This week, we caught up with dentist and pistonhead Neel Jaiswal. Neel talks about his early years and introduction to the craft, as well as his hopes for the future.


We also got to chat with Neel about one of his biggest passions – fast cars.


Recently, Neel has been dividing his time between clinical practice and work with Professional Dental Indemnity – an insurance company he set up to service dentists. Neel shares some of the unique insights he has gained through PDI, as well as his thoughts on some of the regulatory and legal challenges faced by today’s clinicians.




“Look after your health, have the right people around you, do the right thing, support each other.” – Neel Jaiswal


In this week’s episode    


01.58 – Early years 

17.16 – Passion for cars

32.32 – Private practice

38.24 – On Pankey, Spear and networking

42.09 – Ambience, communication and rapport – tips for practice

49.41 – Pet peeves and key mentors

53.49 – In ten years time

54.58 – Professional Dental Indemnity

01.08.00 – Highs and lows

01.13.14 – Spinning plates

01.16.30 – Health

01.17.56 – Legacy

01.19.09 – Complaints and the GDC

01.26.24 – Tips for a 20-year-old Neel


About Neel Jaiswal

Following graduation from Birmingham University in 1996, Neel has practised in the UK and Australia 


He has trained at the Eastman Institute, the Royal College of Surgeons and the Spear Dental Institute in Arizona, US. 


Neel was UK director of the Dentinal Tubules, co-founder of the British Academy of Microscope Dentistry and founder of the Turbine social and educational events group for dentists.


Neel is now director of Professional Dental Indemnity insurance set up to serve the dental profession. 


Connect with Prav and Payman:


Prav on Instagram

Payman on Instagram

Payman: Hi guys. We’ll come to the dental leaders podcast. Today’s guest is Neil Jay’s, well, one of the most high profile dentists out there. Not only because of his love of cars and what kind of guy, he’s a connector, knows everyone in dentistry. The way I see it lately. He’s also started a new defence organisation. So I thought it was super nice talking to him finally, you know, in public like bears to get his sort of state of the union on generally on where things are and especially [00:00:30] at this time perhaps with the GDC issues and the defence issues to have the balls to say I’m going to have a defence organisation. It’s just lovely to see that

Prav: it’s cool and just his, you know, what it took away from that was his approach to providing cover based on measuring risk accurately rather than just taking a blanket approach to defence. And then his love of cars. I was never aware that you could own half a car. [00:01:00] Phil Neil told us about, about the concept. So really interesting conversation. Really nice guy. It just great chatting and um, apparently we have the same body posture. So he told me anyway, enjoy guys. It’s going to be fun.

Neel: It’s really nice. Now where was, I was like gumball on Regent street and I was queuing up to watching the cars go past and there was three guys next to me and Oh, let’s take a picture for turbine and I go, that’s me. That’s me. So [00:01:30] the artist,

Intro Voice: 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.

Payman: Lovely to have you.

Neel: Thanks for having me.

Payman: Thanks a lot for coming down. I’ve known you for a long [00:02:00] time because your dad is friends with Sanchez. That right? My partners Dad?

Neel: So I grew up in a little Northeast town called Cleethorpes, which is near Grimsby. So it’s in the Northeast coast. It’s funny, people think I’m a southerner, I was born in London, but no, grew up in Grimsby and quite proud of it. And actually San Jews, one of the enlightened directors, obviously a dentist as well. We knew his whole family, a very early age, pre 1977 or something.

Payman: Your Dad’s a doctor?

Neel: My dad’s a doctor. His dad was obviously [00:02:30] a doctor as well. So I’ve got fond memories of, you know, an Earl and Sanje and going to Cleethorpes beach and eating ice cream and riding donkeys.

Payman: Did you have in Cleethorpes until you went to university?

Payman: No Cleethorpes and Grimsby, which has sort of neighbours and then Sanjay moved to Birmingham, but we stayed in touch. And then just by chance we were both dentists. And actually when I came to uni in 91 I don’t think I had accommodation for a little while. So I stayed with the parents and you know, stayed in the house for a [00:03:00] few months.

Payman: So you studied in birmingham?

Neel: Yeah. So I studied in Birmingham and obviously Sandra’s in Cardiff and yes, I’ve known him a long time and it’s, you know, I’m really proud to see such a nice guy as you know, a very humble guy. And just to see his development and I’ll CC you guys how well you’ve done with enlighten, with all the struggles he had. People don’t see the struggle. I saw you guys struggling and it’s so pleasing to see what you’ve become.

Neel: So no. Yeah, I’ve known him a long time probably, you know, 40 odd years.

Payman: So what kind of, what kind of a kid were you? Were you academically good [00:03:30] to you? What kind of kid were you?

Neel: I think generally I’m quite bright and I’m quite sensitive, which is a kind of way I’m now, I’m a relatively intelligent, relatively sensitive to communication and people. But I have to say I was probably, I struggled a little bit in childhood with confidence and with being the only Indian person in the school. So I think in junior school isn’t the, you know, one in a couple of hundred when you went to secondary school? I was one in 1200 I think I always gravitated towards girls. I’ve always [00:04:00] liked girls, you know, and their company, lots of female friends. And I think that’s just comes from a young age where, you know, they’re more comforting, the more nurturing, the more social, whereas boys just want to hit each other or.

Payman: Do you have a sister?

Neel: Now just me and a younger brother who is a solicitor. So I kinda think I developed into a sort of a softer person and maybe not so confident. And then as I got a bit older through uni and not through uni, through secondary school, I think by the second year people sort of see you as an individual [00:04:30] rather than as a, you know, you still get it here and there. I mean it was a tough area. Grimsby, you know, is not the most salubrious of places. So that was a little bit tough. But I remember one incident if then, if he is a bit of a boring one, but I remember we used to play football. I used to love football, used to play a lot of it. So you know, every lunchtime, every dinner it goes to the yard and you’d, you’d have massive football games.

Neel: And I think I was probably a first year and some of the second or third years were trying to steal the ball off me. It was my ball. I remember holding onto it really tight and all these kids trying [00:05:00] to grab it and push me around and stuff and I didn’t let go. And I think after that it wasn’t me standing up for myself. It was just, it’s my ball and I think a little thing like that and it just changed the balance and they left me alone. Bizarre, stupid little thing.

Prav: You mentioned you were the only Indian brown guy in school. Me and my brother were the same. Right. And.

Neel: Where did you grow up, sorry,

Prav: Manchester.

Neel: Okay.

Prav: And we went through a pretty rough time, especially a primary school. Can you, did you have a similar experience or,

Neel: I think not in primary [00:05:30] school. I think they were just quite nice. Primary school kids and middle-class parents. And initially I went to sort of a quite a nice primary and a posh school – a junior school. And then my dad took me out of that as, it must’ve been finances, I think, and went into a Catholic school. So I actually probably did six till 11 in a Catholic school. So I’m quite good at ASCE and uh, you know, and I’m Catholic school. Yes. Yeah. So we all can sing to hym.

Neel: [00:06:00] Right. I mean it was quite interesting and that, and that’s where I’m kind of, if you want to go into religion, I had quite a Hindi background, but I also had that kind of Christian background. And then as I’ve grown up having Jewish friends and Muslim friends from Birmingham, you kind of see all the similarities between all the cultures and religions. And it’s a shame that we’re all divisive. We’re actually, you know,

Payman: Do you believe in God?

Neel: I don’t think I’m clever enough to sort of, I mean, a belief is a belief. So, you know, who knows. I would say obviously this higher [00:06:30] power, there’s a spiritual nature in us all. We naturally want to do good things, you know, and help each other. That’s the natural human state. So yes, I believe in God and I kinda think God’s come to us all in different ways.

Neel: I don’t think he is just for one type of nation or one type of person. And I kind think I, you know, the Abrahamic religions, whether it’s two days in Christianity, Islam, they’re all, to me it’s like, you know, star Wars, return of the Jedi is all a continuation. Really just different stories which get adjusted for the times, you know, weather, [00:07:00] things like not to eat pork, you know what I mean? I wouldn’t have very safe thing to do. So it’s interesting that, you know, Christianity and Judaism have that. Islam has that as well. So no, I definitely believe in it. I hope. I don’t believe in karma, but I think if you do the right things and do good things and help others, I think it’s practical. Yeah, it’s practically, it makes, it makes it, you know, it’s altruistic. You want to do things that you enjoy.

Neel: And one of the things is helping people.

Payman: Do you remember when you decided to look at dentistry as a career?

Neel: Didn’t want to do dentistry?

Payman: What did you want to [00:07:30] do?

Neel: I think I want to draw cars draw fast. That’s all I ever did when an aeronautical engineering [cross talk]. Oh well I liked art, I liked books. I read voraciously as a child, you know, book a day and you know, under the covers with a torch and mom telling me off at three in the morning when you know, Lord of the rings at nine 10 you know, difficult books. Shakespeare, I used to really enjoy reading so I was probably a reading creative type person, but obviously with Indian parents. So you know, when it came [00:08:00] to picking my O levels, which is, you know, GCSE for younger guys it was ‘right, you’re doing, chemistry, physics, maths, biology, and going to be a doctor.’ And I’d sort of done English, French, you know, art history.

Neel: So yeah, I didn’t really want to do dentistry and didn’t do very well in my O levels at the time. You know, as I said, it was a big comprehensive school. The average grade was probably D’s and E’s. I think I got C’s and D’s if I did better than most. But it really was a long way short. And [00:08:30] at that time dentistry and medicine were A’s and B’s, you know, it’s not like now where it has to be a triple star or whatever it is. So I was fortunate enough, and again, you know, people look at other people and think, Oh their parents have helped him out and this and that’s why successful. And you know, we all have those privileges. We all get help from a family and we would do that to our own family. But you have to kind of do it yourself as well.

Neel: You know, you can easily squander those opportunities. So I was lucky enough when I was 17-18 to relocate, although it was difficult,from Cleethorpes to Cambridge. So I re-sat my a levels in the six months [00:09:00] in a year. And I think it went from CD to AAB. So it just shows you maybe being away from home a little bit. That helps. But actually.

Payman: did get to of those tutorial.

Neel: to a place called st Andrew’s, which was one of the best times of my life and really, really just started to open. I was, yeah, I was a small boy from Cleethorpes and I ended up, everyone was wearing blazers. This was sort of 1988 now, you know, and there was people with helicopters from Nigeria, from Brazil, from [00:09:30] Boston, you know, all the global, kind of one of the like a Benetton advert, you know, really.

Payman: And it just changed me. And the way I, even the way I spoke, cause no one could understand that.

Payman: you have a Northern accent.

Neel: I didn’t know the accent, which basically involves swearing every other word and people really couldn’t understand me. And so you had to speak slower because there were foreign nationalities and they also, a lot of them were public school educated. So you just kind of, [crosstalk]. I can do it. Imagine you [00:10:00] with it. Not that I can do it just involves swearing. I don’t want to swear. I don’t encourage swearing. I’ll do it to later.

Prav: What about under the influence of like drink or something like that?

Neel: It’s so far removed. I mean it’s, you know, half it’s a half a lifetime away. I can do. It’s a parody. It’s probably not a real accident. I can kind of, I’m just caricature.

Payman: Caricaturing yeah. So then you decided to apply for dentistry?

Neel: No.

Payman: Oh, you didn’t even then?

Neel: No. Medicine. Dad was a GP, you know you’re going to be a doctor. And I knew I [00:10:30] didn’t want to be a GP because when we were younger we lived above the surgery and I just saw the amount of stress my dad was living above a surgery is not a good idea. And the kind of person he is, he was always on call. He would always help somebody. He would always…So all I saw with lots of ill people coughing in the waiting room and just these long hours. And it wasn’t like now when you were doing on call, you were on call and you were working the next day. And again having to put up with racism and things. I remember there’s all sorts of things written on our Gates and window smashed and car scratched.

Neel: But I mean [00:11:00] it’s always a minority and you know, most of the patients absolutely adored him. And that’s where I got my kind of caring side from. I think he was just genuinely, he put, and he’s one of the Indian dads, he put his heart into work and the family was left with mum and the kids to sort out. So he was very much there for his patients. And I do that a little bit as well. Now I’m there for my patients and when I’m off work I kind of really shut down a little bit and I’m a more closed person. So you know, you do develop into your dad to some degree.

Payman: Sorry to interrupt, but do you two feel racism now?

Prav: Certainly not [00:11:30] me. Not anymore. But growing up,

Payman: Does it ever crop up?

Neel: No. I mean I live in Wellington, which is a very white area again.

Neel: And I was at the pub quiz and I noticed – hang on – I’m the only Brown person here, so it didn’t, that wasn’t racism.

Payman: When you’re the only Brown person. I don’t think there is racism because you’re a curiosity more than anything else.

Neel: I don’t think they even notice. I really don’t think they notice.

Payman: You think as a country, Britain’s over that.

Neel: I think there’s a bit of a, well,

Payman: There’s a bit of a revival.

Neel: I know [00:12:00] in London, which is what I love about London. It’s a global city. And I consider myself a global person. So you know, we met Laura, the Lara, the other just now is Spanish and you guys and everyone’s from everywhere. And I think that’s the home counties is a reflection of London because London’s expanded. So I think where we are, it’s quite normal. I think if you do go to some isolated places, I don’t know.

Neel: I haven’t been there for a while, but when I did my VT in Norfolk, you’d get phone calls from patients saying to these speak English, you know, things like that. So that was 20 odd years ago [00:12:30] whenever it was. Yeah, I’m sure it’s better now, but it’s all about, um, the mix of people that are in place. And obviously I think also when communities isolate themselves, they sometimes don’t do themselves any favour. They become scapegoats, you know, rightly or wrongly.

Payman: So come on with the story. You, you didn’t get intimate.

Neel: I think my two A’s and a B weren’t enough. It would’ve been all right first time. It wasn’t enough as a re-sit. And then I think I probably took a year out trying to get through – I don’t even can’t remember – clearing and things like that, whatever it was at the time. And I worked a little bit at an accountant’s [00:13:00] in London, so I lived in Queens park, which was a really dodgy area at that time.

Neel: Did some travelling, went all around Europe. So that’s where my love of travelling sort of started. I mean my parents had taken me to India every two years, so we’d go to London two or three times a week and in Cleethorpes, if you’d gone to London, it was a big thing, let alone going abroad, you know it’s pre eighties /seventies when it just started, you know, the charter flight actually to go to London was a huge thing and go abroad. So I had already done that. And then I think it’s probably in that [00:13:30] year off, let’s call it , I Euro-Starred around Europe, you know this is pre-phones pre-internet pre-wifi? Sent a postcard here and there and I also got an amazing deal from – and i can’t quite remember it – but it was six weeks worth of airline travel in the States.

Payman: Yeah, we did that.

Neel: For like 600 bucks.

Payman: Something like that on any Delta plane that is there is a seat on, yeah, nothing. We used to, we used to run out of money in Miami and say well we can’t afford a hotel. [00:14:00] This is get on an overnight flight to San Francisco, get a meal, get some sleep.

Neel: Was it six weeks?

Payman: It was a monthly thing.

Neel: A month or something.

Payman: If it was the same thing as I’m talking about, it’s called Delta.

Neel: I’m sure that’s it. I’m glad you remembered cause.

Payman: We had it on our elective.

Neel: How old were you then?

Payman: Elective, so 21-22, that sort of thing.

Neel: He must’ve been around that time because I went to everywhere I went to Minneapolis.

Neel: Um, I went to Minneapolis. I’m a big Prince fan.

Payman: Yeah, me too.

Neel: And in terms of, you know, when [00:14:30] you’re growing up, you’re talking about that earlier, you sort of, you want an identity and obviously you know, so I sort of took on Prince’s persona a little bit. Not with the falsetto but just kind of a little,

Payman: Did you get to Paisley park studios.

Neel: I didn’t get to Paisley. I did get to Minneapolis and stood outside first Avenue. I couldn’t actually get in. I was too young. But it’s interesting, you know it was just for me, ‘oh, Neel’s a Prince fan’ and it just gave you an identity and obviously you grow out of that. But I think teenagers do need to sort of figure out who they are or even adopt a persona. [00:15:00] And I do, I mean having the younger patients now I really feel for them because they can’t hide or they can’t reinvent themselves.

Neel: And you know, there’s all the Facebook and Instagram and you see that some of the bullying and the way society’s changed. So I think we were, we were more sheltered, but we also were allowed to develop yourself in a different way without, you know, the whole exposure of what happens now.

Payman: So then what happened?

Neel: Er, didn’t get into medicine. Got into dentistry. Though this is going to be easy.

Payman: Were you disappointed in yourself? What was – I mean – how did you feel? You feel [00:15:30] like a failure?

Neel: I think when I got my level results, I was really happy. You know, getting two A’s and a B in six months or nine months, you kind of think, Oh, this is good. I remember the joy of that. But I suppose as a teenager, introverted, you don’t, you know, you’re not a grown man, only about 35 years. So when you’re an 18 year old, 19 year old, you don’t know what you’re doing.

Neel: You don’t know the how it’s going to affect your life. So I just think I just got tottered along in my sort of belligerent, Kevin and Perry way.

Prav: Were your parents happy with dentistry?

Neel: Uh, [00:16:00] no. I think they thought it was a failure really. I think there was a thing that dentists were, you know, medics didn’t make it, and actually I wasn’t sure about dentistry. I did think was going to be easier if it wasn’t going to be medicine. So I did cruise a bit, but I remember sort of my first – I had two positive experiences of dentistry when I was younger, which kind of made me think this might be okay. One was I had a horrible dentist who I hated when I had a little filling occlusal amalgam, which I’ve still got up and then didn’t go back to him for years.

Neel: So managed, luckily got away with it but I was used to these [00:16:30] old school dentists who weren’t very nice. I went to see probably when I was 15-16, Peter – I can’t remember his surname – is still practising in Cleethorpes, and I thought, Oh, he’s got a nice car, and his hygienist is nice. And he showed me the x-ray and they did a scale and polish. I thought that felt better. So actually a saw even then, you know, which was 20-30 years ago, a different side of dentistry. And the other person was Neil Sikka. I’m sure you guys know Neil Sikka So he’s from Grimsby as well as all the good people from Grimsby and he had a Saab 900 convertible and he [00:17:00] seemed to be doing really well. And I thought this dentistry actually might not be just a secondary job. It actually has its own merits. So I think I had that and it, it did take me till I kind of finish university and beyond really to find the dentistry that I enjoyed doing.

Prav: So from that age it seems you had a passion for cars.

Neel: I think. Yeah. I don’t know where it came from really. But it’s again, probably from childhood dad taking you to motor shows, you know, that was such a big thing at that time. You know, you’d go to the London [00:17:30] motor show and you get these to get loads of freebies, you know, all the little bags full of stuff, which is like the dental showcases used to be, you know, when you’re a student. So I think that, and I remember also my dad first having a mini, you know, small little mini, which was our family car, you know, I don’t know how we all got in there. And then I think he went from that to afford Granada, which I used to say Ford Banana because I couldn’t say Granada at that time.

Neel: And then he went to a Mercedes. Now this was probably 1978 and if you’re an Indian person with a Mercedes, you kind of made it, [00:18:00] you know, it was a orange one or a and then a cream worn. And I actually thought the joy of him having that car and seeing actually all the, the abuse and the effort and the hard work. So to me it was kind of the reward for him. And I think probably that sort of stuck with me a little bit in terms of that. And then so I’ve always liked cars and then I’ve enjoyed driving cars as you’ve got a bit older.

Payman: So we’ll fast forward quickly then to Turbine the Facebook group . You started [00:18:30] that when like two, three years ago, longer,?

Neel: You know, time is really weird.

Payman: Can’t remember?

Neel: I don’t know what I had for dinner yesterday. And the thing with phones nowadays I found it takes a bit of your memory away because you rely on it for phone numbers, addresses so, you know, it’s like it should be connected and wired into us.

