. So that was an interesting one. I’ve done a little bit of teaching with at guys, you know, that’s the first kind of exposure that I had to that and that’s a real turning point because it didn’t feel like long ago that I was a student. And then again, you get thrown a bit in the deep end and there might be the time when you have to kind of supervise some of the undergrads in emergency department, restorative or surgery. So that was the first taste I had of it. I really enjoyed it. You know, I felt it felt really good to kind of impart some knowledge, something that you’ve learned and some impart some wisdom on someone else and and see them grow. So I really enjoyed that side. And, you know, I think really to have some credibility to you, I think you’ve got to have enough, you know, some experience. They talk about having like 10,000 hours of clinical experience before you can become an expert in one particular field. So I thought to myself, look, before I do more teaching, I think I’ve just got to get stuck in get that experience, go through the difficult situations, all of the difficult scenarios, difficult patients and.

See your own failures, see your own failures. A massive thing.

Completely. Completely. Yeah, that’s I think that’s the biggest way to learn. Like I’ve seen plenty of failures and I think that that in itself it kind of makes you a lot more humble in the care that you’re delivering, for sure. Yeah. And that that is when I felt that that was a good. Time to get involved in some teaching. So one of when I was working in the practice in Corsham in Bath, one of the the reps in the area, a guy called Ben, he kind of came round and said, Look, I’ve seen some of your work, some of the stuff you posted on Instagram, like maybe you should try some of our materials and see, you know, see what you can do with them.

What’s that?

Voco Voco. Yeah. Yeah. What?

The ceramic stuff.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, I mean, actually, when when I first got into using some of these products, that’s what they’re known for. They’re known for a lot of their kind of biocompatible nanohybrid composite materials used like everyone sees them as like the German kind of posterior composite company, but they’ve actually got some fantastic anterior composites. And I actually, you know, started to I took a sample of some of these and I had just so happens that the next day, a kind of tricky class four fracture came in and I went back through my kind of crystal notes and looked at Berninis papers and I was like, Do you know what? I’m going to give this a go? And I kind of sketched it out and, you know, put in all my kind of dentine layers, my enamel, opacities and all of that. And I just thought, let’s just go for it. And, you know, it was a really tough case. And anyway, I showed him the kind of photos after. It was like, That’s a great result. Like, it’d be great to show this to some of the guys at the kind of R&D department or some of the headquarters in Germany and, you know, see what they think about it. And then from then it kind of just snowballed. Like I they really liked some of the stuff. I was posting a lot of the kind of content and shortly after they kind of said, you know, if we love you to become like a fellow for for us and, and yeah just come along to our fellowship symposium and got you know, just kind of happened like that. And you know since then I’ve I’ve used just a range of different products and I think you find what works in your hands and this this one seems to seems to work pretty well and yeah from then I’ve gone on it.

Is it, is it the ceramic one.

So the for the posteriors I do use the ceramic. It’s they’ve got a new version of that. So it’s admira fusion five. That is a ceramic based one. Yeah. For a lot of my anterior cases I actually use something called a product called Amoris and that is, you know, now nano filled, but it’s got like micro filler particles as well. It’s great polish, you know, for some cases I use some cosmogenic materials as well, so. Oh well, still still using that as well. Yeah.

You have to say that man.

There’s some in the drawer.

Definitely. There’s definitely some in the drawer.

The funny thing is dude. Yeah. That you end up learning the material that you learn, right? And then. And then you learn a technique, let’s say with the admira Fusion five, whatever you called that. Yeah. You start, you use a particular polisher on it that snaps the polisher, then you use a different polisher and Oh that worked. Right. Yeah. So then now now you’ve got to take, you’ve got your own technique here that I use the, the back of the pyramid, you know the little, the pointy thing I use the back of it not the front of it. Let’s say for the sake of the argument. Yeah. And you know, at the end of the day, what is a teacher? A teacher is someone who’s got more of these little tips and tricks than the rest of us. Yeah. And so then suddenly you’re realising, oh, I’m polishing my admira fusion four five. Like this. Yeah. And now, now the rep says to you, oh so-and-so in Germany said try this. Yeah. And then and now we’ve got, you know it builds doesn’t it. It builds. Yeah. And, and it’s funny. Who was I discussing this with. Rupert. Rupert. Yeah. Do you know Rupert Monkhouse. Yeah.

I was listening to your podcast.

Oh. Did you hear it? Did you hear it? So. So, yeah. So we were talking about that very subject, right? That, you know, there’s one side of it that says, okay, you’re going to teach for vodka and you’re going to use vodka materials because you’re going to be paid by them to teach. Yeah. And, you know, I paid the patient and, you know, we pay we pay people to teach. That’s that’s how it works. But there’s the other side of it. And I used to I used to get myself in my head in a funny place about this and say, oh, why is that guy using that material where, you know, this one’s better or whatever it is? Yeah. And then you realise that this point, the one I just made about, you know, you develop a technique based on the stuff that you’ve been using and then you take that technique further and further and then you get access from the manufacturer to new techniques and new things and new materials, and that becomes you. You become the material, don’t you?