Neel: Yeah. So I actually don’t know what day time, year or what I’ve done. It’s because you’ve just automatically in your brain switched it off. So that’s a dangerous thing. So I don’t know how long it’s been going to answer your question. Probably three or four years.

Prav: How many members?

Neel: I think it’s pretty good. 1500 1600 [00:19:00] and I was just saying to Sanjay earlier, they actually, the active membership is, cause there’s loads of crews for thousands of members and nobody posts anything. It’s really pleasing to see. We’ve got 800 900 active members, people looking at it and stuff. Really good ratio, you know, so it’s a, it’s a powerful group and obviously it was a reflection of me a little bit in terms of, I don’t mind sort of negative stuff and you know, and that kind of thing.

Payman: But I think you organise sort of drives and track days and all [00:19:30] of that sort of stuff.

Neel: Yeah. I think just basically Facebook when it was sort of at that time there was just lots of arguments going on and lots of hatred and lots of egos. And I think, you know, when you, when I talk to you guys, I’m talking to Prav, we’re just going to be obviously very civil to each other. And if we have a disagreement about something we can, I can see his micro expressions and we can walk away. Facebook is, you know, [crosstalk] difficult. Well it’s a bit like two people driving a car. You don’t see the person’s face, you just get the road rage. And I just thought this is really unhealthy. And there’s [00:20:00] stuff going on with the, you know, the GDC and indemnity and CQC and all those other factors. And I just thought we just need to bring dentists together. So it wasn’t really just let’s look at who’s got a nice car. It really was a means of we’ve got a shared passion, let’s bring dentists together.

Payman: You don’t worry that some Daily Mail will get their hands on it or something?

Neel: Well, there’s a, there’s lots of, um, recent newspaper articles of dentists with wealthy cars and wealthy houses and all that stuff. So they can always find stuff if they want [00:20:30] to find stuff. Of course. And again, it’s approach mentality of is success a bad thing? It’s okay if you’re on made in Essex and you’ve got, you know, million dollar watches, but if you’re a dentist and you work hard, you’re actually a bit of an evil person.

Payman: so you don’t worry about it.

Neel: No, never have. I really, I think, and also if you look at turbine, we might up pictures of Ferrari’s and stuff, but we’d also put up little pictures of cars.

Payman: Yeah, you’re right. It’s a car enthusiast group.

Neel: Love and we all appreciate 40 year old classics and we all appreciate a LaFerrari, [00:21:00] which we know we may never see or hear, but you know, it’s just gonna…

Payman: It’s definitely raised your profile in the whole dental world a bit, hasn’t it? Yeah?

Neel: Which is really nice. I mean I think people knew me a little bit before from sort of the spear stuff maybe from tubials from other stuff as well. You know, and I’ve tried to help a lot of people and engage a lot of people, but generally I think it’s really nice now where was, I was like gumball on Regent street and I was queuing up, watching the cars go past and there was three guys [00:21:30] next to me and say, Oh well let’s take a picture for turbine. And I go, that’s me. That’s me. So it’s really nice that, you know to…

Neel: Yeah. People do say, Oh you like the cars and they do think sometimes I own all the cars I post, but that’s not the case.

Payman: But what cars do you own?

Neel: At the moment? I’ve got a little BMW I3 which I actually love, absolutely love. And I am pro electric cars, which sort of divides the group. We might have to change turbine to, you know, battery [00:22:00] might have to change the name of it. But now I love the I three and his work superbly in town and I’ve got half an Aston Martin GTA,

Prav: which half?

Neel: hopefully the engine.

Neel: But what I learned early on is actually, um, a lot of these nice cars they have, you don’t really drive them that much. You know, they’re special occasions, nice weekend cars. And the fixed costs are still the same.

Payman: GTA’s the one with the big wing, the big racing car.

Neel: Yeah, it’s got the big front splitter and I mean it’s one of the fastest car by any means. But [00:22:30] you know, to me it’s not about speed, it’s about emotion.

Payman: It’s hot.

Neel: And when you see in it, when it rumbles, the exhaust titanium exhaust, it’s just really, really emotive car. And if my brother was into cars, I’d have bought half with him. You know, and if you’ve got a family and a few of you together, you know, why not get a nice car together and share it. So in a way, what I’ve developed a little brotherhood of my own.

Payman: So what’s the arrangement.

Neel: Well I think we do about a thousand miles a year. So we get about 500 each and [00:23:00] then anything we do together, if you want to take it somewhere, I want to take on the track. You know, I’m quite amenable and easy to get on with. And you know, usually I find if one person’s amenable they can work.

Prav: with a close friend or.

Neel: a friend and a peer. So again, the opportunities that brings, because suddenly I’ve got someone in my life who I can talk to and who’s more learned than I am and more experienced than I am. So actually it’s a connection that helps me in other ways as well. And then you have another goal. I had a Ferrari four 88 spider for three months, [00:23:30] which is quite hilarious. But again, another friend of mine who’s a vet and he loves his cars as well. So we kind of figured out we could just about have the Ferrari, move it on, do 2000 miles an hour and not lose too much.

Neel: Which is lucky what happened, but it’s honestly a bit stupid and a bit of a risk. But it’s one of the best experiences of my life. Having that car and you know, tick box, you know, done and dusted and considering that costs like five grand to hire a day, I think it costs us five grand for the three months we had. It [00:24:00] is not a bad idea and it was a beautiful, beautiful thing. So I like Ferrari’s obviously a very nice, I do like Aston’s as well and they have a nicer image.

Payman: Looking at it from the outside, you seem to have a relationship with some of the garages and all of that. Is that something you actively go out to get? Do you talk about turbine and one and a half thousand vendors or what?

Neel: Well initially one of the things I hated, and it’s whether it’s in dental practises, in hotels, restaurants is service.

Neel: I really like good service and I think it’s not difficult to be nice to somebody and you know, appreciate them [00:24:30] and thank you for their business. And you go into most car dealerships and they’re absolutely awful. They really are awful and I mean, I’m spending a lot of money. I don’t want to be treated like rubbish. I just want a thank you or an acknowledgement even. So I think from there I just started to, and I realise you know, it’s all about buying people. You know, when I buy Enlighten I buy you, you know, or if I do, the websites aren’t by you as a person. So the company and what you do is one thing. But actually we all like to deal with people that we get on with, we like, we trust, we want to support. Yeah. So [00:25:00] within the industry of, I found a few people that I just thought these are decent guys.

Neel: They do what they say and they’ll try and help you. And just by my own links, whether it’s Ferrari or Aston or whoever, or BMW or Audi, Porsche, I’ve tried to make links. And within the group we always try and recommend people because I always think it’s like when I see some great work, I mean most of my new patients come in and they’re not in a good a good way. Unfortunately British dentistry is in a difficult state, but when sometimes you see some beautiful work, you know, really nice occlusion and I will ring the dentist up and just say, Oh you saew this patient 10 years ago and he’s [00:25:30] actually looking really nice, just we don’t see a lot of good work. I just want to say, you know, give you some feedback. So I think it’s always nice to have that. So with these guys as well, you know, if we want to support them because we want the good guys to win.

Neel: So we have a list turbine recommended dealers and people and stuff and that changes. But also it’s accountability cause they kind of know if they annoy one of us, they annoy a thousand of us.

Prav: Is there like a minimum standard or whatever? Is there some unwritten rules they abide by? So they [00:26:00] must offer great service and.

Neel: Well there’s nothing written. So I do, I mean obviously we’ve got deals with us not deals with car dealers, but we try and support them and hopefully they look after us. Porsche don’t really help us very much because they can sell cars hand over fist. But you know like you know,

Payman: and also recently missed that Lamborghini day of yours.

Neel: The other day. Yeah.

Payman: And it was because I had to pick up my daughter because we brought my dad, he just left. But my daughter apologised to me.

Payman: [00:26:30] She could tell what I was,

Neel: You’re raising her well then.

Payman: Eight-year-olds. Apologise.

Neel: It was such, it was such a nice, such a nice car. Surprise. Yeah. Because I don’t like SUVs because when I’ve been in Megannes and stuff I just feel they wallow, like your sitting on the back of an elephant. And that’s what I was expecting because some of the Alpine pass corners are quite tight. I forgot I was in an SUV. I don’t know what they’ve done, but it’s really, really, it’s a sports car and I think I did 160 on [00:27:00] the straight, 140 on the uh, the bank track and it was really stable, I don’t know if I’d get one.

Payman: What’s it like inside?

Neel: There’s a sport version, which is nicer. It feels like very Lamborghini and all the buttons, everything. And there’s a comfort one, which was a bit ordinary for me. I’d rather have the sports version, but I think the problem of SUV is if you’re going to get one, we’re now looking into electrics and hybrid technology. I think getting a Petrol SUV is not a longterm good option.

Payman: Really?

New Speaker: Yeah.

Prav: You a good driver?

Neel: On the whole, [00:27:30] no, I’m a three out of 10 and I know my three out of 10 because I passed the high performance drivers club so I wanted to go and I want to, I’ve taken lessons, I do track lessons, I do road lessons. I’m a safe driver. I’m not naturally talented and I don’t have enough. I need to drive more to, you know, you got to practise about really pleased to get into the high performance drivers club, which is a two day test. And to get in is a little bit tricky and I was pleased to get in but they marked me at three so it means I’m good.

Neel: But he shows you there’s [00:28:00] guys who are eight or nine.

Prav: and when we’re talking about driving, they were talking about a truck. Are we talking about on the road?

Neel: Both the different, very different. The apex is a different, how you drive is different. I think on the road, firstly I don’t think half was a safe. I think most driving is, it’s appalling. You know? And I think there should be a test every five to 10 years that you have to pass again. And I think there needs to be a test. If you get a car that’s over 300 brake or over 500 brake, cause you’ve got too many people are very, you don’t have to drive with very expensive fast cars and you can see them on YouTube getting into trouble. [00:28:30] And it’s an easy one for the government. It’s an easy taxable thing, you know, make you retake it, retake your test.

Neel: So I’m pretty safe on the road and I’m always careful of speed limits, especially through villages and schools. You know, you’d have to be, we don’t like people being idiots because we do these drives as Payman was alluding to. We do lots of different things. You know, we’ve gone to Geneva, we’ve done Lamborghini days, we did Aston days, we’ve done, we do drive out, we’re getting to the Isle of Man, we’ve been to Wales few times, but anyone who doesn’t drive, um, you know, in a polite manner we don’t ask them [00:29:00] them to come back Really. Track again is a whole different ball game, you know, as much higher speeds, much different awareness. And whenever I’d be in, I always get instructor because you, you know, you’re twice as fast with an instructor and you learn more. And I’ve got a few instructor friends now as well, so that’s quite interesting.

Prav: I went on a track for the first time this year, right. And I drove, I think I was going around a corner at 50 miles an hour and I felt like I was going a lot faster than that.

Payman: Scared you?

Prav: Yeah, absolutely. Can you remember [00:29:30] your first track day?

Neel: Yeah, I think it was Silverstone and I really didn’t enjoy it. There was too many cars on the track. I didn’t really know the route very well. You know, it wasn’t familiar and yeah cause getting past you a huge speed so, so that’s why second time and third time with an instructor much safer, much more fun and you can get him to, you know, what do you want out of the day. The other thing I did the week before is watch the lap on YouTube every night. So I knew every corner [00:30:00] cause that’s half the thing – where the road going.

Neel: So I think, you know, learning the track before you go. And I know my friend Shiraz was doing that as well with Silverstone. You know just learning it and learning and learning it. And I think if you have these, I don’t play video games but you know these PlayStation games or the tracks and stuff, they don’t give you the elevation. But you know, I’m sure a lot of these kids know exactly what’s going to come next and what bend.

Payman: I’ve, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve understood, I understand actually you can do much better drag times. If you played those games,

Neel: That’s probably that’s probably why I’m not very quick.

Payman: What’s [00:30:30] your dream car dream half of your dream?

Neel: I think it would have to be a dream garage, really. You know, I know people who’ve got 10 cars, 20, 30, 100, 200 300 cars and you know, obviously it was, why do you need 200 cars or 20 cars?

Neel: And it’s a bit like, you know, I didn’t need 20 shoes. You know, it’s just if you can and you enjoy it. And actually look at some of the dentists with a huge car collections, what a, you know, investment they’ve been. So I would, I’d have to, I could probably narrow it down to 10 or 20 as a collection.

Payman: What’s [00:31:00] your favourite car? Come on. What’s your favourite car?

Neel: Past, present, future, anything. All time. I think if you could have a DB five Aston or Ferrari 250 you know, a classic, it says class all over it. It’s a beautiful thing. May not be the best thing to drive, but when you arrive in a car, it makes you feel special. Even if no one’s looking. If you’re in a car that’s got a heritage, provenance, quality, you know, interesting stories behind it.

Neel: It’s a bit like [00:31:30] a Patek Phillipe, you know, you never just buy one.

Payman: I was just about to bring that up. I was just about to bring that up because I, I don’t get watches at all. I get it, I get it then you’d be wrong. I get it. But I’m not interested at all in watches when someone’s not interested in cars, do you get it?

Neel: Yeah, absolutely. You know? Yeah. We all have our passions and actually all people say as well, and you need to go A to B and actually you live in London and what, what’s the point of having a nice car? You just need an autonomous and sit in the back. So if it’s not your passion and if you.

Payman: On [00:32:00] the flip side, is there a deficit that you’re filling with the car? You know, like that?

Neel: Well, I think a bigger picture thing, this is getting existential.

Neel: Women make babies, they have a connection with human beings that no man can ever have. You know, no matter how good a father you are, I’m sure the connection with in uterine is surpassed and they’ve created something. We don’t create a lot really apart from mess. So actually we probably look for mechanical [00:32:30] things to nurture. So whether that’s a pet or a car or aeroplane, we want to have something, we want to have a with it, want to have experiences with it. I mean I put my car, in its pyjamas at night, you know, it’s almost like a child, you know the car cover goes.

Prav: oh really.

Neel: And I know people who kiss their cars good nigh and.

Payman: Are you nifty at fixing cars.

Neel: No, I’m terrible. I like engineering and obviously, having placed a few implants and stuff you understand the sort of that side of it and [00:33:00] I time watch YouTube things, but in there there’s lots of people who are much better at it than I am and understand it more. Luckily electric cars are quite easy to understand without an internal combustion engine. But no I’m not tinkerer.

Payman: changing gears. I remember.

Neel: no fun intended.

Payman: First time I met you I think was at Perry’s practise I think in uh,

Neel: in Wellwyn Garden City. Yes. He’s just bought a new car, which I helped him with 911 GTS. I’m sure he won’t mind me saying so. And he’s really worked [00:33:30] hard for that lovely car.

Payman: What I remember – yeah nice guy – what I remember about you back then was, and I see it, it’s common practise now, but back then you had you, you would talk to your patient and your nurse would be typing, typing away. And I remember even back then thinking, this guy’s going to be really good as a boss. He’s going to be able to inspire his people because she was so into what she was doing. Remember that? Are you a good boss?

Neel: Am I a good boss? I think the boss [00:34:00] being a leader has so many facets to it.

Neel: Yeah. And that’s what we’re looking at nowadays. And then, you know, it took me through quite a lot about leadership skills. And you know, we helped grow the study clubs from one to 50 and we created leaders within those groups. Leadership, I mean, you must do it with Enlighten. It’s about passion. Actually. If you got passion, you’re halfway there. If you believe in what you do, if you’ve got – I hate to say it – a mission statement or something in your mind that you want to do, which is, you know, we want to really help people. We want, I want the best practise in England. We want to do things really well. I want my team to, people are rewarded [00:34:30] and my everyone to be happy. You know, it’s a basic kind of premise of what we’re about.

Payman: People can get behind that.

Neel: Yeah. Who doesn’t want to be happy?

Neel: You know, I’d love to, you know, double my nurses wages and give them a great life and be a successful practitioner and, and change lives and smiles, you know? But then, you know, we’re all human beings and we all falter. So sometimes we better than others. And I noticed the really successful dentists, they’re so disciplined. I wish I was a bit more disciplined, but people like Mark Hughes and Ravel and Joe bough, you see these guys [00:35:00] I know you had earlier on. They get up in the morning, they do their work, they’re machines. And I’m probably having not been married and no kids. I’m still probably an overgrown teenager a little bit and you know, and haven’t had that drive. I think once you have children, the drive to kind of do something better for them comes in. So I think I’m a reasonably good leader, but I could be better.

Payman: You practise in Wellwyn village, this is not,

Payman: it’s Old Wellwyn sort of a, it’s a Roman [00:35:30] little village,

New Speaker: different than Wellwyn Garden City.

Neel: Yeah. Wellwyn Garden sort of came up out from that. A new town, but Old Wellwyn’s really charming and full of history.

Payman: So I remember when you opened that, and I remember the early days you were very worried and quite rightly so. But anyway, don’t get me wrong. How far in was it when you thought, right, I don’t need to worry anymore.

Neel: Three years.

Payman: Three years.

Neel: Yeah. I think the – you know, again, you know, we’re dentists, we’re not really business people unless you’ve got that kind of family background, which I haven’t had so you naively [00:36:00] go into it thinking I’ve just got to make a nice practise and be nice to people. I know how much it’s going to cost to build. I know how much I need to earn to live, which was not a lot for me because I was on my own.

Neel: And I thought, all right, this is gonna work and it did work. But what I didn’t realise was actually there’s overheads and if you talk to associates now and you show them the overheads, which I like to do because it’s good that they know about these things, but they’re shocking. Our overheads are shocking in dentistry and whether that’s VAT, whether it’s exchange rate, whether it’s staff [00:36:30] costs, whatever, you know, pensions. So it really had to borrow my way out quite a few times in the first two years just to keep going. And I was fortunate again, whether it’s friends, family, banks, whatever, to have the opportunity to do so. But if they hadn’t supported me, the business would have gone.

Payman: You didn’t go in with a giant building and you know, in a small place,

Neel: Two surgeries, modern place. Bought the freehold. Wasn’t expensive.

Payman: where you can, you can see where, you know, some people over stretch on size and on.

Neel: [00:37:00] I think we should, we have our dreams of what we want. But actually sometimes you have to break down the dream into little pieces sometimes. Right. And there are huge risks in running a private practise. There really are. You haven’t got that squat from school as well.

Payman: And what would you say, what would you say is your top tips? Like if someone was going to do that, what sort of thinking about doing that right now, what are your top tips?

Neel: I think one is have a, a good surplus of money and more than you think. Probably double more than you think. I think look after your health because [00:37:30] when everything goes to pot and being men and we just throw ourselves into it. So you know the weight goes on eating badly, don’t exercise because you feel a bit of a martyr to it. And especially when you owe people money, you think I can’t, I shouldn’t be happy because I’m not in the place where I should be.

Neel: So you sort of demonise yourself. For two years I was just my worst enemy and didn’t look after myself and still has effects. Now I’m not super healthy yet. And I remember going to spear and that sort of nicking the bread [00:38:00] from lunchtime to have it dinner, you know, and getting buses in the pay for school. Yeah, I think, I don’t know how in the overdraft,

Prav: I have to steal bread.

Neel: but it was priorities and spear changed my life and without spear that practise wouldn’t have succeeded. So it was a sacrifice at the time.

Payman: So if that advice you’re giving to the advice I’m giving one who is going to open a squat? Good spear.

Neel: I think I like the American school of holistic thought of big treatment planning, looking after people comprehensively. [00:38:30] It’s a Pankey philosophy. You know, know yourself, know your patient, know your community.