That’s and I think that this is where I’ve learned so much. You know, I feel like I’ve come such a long way because you suddenly start to have a different circle of people that you interact with. And and these people are teaching you things that you never you didn’t even know about. You know, this is stuff that you almost don’t find in textbooks. It’s not stuff that you learn.

Like when you go is that when you go off to like a day or something and you meet the top guys from each each market?

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

So I’ve been working a lot with Opti then as well, and we’ve had some fantastic lectures from a lot of the kind of Style Italiano guys. And I think that this is what again, what’s really driven that passion. You know, I think when I see the likes of Walter Devoto, kind of Louis Hardin, a lot of these guys, Miguel Stanley, have had access to a lot of these guys and had quite, you know, brushed shoulders with them, had some good chats. And I think that, again, that just drives that passion. It just wants you to excel and just get better at what you’re doing.

Yeah. What is Miguel Stanley, one of the Voco guys. No obtuse angles.

No, no, he works.

He works quite well. Quite a lot with Voco. So at the last Fellowship symposium, he was the kind of keynote speaker there and yeah, did a a great talk. Oh, the energy from that guy and the passion, honestly.

It’s also he’s, he’s so open to new ideas that something I’ve seen, you know to, to be open to new ideas and then test them and try them to keep on being like that. As you become more and more senior, it’s quite difficult. You know, it’s quite difficult because you get stuck in what you know, But there are some, some characters out there, Yeah, there’s a reason why they’re so famous and all that. Yeah. And he’s, he’s one of them. So tell me, teaching wise, how often are you teaching?

So actually this year I spent a little while developing some courses and my time now is split between doing some lecturing at some of the dentistry shows. So I’ve had some some opportunities at delivering some lectures at those slots. So a little bit of teaching there and I deliver. This is the first show that I’ve been delivering some some courses. I developed a course, um, you know, my kind of tagline is the magic of so it’s like the magic of posterior composites, the magic of, you know, minimally invasive cosmetic dentistry. So I’ve got a couple of courses that I’ve been doing at Delta Dental, which is part of the Queen’s Square Group. So really that’s something that’s taken off a lot this year. So maybe doing about kind of 4 or 5 different slots this year. And I’m trying to keep it kind of educational, but a bit fun as well. I’ve got another passion where I’m quite into a bit of like close up card magic. Oh yeah. So on the courses we, we deliver the obviously a lot of the clinical but in quite a fun way and there’s, there’s plenty of tricks that I have up my sleeve I should say.

What comedian Go on, go on. Explain that to me. What happens? Do you have a little section at the in the social where you do the card tricks.

During the.

Lectures? No, during the lectures you want, I think I think when there’s a time when I see people switching off, I kind of just sort of stop and say, Listen, guys, I think it’s time for time for a trick. I think it’s time to get your get your energy up a little bit. And so some of these tricks hit pretty hard. So I think it’s hard for people not to not to pay attention to them.

How funny. When did that start?

Yeah, so I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. So there’s always been I always used to have like Paul Daniel’s sets and, um, you know, always used to ask for Christmas for like Penn and Teller stuff and always used to watch all the kind of David Copperfield shows, David Blaine, all that kind of stuff. And then, you know, there was a point in time when Magic just wasn’t cool anymore. Like you get to kind of teen years and you’re just like, you know, it’s, you know, back then it just wasn’t that cool. And then I sort of took a bit of a step back. Maybe I became a bit more studious at that point. I don’t know. And then, um, actually one of the guys that inspired me again, he’s actually the head of the Bristol Magic Society. And when we got married, I said it’d be great to have a magician at the reception. So this guy, Callum Weaver, he tours with Derren Brown. He’s like an internationally recognised magician and managed to he’s actually quite a close friend now and we managed to get him to do some magic at the wedding. And that really just sort of drove that passion again. And I thought to myself, Do you know what? Magic is cool again? So I think I’m going to try and just pick up, you know, get some of the old tricks out.

Oh, I see. I see. That’s why the course is called the Magic of. Because of the magic. The magic tricks.


Yeah. Yeah. So it’s a combination of that. So there’s, you know, there’s some, there’s some tricks that are involved and there’s a, there’s a couple of surprises on the course. So a few things that people won’t expect. It’s, you know, delivering high clinical content, but, you know, with a little bit of entertainment and it’s quite light-hearted and formal.

I love that man. I love that, you know, as long as it’s authentic. And that’s the most important thing, isn’t it, As long as it’s authentic. And and that’s that’s new, right? You didn’t copy that off anyone?

I’m trying to think.

Think Raj Rattan does a couple of couple of magic tricks. He’s part of the magic circle, but I’ve never seen him. Do anything while he’s doing, you know, giving a lecture. So. So this this might be a different spin on things. Yeah.

Yeah. We had a guy, mini Bamaca Rishi. He was. He was good. He was really.

Good. Yeah, I know him. I know him. Yeah. Yeah, he’s great.