Neel: So I really liked the Pankey philosophy gets a bit lost in translation. It can be a bit sort of people think it’s about happy clappy but actually it’s a really good philosophy and spirit [inaudible] endorsed the neural panky link to some degree. So I think we’ve never even as undergraduates, in fact most people haven’t even came to come across that kind of thinking. And when you look at people like crystal or and stuff, they’ve been to Spiro Chen has been to spear. So many of our leaders [00:39:00] in the field at the moment have got that from lots of other things and lots of hard work. But they’ve seen a different way of doing things.

Payman: And how much have you done the whole thing?

Neel: It would spear, there is no continuum like Coys cause there’s obviously 2030 things you can do. So you can dip in and out.

Neel: But I’ve probably been 10 12 times. I think climbing is an expensive business. But it does you good. It changes your life. And also they’re so nice to dentists out there and it’s such a nice place, you know, it’s sunny, the hotels could people call it, you know the nurses are nice to you and they call your doctor and when you’re an American hysteria dentist, dentist,

Payman: what [00:39:30] does it really every time.

New Speaker: if you do the seminars, I think it’s about $1100 plus getting over there plus accommodation at hands on workshops, which I think are two days or three, I can’t remember about five grand.

Prav: So each time you go, what do you spend in flies, accommodation, the course fees.

Neel: if you do on a budget, which I was doing pretty much six grand, seven grand, 11 times 11 I didn’t do workshops every time. And that was a faculty club member for a while and there was conferences and there was nice stuff, but it was a great community.

Neel: [00:40:00] So I would definitely say look at Pankey, coy spear, look at the American wave and just dip your toe in just to get the vibe. I almost feel like I want to go back just to get the reading reinvigorate. You guys get to Chicago, Chicago, don’t you? Do you feel that difference? Do you feel that kind of energy?

Payman: Yeah, I hear you. Yeah. Okay, so more advice there. I mean, look after yourself, have some money,

Neel: look after yourself, get some education, know your craft and know your community. Be in the community. That’s what really helped me,

Payman: that I was talking, we were talking about this before, after I came [00:40:30] to your place. Then we went to the pub. You knew everyone. It’s a small place, but you’re, you’re that cat. Right?

Neel: I think, you know, initially it was like going to every business, giving them toothpaste and saying, yeah, you know, I mean, we didn’t spend any money on marketing.

Neel: I know Chris said to us, I don’t know how you did it without 50 grands worth of marketing, but I think we spent 500 quid in the first year, but it was, you know, going to each business is saying, hello eating in the pub, going to the pub quiz. Yeah. Yes. Networking is just being part of the community and when people [00:41:00] feel that means they want you already. I was living there, which is one of the reasons why I started there because I knew the area. So it’s being part of the community and even like think in the third year, I don’t think I got my first Aston, which was kind of an a knackered old seven, eight year old car and it was a stretch to get to it. But even then that paid for itself because suddenly I was in the mastermind owner’s club and I think 15 of the members became practises patients.

Neel: So it’s all just getting yourself into opportunities and extending yourself and one thing [00:41:30] leads to another. But it was just about being nice, being helpful, all that kind of local stuff. Location, location, location. It’s a nice spot right on the [inaudible] feel. So you know these guys starting up in central London where you can’t have any billboards, no one knows where you are, so you have to spend a hundred grand on Google. Whereas we’re on the corner, we’ve got good signage. So look, if we had, if location was anywhere different, we wouldn’t have succeeded.

Prav: I’ve made a tonne of mistakes in business, you know, just starting out and they will look back at the stupid mistakes that [00:42:00] I made back in the day and a lie. Why did I do that? But obviously experienced teachers and you learn from failure. What’s the biggest business mistake you’ve made now? Or some of them?

Neel: Some of the business mistakes I think I don’t lose touch with them being any huge ones. And I think as you said, you do make little mistakes and you keep changing and you keep changing the course.

Payman: What would you have done differently.

Neel: What would I have done differently.

Payman: knowing what you know now?

Neel: Well, we’ve definitely outgrown the business. So yeah, I mean it was the right premises to get because [00:42:30] there’s so it’s next to the doctors, it’s opposite a car parked on the corner and probably we’d reached its capacity probably a year four. So we’re at year seven now, I think. So it needed a second site or to relocate. But when you relocate, you lose the premises. Whether that be, you know, there’s some probably some rationale three years ago to have it as people come in and then they go to somewhere else if you really want us to grow so we don’t have a staff room, we don’t have an office and we struggle to plan a little bit [00:43:00] and not having that space to plan into.

Neel: So yeah, I think the biggest thing is just not having space and we still trying to find contingency plans and we haven’t come across it yet.

Payman: But I mean it seems like because you said you had these cash crises and if you’d go, if you just started with a bigger place that could have been, again,

Neel: I think it was the right thing to do and the right location. It was just probably a year four. We probably needed to say year three was pretty good year for the year five you pay off, your dad’s good. Most of them are five-year things. Then [00:43:30] he said, Oh, this is a good year. And then what happens in this year, seven is everything goes wrong and you have to buy new equipment or technology catches up with you. So I think there probably the time to sell, it’s probably about a year five year six if we have to reinvest.

Payman: Are you looking for new premises.

Neel: Now we were doing and we’d had something in mind, which was just across the road, but a little bit small. But I’m cutting back a little bit. I’ve got so many plates spinning that I want to just concentrate on two things, which is basically the practises that is, and I think it could be the best practise in England. I was doing some judging for private dentistry awards and lots [00:44:00] of lovely practises, but I said, I don’t think we’re too far off. It just needs a little bit more. And going from a seven to a nine or an eight to a nine is very tough. Going to afford to an eight is quite easy. So it’s a, it’s gonna be a challenge, but honestly think we could be the best practise in England or one of the best. I know it’s arbitrary and it’s only an award, but the ideology of actually this should really be a flagship practise on how to do things for patient care.

Payman: Well man or do other things well, but actually it’s a really good model of looking after patients holistically. That.

Prav: sounds egotistical. [00:44:30] Differentiates you Neil. So you know Joe blogs off the street and you talk about customer service, the experience being different. I talked to a lot of my clients about how they can create almost like a shock in our customer service experience. Just talk me through like if I was a patient at your practise, well what would I expect differently from job logs down the road?

Neel: Well, I mean we have new patients every day locally, which is really nice and it’s my favourite bit because it’s a chance that they’ve actually, I [00:45:00] mean some of them integrate practises and you know, you’re not going to get the wow of shock and awe. Nor is he do because thankfully there are other, the good practises aren’t there, which is brilliant.

Neel: But if they’d been to an average practise and they come to us and it starts off with actually the reception is we’ve made it very non dental and it doesn’t smell like, and actually the lady this morning, I can say she was an aromatherapist there’s quite interestingly she felt, he said a, normally I’m anxious in the waiting room because of the smells and the sounds and the feel. So she was really relaxed straight away. So I like that. It feels like [00:45:30] home to me a little bit, you know? And I’m quite comfy there. It’s not like a workplace. I think if you’re going to, cause I was living at work really, you know, for the first few years he might as well make it nice. Yeah. So the ambience in the field. And then the other thing is we’re talking about leadership earlier and being a boss.

Neel: If all the staff are happy and smiley and Elsa, you’ve employed those people or you’ve attracted those people. We always have nurses laughing and smiling and that’s such a positive thing. You know, if you’ve got one miserable person in the room, patients feel it, you know, they’ll come and they’ll tell me about [00:46:00] it if they know. So creating that positive environment is an intangible, you know, it’s a bit like, um, yeah. And you can say, Oh, you need a Sarah machine or we need this or need that. Actually, you just need nice people being nice to people in a nice place. And that really comes from the top as well. You know, if you’re gonna kill people, the reflection as to your customers and for sure. And then really it’s simple things. It’s rapport building, you know, and um, I sit them down next to me by the computer and I try and gain rapport as quickly [00:46:30] as I possibly can and not in any kind of, I want to influence some way, but if they like me and unlike them, we can have a better conversation and understand their needs.

Neel: So I’ll sit down with them and figure out where they are, what they’ve had done, what their issues are, and we will plan a phased approach. But it will be, you know, the launch of my practise is with so many great dentists. You’ll see me. Then you’ll see Mel Preble who’s our brilliant therapist hygienist. Then you might see Addie is a fantastic endodontist to get that redone. Then you might [00:47:00] see Rachel as specialist orthodontist and remove these teeth in a better place than you might see David bloom. Who’s going to make these teeth look great. So it’s a journey and no one’s ever really talked to them about, I want to use you, get the rest of your life for the rest of your teeth. So I’m thinking, especially with our cohort of patients who are generally older or they start thinking about their lives as well and what they want out of it.

Neel: You know, when you’re younger you kind of just think, let me fix this problem and go away and back to work.

Prav: So a lot, a lot of dentists that I speak to struggle with this rapport building. So you [00:47:30] know though, getting in those seats, Oh God, I’ve got to follow this system, this process. I’m going to ask the patient how they got here today. How was the journey, et cetera, et cetera. And it seems like, you know, that’s probably one of the most important things in your consultation is building that rapport. Yeah. What advice would you give someone who’s new at this game?

Neel: So I think it’s a key. I mean, I just went to Barry’s course, Barry Alton’s course as a refresher. And again, that’s a great course to do. By the way. First of all, you’ve got to like people, if you don’t like people, you’re not going to artificially [00:48:00] gain rapport with them.

Neel: And there’s a story and everyone, every patient that comes in that you always find something interesting about them or a human, you have to find the human in them. So I think people think, Oh, I’m going to ask these questions. They’re going to watch where their eyes go and I’m going to try and emulate them to mirror them. Actually just find out who that person is, where they like you guys are doing today rather than tactics, actual interest, being interested in people and they forget. I mean, they’re so busy doing the tactics and the checklist and have eyes, you know, Oh, he’s crossed his arms like that. Cross my arms. Just actually think that’s a human being [00:48:30] is a new friend. You want to kind of know a little bit about him. It’s not speed dating, but you know, where did you grew up? Where, who the last dentist?

Neel: How’s your experience has been? What do you want from your teeth? How can I help? You know, I’m going to try and find solutions to help you. We’re going to work this together. It’s just being nice looking in the eye. Don’t talk to him in the dental chair because you know, you, if a friend came round, you will put him in dental chair and start quizzing him. You know, you’d get him a glass of water and you would sit like this and we’d have a chat. And I think communication is for kids, for teenagers, for work, for relationships, [00:49:00] for relations with your family and friends. If you haven’t got communication, you’re going to struggle in life and you can get away with a lot of lack of skill. If you’ve got great communication and you can get other people to help you, the little things, but it comes from communication and you’re looking at practise.

Neel: Melanie Preble, a brilliant communicator. David bloom, brilliant communicator. [inaudible] brilliant communicator. So you surround them and then the nurses pick up on that and they know how to talk and what to say. And you kind of create this thing.

Payman: What’s your, what’s your pet peeve regarding associates, dentists who work [00:49:30] for you?

Neel: I think engagement. I think if you’ve got a really good team,

Payman: how’d you know though? Whether they’re engaging with their patient is that we mean engaging with their patient.

Neel: engagement in the practise.

Payman: Oh, I see.

Neel: So there are associates who are mercenaries. They will come in for themselves. Yeah. You know, do something that is not black and white, but they’ll come in there, everything’s ready for them. They’ll see a few patients, they’ll treat them as a job or a project or you know, like a car coming into service, do this, whatever needs doing and then [00:50:00] go say thanks to the nurses.

Neel: Brilliant. Which is okay. Back in the day, you know, that used to work. But at times the tough, now, you know, competition is hard, overheads are hard. We all need new patients, you know, whether it’s through SEO, marketing, whatever we need, we’re all looking for new patients because the overheads are much different to what they were 20 years ago. And the profitability has gone from like 50 60% to 15% if you’re IDH, I think it’s five 7%. So the biggest earners for us are those new patients who are willing to, with their oral health. So I think [00:50:30] if they realise what’s good for the practise, it’s good for the associate, then come to meetings, engage positively, you know, be nice to your nurses. Don’t be there on time, respect their time, respect the patient time. So just if you can make the practise as good as it can be, you’ll have a better environment for yourself.

Neel: So I think it’s really just, I think if you’re an associate, engage with the practise and even if you’re gonna leave in a year or two, you’ll gain so much from that knowledge and the experience of engaging. You’ll know what to do next time.

Payman: Yeah. I think that’s for me [00:51:00] a key key point that you can learn on someone else’s dollar or whatever. They’d like someone else’s risk. As an associate, you can really get yourself involved.

Neel: and free mentoring.

Payman: Of course.

Neel: You know, nobody gets anywhere without mentoring. I was just reading the book from, what’s it called, different dental masters, but it was a, the collection of stories has just been released. Mel was in it. She let me the book, so I read it all in about an hour, just kind of get through it and thought it was between patients and the stories were very similar.

Neel: They struggle a little bit through uni or through school. Then [00:51:30] they, um, at the right time got the right job with the right mentor. A lot of them went abroad for their studies, bought a practise and it was one woman in their life where they found the right person, whether it was a great dentist or someone who’s really good at PR or someone who’s connected or someone who knows all the other, you know, it was a person. And you can use these mentors to guide your life and you don’t have to reinvent it. The steps have already been done. Just find someone that you like trust and whether it’s exercise [00:52:00] or dentistry o.

Payman: who your key mentors. Frank Speer?

Neel: Yeah, I mean I’m in relationship with Frank, obviously his ethos in terms of the way they do dentistry, which has that sort of Pankey philosophy I would suppose.

Neel: But it’s, it’s, I try and surround myself with people who are nice because I think if you hang around nice people you’ll be nice as well. And also, I know lots and lots of dentists and I like dentistry, but also I really find it interesting if I meet someone who’s into our history or who’s into engineering [00:52:30] and have a broader outlook on people. But I have to say, you know, people like yourselves and unreal and Mark and re-haul and um, the guys in my study club and drew, just everyone I hang around with, there’s something to be learned from everyone.

Payman: Drew’s a real enigma, isn’t he, Drew.

Neel: He talking about passion drive at the expense of everything else, whether it’s as health and time, you know, he’s obviously a superhuman person and really it’s finding the right mentors [00:53:00] and they’re always around you. And I remember Raj, Arla Wally was one of my early mentors.

Neel: He said, they’re always there. It’s just you weren’t ready for them. You didn’t see them. So they are around you. You just got to figure out a lot of people phone me and just say, Oh Neil, should I do this course? I should have that course. Cause they tend to follow herds. They see who’s popular on Facebook and thinking, I’ll do that or I’ll do an implant course or I’ll do this. And I usually say, actually, where do you want to be in 10 years? Which throws them, where do you want to live? What do you see yourself doing? Do you want to practise? Do you want to just to endo and then just work backwards and find people to help you on that journey. Too many people [00:53:30] don’t know where they’re going, so they’re not going to get there. So I think a 10 year plan, which, you know, when you’re young, you can’t think 10 years ahead, but when you’re a bit older you start sort of thinking, you know, where am I wanting to be?

Neel: And whether it’s in relationships or in business or in financially, you know, have a goal and then that’s makes that sets all the decisions up.

Prav: So where do you want to be in 10 years?

Neel: Now I would like to be financially secure. I think I’d like to look after my family, make [00:54:00] sure they have a nice life. I’m not thinking it has to be spoiled and wealthy, but just, you know, have, I think money buys your health care and it buys you education. So if I can educate them and give them health care and a nice place to live and a safe place to live. So I’d like to do that. So that’s a personal goal, is to have a strong family and look after them. And I think partly one of the goals is financial is to try and get there. And I think also, um, changing and we’re talking to Sandra Lee about this as well.

Neel: [00:54:30] I still want to keep my hand in dentistry and I wanna understand how dentists have feelings cause I need to represent them, but it’s the indemnity business now. So with dentistry I can help maybe a thousand people a year maybe. You know, I think with indemnity I can help 20,000 people a year because if you help a hundred dentists, you’re going through litigation indemnities, not just them who were affected, it’s their wives and practises.

Payman: When was it that you have the idea for PD?

Neel: PDI? So professional dental [00:55:00] indemnity, just to give it a plug. So I was helping drew, I was doing study clubs, I was running the British Academy of Microsoft dentistry and I thought, and it is, education is the way out, you know, for all these young dentists who are struggling in whatever way and they want to be more, it’s, you know, we have to educate them.

Neel: And I was doing my best to mentor and help people and get phone calls and the phone calls I was getting from younger dentists where I’ve had a complaint about this or I can’t do that. Or you know, they want to leave the profession because they left an apex in [00:55:30] and they’ve had a complaint. So I kind of had it in my mind that wanting to teach someone is not a safe environment to be learning. We learned on the NHS, I made thousands of mistakes and you learn from them and get better. Now if you make a mistake you are really, it could be the end of your career. And it’s happened to some young dentists, you know, not to name any. So had that in the back of my mind. And then I had a complaint from an anaesthetist who was a casual patient, not the kind of patient like we’d like to see you and we want to see people and grow with them and develop them.

Neel: [00:56:00] And he just basically used it as an emergency service and ring me six in the morning. And because he was a colleague or a peer, I tried to accommodate him, but he got to the point where it was saying, actually I don’t think this is the type of practise for you. Can I help you find another dentist? And um, maybe I should have worded it better. And we’re talking about communication. And this was after about a year of patching things up in glissando, which is not what we do at all. And he was just that professional courtesy. So he wrote a seven page letter to the GDC and probably for three months I was, again, [00:56:30] we talked about self-flagellation. When you’re starting a business, you just think you’re an awful dentist. You hate your patients, you think of them all is out to get you and you lose.

Neel: I honestly am a very caring person. I want to help my patients. I have no, I never think financially, I never think like that. I just want to do the best for them. And that’s my capacity. So when someone, what you feel stabbed in the bag, you lose all your heart and it affects your staff and the friends around you and the people around you. And I thought this isn’t even a big complaint and it could have gone to the GDC because who knows what they’re going to do. [00:57:00] But it would, I would have left the career over one complaint because the human nature is we get 99 thank you is we get one complaint, we feel like we’re the world’s worst dentists. And then I talked to people I already share and they told me about their TDC experience and nurse. I talked about other people and it seems like everyone’s got a GDC issue now.

Neel: 20 years gave him in the GDC, you’d done something and there is a need of the GDC. We all know that, you know, we have to go in and be, we have to be policed, but the current GDC is just, I don’t know what’s happening and it’s just overreaching. Their powers charging us a huge amount. [00:57:30] Doesn’t think to be fair. And I’ve had friends who are on the GDC panels and stuff and they’ve walked out because, and I’d like to know what that lady, when she left, while the gagging order was what she was thinking. So it was kind of in my mind. And then through turbine through cars, I met a chap called Gary Monaghan, is my, who turned out to be my business partner. So he’d run an indemnity company, insurance company where you can reverse the terms for plastic surgeons in. They pay about 50 60,000 pounds a year.

Neel: And when they paint that much, they start looking around and [00:58:00] they weren’t getting the service as well. And that’s what I found actually with my insurer when I actually rang them for advice. They were so poor and I said, was I used to ring you guys 20 years ago and you were brilliant. What’s happening? And you know, actually want to complain. I don’t think it’s very good. And they said, Oh, well there’s an already a complaint system. Just talk to your advisor. I’m sure you’ll be all right. And I just thought I, from having a huge confidence and trust in this entity to having, actually maybe it’s the emperor’s new clothes, it’s not as what it seems. So Gary was running a indemnity company for plastic [00:58:30] surgeons with a partner at I think two partners. And it became hugely successful, is still going. And I was talking to my niece to this friend and he’s actually a member, so he created something amazing.