He did this thing where he was it, like the. The card, like, literally went up in smoke. Actual smoke. Like he burnt it or so actual smoke came off it. And do you know Martin at Ariana do Yeah.


He does some he does some stuff Have you seen his.

He’s phenomenal. No he’s phenomenal. I’ve was sat next to him at the private private dentistry awards and, you know, we just got talking and it was just really funny.

Both of us are magicians.


Exactly. I was like, Is this your card? Um, no, it was great. But no, we might be doing something together in the pipeline. There might. There might be. Really?



How cool.


Listen, man, I’ll bear you guys in mind for the next enlightened party.

We’ll be there. We’ll be there. Definitely.

You’re actually right about the coolness thing, though. Yeah, because throughout the years go by, right? We do Dental shows, We do Dental parties, we do this, that and the other. Always. You know, every year you want to make it better and different, whatever. And. And people go to my team and say, Hey, what’s the latest thing? You know? And one one year they’ll say, you know, the selfie camera that goes round and round, you know, that 360, 360 selfie thing. Yeah, yeah. And then another year we’ll get some DJ and then and then lately they’ve been saying magic. And I was like, magic. That’s not cool. Yeah. And they turn around and. No, that’s cool. That’s like really cool. And when you get these sort of the younger group, that Gen Z saying that, Yeah, you realise, okay, magic’s back. Magic’s back. So yeah. Like that.

That. Do you know what I actually.

Like about it? I think what after one of these courses or one of the lectures I did, Callum, who’s like an outsider, he’s completely non dentist friend, he, he came out and he put something really great out there and I thought to myself, like the reaction that you get after, like delivering a smile maker for a patient like that is that feeling of elation. Like, it’s such a great feeling. And I feel like I get that same feeling after just doing like an awesome magic trick. Like you just feel like you’ve just like, they’re just so amazed. They’re just like, How is that possible? And I think I’m going off that. I’m trying to I’m trying to, like, keep that, keep that energy up. And that’s what I really like about it, is it almost really breaks the ice. You can have a room of people that are complete strangers and you you throw a bit of magic in there and you involve a lot of people. And you know, immediately the room, you know, feels like we’re all friends.

So do you want to do you want to is it not done? Not done thing to explain like not how it’s done, not how it’s done, but like, explain one of your tricks. Like what? What happens? Because. Because Martin did one the card. He threw the cards at the ceiling and one of them stuck to the ceiling. Man, It was.

That moment, I can tell.

You. What Do you know what? I was actually at a recent course with Costas and Zo. It’s prostate works. It’s like an injection moulding course. Right? So I was there this week, and sometimes when I’m at the student things, one of the guys basically it’s Tom from Occidente, he works, I think he covers a lot of London area and he was there, so they were sponsoring the course and he basically really stitched me up. He kind of said like, Listen, Ash, like we need to break the ice a little bit here and told everyone he’s going to do a great magic trick for you. And I was like completely unprepared. I was so rushed out of leaving the house, I didn’t even bring my cards. Nothing. You know, a lot of the stuff I can do with normal pack of cards anyway, you know, it’s real magic. But the but this, this one, there’s, there’s one which I do with, like, a phone. Yeah. So basically what you do is you get three different random people to type in a three digit number and they, they basically like you. Do you go on the calculator app, type in the three digit number, pass it on to the next person. They times it by that, times it by that. So you end up with a number in the tens of millions, right? Yeah. So then somebody at the end is holding the phone face towards them and there’s, you know, they’re like, okay, it’s a random random number in the millions.

So I get a piece of paper and I basically predict what that number is on the phone, right? No. So, you know, with a lot of theatre involved, right, Pretty much kind of like write out this was like 32 million or something, right? So then you get this bit of paper and then the person, then I’m like, look, listen, what we’re going to we’re going to show everybody. We’re going to turn them around together and hopefully I’ve got close to your number, right? They turn it around and it is exactly the number that was written on on this bit of paper. And everyone’s like, how how did he do that? Right? Like, it’s a great thing. What I love about this trick is you then take it a step further and you’re like, Listen, guys, you know, how about we do something different and we take those digits and we reverse them So you pass them to someone else, they get a pen and they write the digits out in reverse. And then everyone’s like thinking like, what is he doing now? So you look at the look at the digits and then you show it to everybody. It’s like, Does anybody recognise those numbers? And everyone’s like, Oh my God, that’s today’s date. So that, that that’s the one that I did at this. How is.

That possible?

How is that possible?

I don’t know, man. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But you got lucky this time.

So I guess you’re not going to tell us how you do that one?

I don’t know. You have to. You have to come and see me at one of the courses, and we can. We can we can talk about that one.

The let’s, let’s get let’s get to darker parts. Darker parts. I want to talk about errors. Mistakes, clinical errors. What comes to mind when I say clinical errors?