Neel: And then he left the company and he basically had an exclusion to say and I think for a year. And he likes cars and he knows lots of plastic surgeons. So he was doing CPD for plastic surgeons in Switzerland, you know, they drive car around and you know, enjoy some nice food and wine and so from turbine. So you know, one thing leads to another. So you can say actually his cars are a waste of time. But actually his opportunities and meeting people, [00:59:00] we just started talking and I said, this is what’s happening in, you know, you’re talking about indemnity, this is what’s happening and this is how we feel. And from there we basically, he already knew fantastic underwriter Sharon. And you met her colleague job and you met Cheryl. Oh yeah. So she’s phenomenal and she’s a fighter and she doesn’t like rolling over and paying in and you know she’s worked hard, really hard in a man’s world to get where she is.

Neel: Very clever, astute lady. And we have a good relationship. Again, it’s about rapport building and [00:59:30] having good relationship with people. You buy people. So I basically bought her, I think she’s brilliant and she’s got so much dental knowledge. She’s been in the industry. Yeah. And you know caring as well. But she’d come on, it’s a tough cookie but she actually cares what she does and she’s proud of what she does. She’s had the best policies and she knows she has the best policy and when she looks at other underwriters and they just copy her or they don’t know anything about dentistry. So it’s quite good actually. I really feel we have the best policies, the best product and the best underwriter. And then from there we have brokers who are intermediaries. [01:00:00] And then Gary and I’s job really is to market this vehicle, talk about car analogy and also liaise with Sharon and make sure we have got the best product and that we know our customers are happy and dentists are being looked after because actually the way it’s going, everything is going to be insurance-based.

Neel: And if we don’t have a say in it, it’s going to be like car insurance where you ring up, they can do what they want and they’re separate entities. So actually this is the chance where actually a dentist can have his say and we can say to [01:00:30] Sharon, actually, Oh brilliant Weldon, can we have this? Can we have that? What can we do? Or actually we’re not happy. We’re going to move the whole lot over to another underwriter.

Payman: Unpack this sort of discretionary situation. So what would the traditional indemnity alumni’s, they don’t have to support. Well what that means.

Neel: in a way. So when the indemnifies started, which are all the big guys, they had really strong principles, let’s get dentists together. Let’s look after each other. We’ll all put some money in, we’ll invest it. And [01:01:00] this was a time when we didn’t get sued a lot and there wasn’t this no win, no fee and all these different scenarios at different time.

Neel: And those guys had brilliant education, really supported you had the top people on board and looked after you, put her arm around you and you felt supported. I think times have changed. The financial things have gone silly in terms of how much the pay outs are. And I don’t think the model works anymore. And what they say is you give us some money every year and we will look after you. That’s all you have. And they’ve been doing that for years. But then now cracks and chinks [01:01:30] are appearing where they’re, the good of the members may be outweigh your good. So if they feel that they want to settle, they have the choice. If they feel they want to drop you and don’t want to represent you any more because you’re a risk, they dropped me overnight. If there’s a condition that you get. So I don’t know.

Neel: To me having not been in a little while. And I’ve seen lots of, you know, you get to hear all the stories and you get to see things that are unfair. And it’s a shame because I think they have been brilliant, but I don’t think it works in the current model. [01:02:00] So when you, when I was with whoever we’re going to say every year you just pay renewals, you didn’t have any kind of contract and you’re just relying on Goodwill within insurance products. It’d be like buying car insurance. Now there’s cheap car insurance and there’s expensive car insurance and there’s something which she feels appropriate for you. And I always buy decent car insurance cause I’ve got a nice car. It’s very important for me that this car gets looked after, whether it’s, my analogy being my career is very important to me. So I want to know, I’ve got great lawyers, great understanding, and a really comprehensive contract.

Neel: [01:02:30] So that’s what we’ve done with PDI. We’ve created a really comprehensive contract. We’ve got a really big legal team. Wait men’s, I think they got 50 men, male lawyers, and you’ll speak to the senior partner and they’ll ask who’s wife’s a dentist as well. So if I’m going to be a member of it and my and my friends are, the responsibility for me is to make sure we have the best product and we honestly have the best product. May not be the cheapest product but with the best product and when you’re the GDC or when you have a car crash, you don’t get a nice courtesy car. You’ll wish you had.

Payman: But it’s cheaper [01:03:00] than the traditional.

Neel: it is. Yeah, it is cheaper and it’s also fairer. So at the moment you get lumped in with everybody else and as their risk goes up overall, your, your premium will go up.

Neel: And if they’re paying for doctors as well and add that in, especially the GPS are now going to change to crown indemnity. We send you, I think it’s a five to eight page letter and we ask, you know, who are your mentors? If you had a trouble, who would you ask? What courses have you been done on? And you know, and the underwriters will go to clinics and they will [01:03:30] go and see ortho places and they’ll come and see you guys and get an understanding of what you do. So they know actually actually these guys, he’s got mentors, he’s in a great practise. He hasn’t had a claim. He’s been on the right course because we know who these courses are. We know they run well.

Payman: They can assess the risk more accurately.

Neel: It’s a person, it’s not an algorithm. The other one is you, you know, one year, two year qualified, are you doing implants?

Payman: Not, and that’s your band.

Payman: Is it scalable in that sense?

Neel: It’s scalable in what way?

Payman: Or you know it seems like it’s not, it’s not an algorithm.

Neel: It’s labour intensive. So we can [01:04:00] take two days to do it. We can take two weeks to do it. And if you’ve got a lot of claims and a lot of history, we can take three months to do it. But Sharon keeps a very clean book. She is very key. We reject, which is unfortunate for us, about 30% of people applying because what Sharon says, these guys are risky, rightly or wrongly because you know, we don’t know the circumstances. And if I had to put everyone’s premiums that next year because I’ve miscalculated it, you won’t be happy. So we have very clean good dentists who care about what they do, [01:04:30] who look after the patients and you know, improve that.

Neel: Educate themselves. And why wouldn’t you want that? Isn’t that kind of dentists want other support?

Payman: I think dentists are, it depends on the risk profile of the, of the insurer. I mean there might be another insurer wants massive because it’ll come with the high risk.

Neel: Well they might sell their book in three years, build them up quickly, get them in cheap. And then actually we’ve made our money out of this and now it’s looking risky. He wants to buy it now.

Payman: But what the question’s gonna ask you is a lot of patients, a lot of dentists, [01:05:00] they worry that the insurance company is going to settle when, when they did nothing wrong. And either they’re not going to defend.

Neel: It’s a huge thing, isn’t it? Like dentists generally feel like they’re caring people, they’ve done the right thing and it’s, you know, it’s wrong that we should settle and you know, we want to defend ourselves.

Neel: And in those cases where the dentist wants to defend themselves and can be prepared for whether this takes three months or two years, if they’re willing to do that, if their notes are good [01:05:30] and they’re in the right, then we will always fight and we’ll encourage you to fight because why should we just settle on? Because it’s not good for anybody, but the factors are, if your notes aren’t good, we might have to say, look, actually, if any written XLA upper left seven, there’s not a lot we can do with this. Or actually, you know, I’ve got a family, I’ve got a kid. It’s a big stress on me. I actually don’t want to, you know, and you don’t need, and I can understand that you may not want to. So it’s a dialogue and it’s a conversation. They’re not [01:06:00] going to say you must settle.

Neel: They will have a conversation. When you said that these are the plus points, these are the minus points, this is what we feel you should do. What do you feel? And there’s a number and there’s an insurance ombudsman as well and they’re very regulated, extremely regulated. They have to be seen to be doing the right thing for you. They can’t let you down, they can’t misrepresent you. So you have a lot of rights. But unfortunately there’s a lot of good dentists out there who don’t want to go to the fight, which I understand. And there are some Eagle tickles, egotistical dentists. He might think, actually [01:06:30] I’m mr God Ashley, even a million pounds worth of claims, maybe you need to look at what you’re doing and do it slightly differently. And people are people. So it’s interesting what we see on paper, but you can kind of quite easily know.

Neel: Actually I get to talk to quite a lot of them and I kind of know within five minutes who’s a decent dentist. So he’s not a who cares about his patients and their education and then the way that they look, you know, you get a sense of someone, you do it all the time with your clients, you do it all the time, you know who’s a good guide only.

Prav: of course you do. And you mentioned that you look at what courses [01:07:00] they’ve taken and stuff like that. Does that impact the premium?

Neel: Yeah, I think if you’ve done a weekend course and you’re placing 300 implants a year, it might not work in the longterm. If you’ve done a really approved course and you’ve had mentoring, I think doing a course is one thing. Actually. I think mentoring is more important. You know, you can know everything you want, but you know, I think my first 20 or 30 implants I placed, I had someone next to me and it’s invaluable.

Neel: And having a principal next to you maybe has placed a thousand implants next to you. You know, I met a girl yesterday whose dad [01:07:30] does loads of implants and she’s doing a lot already at 26 and you think that’s a risk? But actually a dance next door mentoring her and he’s a an expert. So they will look at you in terms of what you’ve done, what support you have and it isn’t just the courses and that’s one thing. It’s what support you have. And the question is, you know, if you weren’t sure about something, who would you ask? What resources do you have? I’ve never had any insurance company asked them.

Payman: the question.

Neel: going back to being what we’re talking about earlier, mentoring, coaching. No they did. I know which [01:08:00] is even better.

Prav: We had, we had Mahmud Maldjian earlier today and he is really inspirational. Good story behind it. And he talks about life being full of ups and downs. You ever had like a really low point in your life that you’ve had to bounce out of? You could share with us.

Neel: I’m probably have quite a load and, but you know, just one thing that comes to mind, which is probably not quite the question you’re asking, but you know when the first thing you think in your head, and that’s the answer, isn’t it? So the arms to me, I was, [01:08:30] I was working in Australia for about two years and when I say working, it wasn’t really working, but it was in between travelling. I was doing some dentistry flying doctor stuff and some stuff in prisons. It was really interesting. I was there for the Sydney Olympics and I think I was in Queensland and I’m near Darwin crocodile Dundee territory. And I got bitten by a spider and I’m in the middle of nowhere and my eyes started swelling up.

Neel: And so I have to get off this bus and check into, I don’t know which hospital it was. And there was a doctor from Malaysia [01:09:00] and his English wasn’t great talking about rapport and communication and he basically drew me a diagram of my face. Then we are going to put some local anaesthetic, we’re going to cut this out and you’re gonna have a big defect in your face and being on the other side of the world, on your own. Uh, you know, I was 23, 27, 28, so I’m still a kid.

Prav: Terrified,

Neel: terrified. And, um, I was with dentist job search and they were really nice to me. They were nice people and I rang her. I didn’t wanna ring my mom and dad up. Oh, they’re not listening because I thought what they’re going to do, how can they help me? They’re just [01:09:30] going to be worried.

Neel: So I ranked into job search up and talk through it through them. And luckily having some dental knowledge and some medical knowledge, I basically got a tax discharge myself. Got a taxi, which was $400, which is quite a lot of money for me. And went to Darwin, wait in a three in the morning, put myself into a private clinic, you know,

Payman: was it getting worse at this point?

Neel: I couldn’t see you and I was feeling sick and you know, I mean I wasn’t well on your own, on my own and got into it, you know, talking about environment [01:10:00] and how an environment is field. Nice hospital, knife pay, you know, nice doctors, nice nurses look after you feel a bit better. And they said no, you wouldn’t want a local anaesthetic in there. You’ll just spread the infection. We’ll have a short GA and I never had a GA before and we’ll incise it and drain it and petrified.

Neel: You know what, if you don’t wake up and this silly silly things and talking about, you know, how you make a patient feel. The most important thing I remember from there is when I was on the trolley going in, I know it’s not easy to bite, but actually one of the nurses [01:10:30] did that to me, which I’m just holding payment’s hand, which he’s very comfortable with and that hand touched to resonates with me and the human contact, that reassurance. So I know we’re not allowed to touch our patients, but I will tell them on the shoulder or on the hand and just say, you’re doing really well, are you okay? And I know our nurses will do that to our patients. And it’s just something that comes back to me from when you’re distressed or a bib said, you know, a cup of tea and a hug or something like that is what you need.

Neel: And I think the scar I’ve got left, you probably just can’t even see it. [01:11:00] It’s a little red line. But you know. Yeah. And I think, you know what? I was 27. I was good looking in vain to say to ruin my face. I’d be then.

Payman: what about a professional low point.

Neel: professional list? I think it’s just whenever I’ve got a complaint letter, which is probably in you know, 20 years.

Payman: break, you can’t like break your comp.

Neel: Let me think. Two or three times. One probably in 2004. This is an Easter sky. [01:11:30] Um, one on Tuesday. Actually I had one last week. Um, I fitted a gold crown two years ago and a lady who had existing bruxism, TMJ and she said I made a bruxism worst cause I’ve pushed this crown in so hard and uh, you know, it’s chronic situation and nothing. Why would she come back two years later?

Neel: I’m sure she’s got some financial difficulties, but again, just upsetting, you know, so that’s a low point is when you don’t feel it’s right, you’ve done your best for the patient, you’ve cared for them. I really, this is a friend of a friend, so you go the extra mile and [01:12:00] now that I go the extra mile anyway, really cared for her. She’s very nervous patient and they’ve actually just thought of you as a greedy dentist and not actually appreciated how much care and time you gave someone. So they’re the low points radius when people don’t feel appreciated.

Payman: And what’s the best decision you made.

Neel: going to spear.

Payman: Do you really think.

Neel: that changed my life.

Payman: Really?

Neel: You know you were saying people know me through turbine, but there were knowing me before that because I jumped a level from, no not very good associate. It didn’t really understand dentistry, didn’t understand comprehensive [01:12:30] care, haven’t got great hand skills from just doing that course to actually really understanding dentistry, reengaging my passion in it and jumping up, you know, you’re suddenly in the big boy league, you know, so the people you’re hanging around with.

Neel: And so just by doing that, although I was broke when I did it, it got me around know Raj and Mark and hap Gill and all these people. So I was in a different, you know, fish tank, I was swimming with different guys and then our learning off them. So it wasn’t just the five grand and do a course. It was the mentoring, [01:13:00] the companionship that way. It made me feel and it set my practise over my practise. The way we do things is not just a single dentist and refers when he needs to. It’s a team effort of getting a patient from a to B, you know, which I don’t think happens very often and I think we’re doing patients to disservice.

Payman: How many days do you work load yourself?

Neel: I do about two and a half days a week of dentistry and it is, I’d say it’s new patients and recalls.

Neel: My shoulder’s not great. I’ve actually sort of given up a little bit of some of the, you know, difficult dentistry [01:13:30] and as PDI takes off, I need to give it more time really. And I’m in that kind of phase where the practise needs me and PDI needs me and I’ve kind of kind of make a jump. But otherwise both. They’re going to go down a little bit as I’m trying to manage my time, but it is be like you guys when you were practising and with enlighten, there’s a time when you actually need to step and be brave and it’s easier when you’re younger and younger commitments,

Payman: but it’s actually Prav who helped me do that. Really it was, I was doing one day a week, I had a bad day and then I talked to you and he’s, [01:14:00] he’s given up medicine one six months into being a doctor and he said to me, why?

Payman: Why are you doing this one day? And I was like, it’s a shame. I want to keep my and acres. Just get out of it. You know? You’d said those need permission.

Payman: Yeah. You’re where you need to, someone to reflect for you as well. By the way, I’m not sure that’s the right move for, you know, I’m known a practise, practise, different situation. Now, what I’d like to do is it’s going to be able to run without you, I guess because the, yeah, the PDI thing, [01:14:30] you know that that’s a business, a business needs.

Neel: and again, mothering, you know, I think it’s really, it’s a pivotal point. It’s a turning point. We, everyone’s talking about it. Everyone wants to move, they’re all a bit scared.

Payman: It’s a great sign for that.

Neel: Say they want to move and unless we have a big enough model that can take one thousand two thousand five hundred and ten thousand dentists, you know, is talking about scalable.

Neel: It is scalable because the lawyer is massive. The underwriter’s massive big global company. But if we as dentists don’t have a say in it and there’s probably five or six other products coming into the [01:15:00] market as we speak an.

Payman: it’s just an insurance basically a either a CEO to run PDI or a CEO to run, you’ll tend to see at the moment I’m kind of CEO both fully.

Neel: I think with the practise, if I can get a dentist and I’m looking at a few who can fume plan and has the approach and the patient care philosophy, then I’m happy to pass that on now and just keep an eye, keep leadership and overview it. And I think the [01:15:30] more I put into PDI, the bigger it grows. So I just need to kind of figure out the next three months really and how I transition.

Neel: But it is spinning plates the now I’ve got a lot of plates spinning your guy, you guys all have losses and I’ve let a few go that the microscope grew, grow a little bit. I’ve let you build, grow a little bit. So I want to concentrate on PDI and the practise and relationships and my health. So talking about my health, he is, my blood pressure was crazy in the beginning of the year. I think one 80 over one 20 you know, not good. And it’s just that years [01:16:00] it’d be like other people do. They throw themselves into the work that comes first. They neglect themselves. We’re all alpha males, teenagers thinking we can wear immortal. So actually having to take some medicines now, which I really don’t like. Um, I think actually now I need a bit of time if I’m, I’ve gotta be around for the next 30 40 years.

Neel: I need to just actually have some time for myself. So getting back to what advice, you know, don’t look back and think actually I’m really unwell and I’m making the people around me suffer because I’m unwell, you [01:16:30] know, look after yourself.

Prav: So what are you doing to your health now?

Neel: Interestingly, a friend of mine, his neighbour, Graham Phillips, he’s a really senior pharmacist and we’ve been talking a lot about the effect that gut has on inflammation on insulin. So giving insulin to a diabetic is the wrong thing to do because it just really makes them more polarised. So if you can stop your blood glucose spikes, you’ve stopped your insulin, insulin spiking, you don’t put on weight. So he had a blood glucose monitor, which sort of sticks in the back of your arm and you can zap it with your phone and get readings. [01:17:00] So I did it for three weeks and I lost eight pounds.

Neel: And it was just having the angel on your shoulder all the time. So it worked well. Then life got in the way and I’ve stopped using it.

Payman: It was a blood glucose monitor.

Neel: Yeah. It just tapes on your own sort of peers is even not that you’d notice or really doesn’t even mention it and you get your iPhone and you click it on some diabetics. Javier, I don’t think it’s on the NHS but children have it if there is severe. Yeah. And so when you can see actually a porridge was making me spike to 14 you know, whatever millimoles of glucose [01:17:30] and bread was and this was whereas other things were keeping and you just want to kind of stay in the zone and you’re not hungry, be just choosing more sensibly. And my willpower isn’t good enough to do it without it. So I bought a few more and Graham’s actually going to be speaking to our study club next year as well.

Neel: Because again, part of that thing about being comprehensive care where I want to offer our diabetic and a cardiac patients, a way of helping the general health cause they amounts aren’t going to get better if they’re not healthy.

Payman: What would you like to be known for? Like [01:18:00] I will legacy,

Neel: I think a nice guy who tried to help people. You know, I don’t really want more than that. I think if I’ve left the place and enriched some lives in whatever way that’s more than any bank balance or anything, you know, it’s really about him. Not influences is the wrong thing, but actually helping, you know, I think in the more people you can help and in a way you might say bill Gates helps lots of people or you know the Apple guy because they’ve created a product that brings so many people together. So for [01:18:30] me it was that the dentists, I can only help certain amount of people with insurance company.

Neel: Maybe I can help ten thousand twenty thousand people. I’d love to help 105 hundred but that’s being an industrialist really. So I think the more you, I mean each person valuable if you change one person’s opinion or duration. And I, and I think I’ve done that quite a lot and it’s really rewarding. But when I said, you know, these are the low points in your life and it is those complaint letters and let alone if you have to go to the GDC and the effect. And I know so many good dentists who’ve left the profession wrongly. So if I can save [01:19:00] through the insurance company and that grief, that hurt that I’m going to give up on the 15 years education and the time I put into it because of one thing.

Payman: What’s cool and what’s your advice? If someone gets a letter from the GDC tomorrow and their world’s falling apart because it does, right? It does worse than the letter from patient as they, cause.

Neel: I think don’t be ashamed because like I said, 10 years ago you got letter, you’d done something wrong. Chances are you might have done something a little bit, but you’re being overly punished for it. So I think you’ll be [01:19:30] surprised. Talk to your friends, they’ve all been through it and you know, just get someone to buy your beer and actually talk your way through it because they’re, you know, problem shares from the half. So you know, it’s a cliche, but get your support group around. You get your nurses and your team around you say this is what happened. You know, I think, and there is amazing, like this complaint letter I had on Tuesday, all my nurse and team are gay are all behind me. They’re all like, I can’t believe this. You know, and they’re not looking at me like I’m a worst dentist cause they know who I am.

Neel: They’re actually thinking this is a story state to be in. So [01:20:00] I feel better that people around me are supporting me if I don’t feel vilified unless they have a right to be. And really comes down to talking about drew and two bills and some of the education stuff we’ve could Scott to have fantastic notes. You know, record keeping, get in trouble. Camera picture says a thousand words. I was talking to a VJ from Evo, you know we on Saturday they videotaped the whole conversations and the little harddrive so it’s a bit American is a bit far, but actually yeah they [01:20:30] can send it and they’ve got an amazing consent process. They know they do all these Tara gourds and they’re doing one thing really well. So they’ve got it down and they said, you know, if you send a lawyer 16 hours of video tape, they’re going to think twice because they want to watch it cause it’s time is money for them.

Neel: So actually you’re defending themselves because it’s all there. Now some people might say, well what if I miss something? You won’t miss anything because you’ll have your checklist, you’ll be on video. And a picture is brilliant because you know a picture of a cracked tooth or this is what I did all this is what tooth I worked on. I think it’s a shame but I think we’re going to have to start videoing things. [01:21:00] So record keeping note taking in whatever form is paramount. Second thing is work on your whole team. If a complaint happens because you’ve rescheduled the patient twice cause the lab hasn’t returned it stuff. The receptionist hasn’t smiled at the patient. The lose dirty, they’ve come in, they’ve seen some dust and all, something’s scruffy. Then you give them an injection. So now they’re on their fifth negative thing and you think if their first negative thing.

Neel: So bring the team together, create excellence, create care, create an [01:21:30] environment of care. Because if they like you and they’re like, you know, multiple like points, they like their hygiene. If they like the nurse and the reception, they’re more willing to work with you cause you know we do make mistakes and things do go wrong. Something go.

Payman: Yeah. Speaking to your Android Jew, she said to me was that you guys get more complaints from NHS patients than private ones. Now is that because there are more,

Neel: I have a lot of statistics.

Payman: She said she had an easy thing. It was more, it was actually something to do with the [01:22:00] [inaudible], the volume she was, she was saying that they feel entitled to a free GP and I don’t like paying for dentistry. In fact they’re paying, albeit NHS fees makes them much more consumerist and there’s complaints happy. Which kind of surprised because I thought, I thought it was more a private dentist problem.

Neel: I think, well, most dentists in England and the NHS say proportionally, if you’re going to see more full-stop now, what are the advantages you’d like to have with your patient? You’d like [01:22:30] to have time, you know, and you don’t even need a lot of time for a poor. You need to just have the will to build rapport and your focus has to be on patient care, not UDS. So if you’re going to practise thinking, I really going to care if this patient spend the time they need. And do a great job. Then you’re probably halfway there. If you’re thinking, I’ve got 30 patients today, my, you know, I need to get my UDS, are we going to get clawed back and penalise your mind? Some might be slight different.

Neel: I know with best intention they all want everyone to help people but if it’s not your primary goal objective, [01:23:00] patients might pick up on that. And I think it is very difficult. You know the NHS colleagues are trying so hard in a very difficult situation, a very, you know, time and resource, limited opportunity and I think they aren’t going to get into trouble. I’m worried about root canal. Three treatments, you know are root canal treatments or practise had done superbly well and they can be done very well on the NHS. But if you’re not, I’m wondering five years if you haven’t got me, cause I know I’m dental upon ship, I’ve got a CT scanner in the office apparently. So if you’re not getting media buckled three and you’ve been paid [01:23:30] 40 quid or whatever it is to do an endo, which we charge a thousand pounds for, it’s not the same but it’s just going to, I think it’s gonna be another revenue three from them and they’re trying to increase their business by 20% next year.

Neel: Some people said, Oh and vicarious is the other one. Vicarious liability. The going for the principals, not the associates now because the associates, you could argue some of them are actually employees. They’re there five days a week. They have a contract and they have a certain amount to do. And the PA, the patient came to your practise with your name on it with your materials and your staffing. [01:24:00] So, and it’s an easier, it’s easier to go after them. And if the associate’s gone back somewhere or changed or retired, there had been vicarious cases, so unfortunately there’s going to be another bill our door for we need a vicarious liability.

Prav: What about people who teach other dentists so you know they, they teach and train and mentor. Do they need protection against various liability?

Neel: Depends on which way. I know like we’ve, we’ve talked with some of the, I don’t [01:24:30] know if I can mention them, but you know some like IAS or whoever.

Neel: Yeah, of course they are giving advice and there’s mentoring, which is the right thing to do. You know, you don’t want to just go on a course and they leave you. So I think those courses which are very good, have a high standard. There’s an element of mentoring. Send your case along, we’ll discuss it. You need an element of vicarious, it’s not going to be a huge risk, but they will need something if you’re doing a three day course and that’s the end of the course at the end of the time, I don’t think there’s any risk then. Okay.

Payman: What are you, where are you seeing? Are you seeing the stats or where [01:25:00] the claims are coming in from? What kind of treatments is also growing?

Neel: I think basically the basic things, what we do is crown bridge perio. It still is, I think I can’t, I haven’t got the facts, but I think it’s still 80% or whatever.

Neel: That’s my feeling too. You know, hard to do crowns well are two. You know, if someone’s been at practise for 10 years, you know, and I was saying to patients say is it’s not that the dentist generally does something wrong, but when you move into a new house, I see everything wrong. So when I see a new patient, I see 50 I think this lady, I can see 15 [01:25:30] things wrong with you, but in three or four years we’ll build a rapport. I’ll get, we’ll get comfortable with each other. It’s like living in a house and I’ll let those things go a little bit. And I think over time it’s human nature. You don’t want to give people bad news, you don’t want them spending their money. They know their grandkids have got that. So I think just as human beings, we tend to let things go a little bit and it’s probably a nice thing. And in our practise we do is every couple of years have a recall with somebody else. Just get some fresh eyes on it. Yeah, that’s interesting. I think it’s useful because you know, I always say there are 10 [01:26:00] different ways of doing this and they’ll get 10 different opinions. What we want is a consensus that works for you.

Prav: I’ve got one last question from me, which is looking back in time, having a conversation with 20 year old now,

Neel: Oh God,

Prav: why advice would you give him.

Neel: stop looking in mirrors.

Neel: Nothing seriously. It’s have a 10 year plan. You know, I couldn’t think more than a month a week. But if you’re going to achieve something, whatever age [01:26:30] it’s, have a plan, figure out what you want in life. You may not know, but you can have an idea. Sure. And get the right people around him.

Prav: Mentors and.

Neel: mentors, friends, uncles, whoever they are. You know, I remember when I went, you know when I did that state thing where I stayed and uncle the always find you find family everywhere when you’re travelling on it. Yeah. And he used to get up every morning at 5:00 AM and do an hour’s yoga. And you know, my 18 year old me thinking what a waste of time. But actually that same up for the whole day. So yeah, look after your health, have the right people around you, do the right thing, [01:27:00] support each other.

Payman: Very nice.

Neel: Thank you for having me. Thank you. For me, it’s very enjoyable.

Payman: Really lovely conversation.

Neel: in what we’ve talked about is he’s a little rubbish, but you find something interesting in there.

Payman: Thanks for coming.

Neel: Thank you. Thanks Prav.

Prav: Thanks for your time.

Outro Voice: 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.

Prav: [01:27:30] Thanks for listening guys. If you got this far, you must’ve 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 had to say and what our guests has had to say because I’m assuming you got some value out of it.

Payman: Get some value out of it. Think about subscribing and if you would share this with a friend who’s using might get some value out of it too. Thank you so, so, so much for listening. Thanks.

Prav: and don’t forget our six star rating.

Over a 50-year career, self-proclaimed benevolent battle axe Jenny Pinder was instrumental in shaping the face of UK dentistry as we know it today. 


We chat with Jenny about her family’s generational background in dentistry, which helped shape her reputation as an early champion of women in the profession.


Jenny also spills the beans on her time at the GDC and shares some insight on the unique approach to treating nervous patients for which she is renowned.




“Being non-judgemental is very, very important. A lot of dentists think that people who don’t go to the dentist don’t care, but actually that’s not true for a great many people.” – Jenny Pinder


In this Week’s Episode


00:30 – On early years and gender

14.44 – Tales from the GDC

21.58 – Oh Canada!

23.58 – NHS dentistry

29.54 – Dental phobia

42.51 – Being in charge

49.41 – Retiring

55.18 – Mental Dental

01.01.46 – Jenny’s worst mistake

01.05.13 – Advice to dentists


About Jenny Pinder

Jenny qualified in dentistry in 1971 and went on to practice in the City of London. She gained additional qualifications in psychology and developed an interest in treating anxious patients.


She was a founding member of Women in Dentistry and has spent time working with numerous professional dentistry bodies.


Jenny recently retired and now spends much of her time on professional ancestry research.. 


Connect with Prav and Payman:


Prav on Instagram

Payman on Instagram

Jennifer Pinder: There’s nothing that annoys me more than coming to meetings-

Prav Solanki: Unprepared.

Jennifer Pinder: … and somebody hasn’t read the papers.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, that’s me.

Speaker 3: 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.

Prav Solanki: Hello, and welcome to the Dental Leaders podcast. Today, we have the pleasure of interviewing Jenny Pinder, who I’ve known for probably about eight or nine years now.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes, yes.

Prav Solanki: Nearly a decade. Just chatting now before this interview, we learned so much about the different things that you’ve achieved in dentistry and the different things you’ve represented in terms of the women’s groups and being on the GDC and the FGDP, which we’ll expand on and learn a lot more about. But Jenny, I just want to start off by asking about your upbringing, where you grew up and what your childhood was like.

Jennifer Pinder: I grew up in Doncaster in South Yorkshire. My father was a dentist and had a… Well, for those days he had a very beautiful practise. The town is a mining town, or was. But my father was a dentist. My mother was a dentist. Both my grandparents were dentists, and they were dentists under the old 1921 Act where they hadn’t got any… Because the other people call them proper qualifications. And then I’ve got two uncles, two cousins, and two of my brothers are dentist technicians, and still to this day.

Payman Langroud…: My goodness, wow. So your mother must’ve been a real pioneer, one of the very, very early lady dentists.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes, she was. And it’s only fairly recently I found out that she got a Carnegie scholarship. Her parents weren’t very well off. If you were a dentist pre-1948, it was a bit of sometimes could be scratching a living really. So without that scholarship she wouldn’t have been able to go to Glasgow University. And yes, there were only two women dental students at the time. But ultimately, the war came along and she was called up. And my father was also called up. And they met during their service in the RAF, and the rest is history from that point of view. My mother didn’t work again as a dentist after she was married, partly because there was no retraining schemes. The tax system was such that if she worked my father would be in the upper tax bracket and so she really wouldn’t earn anything. And he, also, I don’t think was very keen on her to do it. So her career went into a bait and switch it, which is a pity, but that’s how it was.

Payman Langroud…: Your childhood, what are your memories of being the kid of two dentists?

Jennifer Pinder: We were in a town where a lot of the dentists and doctors had a fairly closed social group. A lot of them had come out of the forces after the war. And then the NHS began in 1948, and that was really when my father’s practise took off in a big way, in particular making dentures. And they had a lab on the premises for three technicians. And every Friday was denture day. And I remember going up to the lab. They had a measuring thing on the wall to be measured as we grew in height.

Payman Langroud…: I studied in Cardiff. It was a common thing, my patients used to tell me, for their wedding present their parents used to give them a full set of dentures so the pictures would be nice.

Prav Solanki: Serious?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Jennifer Pinder: I think that’s a bit of a myth rather like-

Payman Langroud…: I heard it from the horse’s mouth. Yeah, really. All these different patients would tell me this.

Prav Solanki: Wales might be different.

Jennifer Pinder: Well, I think Scotland was different as well, wasn’t it really?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, sure.

Jennifer Pinder: It’s a bit like the myth of, “Oh, the dentist put his knee on my chest when he was talking my tooth out.” That goes round and round and round.

Prav Solanki: It’s normally the foot, isn’t it?

Jennifer Pinder: The foot. [inaudible 00:04:31].

Payman Langroud…: So when did you decide to be a dentist? Were you always going to be a dentist or was there a moment when you realised…

Jennifer Pinder: Well, I always wanted to be a doctor actually, all those years ago. I went to boarding school for seven years, from when I was 10. And the teaching on physics was absolutely terrible. We were girls and it wasn’t really that… Somebody came to the local grammar schools. So I failed A-level physics the first time. And in fact the second time I only scraped through with an E when I went to the local tech to retake my A levels. So I didn’t get in to do medicine. There were quotas then. They only took 15% of women, at the maximum 25%. There were just as many women wanted to get in. Anyway, so ultimately going to Sheffield University to do physiology, I was bored stiff with it. So I asked if I could change to dentistry. And my dad agreed to fund it, and so that’s what happened.

Prav Solanki: And was changing over at that time, was it quite simple and straightforward to do, going from physiology to dentistry?

Jennifer Pinder: Yes, it was actually. The course was long. Well, the course in dentistry then was only four years.

Prav Solanki: Oh, okay.

Jennifer Pinder: So yes, it was easy. It just meant an extra year at university that my father had to fund. Because we only got the minimum grant really.

Prav Solanki: Why were there quotas back in the day? I mean you referred back to your boarding school and it wasn’t predominantly female, say, or mixed 50-50, was it?

Jennifer Pinder: It was all female.

Prav Solanki: Oh, so it was an all-female school.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes, it was an all-female school.

Payman Langroud…: They probably didn’t mix boarding schools back then.

Jennifer Pinder: Oh no.

Payman Langroud…: [crosstalk 00:06:16].

Jennifer Pinder: Oh no. I mean we had, just up the road past the crossroads where we used to go for walks, there was an Army apprentice school.

Prav Solanki: Right.

Jennifer Pinder: And we were not allowed to go. We could either go left or right at the crossroads but not-

Prav Solanki: Not across.

Jennifer Pinder: Not across, no.

Prav Solanki: Oh dear.

Jennifer Pinder: Oh dear.

Payman Langroud…: How many women were there on your course, your dental course?

Jennifer Pinder: Four out of 40.

Payman Langroud…: So I bet you were popular then?

Jennifer Pinder: Well, it has its advantages sometimes. It had its advantages when I couldn’t bend… We had to make our own Adams cribs and things in those days. And I was utterly hopeless at bending wires. It seemed to me that the men were better at that. So somebody always used to step in and help.

Prav Solanki: Happy days.

Jennifer Pinder: Oh, happy days, yes.

Prav Solanki: So going back to applying for medicine, which is what you wanted to do. I guess rebel against the dentists in your family. The reason that you didn’t get in is probably because they had quotas back in the day. Is that the first time you kind of felt like you were discriminated against as a woman?

Jennifer Pinder: Yes, I think it was. They had quotas because they could. It was not until the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act was passed that it all changed. Of course now, we’ve swung over probably to be slightly more women applicants for either medicine or dentistry as well. Then again, the second thing I found I was being discriminated against was when I went to work, I applied for permanent health insurance to cover me if I was off sick. And I did it through Dentists’ Provident. And I discovered that to take on an extra thing was through Friends Provident Life. And for that, I had to pay a premium of 75% more than men for being female.

Prav Solanki: And was that standard practise back then that women would pay more?

Jennifer Pinder: Yes.

Prav Solanki: What was the reason for that?

Jennifer Pinder: They said women were sicker more often. It didn’t cover pregnancy, didn’t cover anything like that. And I thought, “Well, this isn’t right.” And for me, if I think something is not right, I will stick at it and pursue it. So ultimately, I went to the Equal Opportunities Commission, as it was then, and said, “What about this?” So they agreed to fund the case. So we took the case to court and actually we lost. We lost then but a little bit later on things did change.

Prav Solanki: I mean I’m sure there were many women in your position who probably thought, “Oh, okay. It’s a higher premium. It is what it is.” And there you come along and say, “I’m taking this to court, sunshine.” What is it about you that made you just think that actually, “I’m going to make a difference and I’m going to stand up for women.”?

Jennifer Pinder: Well, there’s something within me that stands up for anybody or anything that I think isn’t just…

Payman Langroud…: Where do you think that comes from, Jenny?

Jennifer Pinder: My grandma.

Payman Langroud…: Really?

Jennifer Pinder: My grandma who had 11 children of whom of the six brothers she was determined that my grandfather was going to get on and she was determined. Her father was an iron ore miner from Cambria. And she was determined her sons were going to be something. And I think there is an element of-

Payman Langroud…: Were you very close to her?

Jennifer Pinder: No.

Payman Langroud…: All right.

Jennifer Pinder: Not at all.

Payman Langroud…: To the stories.

Jennifer Pinder: But yes.

Payman Langroud…: How interesting.

Jennifer Pinder: One of the things I’ve done since I retired, and I was training for it in the last years of retirement, was I’ve become a professional family history researcher. So I’ve gone into quite a lot of depth of my own family. It puts your life in perspective when you do that.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, I bet it does. I bet it does.

Jennifer Pinder: You understand why people have done what they did really. So that was that. Yeah, so I got the sex discrimination case. There was a lot of publicity. Before that, a lady called Fiona Simpson, who was also on the general dental council with me and who I got to know. No, actually before that, I was chairman of the GDPA when it existed. You may not remember that. It was-

Payman Langroud…: Like the BDA but different.

Jennifer Pinder: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: Something higher level, was that what it was?

Jennifer Pinder: Lower level I think.

Payman Langroud…: Lower level.

Jennifer Pinder: It was lower level. I think it was looked down on.

Payman Langroud…: Oh really?

Jennifer Pinder: And I became the chairman of that. Anyway, I met Fiona Simpson and she found out I was doing this case because there was some publicity. It took about four years to come to court. And she put a petition in the Belfast Dental School where she was working, which she sent to me with all the signatures in support. And so with her, and because of the publicity, we started Women in Dentistry.

Payman Langroud…: Which year was that?

Jennifer Pinder: 1985.

Payman Langroud…: And we were discussing before, I was saying there seems to be a lot of new women in dentistry. We had [inaudible] on, who has a group-

Jennifer Pinder: Linda Greenwall.

Payman Langroud…: Linda does something. And we were asking all of them, is it harder to be a woman in life than to be a man? Forget dentistry for a moment.

Jennifer Pinder: No, it’s different.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, I’d agree with that.

Jennifer Pinder: It’s different.

Payman Langroud…: I was talking to my team about it last week, right? And there are obvious physical situations where… My marketing manager Laura was saying often she’s walking down the street and having to worry whether someone’s going to jump on her. And she was saying that’s not something that a man has to worry about. And I get it. I do get that sort of thing.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes, yes.

Payman Langroud…: But outside of those obvious physical strength situations, is it harder to be a woman in life or not? You’re saying no.

Prav Solanki: Different.

Jennifer Pinder: It’s different. And I think it’s different at different times of life. I think there is certainly harder things in careers when it comes to the years when having children becomes important.