Look, we all make them. And there’s no there’s no shame in sharing our mistakes. You know, that’s what we learn from. And I think I’ve made plenty. You know, there’s there’s definitely been times when I’ve looked back and I’m like, how how on earth did I do that? Um, so one that comes to mind is actually in dental school. And I remember that I was pretty much like, you know, we’re going into like the perio department. And perio was always, for me, a dull subject. And I just was getting into it and I was like, Look, I just going to get through this day. You just need to pass my scan and polish competency, whatever, right? So anyway, I went in to call my patient and got her in and I was in a bit of a rush of getting stuff started, so I just started like taking like a plaque score. When you’re trying to pass these competencies, it’s always it’s always a bit, you know, you’re always a little bit nervous just making sure you’re, you really want to nail them. So anyway, I started doing a plaque score, started disclosing, got through like to another point. And then, um, I was like, you have to get like a checkpoint by each supervisor, right? So supervisor comes along and was like, okay, I’m going to look at this. And there was already a patient’s chart on here and it was like, okay, upper eight, six. He’s like, This patient doesn’t have an upper right six Like, what’s going on? Um, so I look back and then we look at the patient’s notes and we just ask the patient their name again. And they were like, Yeah, that’s not me. So I’m luckily I was on the oral surgery department because I easily could have extracted the wrong tooth. But I think you underestimate how easy it is to just treat the wrong person so that, you know, that was a big learning curve. So every patient I get in now, I always check date of birth. I always just check the age and gender, make sure all of that’s good.

That’s a good point, man.

That’s a good point.

Yeah. So that that was, um, that was a little bit embarrassing. And I got mentioned in our uni yearbook for that and never let down for that. And, um.

But that won’t.

Do. That won’t do. Yeah. Give me something better than that.

So that’s a, that’s a really.

That’s a, that’s a really good point. Learning point. Yeah. That you’re right about that. You’re right about that. Yeah. That’s why, that’s why before they cut your kidney out they, they do that as well. It’s true isn’t it. That’s, that’s why they do it. But go on, give me something else.

I’ve got.

I’ve got something worse than that. Yeah. Something pretty bad that happened. So this was when I was, um, in one of my, like, two posts. So pretty much was getting into doing implants. And you’ll be familiar with, like, a pickup impression. So we’ve got, um, I was getting used to using some of these systems and I pretty much put the pickup on first experience of using some more of these in Prague. Um, so first experience of using gum, right? And I mean, that stuff is hard to use the first.

Time you use proper.

Sticky stuff, right? So I was too busy caught up in trying to fill up my tray and trying to get this into the patient’s mouth without it falling all over the place. So anyway, I did that. And then, um, a lot of the patients that you treat actually, because they’re kind of quite big cancer like all their resections, a lot of them have lost a lot of sensation to the back of their mouth. So often they don’t. They tend not to sometimes have like a reflex of prominence. So anyway, I’d done this impression and I pulled it out and I was like, Oh, great. Like, um, looks good. Like, I’m happy with it. I could see the kind of retromolar pads and all the kind of borders on it, you know, I think I’ve nailed this impression and I was looking at where the pickups were and I was like, Hang about. There’s only one pickup in here. Like I put two in and then actually kind of look back and I was like, All right, it’s not in the patient’s mouth, haven’t dropped on the floor. What is going on? I was like, Shit, Like what? What has happened here? Yeah.

And I was like, well, this is, this is either, you know, in the impression somewhere embedded in or the patient swallowed it or worse, they could have inhaled it, right? Yeah. So, um, yeah, that was super stressful, you know, we. What did you do to go x ray? Yeah. Yeah. Went to, um, went to kind of the radio, escorted the patient to the kind of radiology department and radiology and yeah, just, it was a bit nervous waiting to see what the situation was with, with like the chest x ray pretty much they took a chest x ray and. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think when, when they saw that, they actually saw that it was actually most of the time it goes down the right bronchus. So they, they spotted the healing abutment there, it was there in the right bunkers in the right. Well it hadn’t quite gone down. It was still in the tube, It was still retrievable. So from the mouth. From the mouth, yeah. Yeah. It was still retrievable there from there.

So they had.

An operation to get like they knocked him out to get it out.

Well, actually, fortunately with with this they were able to retrieve this with like a cage without actually without going into. But if, if it had gone further down. Yeah that that would be. That would be an operation pretty much. You know, that’s stuff. So I’m super careful with all the healing abutments that I deal with now, you know, use gauze and make sure the patient’s upright and stuff like that. So that was that was that was a pretty big learning curve. And yeah, that was a tough one.

That’s a goodie. That’s a goodie. Do you feel like I mean, do you feel like you were you were in on reflection, do you think like there was an element of carelessness there? Or was it one of those ones where it just dropped?

So I don’t know, man. Like, I think I checked, I checked everything. I made sure that the healing abutments were seated correctly. But like with anything, when you’re using a new system, you’re using a new material that you’re not used to like.

You know, improv wasn’t taught at all at dental school and when my day and yet it’s everywhere in practice, isn’t it? And a lot of people think it’s a gold standard or I don’t know, I’m a bit behind nowadays. I mean, you tell me, do people still think it’s the gold standard?