Payman Langroud…: Although dentistry is one of the careers where you’re sort of least affected by that in my view. Because a lot of careers, if you take five years out and come back, you’re no where near where you would’ve been. Whereas with dentistry, the primary relationships are one with the patient. And if you’ve got a good patient relationship, you can come back and hit the ground running. So what about obviously back then you saw this situation where men and women weren’t getting the same treatment as far as insurance. But with job prospects, with the way patients talk to you, the way bosses talk to you, I mean you’re someone who’s gotten on in politics and teaching and so forth, would you say it was harder as a dentist to be a woman back then and now? What would you say about that?

Jennifer Pinder: No, I don’t think it was hardest actually to be a dentist as such. Back in those days what came out of Women in Dentistry was there was no maternity scheme for women dentists in the NHS, which was a big-

Prav Solanki: It’s huge, yeah.

Jennifer Pinder: It was a huge gap. And actually we found that really the BDA were not interested. And the BDA, at that time, overwhelmingly male and none of them were interested in this except one person called Diana [Scaret] who took it and ran with it. And ultimately, there is a maternity scheme, which we were directly responsible for getting. So if there are things that need addressing, the BDA weren’t interested because it wasn’t of any interest to men in general. They’ve got other things to be more interested in politics. So if you haven’t got any women around there to be interested in it, it doesn’t get done. So that’s where we were able to fulfil a need really to do that.

Prav Solanki: When you were working on the GDC, you mentioned that you’d sat on various panels and hearings and things like that. And prior to that, you were talking about how you’ll stand up for anything if it’s unjust. Did you ever find yourself in a situation where you thought, “Do you know what? This just is not fair.”? A dentist was up and perhaps it wasn’t his or her fault or whatever.

Payman Langroud…: To be fair, it was less common back in the day. Nowadays, I think it’s every case [inaudible 00:15:14]. But go ahead.

Jennifer Pinder: It maybe isn’t less common but it was dealt with in a different way. They had a preliminary proceedings committee, which of course there were I think 14 elected dentists. There were heads of dental schools. And although that it was criticised of them and us, there was a lot of very sound, sensible, capable people there. And you felt that it was a privilege to be there because you’d been elected by your peers. Was there ever an unjust one? Yes. And one sticks out in my mind. And it may seem like I’m… We had a preliminary proceedings committee, which were mostly dentists with one lay person. There was just a few people. We used to have a huge bundle of papers to look through, most of which came to nothing. There was serious professional misconduct and it really I think was the serious ones that got through, that went through. It has its faults.

Jennifer Pinder: But this particular case was a youngish chap from Brighton had a practise. And he used to do sedation. So this lady had come in and she had a sedation. And she then turned around and accused him of stealing some money from her handbag. Well, it turned out actually that if he’d stolen the money he would have to give her change for the amount of money that was in her… Which was completely impossible. And the poor chap had had to cancel his holiday that he’d planned for his wife and three small children. It was awful. So it got thrown out. I mean there were enough of us…

Jennifer Pinder: The other case I do remember was a very serious one actually because it was in a practise where they did sedation. And their anaesthetist, his idea was that when people had had their sedation finished that he would give them a suppository of pain killer. So not to go into too much detail, one of the patients went home and thought she’d been assaulted. Then another young patient came up. And what we believed was that the anaesthetist was getting some gratification out of that. Anyway, when the barristers were questioning people… And again, I actually said to the dentist there, I said, “Would you let that happen to your wife?” Because it’s not normal for people to be given that in a dental practise. Their defence was, “Well, in the hospitals, that’s what they give.” But it’s by a nurse. Anyway, I think there were two of us… And in the end, he got a homily. They used to get what’s called a homily in those days.

Prav Solanki: Which is what?

Jennifer Pinder: A little telling off.

Prav Solanki: A slap on the wrist.

Jennifer Pinder: A slap on the wrist. Yeah, so he got a slap on the wrist. But if we hadn’t stuck up and said so, I don’t think he’d have got anything.

Payman Langroud…: Wow.

Jennifer Pinder: But all different then. All difficult.

Payman Langroud…: What other I mean juicy ones? I don’t mean like that. What was something that was clearly the dentist was doing something wrong and it was the right thing to do to stop him from practising ?

Jennifer Pinder: Okay.

Payman Langroud…: So was it about skill level? I’m sure you had all of these, right? Stealing money from the system, NHS or whatever?

Jennifer Pinder: I think the one that, again, sticks out a bit was there was a man, he practised in North London. And I think in those days, and this must’ve in the late ’80s… He was grossing £300,000 a year on the NHS. And what it turned out was we saw a patient who came as a witness that he’d done root fillings on every tooth, every posterior tooth.

Prav Solanki: Oh god.

Jennifer Pinder: And he said that he could do… His notes said that he’d done two quadrants of these in an hour. So I remember saying, “Mr. [Daugherty 00:19:17], you were”… Oh, I shouldn’t say his name I suppose. But it was public.

Prav Solanki: [inaudible 00:19:22].

Jennifer Pinder: “You were able to work very fast.” And he just said, “Well, I’m very efficient.” And I laughed. Not laughed but I thought, “Okay.” Well, he was a menace.

Prav Solanki: Right.

Jennifer Pinder: He was damaging patients. The patient was happy. He said, “I’ve got no pain.” And I think he was using something called SPAD. You might remember SPAD.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jennifer Pinder: Which was not the greatest of materials, was it?

Payman Langroud…: When was the first time you’re a practising dentist and you thought, “I’m going to go for GDC election.”?

Jennifer Pinder: It was when I was chairman of the GDPA. And I just thought it was something I would like to do. And I worked hard at it. At the time, there was only one woman on the GDC, elected member. That was Margaret Seward.

Prav Solanki: Oh.

Jennifer Pinder: And there was a lay lady as well. So I thought, “Okay, well I’ll have a go.” So one of the things I did was I got the register and I sent out envelops canvasing to every woman on the register and every couple, so that I might get two votes. And also through the GDPA, through their magazine. So I got elected quite easily.

Payman Langroud…: What about the GDP. Prav and I both want to get stuff done in our businesses, let’s say. But personally, I don’t like meetings and panels and all of that. So I’ve never put myself forward for anything like that. But clearly you must be quite good at that to become the chairman of the GDPA and then to go for the GDC and so on. Are you one of those get stuff done in meetings type of people?

Jennifer Pinder: There’s a lot of stuff you can get done-

Payman Langroud…: Sure.

Jennifer Pinder: … not in meetings.

Payman Langroud…: Oh, okay.

Jennifer Pinder: Behind the scenes, or if you know people. I read very easily. I speed read books.

Payman Langroud…: Oh really?

Jennifer Pinder: I can read two books a week. And I’ve always been careful that when I did meetings that I knew my brief, that I’d read my papers. There’s nothing that annoys me more than coming to meetings-

Prav Solanki: Unprepared.

Jennifer Pinder: … and somebody hasn’t read the papers.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, that’s me.

Jennifer Pinder: Oh dear. Oh dear. Well also because, if somebody hasn’t read the papers, you have to go through the whole thing all over again. So that’s that. No, I don’t like meetings particularly but there have to be in some respects.

Payman Langroud…: Of course.

Jennifer Pinder: And I think the other pivotal thing was when I met my husband, he was a journalist with The Toronto Globe and Mail. And he was then called back to Canada, and I agreed to go with him. At the time, he wasn’t divorced and I couldn’t practise as a dentist at that time. So as patients, I had the head of The Salvation Army worldwide who was Canadian. And they got me a job in The Salvation Army hostel so that I could get landed immigrant status-

Payman Langroud…: In Toronto?

Jennifer Pinder: In Toronto, on the basis of that.

Payman Langroud…: Which years were you there or which year were you there?

Jennifer Pinder: 1975 to ’77.

Prav Solanki: How different was dentistry there compared to here?

Jennifer Pinder: Oh, it was like a different world.

Prav Solanki: Higher level?

Jennifer Pinder: Much higher level. Much higher level. And in fact, during it, it made me realise how low our standards were. And the Canadians really, really look down on British dentists. Funny enough, the only dental school that they felt was any good was Newcastle. Newcastle graduates used to pass their terrible… The exam that had a 10% pass rate because they didn’t want foreign dentists. So I went through all that and I worked in a hospital for a year. They taught me how to make dentures properly and a lot of other things. So when I came back, I was determined. And I failed that exam the first time so I was determined not to be seen as a failure. So I was one of the first people that took the MGDS. Which, because of my time in Canada, I passed.

Payman Langroud…: Right.

Jennifer Pinder: And there was not a very high pass rate at that stage.

Payman Langroud…: That was a tough exam too.

Jennifer Pinder: [inaudible] exam.

Prav Solanki: That short time in Canada, do you think that accelerated your growth as a dentist in terms of skillsets, knowledge?

Payman Langroud…: Sounds like it.

Jennifer Pinder: Absolutely.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Jennifer Pinder: Career defining really.

Payman Langroud…: Jenny, what would you put the level… Sorry, the quality of the dentistry in the UK being lower, what would you put that down to? I mean we’ve got some of the best schools. Would you say the NHS is the thing?

Jennifer Pinder: Yes.

Payman Langroud…: And with your experience of the dental world from when you started and your parents, how would you summarise NHS dentistry. Would you say overall it’s a good thing, a bad thing? Where are we now? Was it good before and it’s no longer? Because from when I qualified, I did VT. And I said to everyone I knew, “I’m not going to do anything in dentistry anyway.” After VT, I went and applied for a job in private… And back then you couldn’t go from VT to private.

Jennifer Pinder: No.

Payman Langroud…: And I said to the guy, “Look, I’ll take 40%.” And he suddenly changed his…

Jennifer Pinder: Right, yes.

Payman Langroud…: Because back then it was 50% split.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes.

Payman Langroud…: And I said, “I’ll take 40%.” I did not want to work in that system. And we’re talking about this summer of 1997.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah. And today it’s worse for dentists and for patients.

Jennifer Pinder: How can’t it be? I think it is one of the tragedies of my career that… When I came back, I was on a mission to say, “Look, there’s a better way. This is not right. We worked far too fast.” And it was item of service then.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, yeah.

Jennifer Pinder: So the faster you worked, the more you got. And that’s okay, some people could work very fast. And in fact, I was always quite a fast worker. I was quite fast.

Prav Solanki: Efficient.

Jennifer Pinder: Quite efficient. That’s a better word.

Payman Langroud…: What was the guys name at the GDC?

Jennifer Pinder: And then over the years of course we got to 1988 and they changed the contract to the capitation element. And I just started my practise. Yeah, I’d just started my brand new practise, which was from scratch, just north of the Barbican. And they reduced the fees by 10%. I had massive loans because this was 1988. At the time, interest rates were 10%.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Jennifer Pinder: And in fact, I remember Black Wednesday, or whatever it was called-

Payman Langroud…: I remember that too.

Jennifer Pinder: When they went up to 15% overnight. I remember sitting on the sofa at home and say, “I’m finished.”

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, I remember that day. Like Nigel Lawson, isn’t it?

Jennifer Pinder: Yeah. I thought, “I’m finished. There’s just no way I can pay back these huge loans.” So I was disadvantaged. And I was disadvantaged and I wanted to do a good service, et cetera. And then, ultimately, I realised I couldn’t. I was giving private dentistry basically to NHS patients. So it wasn’t going to work financially.

Prav Solanki: Just going back then, how hard or how easy was it to get your hands on money compared to… Now, it’s really hard. If you apply for a bank loan or that sort of stuff. Even going back to 2005, if you were setting up your own dental practise or a new business, you’re a dentist, they’ll give you 110% loan.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes.

Prav Solanki: No PGs. What was it like back then?

Jennifer Pinder: It was generally easy, except for women.

Payman Langroud…: Oh, really?

Jennifer Pinder: Women used find they had to have a guarantor.

Payman Langroud…: How crazy is that?

Jennifer Pinder: Well, it’s crazy but actually, ultimately, I was on the Women Dentistry Stand in Glasgow, [inaudible] conference. And the NatWest I was at had a new woman bank manager. Her name was Rita Hanratty. And she spoke to me and she looked at my things and she said, “I’ll fund you.” So that’s how it came about. She was marvellous actually. But I remember once having something and I wanted a bit of an overdraft extension or something and I said, “Oh, this has happened, that has happened.” She said to me, “There’ll always be something, whatever it is.” And that sticks in my head because it’s true, isn’t it?

Prav Solanki: So true.

Jennifer Pinder: Something happens and you get right, and something else happens that you haven’t expected and you have to be able to deal with the unexpected and uncertainty really.

Prav Solanki: Yeah. If it’s not finance, it’s team members or illness or health or whatever, right? Something’s going to get in the way.

Jennifer Pinder: Or something happens in politics and they take the funding away. You’ve seen all the changes in life and the changes that have happened in dentistry. But to me, the saddest and the worst thing is that they got something called the UDA system.

Prav Solanki: UDA, yeah. Madness.

Jennifer Pinder: When they were discussing it, I thought, “That can’t be because it’s ludicrous. It’s completely ludicrous. The rest of the world doesn’t have this nonsense.” And it’s been there for so long.

Payman Langroud…: But Jenny, you worked in the corridors of power, let’s say. How do these things happen? I mean most dentists are out there pulling teeth, and then the system changes. Surely there’s a dental representative doing that deal with the government.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes. I think the den-

Payman Langroud…: How does it work?

Jennifer Pinder: Well, I just think they’ve let us down completely.

Prav Solanki: Our leaders?

Jennifer Pinder: Yes. Completely. The BDA does do good things. And I was a member for a long, long time. I was president of the metropolitan branch. The social aspect was great. I actually enjoyed the politics, et cetera, et cetera. But when you look at NHS dentistry, which is actually for many, many dentists still their bread and butter, what’s happened since I qualified in 1971 to today when we’ve got this dreadful system? It’s evolved from something.

Payman Langroud…: And not to mention you said the NHS started and that made your dad’s practise.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes.

Payman Langroud…: Take it back a bit further and it was a wonderful thing, wasn’t it? It was a beautiful thing.

Jennifer Pinder: What, the NHS?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Jennifer Pinder: It was. It was a good thing because most of the people had no access to dentistry at all. Anyway, that’s where we’re at today. Of course my other interest is in, because I got a psychology degree from Birkbeck, another life changer, and that was in 1986. But I knew I was good with anxious patients and I thought, “I’d like to teach.” There was no VT or VT had just come in, I can’t remember which, and I thought, “Well great, I’d like to teach.” But I thought, “I can’t just go and say I’m good at this because that’s nothing.” So at the time, there were no health psychology degrees so I went and did this degree at Birkbeck instead.

Payman Langroud…: Evening classes or something?

Jennifer Pinder: Evening classes.

Prav Solanki: Really?

Jennifer Pinder: I don’t know how I did it actually.

Prav Solanki: So you came from Canada.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes.

Prav Solanki: Back to the UK, wanting to practise private dentistry on NHS patients.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes.

Prav Solanki: Do you psychology degree.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes.

Prav Solanki: And then what comes from all of this is that actually what you want to do is provide a higher level of care for those patients who are absolutely terrified or walking in the door.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes.

Prav Solanki: And that’s how we met.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes, it is.

Prav Solanki: Many years ago. I remember I’d set up a website focusing on dental phobia. And then I did a lot of research and your name kept popping up. Dentist for phobics, Jenny Pinder.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes. That’s right, yes.

Prav Solanki: And you had lots of advice on not just for the general public but I think dentists got a lot from your advice that you’d published online just about how to do the basics like talk to patients, assess their anxiety levels and their scores and things like that. And there was nobody else. And this only going back eight to 10 years ago. There was nobody else doing what you did. There were people trying it. There was that group from abroad that we spoke about, the guy who would take them off, anaesthetise them.

Jennifer Pinder: Oh yes, yes.

Prav Solanki: Do you remember?

Jennifer Pinder: Yes.

Prav Solanki: And we spoke about that. And how did that whole thing evolve? Did you develop your own system, your own process? Or did you just find that you were naturally good at helping patients by giving them more time? What were your little tricks and hacks in terms of being able to successfully treat nervous patients to the point where they were travelling miles and miles and miles just to be having basic treatment with you?

Jennifer Pinder: One of the things, interesting, when I was a kid I used to hate having dental treatment. And my dad used to say I was terrified of it.

Prav Solanki: Your dad was your dentist, I assume.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes. Well, he tried. Poor man. [inaudible] lunch on Sunday. Dad would say, “Well, we’re going to the practise this afternoon.” “No, we’re not.” “Yes, we are.” “No, we’re not.” And he would take me in and I would only agree to have anything done if I could mix the amalgam in the mortar. It’s not very safe. But I really hated it. And it was not till I was 17 when I allowed him to give me an injection that I would actually be more comfortable with dentists. To this day, I don’t like it.

Prav Solanki: What did you hate back then? What instilled the fear or the dislike back then? Was it the smell, the noise, something?

Payman Langroud…: I mean the needles, right?

Prav Solanki: No, no, no. But you talk about-

Jennifer Pinder: But in those days, I think they thought that kids’ teeth didn’t hurt.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jennifer Pinder: So you drilled them without any local. And of course it does hurt. And that sets up the problem really. How did it evolve? So yes, so then I began giving some lectures to… My very first lecture was to community VTs on their first day on the training. And I was given the opportunity by Stanley Gelbier, who actually was a sort of mentor for me. And I remember that first day. I was very, very nervous. It was the time after lunch and in those days they had a huge lunch on the first day with some wine. And I remember somebody giving a feedback which said, “Went to sleep.” And that was all I could focus on, this went to sleep. So that’s how it started. And then when I was working as an associate, I knew I was good and I wanted to promote that when I moved into my own practise.

Prav Solanki: So your lecture, that first lecture that you gave, was it on the topic of treating nervous patients?

Jennifer Pinder: Yes, it was.

Prav Solanki: What did you map out? Did you map out a patient journey, a conversation structure? What were the key elements to treating nervous patients back then? Today, a lot of people focus on, say, sedation or giving patients more time or adapt to the environment so you’re using these things like the wand or putting on music or TV, distraction techniques. What was it back in the day in that lecture that was key? And this probably holds true today as the key elements to treating a nervous patient.

Jennifer Pinder: I think the key elements I used to think were taking enough time and doing a proper assessment. In the end, mine evolved in almost like a therapeutic interview where you would actually get people who come in crying. And by the time you’d talk things through, they were smiling. Because a lot of people have never been able to talk to anybody about this before. Being non-judgemental is very, very important. A lot of dentists think that people don’t go to the dentist don’t care, but actually that’s not true for a great many people. And people feel that. Once they see you as a person who’s empathetic and actually is prepared to understand them, that’s a real key element.

Prav Solanki: Do you think your psychology degree had a lot to do with just understanding people and their emotions and how to deal with them?

Jennifer Pinder: Yeah. I think it did. But also, studying in a different way. Dentistry’s very hands-on or you learn about pathology or bacteriology or whatever it is in undergraduate. But a psychology degree, you’ve got to think. It’s a whole different way of thinking, which is quite a lot to get your around really.

Payman Langroud…: Sorry, sorry. I don’t think enough dentists realise, from the marketing perspective, what a massive thing it is to be a gentle dentist. I think it’s much more out there these days. But my wife’s very gentle. That’s probably the biggest thing that people think about her as a dentist. She doesn’t Invisalign. Clinically, she’s a regular dentist. But people travel far and wide to see her. And I only realised it myself when she gave me an ID block about three years ago. And I didn’t feel it go in and I suddenly realised all those ID blocks where I’d pushed that plunger in and how much, outside of the amount of pain I’d caused by doing that, but how much loss of business I’d caused by doing that.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes.

Payman Langroud…: And that connection’s not often made. I mean we talk about anxious patients all the time but we don’t teach dentists that actually it’s very good for business to be gentle.

Prav Solanki: I think what a lot of dentists look at is time and product. I know it’s probably not right. So if we look at a nervous patient consultation with Jenny and a standard consultation with another dentist-

Payman Langroud…: How long does it take, Jenny?