Do you know? I’m scanning a lot now.


But if we’re talking analogue.

Yeah, I think.

If you’re going analogue, you know, and you’re taking implant impressions. Absolutely. There’s still still the gold standard. You know, I think it’s so dimensionally stable and even even when you’re getting those really deep margins that you know, and you’re finding it really difficult to isolate that. I mean, everyone talks about using gold standard kind of haemostatic agents and retraction cord and packing like in in the heat of the moment and when, you know, you might be busy on the day and something might not quite go your way. Yeah. You know, you just need a reliable material that’s that’s going to capture those margins. And, you know, I do still use it. I mean, but a lot of my practice is now now scanning. Yeah, you’ve got the scanner in Queen’s Square and I have the Itero in BUPA.

So which, which one.

Which one do you like more?

I think for my restorative, definitely the trios like in my hands that just works, works so much better and there’s so much that I feel you can do with it, but I don’t know whether it’s because my knowledge of it is better and I’ve been using it for longer, but I think I really kind of fine tuned my workflow with that. Like I rarely get any errors or problems and I like the communicate app. So a lot of the time when I’m chatting with a couple of my technicians, Stephen Lusty for instance, it’s very easy to just take a screenshot and then just bounce ideas back and forth off of him. So right now, yeah, I’m enjoying that. I’m going to the, the, I think we’re having a chat about this. I’m going to the Trios Symposium this Thursday, so hopefully learn some of the more advanced techniques with that. So looking looking forward to that.

And do you do do you do the Invisalign yourself as well?


So I’ve treated maybe about sort of 11 or 12 Invisalign cases and I just feel I don’t have the patience for it. If I’m honest. I think that there’s a lot of times that I find it doesn’t work how I want it to in my hands, and then the refinements and everything that follows. And just coming towards the end of finishing, the patients often get super picky. And I think for me that is probably a skill that I still have to develop and I enjoy doing a lot of the finishing and a lot of the restorative afterwards. But I feel that there are there are people that are kind of better at managing those situations and their diary is almost tailored for that. Yeah. So the simple cases I probably take on, but yeah, the more complex cases I usually refer those on to either Alfonso, for instance, or some of my colleagues.

Where do you see your your career going? Are you looking to open a practice at some point?

Right now.

I’m enjoying the kind of combination of family life, being an associate, leaving, leaving work at work to some degree. I mean, I’m still playing cases at home. I’m enjoying the teaching side, so I’m just sort of going with it. I think I was listening to your podcast with Jason a while ago and he was he was saying that it’s it’s difficult for to have everything. You know, people will talk about how they can have the practice, have a lecture career, have a good family life, be a high performing associate.

And look after yourself as well. Right?

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

And I think I think he had such a good point. Like I a lot of people might kind of portray themselves as having that, but generally, is that is that actually achievable? I don’t know. Like never say never. But, you know, right now I’m pretty comfortable and content with where I am.

I think Jason’s point especially, you know, international lecturer. Yeah, it takes it out of you, man. I just came back from Lithuania. Two, 2.5 hour flight. It’s nothing. Yeah. And yet it takes it out of you going a place, finding the place, making sure your laptop works, all of that. And then coming back. I did a one hour lecture with a 2.5 hour flight. Either either side of it. Tiring. Tiring. Tiring. Difficult. Yeah. When then you look at Jason, right? He’s off to the US every other weekend you know he’s he’s suddenly off to Indonesia and Australia and no way could he have been owning a practice at the same time. No way. He’s absolutely right about that.

Absolutely right. And this.

Is it. It’s almost like what what level do you want to get to in in a certain sector? And I think you ultimately there’s going to be a sacrifice somewhere. Right? You know, and it’s a question of what are you willing to sacrifice. And right now, you know, I’m quite content with, you know, really delivering high quality patient care, planning the cases, spending time with my family, you know, giving them the time that they deserve. And and, yeah, just focusing on this lecture and teaching side. So we’ll see that roles. But certainly in it’s not part of the next kind of five year plan.

But you must have in your head like the sort of ambition of hey, my perfect practice. We all do. Right. So do you think do you think you might end up not doing it at some point? Like you’re really saying that? I mean, there’s definitely you come across people like that, right? Teachers, they decide that’s what they’re going to do. They’re going to teach.

Yeah. Yeah. I’m not sure.

I think I’ve got the.

I’ve certainly got the right people around me to guide me and put me into the right context and steps in the right direction. But I honestly, at this stage, I’m not you know, I don’t I don’t feel completely you know, it’s definitely something that hasn’t crossed my mind yet. So never say never. Sure. I think I think the dentistry is changing a lot and the demands on principles and running a practice is becoming more and more challenging. And I can I can see that. But yeah, I mean, never say never. Like the other thing is my wife’s a dentist as well, so. Oh, is.

She. Is she. Yeah.

Yeah. So how much.

Does she work.