Prav Solanki: How much time would you give a patient?

Jennifer Pinder: My consultations used to be 45 minutes. One of the things I used, and it was interestingly on one of the forums, somebody was slagging off doing questionnaires beforehand. But actually there’s two of them, one of which you’ll find out the level of somebody’s anxiety. And it may be nothing at all. But the other thing, it might be way up. And then there’s a questionnaire that actually focuses down on what they’re anxious about. You say to a patient, “What are you anxious about?” “Oh, everything.” Well, I’ve never come across anybody who’s anxious about everything, so you pin down. It’s either fear of needles, fear of gagging, whatever. And they’ve got that information before they come in. And the other way I used to find out a lot of information was I used to do a lot of email chatting before a patient came in.

Prav Solanki: Would you email the patient directly?

Jennifer Pinder: Usually they emailed me.

Prav Solanki: Yeah, yeah. But I mean you would correspond with the… Today, it’s rare, apart from we talk about Instagram and Facebook, DMing patients.

Payman Langroud…: Do you mean before their first visit?

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes.

Payman Langroud…: Because that’s massive.

Prav Solanki: No, it’s huge.

Payman Langroud…: Remember we were talking about that oral surgeon from the [inaudible] example. But you were doing that back then.

Jennifer Pinder: Years ago.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: That’s huge. It’s huge.

Jennifer Pinder: It’s huge because instead of a dialogue the patient knows a bit about you. You know a bit about them. And people will open up on an email in a way that they might not talk to you as well.

Prav Solanki: You build that confidence, and even just educating them and providing information that maybe they didn’t know can be part and parcel of their therapy. What’s the longest furthest distance a patient has travelled to have care with you?

Jennifer Pinder: Well, I had a few regular patients that used to travel from abroad but the one that sticks, the one that-

Prav Solanki: You say that as though it’s no big deal. Well, I had a few that came from abroad.

Jennifer Pinder: Well, don’t forget, I practised in the city of London so it was…

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Jennifer Pinder: I think the one that sticks out for travelling was a guy contacted me, again through email. He hadn’t been to the dentist for 50 years.

Prav Solanki: Wow.

Payman Langroud…: Wow.

Jennifer Pinder: And he was in an awful state. It was to do with something which happened when he was child of five, or whatever it is. Anyway, we had to chit chat, chit chat, chit chat. And so I said, “Well, if you want me to treat you, you’re going to have to come and see me.” I said, “And maybe you could go to the dental hospital or whatever, or find a community dentist. No, he didn’t want to do that. He wanted to come see me. So he came to see me from Leicester. This man was severely needle-phobic, among other things. He’d been diagnosed as diabetic and he wouldn’t have any-

Prav Solanki: Insulin.

Jennifer Pinder: He wouldn’t have any blood taken to check his blood. So it had to be done all with urine tests. So his teeth were… I mean you’ve never seen anything like it. He looked awful. He said he was losing work because he looked so awful. And what I used to do as well was, we were fortunate, we had digital X-rays and so I could do a digital… I think everybody who came, if they needed it, had a digital OPG, which was brilliant because you could then have it back on the screen and they could look from a distance and you could show them what was going on. This chap needed full clearance.

Prav Solanki: Right.

Jennifer Pinder: Well, sedation was going to be the only way. And we got him finally, after a lot of whatever, to agree that he would have the injection in the arm. We had a one very experienced anaesthetist from a firm called Andre Du Plessis. He was terrific with nervous patients. I mean they were safely sedated but they were well sedated. So he obviously had to bring somebody with him all the way from Leicester, and obviously had to go back again. I tried to get him in to one of the hospitals in Leicester. Nobody was interested. Couldn’t find anywhere to take him. So we were left with that. And under sedation, he agreed to have a finger blood tip for his diabetes.

Prav Solanki: Diabetes, wow.

Jennifer Pinder: Even under sedation, he was what I call a chase me around the chair patient. Even under sedation, he was throwing himself backwards and forwards, et cetera. Because we had to get lots of injections in. Because in reality he would’ve been better off with a GA. But as there was no other way for this poor man, we did it. So we did take all his teeth out. And I went to talk to his wife and she burst into tears. She said, “You cannot know how many holidays have been ruined by trying to find antibiotics and constantly on antibiotics,” et cetera. I then recommended he went to a clinical dental technician.

Payman Langroud…: For dentures.

Jennifer Pinder: For dentures. Whether he did it, I don’t know. But he was probably one of the worst cases.

Prav Solanki: Did you work alongside many clinical dental technicians during your career?

Jennifer Pinder: I chaired the Dental Auxiliaries Review Group.

Payman Langroud…: Of course you did.

Jennifer Pinder: And one of the-

Payman Langroud…: You like to chair stuff, right?

Jennifer Pinder: I like to chair stuff. I like to be in charge.

Prav Solanki: Just saying.

Jennifer Pinder: So one of the groups I had to deal with was the dental technicians about getting them registered and also registering clinical dental technicians so they could legally-

Payman Langroud…: See patients.

Jennifer Pinder: … do dentures to the public. Well, dealing with the technicians was actually, in a way it was wonderful. I think because of my background, that my grandparents had been what were dental mechanics or whatever then, and my dad having a lab and my brothers are technicians, that I had some credibility to talk to them. Because it was like dealing with the trade unions. But I did it. And I got them on board. And so that it is where it is today. I’m sure there’s some illegal denture making.

Prav Solanki: Oh, there’s tonnes of it.

Jennifer Pinder: I’m sure there is.

Prav Solanki: Tonnes of it. So you were pivotal in getting clinical dental technicians authorised to practise dentistry direct to public.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes.

Prav Solanki: Wow.

Jennifer Pinder: And dental nurses registered.

Prav Solanki: Wow.

Payman Langroud…: Were you not going to mention that in our little chat outside?

Jennifer Pinder: No. Well, I seem to have done quite a lot.

Payman Langroud…: You’ve done a lot. You’ve done a lot.

Jennifer Pinder: I’ve done quite a lot.

Prav Solanki: Yeah. Well, my business partner, Marc Northover, is a clinical dental technician [crosstalk 00:44:37].

Jennifer Pinder: Oh, right.

Prav Solanki: I would say that his patient manner is phenomenal. And the way he utilises the relationship between a dentist and a CDT to give a patient a complete treatment plan where they talk them through the steps of how they make the dentures, get them involved in the choosing of the teeth. The whole process, I think it’s an incredibly unique relationship and a really special one if you can get a dentist and a CDT to work together in the interest of the best patient. I’m sure Marc’s got a lot of things to thank you about, being able to practise [crosstalk 00:45:13].

Jennifer Pinder: I was the person on the GD… Funny enough, Margaret Seward was the president at the time. And she was a mentor for me. So she gave me things to do.

Payman Langroud…: Nice.

Jennifer Pinder: Which was good. And they were really, really interesting. It was terrific, that feeling. The other thing I did when I was on the GDC, I chaired the Behaviour Sciences in Dentistry group which I set up. And we got behaviour sciences into the undergraduate curriculum.

Prav Solanki: Oh, wow.

Jennifer Pinder: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Amazing.

Jennifer Pinder: I mean it seems to me that although we’ve got behavioural sciences into the curriculum, has it changed much in terms of communication skills?

Payman Langroud…: Well, I think they’re pretty good at communicating. What people worry about, the new, young graduates, is they’re not that great at drilling anymore because they’re doing less of that, for sure.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes. Yes, I think that’s probably true.

Payman Langroud…: What do you think about the fact that back when I qualified the grades you needed to become a dentist were kind of average and now you need to be a top student-

Jennifer Pinder: [crosstalk]

Payman Langroud…: … to get into dentistry, academic to get into… Do you think that makes for a different type of dentist?

Jennifer Pinder: Well, it could do. I think it’s a shame because sometimes with lesser degrees… It depends what they’re looking for. Is it because there’s more competition to get in-

Payman Langroud…: [crosstalk]

Jennifer Pinder: … and thus they have to set the bar higher? But then that has a knock-on effect on having people who are more academic or less… I don’t know how they test their clinical skills, whether they’re any good with their hands or whatever.

Prav Solanki: What makes a better dentist, I guess, is… I don’t know how well you did academically, but it’s very clear from the reports we’ve seen on our website, of patients you’ve treated and interacted with and the life change and impact you’ve had, is the majority of your skillset, other than the drilling, comes from making patients feel comfortable, spending that time with them, assessing them, liaising over email. You can’t assess that in the A level.

Jennifer Pinder: No. Nor can you assess it in a 15-minute-

Prav Solanki: Interview.

Jennifer Pinder: … NHS new patient interview, can you really?

Prav Solanki: No, no.

Jennifer Pinder: I think that’s too bad. What I always say when I’m lecturing on nervous patients is because people might say, “Well, this job isn’t as good because the patient was nervous.” Well, actually I’m not quite sure how you can do that today, whether that would go down as an excuse or whatever. Because you’ve actually got to somehow be able to do a clinically competent job. It’s very nice. But the skill is getting the patient to have the clinically competent job in the first place rather than have this first thing and then go away and never have any treatment done. So you’ve got these stages. You’ve got to get the patient to get in in the first place. You’ve got to get the patient sorted so that you give them the treatment plan and they accept whatever part of it they want. Then you’ve got to get them to the treatment. And then you’ve got to treat them in a way that’s pain-free, without using the wand. Doing all your skills so it’s pain-free so that their experience is good so they’ll go onto other things.

Jennifer Pinder: When you talk about it from the business point of view, I’ve had patients who have been absolutely petrified. And of course they’ve got to get the basics. Because some of them come in and say, “I’d like whitening, please.” And you think, “No, not yet.” So they’ve got to go through certain stages. They go through certain stages. Some of them then go on to having Invisalign, to go on to have ortho. They go on to have cosmetic dentistry, and then they can have tooth whitening. And one of the patients I used to treat at my old practise is a young woman who’s got lots of problems, but she always used to cry every time she got over the… She would say she could smell the dental practise in the street. And then when she got to the door, she burst in tears. And she was so sweet. She works for a hedge fund company. She’s got a bit of a gagging problem and she wanted to have whitening. And it was never okay. I headhunted somebody to take over my patients, who is good with nervous patients. And so-

Prav Solanki: When you were retiring?

Jennifer Pinder: When I was retiring.

Payman Langroud…: What was that like?

Jennifer Pinder: What, retiring?

Prav Solanki: Having to.

Payman Langroud…: Well, first of all finding this guy, finding this guy who’s good with nervous patients.

Jennifer Pinder: It’s a girl.

Payman Langroud…: This girl.

Jennifer Pinder: It’s a girl. Actually, she’s not that young actually either. It’s a female. Anyway…

Payman Langroud…: Where did you find her?

Jennifer Pinder: Also now, Victoria, this patient is going to have her bleaching done because they’ve done the impressions with a scanner.

Prav Solanki: Of course.

Jennifer Pinder: They’ve got a scanner in the practise.

Prav Solanki: How many years later is that?

Jennifer Pinder: What, from…

Prav Solanki: From the initial conversation with yourself.

Jennifer Pinder: About 10 years.

Prav Solanki: Wow.

Jennifer Pinder: About 10 years. But isn’t great that she’s going to have it now because of innovative technology.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: Yes. So tell us about retiring. How was that? How did it feel? When did you realise that the time’s come to stop?

Jennifer Pinder: I decided I-

Payman Langroud…: Had you planned it ahead?

Jennifer Pinder: Yes. I retired when I was 70. And by then, I knew that physically it was becoming more difficult.

Payman Langroud…: It’s physically a hard job, dentistry.

Jennifer Pinder: It’s physically a hard job. I mean I have got back trouble now. And I had one case where I was trying… I won’t go into the long story but I had an upper six to take out, which had been like it had a golf ball of calculus around it. Young woman as well.

Prav Solanki: Really?

Jennifer Pinder: And when we took the calculus off, this tooth was there but it was hollow. So when I put the forceps on it went-

Prav Solanki: Crush.

Jennifer Pinder: It crumbled. It was obviously fused to the… I could not get it out. However, battled on and on. The patient had had 10 milligrammes of Valium. She was actually very valiant considering where she’d come from. And I had to get somebody else in to do it for me. And then I thought, “Hmm.”

Payman Langroud…: Had enough.

Jennifer Pinder: This is-

Payman Langroud…: I had a moment like that.

Prav Solanki: It’s a sign.

Jennifer Pinder: Did you?

Payman Langroud…: But I was 32 at the time.

Jennifer Pinder: Okay. Oh well. I went on a bit longer than you then. But I knew I was right. My last three months was amazing. All the patients who hadn’t been in for a bit, all wanted to be seen now before I left, just one more time. And every day I used to go out with laden down with bags of goodies I’d been given. And yeah, it was very emotional.

Prav Solanki: Yeah, I bet.

Jennifer Pinder: Very, very emotional. Patients who’ve been seeing you for 40 years and cry.

Payman Langroud…: Wow.

Jennifer Pinder: And you don’t know what to say to them because you… But things move on.

Payman Langroud…: Sure.

Jennifer Pinder: Your doctors change. You have to do that.

Prav Solanki: Sure. You go home the day after you’ve done your last day, what’s that like? I mean I always say to myself I’ll never retire, because I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.

Payman Langroud…: [inaudible] retired already [inaudible 00:52:38]?

Prav Solanki: No.

Payman Langroud…: Carry on.

Prav Solanki: I think I’d be lost. Just talk me through just from your perspective.

Jennifer Pinder: I think you have to prepare not to be lost.

Prav Solanki: Okay.

Jennifer Pinder: The first week, I used to feel really odd on Sunday night at not going to work the following day. I’ve never not had anything to do. The last few years, I studied to get an advanced diploma in genealogy and I’ve set up a little family history business. So I have that.

Prav Solanki: Tell me about that.

Jennifer Pinder: Tell me about that.

Prav Solanki: So a client comes to you and what’s a typical scenario? What information do they want and what do you provide as a service?

Jennifer Pinder: I have a contract with Forces War Records, which is a database. And I do research on people’s World War I ancestors as part of it, which is fascinating and sad as well often, but great when you find out for people what their background is. Other ones you get, I can do research back into the 18th century because of the training I’ve had done. I’ve got one at the moment who wants to find her father’s illegitimate… He was illegitimate and his mother was illegitimate. And he wants to find out who his grandfather’s father, something things-

Payman Langroud…: What’s the process, Jenny? How do you go about that?

Jennifer Pinder: Well, there’s an awful lot online now. But it’s not all online. And sometimes you have to go and visit the National Archives or visit, in London, the London Metropolitan Archives. And you have to order stuff. And then you can look at the original documents.

Payman Langroud…: Literally pay books, papers like that?

Jennifer Pinder: Yes. Books.

Payman Langroud…: What was that thing microfiche or something?

Jennifer Pinder: Microfiche.

Payman Langroud…: What was that? Do you remember that? No, it’s before your time, Prav.

Prav Solanki: I’ve heard of it.

Jennifer Pinder: Oh, they’re a pain in the [inaudible 00:54:41], aren’t they?

Payman Langroud…: In libraries, people used to have to those things.

Prav Solanki: Yeah, yeah, yeah, on the screen.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Jennifer Pinder: Or they have things that they roll around and you look at that. Well, it’s not so much like that now. But you can look at original documents. And some of them are really very, very-

Payman Langroud…: It must be fascinating.

Jennifer Pinder: It’s fascinating. I knew nothing about history. I like the social aspect of it, finding out people’s background.

Prav Solanki: Was that in preparation for retirement?

Jennifer Pinder: Yes, it was.

Prav Solanki: That you thought, “This is what I want to do,” my new trade so to speak?

Jennifer Pinder: Yes, yes. Yeah, I was afraid of having vast areas of time and nothing to fill it.

Prav Solanki: So you planned that out.

Payman Langroud…: You’re also doing this Confidental thing.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes.

Payman Langroud…: Which did it come from the Mental Dental group from Facebook?

Jennifer Pinder: It did. I have to say-

Payman Langroud…: Tell us about that.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes, there’s Mental Dental. And Lauren, who set that up, is now the admin. It was an amazing thing. Because suddenly all these things came up.

Payman Langroud…: So much of it.

Jennifer Pinder: People opened up in a way that they’d never opened up before.

Prav Solanki: Before.

Jennifer Pinder: And you saw the level of such a problem and that actually had been buried. So it was Jeremy Cooper’s, partly his idea first. He got people together. And so there was Lauren from Mental Dental and Keith Hayes who runs RightPath4, who actually has provided the seed funding for it. And I really, really want him to get the credit for that. And he does a lot of the administration. He’s a very kind man. And so, anyway, eventually it ended up as just four of us. Because I approached Jeremy and said, “I’d like to be involved with this.” Because many years ago, I had a bit of a meltdown. And I had support. I knew where to go. But there was a couple of times where something had happened or I’d got a letter from something or something. And if I’d had somebody to ring up and talk to at 10:00 at night when I was in a state, it would have been wonderful. So that’s why I thought Confidental-

Prav Solanki: Confidental.

Jennifer Pinder: … was something which was going to be a service that was needed.

Payman Langroud…: So is it 24 hour?

Jennifer Pinder: Yes.

Payman Langroud…: And there’s someone on the line you can call?

Jennifer Pinder: Yes.

Payman Langroud…: Wow.

Jennifer Pinder: Although, we’re finding that there’s certain times of day. Lunchtime, people can stop practising or maybe they’ve got the letter or one of the letters from the dreaded-

Payman Langroud…: Is that a very common call then? “I’ve just had a letter from the GDC.”?

Jennifer Pinder: Yes. Or, “A patient sued me,” or, “I’ve done something on a patient [crosstalk 00:57:28].”

Payman Langroud…: And what’s your general advice if someone makes that call? What’s the first thing you say?

Jennifer Pinder: We’re not there to give advice. We’re there to listen, let them get off their chest. There was a call the other night where it was obvious the person was depressed or whatever. She didn’t know about the Dental Health Support Trust. And she didn’t know about the Practitioner Health Programme. The caller was able to signpost, give her that information. Obviously what they do with it is up to them. But it’s-

Prav Solanki: But you could point them in the right direction, couldn’t you?

Jennifer Pinder: Point them in the right direction.

Prav Solanki: And I guess there’s some organisation set up. If you’re not a member or you’re not paying your subscriptions and things like that, you don’t even get that, right?

Jennifer Pinder: Yeah, because the BDA has obviously just got this new scheme for its members. But not everybody’s a BDA member, so they haven’t got anywhere to go.

Prav Solanki: How many calls are you getting? Do you know, roughly, a week or a month?

Jennifer Pinder: We started about last May. And I think we’ve had about 120 calls. But it seems to be taking off now because it’s becoming more widely known. So we’ve got some lovely volunteers, very, very, very good.

Payman Langroud…: And training them and all that?

Jennifer Pinder: Yes, they’re trained. Well, they have a two-day course.

Payman Langroud…: Are they dentists?

Jennifer Pinder: They’re all dentists. All retired dentists or some of them have been trained in psychotherapists as well, some sort of counselling or mentoring background.

Payman Langroud…: The calls that you get, if you had to break them down, you’ve got the, “I’ve had the letter.”

Prav Solanki: I get that call all the time.

Payman Langroud…: From your clients?

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: Really?

Jennifer Pinder: Do you? Yes.

Prav Solanki: A lot. And you’re right, they want advice of reason. Their career isn’t over at that moment in time even though they start planning for it to be over or, “What if this, and my house and my mortgage and my this and my that and my kids and my private school education?” Everything comes out in that conversation. And it’s just a letter saying we’re looking into this. Obviously I’m not qualified to give them advice, but you’re there to listen and just give them a little bit of advice of reason. But it’s amazing how that one letter can just set off a whole trajectory of sleepless nights, depression. And also, the time between when that letter comes and anything actually happens-

Payman Langroud…: It’s interesting.