So right now she’s on, she’s on maternity. Yeah, of course. And she, I mean she’s looking to get, she herself is doing the transition from maybe kind of getting into a lot more private practice as well. So she’s she’s hoping to start off with that. And you know I think that she you know, again, trying to juggle it, she’ll she’ll probably start off with 2 or 3 days. And I think we’re just going to try and find our routine from there.

Yeah. Yeah. My wife, my wife’s a dentist. She does. She does one and a half days a week right now. I think it’s brilliant. It’s brilliant in so much as you can choose how many days a week you want to do, right?

That’s the best.

Flexibility is like you can have a side hustle. So if you feel like you want, you know, I don’t know if that’s how enlightened came about where yeah, kind of you sort of cut back a lot more in your clinical time and realise that actually there’s an opportunity here. There’s a market for this.

Yeah, Yeah. I was having that conversation with my son. You know, he’s, he’s saying he definitely doesn’t want to be a dentist. Right. And you know, he’s a 16 year old, so that’s what he might say. And I was telling him, hey, you know, all right, become a dentist and don’t be a dentist after that. Yeah. And he said, well, why, you know, when you’re 16, five years seems like such a long time, doesn’t it? But yeah. Would you would you advise your kids to become a dentist?

I think the more and more I look into this sort of stuff, I think the advice that I would give is do what you love like. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

But when it comes down to it, dude, Yeah. You’ll see when he’s 16 and deciding his A-levels. Yeah. And he says, All right, should I do politics or should I do chemistry? You end up having to give these bits of advice. I was the same as you. Oh, yeah, man. Follow. Follow your dreams, make movies and all of this. But suddenly these decisions come up, You know, it actually happens that way.

I think you’re pretty happy.

You’re happy, aren’t you? You’re happy as a dentist.

Why wouldn’t you advise it? Look, I’m.

Content in the role, and it’s for sure it’s created a lot, a lot of opportunities for me. And if I see the kind of interest and acumen there, like, I think there’s lots of dentists that are unhappy as well. There’s a lot of people that have like taken this role and then all of a sudden they’re stuck in that that kind of job. And the difficulty with it is you do the five year degree and when you’re actually in real life practice, sometimes it’s not what you kind of thought it was going to be. And I think if they enjoy it, if they do a good amount of work experience, you know, I probably would send them to Trocadero’s as well, go to the arcade, film their work experience, and then maybe, you know, after that, if they’re really paying genuine interest towards it and they’ve got they feel like they can have a passion for that. Absolutely. Like, you know, it’s a great job in the sense that it’s not an office based job. And, you know, you really do kind of get your hands dirty and you can you can create so many opportunities for yourself. And I think that that’s a very kind of unique field, which you can’t really do that in many other sectors.

What do you regret in your career? Don’t tell me you don’t regret anything. That’s kind of guy you are. No. Yeah. Apart from that, what do you regret? What do you wish you’d done something earlier or hadn’t done something or.

That’s a tough one.

Part of me does.

Part of me does regret what I have benefited more from specialising. Do you think would I have got more kind of experience and would I have almost fast tracked myself to be where I am? But in a way, you know, I feel like the opportunities have kind of been there. And in a way, I’m there’s still prosthodontists when they come out. They’re not they’re definitely not the finished article, you know what I mean? So I think that when I start to realise that that it is an ongoing learning process, so maybe, I don’t know if I’d done some, some sort of specialist training, whether that would be like a broad maybe that I would have got a lot more kind of varied clinical experience. A friend of mine actually travelled to NYU and he did like an implant diploma and from that he placed about 150 implants. So that that kind of really fast tracked his career. It’s a journey, right? So sometimes you know that that journey doesn’t that journey is individual for everyone. So I suppose that that that could be a regret. But equally, I’m also kind of content with the way that things have panned out like that.

And who would you like to see as a guest on this podcast? Who’s whose story would you like to hear the most?

Dental or anyone.

It is called Dental Leaders. One of the problematic pieces.

Um, do you know what do you know? Actually, when we were at the first Mini Smile makeover, can you remember we went for dinner, Right? We. We all.

Remind me. Remind me, remind me of, like, you don’t feel like 150. So this was. There’s that pizza restaurant.

On Whiteladies Road in Bristol, I. Bosco Can you remember that?

Bosco Yeah, yeah, yeah.

With Alfonso.

That’s the one. Yeah.

When Depeche had the bike motorbike crash.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. This is the.

One. Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

So that wasn’t the first mini spa maker that was well, in man, that was well in. We’ve done many by that point. You’ve done.

A few for.

That. Yeah, but that.

Was, that was actually my favourite mini spa maker. We actually talk about that one because the sun was out and we had drinks outside didn’t we. Yeah. And, and then we went to Moscow. Well, what are you telling me about Moscow again? Tell me.

So I think.


Guys that.

Were there for dinner, I’m not sure if we’re talking about the same one, but it was Andy McLean and Kailash.

Kailash Yeah, both of them came.

And that was great because, I mean, it’s the first time I’ve kind of properly had a chat with those guys in that environment. And I think Kailash was trying to tell me a little bit about his story and a bit of his kind of background. And I don’t know if he’s been on the show. I don’t know if.

Yeah, twice. Twice. Yeah. I was going.

To say one of those two guys. So either Kailash and Andy McLean, I don’t know.

Andy McLean is a good guy, though. Andy McLean is a goodie. I’m going to I’m going to get him on.

You should try and get him on. And no, I will.

I will.

For sure.

I mean, his work is just outstanding.

And the original.

Composite veneer guy, wasn’t.

He? Yeah. Yeah, it’d be great to hear it.

It’d be great to hear his story and see how how we got about going on there.

So interesting. He tells me when when I told him, Listen, Andy, like at the time he was booked nine months ahead with composite veneers. Yeah, yeah. And I said, Dude, you know, that’s a lot of polishing. It’s a lot of polishing. Like they sometimes think, you know, what am I like, some sort of Polish guy? And he went, you know, that’s when I’m most at ease in my life. Like, gets himself to like a Zen sort of mindset and focus. And he’s in a flow state as he’s polishing these teeth, you know, and, and, you know, you realise like that’s, that’s loving your career isn’t it. That’s, that’s, that’s, that’s a beautiful thing. And I’m sure you can relate in some way, right?

If you’ve got like a passion.

I mean I think if you’ve got passion for polishing composites, you know you love it, you know, you know.

You love love. Yeah. You can spend.

Hours polishing.

Composite then.

Yeah. Think you you’re pretty much there, aren’t you? But, um, yeah.

I can.

I can definitely relate to that, but probably not quite to that level.

Basil. Basil. Basil. You know, he’s famous for his temporaries, and. And he says sometimes he gets into this zone of, like, overdoing it, making the temporary this unbelievable thing. We’re all guilty of it a bit, right? We don’t know where to stop as well. That’s the other thing.

I think there’s stuff like that, you know, when you’ve got like a kind of a more kind of rehab case or like a veneer case coming in, just spending that extra bit of time on the temporaries just, you know, really overdeliver under-promising but over delivering, you know, I think that’s that extra like little bit of time that you’re spending and just getting that reaction from the patient. That’s what it’s all about.

So am I wrong that your work is all minimally invasive? Do you do you do things like rehab cases as well?

Yeah. Yeah. So. Oh, do you?

I do quite a lot of varied work, to be honest. I think a lot of the stuff that I usually kind of post on Instagram is the stuff that I’ve had kind of time to photograph or time to enjoy. And a lot of the time when it’s a less demanding case, that’s often when I try and photograph everything. But it can be difficult. But, you know, there’s a lot of cases of kind of upper upper arch rehab that I’ve got going on in Queen’s Square at the moment. I’m doing quite a lot of implant work in my practice, so I think I’m getting to a point where the photos are good enough to post on Instagram. I know that’s that’s a bad thing to say, but you know, sometimes that’s the difficulty as Instagram sometimes doesn’t show any kind of mistakes or any like little things that are not quite right. So, you know, I think these I’m growing in these areas as well.

It depends depends on your market, isn’t it? Because the majority of dentists who post on Instagram are aiming their pictures at patients? Yeah, but but someone like you or like Depeche, for instance, is more aiming the picture at dentists.


And and you can you can get you can get paralysed by perfection though. But you know, that’s that’s one thing I would warn you against. You know, next time Obtenant says oh come and do a course on whatever. Yeah. Even if, even if that course you don’t feel like you’re 100. Yet you do the work, just get it out because getting it out is the work. And then. And then. And then as you know yourself, like even, you know, I’ve seen 150 mini spa makers. It’s constantly changing. He’s constantly adding to it and all that. The more the more you deliver that course, the course itself then evolves. Yeah. Whereas trying to make it perfect first time. Um. Yeah, it’s.


That’s also a learning process as well. Right. And that’s nice. Bit of wisdom added there. Yeah.

It’s difficult. Being a teacher is difficult. I’ve noticed that, you know, having worked with a lot of teachers, it’s difficult. It’s difficult. Difficult. It’s a lot of hours of actually, you know, making these presentations. And normally it’s fuelled by pure passion. I mean, you can’t you can’t sort of think that you get paid for those hours because you don’t you could be the top teacher in the world. You’re the top teacher in the world, but everyone else here doesn’t get paid for the number of hours they put in. But it’s the passion that keeps you wanting to keep going, man. So, you know, I wish you well with it, my buddy. I wish you well with it. We’ve come to the end of our time. Let’s. Let’s finish it off with the. With the usual questions. Fancy dinner party. Three guests, dead or alive, Who would you have?

So this is this is a non Dental Leaders one, right? This can be anyone know?

It can be anyone. Anyone. It can be anyone.

Okay, cool. So, um, I’m. I’m thinking, um. Had to be someone magic related, you know, like, I’d love to get some into the mind of, well, Paul Daniels could be one, but I think David Blaine is super. He’s super cryptic. Right. There’s something about that guy. I’m sure there’s a lot of layers to unravel there. So yeah, I’d love to love to have him there. And there’s a couple of tricks you’ve done that I just I just love to know how he did some of those so he would be a good guy. I’ve also got, um, Nobu Mata’utia matches, You know, the guy, the. The chef there, the head of Nobu. I’d love to love to have him there. That’s like my favourite restaurant, so it would be great to.

It is good for.

You. The funny thing about Nobu is ridiculous. The prices are ridiculous, right? Hardly anyone in there is paying for the dinner themselves. Right? It’s all corporate. But the one thing I’ve noticed. I mean, you like food, right? I like food. I hate it when I go and eat something. And I think I could have made that myself. But something. There’s something about it. Even if it’s delicious. If I could have made it myself. It’s just. And in Nobu, it’s. I remember it was the first time and repeatedly, every time I’ve been I’ve only been like four times in my life. But every time you eat something, you think, what the hell did he do that? You have no idea what it was.

It’s amazing.

Yeah. Every time I’ve been like. It’s just, um. Yeah, just. The food is just outstanding. So. Yeah, it’d be be a great person to.

What’s his name?

Matt. Matt What?

Nobu Matsuhisa. Matsuhisa Ohisa. Yeah.

I didn’t realise it was a guy. How cool.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I was thinking, thinking outside the box with him and then, um. The other. The other guy. I mean, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the. The video of the launch of the iPhone. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Steve Jobs deliver that.

I’ve watched that a hundred times. Like, I adore it.

It is just so amazing.

It’s like just perfection, the way that is delivered. And I mean, to just spend a bit of time with that guy just to understand how his mind works. Like literally that would be, um, that would be great. So yeah, I think those are, those are three, three good people.

Very nice. Very, very nice and deathbed. A bit weird with a guy so young friends and family around you. What three pieces of advice would you leave them with?

Well, this is tough.

So I’ve always kind of liked that that quote. So as cliche as it is, you know, life life is basically like a blank canvas. So, you know, you want to make your own mark on it and kind of make your own Mona Lisa. That’s that’s the advice I’d definitely give to to my to my girls as well. That’s something that I definitely try and impart on them. Um. I suppose. The other thing is. You know, kind of. You know, believe in the magic. Do you know what I mean? Like, believe that the things are you can kind of deliver something and believe in yourself, even if you think it’s impossible. Believe that that can happen. Because, you know, you’d be surprised at kind of what you can achieve in life and, you know, believe in yourself and and doing that and.


Kind of one.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Just, you know, be confident in yourself. I think. I think confidence in abundance, you know, like you say, putting yourself in the right position and creating those opportunities, that’s that’s like a really kind of important thing to, to believe in.

And by the.

Way, you know, your kids are young. Yeah. But when I think about what do you want to give your kids? Yeah. And I think about it all the time, right? Because it’s difficult. You’re trying to you’re trying to do the best you can. Right? And I’ve put, I think, confidence and kindness. Yeah. And if you can manage those two, you’ve done really, really well. Like, really, really well. Um, it’s, it’s, you know, you’ve got young kids and you end up loving them. Of course. Yeah. But what do you want to give them? Yeah. Confidence is such a big one. Hold on.

What else.

It’s. It’s so true. And it’s never had to think about that. So. Yeah, an interesting one.

What’s your third?

Um, yeah, Just, I suppose.

I suppose just like a thank you for. For everything, you know, thank you for, like, the support and just the, the opportunities, because I think growing and spending time on your career requires a certain amount of kind of support from your family. And, you know, the family for sure have always been there. So definitely just like a just a thank you for everything because, you know, without your support and without your kind of, you know, always, always striving me to to want to achieve better. Like it’s there’s always that encouragement that, you know, you can do it that kind of can do attitude. So just, just a thank you for everything.

That’s lovely, man. That’s lovely, buddy. Like that very much, man. But it’s been lovely to have. You really has really enjoyed it. And and I’ve been following you since, I don’t know, two years after you qualified and the acceleration is massive. And now I remember you did tell me you knew the Cornish dentist, but. But it’s all making a lot more sense now, you know?

Yeah. Yeah. No, it’s all Alan’s.

A great guy. And, you know, I could see both of you. The acceleration. The acceleration, man. It’s just lovely to see you, man. Lovely to see you. I’ve talked about this before. Yeah. Where you know, you qualify. Is it a 2012 three?

So, yeah, it’s been 11 years this year. Yeah.

Yeah. So, you know, 17 years after me. Yeah, something like that. Yeah. And then to watch someone go from knowing nothing and knowing a little bit and knowing and then to see them go straight past, you know, know way more than me in so many areas, right? In most areas it’s just a wonderful thing to watch, man. It really is. And I watch your progress with interest, man. So thanks a lot for doing this.

To to kind man and yeah, really appreciate you having me on here and thanks Thanks for the advice along the way.

Cool my buddy. Thanks a lot, bud. Cheers.

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.

Thanks for listening, guys. If you got this far, you must have listened to the whole thing. And just a huge thank you both from me and pay for actually sticking through and listening to what we’ve had to say and what our guest has had to say, because I’m assuming you got some value out of it.

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