Prav Solanki: It’s like cortisol levels must go through the roof.

Payman Langroud…: It’s interesting that they call their marketing guy. You’re more than that, aren’t you?

Prav Solanki: I’m more than that.

Payman Langroud…: You’re closer to the clients than that?

Prav Solanki: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Payman Langroud…: What other types of calls do you get? Is it the whole gamut, everything?

Jennifer Pinder: It’s a whole gamut. Usually if it’s not the GDC, it’s, “Oh, I’ve done something with a patient,” or whatever. Or disputes between-

Payman Langroud…: Principals and associates.

Jennifer Pinder: And associates. More often than not it’s associates. We’re getting quite a lot of muddle about maternity pay. We had somebody who was employed by a therapist and was owed multi-thousand pounds and there was disputes here [inaudible 01:00:43]. And then this person was threatening to take the person they owed all the money to to the GDC. So people can hold referring people to the GDC over people’s heads to get them to go away in disputes as well.

Payman Langroud…: I’m sure that’s very common actually.

Jennifer Pinder: And women going away on maternity leave or they’re on maternity leave and they’ve been off for three months, and they’re terrified of going back. And now there isn’t anywhere for retraining. There’s nothing to support them going back to work.

Payman Langroud…: It’s interesting that the women’s issues still exist around maternity.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes. Yeah, why? I mean I don’t really know.

Payman Langroud…: Jenny, we were asking everyone, you can answer it whichever way you like. But from the notion of black box thinking is the idea of what’s the biggest clinical mistake you’ve ever made? It could help others. In medicine dentistry, we don’t tend to talk about this. But if you’re happy to talk about that.

Jennifer Pinder: Well, the biggest clinical mistake I think I ever made, and it was a very long time ago, was a women, she’d had an accident. She had a blow to a tooth. Anyway, it was root filled. It was an upper lateral. Because I can see it today.

Payman Langroud…: That’s the nature of it.

Jennifer Pinder: You do, isn’t it? And anyway, so we were going to make a post crown for this because it was discoloured. And that’s what you did in those days. You chopped the top off and put a post up and did this, that and the other. So it came to the stage where we were going to take the temporary off and put the post in. So I took the temporary off and didn’t give her a local or anything. And she went, “Ooh.” So I’d taken the tooth out as well as the temporary crown.

Payman Langroud…: Had you grabbed it with forceps?

Jennifer Pinder: No. I think it must’ve been-

Payman Langroud…: A loose tooth, right?

Jennifer Pinder: But I hadn’t taken a X-ray. And if I’d taken-

Payman Langroud…: That sinking feeling as soon as you make a mistake.

Jennifer Pinder: It was that sinking feeling. So I didn’t say anything.

Payman Langroud…: Didn’t you?

Jennifer Pinder: At the time. I just went off to the telephone and rang Dental Protection or whatever [inaudible 01:03:02].

Prav Solanki: Straight away.

Jennifer Pinder: Straight away. I felt sick. I did not know what to do. And in the end, we had to be honest.

Payman Langroud…: Of course.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Jennifer Pinder: And in those days, we sort of said, “Oh, that would probably have happened anyway. It would’ve failed at some stage.”

Payman Langroud…: In those days, you could say what you like and patients would-

Jennifer Pinder: Well, yes. I said, “Well, maybe that’s for the best it’s happened now.”

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Jennifer Pinder: Not thinking that at all. And so I think we got her a temporary denture made overnight more or less.

Payman Langroud…: We’ve got to be kinder to ourselves. I mean because you’ve got a 50-year career, right? You’re going to make several mistakes in that 50-year career.

Jennifer Pinder: Yes, yes.

Payman Langroud…: And it’s important to talk about them, because I bet you never did that again, but to learn from each other, to learn from each other.

Jennifer Pinder: I think the other learning thing, when you’ve been in a career for a long time or you’ve had patients with you for a long time, you can see your good work and you can see work that you think, “Oh, did I do that? Ooh. It must’ve been a bad day.” And you have to not flannel but it happens. And again, it depends on the patient and then circumstances.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah. We’ve had Tif Qureshi and he says being in the same practise for long time is way better education than doing any course you want to do or any sets of courses you want to do, because you can see what’s happened to the work.

Jennifer Pinder: And you can see if you got a crown that’s failed within one year or something like that, why did it fail?

Prav Solanki: Right.

Jennifer Pinder: What could you have done differently? And so you don’t do it again because you want your work to last. And of course, people are more litigious.

Prav Solanki: For sure.

Jennifer Pinder: In this day and age. What happened, then, I’m sure something else would’ve happened probably.

Prav Solanki: We’re in the Instagram age now. Do you have an Instagram account?

Jennifer Pinder: Yes.

Prav Solanki: You’ve been on the dental Instagram, sort of Instadentist.

Jennifer Pinder: Not really.

Prav Solanki: There’s a lot of it about. There’s a lot of before and afters. And interestingly now, TikTok’s come along. It’s even more ridiculous. It’s like singing along to the-

Jennifer Pinder: Isn’t TikTok the Chinese one?

Prav Solanki: Yeah, yeah. Some dentists have got accounts on there. My question to you, you’ve seen it from Doncaster to the Instagram age, what would be your advice overall to dentists? Leave a bit of advice for a young dentist, a dentist in the middle of their career, whatever, whatever you like. What’s your key advice?

Jennifer Pinder: People get stuck in jobs that they’re not happy about. They use the word can’t, “I can’t do this. I can’t do that.” But actually, you can. Sometimes making changes, when you look at them in retrospect, is the best thing that could ever happen. You see a lot of people stuck in jobs that they’re not happy about, and they just stay stuck. And improve yourself. Go on courses. Stay connected with other dentists, whether it be… Now it’s more on social media, but to do that so that you engage with dentistry, keep up with things. When you talk about Instagram, women dentists that were sort of a little London group, we had Manrina Rhode came and gave us a great talk on how to do your Instagram accounts. And then next day, all of these, it included some students, there was all their Instagram accounts being updated. So I’ve got one but I don’t [inaudible 01:06:36]. I do like Facebook.

Prav Solanki: Talking about change and don’t get stuck in the job that you’re not happy with or doing anything you’re not happy with, if you could do it all over again, what would you do different?

Jennifer Pinder: I might’ve gone into doing a specialty in special needs I think, if I was going back into that way. Because actually that’s really what I became a sort of subset of really.

Prav Solanki: Would you have chaired all the things you chaired?

Jennifer Pinder: Oh yes. Oh yes, I would.

Prav Solanki: And some more?

Jennifer Pinder: Oh no. No.

Prav Solanki: I don’t think it’s possible to chair anything more.

Jennifer Pinder: I became vice dean of the faculty.

Prav Solanki: Here we go.

Jennifer Pinder: So I had a lot to do with that. No, I had my time. And there comes a time to move on. And I think people who stick on the same committees for years and years and years is a bad thing. There should be some movement in people. I mean I would like to see the BDA PEC committee, or whatever it was, have more women on it. But the way the things are stuck at the moment, it’s not going to happen. But for me, no, I think would I change anything? Yeah, as a said, the only thing I would change, I’d probably go into special needs on a higher level. When I say on a higher level, I’m the one who can treat people in general practise and can pretty much treat anybody.

Prav Solanki: So true. And I think Tif talks about GDP as being, and I’m not quoting his words here because he might pull me up on it, the best specialists. Because as a GDP, first of all you see the patient right from the beginning to the end multiple times. You see the impact on their health, their confidence, their life, obviously their oral health and their teeth. Whereas as specialists, sometimes you just go in and do your one hit, your bit of perio, your bit of implant, your ortho, and then send them back to their general dentist. So maybe not, hey?

Jennifer Pinder: [inaudible 01:08:52].

Prav Solanki: What would you like your legacy to be? What would you like people to remember you as?

Jennifer Pinder: This is going to sound funny. A benevolent battle-axe.

Payman Langroud…: I like that.

Jennifer Pinder: Do you like that?

Prav Solanki: I like that.

Payman Langroud…: Love it. Love it. I do like that.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: It’s been a lovely conversation. Thank you so much.

Prav Solanki: It’s been great.

Payman Langroud…: Thank you, Jenny.

Prav Solanki: Thank you so much. Thank you.

Speaker 3: 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.

Prav Solanki: Hey guys, and thank you for listening to today’s episode of the Dental Leaders podcast, a vision that myself and Payman had over two years ago now. And if you have got some value out of today, just hit the subscribe button in iTunes or Google Play or whatever you’re listening to. Let us know in your comments what you actually got out of the episode. Because we love sitting back and reading those reviews. It really does make our day.

Payman Langroud…: It’s a real pleasure to do this. it’s fun to do but I’m really humbled that you’re actually listening all the way thorough to the end. And join us again. If you got some value of it, please share it. Thanks a lot.

This week Payman finds himself without co-pilot Prav as he takes a therapist’s view with Vicky Wilson.


They chat about the lot of hygiene therapists andwhy they are not always pushed to their full potential within the practice. The pair also talk about how dentists and hygienists can integrate better.


Also up for discussion is Vicky’s thought on her decade in practice in Dubai, the challenges of establishing a hygienists association, and much more.




“Frequently, I talk to dentists. They’re so pro-therapist, they work with therapists, they absolutely love their therapist. Then, we speak about do you really get all the roles or duties that a therapist can carry out? And they say, ‘actually, if I’m really honest, maybe not.’” – Vicky Wilson


In this week’s episode

00.30 – Formative years

09.59 – Hygiene and hard knocks

15.20 – Therapist and hygienist-led practice

20.41 – On opinion leadership

31.40 – A decade in Dubai

42.40 – Synergy in practice

54.32 – On Prav’s behalf


About Vicky Wilson

Vicky Wilson began her journey as a dental hygiene therapist at the Eastman Dental Hospital in 2001. She spent a decade in practice in Dubai and has worked in the UK in both NHS and private practice.


Vicky now spends much of her time as in a consultancy role. She is also a prolific public speaker, researcher, writer and host of the Smile Revolution Podcast.


Connect with Prav and Payman:


Prav on Instagram

Payman on Instagram

Payman Langroud…: Did you learn any Japanese?

Vicky Wilson: [foreign language 00:00:02].

Payman Langroud…: Apart from that?

Speaker 3: 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.

Payman Langroud…: So Vicky, lovely to have you in the studio. Unfortunately, today, Prav’s not with us. So you’re not going to get the Prav questions, but I’m going to do my best to be him and myself.

Vicky Wilson: I can’t wait. Thanks so much for inviting me.

Payman Langroud…: My pleasure. My pleasure. So tell us a bit about yourself to start with. Where were you born? What kind of childhood did you have?

Vicky Wilson: I was born in Sidcup, just outside London. I’m an only child. We lived in Chislehurst for about four years, then we moved to Tunbridge Wells, and my dad got a job in Japan.

Payman Langroud…: Oh, what did he do?

Vicky Wilson: He was a money broker.

Payman Langroud…: Okay.

Vicky Wilson: And we moved to Tokyo, when I was four.

Payman Langroud…: Oh, really?

Vicky Wilson: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: For how many years?

Vicky Wilson: A year.

Payman Langroud…: Do you remember?

Vicky Wilson: I do, it’s really bizarre. I think because it was so-

Payman Langroud…: Such a big change?

Vicky Wilson: … such a culture shock. It was so different. I remember things so clearly, from the steps walking down from where we lived, to the shops that I used to go to on my own. There was Muji. I remember Muji.

Payman Langroud…: Really?

Vicky Wilson: It was so safe there, mom used to let me, she could see from the window, walk down to the shop when I was five. It was so-

Payman Langroud…: The good old days.

Vicky Wilson: Yeah, it was so… The good old days. It so safe. Culturally, it was so different. Visually, it’s so different. And there weren’t that many expatriates there at the time.

Payman Langroud…: Something I’ve noticed, when I go to the Far East, is you suddenly understand why those Japanese tourists are taking pictures of banal stuff in London. Because you catch yourself taking pictures of post boxes and things, in Bangkok, or whatever, India. It’s such a different aesthetic, isn’t it?

Vicky Wilson: Yeah. And talking about pictures, one thing that stays with me more than anything, I couldn’t walk down the street without pictures, pictures, they-

Payman Langroud…: Because you were a foreigner?

Vicky Wilson: Or the Japanese would come up and say, “Can we take a picture?”

Payman Langroud…: Funny. Did you learn any Japanese?

Vicky Wilson: [foreign language 00:02:33]

Payman Langroud…: Apart from that? Because, I take that as a no.

Vicky Wilson: Limited. Very limited. It’s a regret, I have to say. Mom and dad, because it was such a culture shock and there was obviously no internet back then. For me, I really missed my grandparents, because I was very close to my grandparents at the time. And phone, speaking to them, it didn’t happen that often. So mom and dad sent me to Sacred Heart there, which was an international school. And that’s one thing, I wish I had a bit more of a voice then, say, “Send me to Japanese school,” because I would have picked it up. I understand where they were coming from at that point, it felt, “Can we send our daughter to…”

Payman Langroud…: I mean, it’s a big step.

Vicky Wilson: Big step.

Payman Langroud…: So then, where did you go after Japan?

Vicky Wilson: Came back to the UK.

Payman Langroud…: Okay.

Vicky Wilson: Just turned around.

Payman Langroud…: Do you remember the first time that you realised you were going to work in dentistry? How did it happen? What did you do? Because now, you’re a famous hygiene therapy.

Vicky Wilson: [inaudible 00:03:33].

Payman Langroud…: Key opinion leader, trainer.

Vicky Wilson: Maybe.

Payman Langroud…: But what was your first exposure? Did you get a job as a kid? What happened?

Vicky Wilson: Well, I was actually writing an article, last week, about my first exposure to dentistry when I had a fascination for dentistry. I remember going to the dentist with my mom, I must have been maybe eight, around that age, tickling her feet.

Payman Langroud…: While she was in the chair?

Vicky Wilson: While she was in the chair. I was fascinated. I remember this really clearly about what the dentist was doing. Moving forward, it came to work experience time.

Payman Langroud…: 16?

Vicky Wilson: Yeah. I remember going to Mark lane dental clinic in the city, my dad’s dentist, Sean. I used to go there for work experience. I went I think two years in a row. Then, I really decided… I tried physio. I knew I wanted to work in health care, I wanted to be practical, looking after people. I couldn’t envision myself sitting at a desk. It’s very creative. That’s another side of what I wanted to explore, but I really wanted to work and treat patients.

Payman Langroud…: So did you go train as a hygienist soon?

Vicky Wilson: I decided I wanted to go into dentistry, didn’t get the [inaudible 00:04:58].

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, me either. I begged Cardiff who finally let me in.

Vicky Wilson: This is common. Maybe I could have gone for dentistry, but now look at me.

Payman Langroud…: Should have looked at Cardiff.

Vicky Wilson: I wish I would have known.

Payman Langroud…: Cardiff needed people.

Vicky Wilson: So then I thought, “What can I do?” Hygiene was something I was interested in, but when I found that I could do therapy, that was it. I’ve never looked back. I’ve never really felt I want to continue to further my training to be a dentist. I love-

Payman Langroud…: Other than the work experience peace, you didn’t really work in the practise. You weren’t a dental nurse for any period of time, because that’s the usual sort of pathway, isn’t it?

Vicky Wilson: It is. When I was still at school, I was at Mayfield in a village close to where we lived. It was time for UCAS and I remember them frowning at me. What do you mean you’re not going to do UCAS? What do you mean you want to be a dental hygienist, dental therapist, what’s this? So they didn’t really help me. So I remember working on this with in… The work experience really helped me, because I had started the work experience at a young age and I was still at school. I went to the Eastman for an interview. That was the only one I went for.

Payman Langroud…: And you got it?

Vicky Wilson: They said, “Based on your A level results, yeah.”

Payman Langroud…: It’s a tough course, isn’t it?

Vicky Wilson: Really tough.

Payman Langroud…: I remember in dental school, I remember the hygienists were having a harder time of it than we were from the homework perspective, like the amount of work they had to do. It’s a very intense coarse. Hygiene is two years and then therapy is, what, three years? How does it work?

Vicky Wilson: it was I think 27 months.

Payman Langroud…: Was hygiene one year and therapies two years?

Vicky Wilson: It was less at the time when I did it. So I qualified in 2003. The hygiene is finished I think in September. Or no, July and we finished in the December, so it was a bit longer. But yeah, it was really tough.

Payman Langroud…: Do you remember the first time you drilled someone’s teeth?

Vicky Wilson: Phantom head?

Payman Langroud…: I remember that.

Vicky Wilson: You remember that? [crosstalk]

Payman Langroud…: Do you remember the first time you gave an injection?

Vicky Wilson: For me, that really-

Payman Langroud…: Was a big deal.

Vicky Wilson: That was a big deal. It was scary, but yeah, the Eastman was tough. But saying that, I did do, in that year out between, because I got the place deferred so it was a year, I did go and do some dental nursing. First day, I passed out on the floor.

Payman Langroud…: Why?

Vicky Wilson: This guy came in fallen off his bike, and it was too much blood, I was like, “I can’t. Oh my god, the poor guy.”

Payman Langroud…: You qualified. You went and worked in a few practises?

Vicky Wilson: I did a bit of low coming. I did some therapy work in an NHS practise.

Payman Langroud…: Which year was this?

Vicky Wilson: 2003. Then, I found the kind of practises that I wanted to work in. Then, I worked in Tunbridge Wells for a short amount of time. Then, I worked with James Gollnick in Berlin.

Payman Langroud…: That must’ve been a big change from wherever you’d come.

Vicky Wilson: It was brilliant.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, brilliant practise, right?

Vicky Wilson: Amazing. James is just incredible to work for.

Payman Langroud…: He just wants to do things differently, doesn’t he? He wants do things better all the time. That’s the feeling I get from him. When we had him in here for the podcast, I felt like he just… Did you listen?

Vicky Wilson: He’s brilliant.

Payman Langroud…: He wants challenges, doesn’t he?

Vicky Wilson: He really does. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with James. [crosstalk] so early in my career because it set a standard and I kind of… It built something in me that I really… You’ve got to work hard. I never ever minded doing anything extra, working hard, appreciating your team. We always felt so appreciated. He’d take us to Champneys as a tanks. I don’t know who else was getting that at the time. He was so inspirational. We had team meetings, no one else was doing that. Morning huddles at the beginning of the day. I would go through the whole list and that was brilliant.

Payman Langroud…: In the morning huddle, you’d say, “Mrs. so and so is coming in today.” Would it be about… When I was a dentist, the practises I worked in didn’t use to do morning huddles, so I’m not 100% clear on what happens. Is it, “Can we go that extra mile for her somehow?” It was that the idea?

Vicky Wilson: Well, yes. Everyone knows, exactly. You just pull out what are the highlights of the day, what patients are coming in, maybe what highlights there are specifically about specific patients so that everybody is in tune with it. Everyone knows, maybe we need to look about this… Everyone’s brought together. Although maybe we’re not in that surgery, we know what’s going on elsewhere. We know that maybe we want to say hi to them, follow up with them, maybe pop in if we can. It just brings everyone together. That, for me, is teamwork.

Payman Langroud…: Especially from the hygiene perspective. A hygienist can sometimes feel like an add on to a practise because of the number of days that hygienists are in sometimes. You were telling me the hygienist always gets the worst room.

Vicky Wilson: It’s maybe something that is frequently-

Payman Langroud…: If there’s a nurse missing, the hygienist is the one who loses the nurse and all of that sort of thing, if she’s lucky enough to have a nurse in the first place, right?

Vicky Wilson: Absolutely.

Payman Langroud…: Where I’m going with it is if you were involved in a morning huddle, then you do feel like part of that team.

Vicky Wilson: Absolutely.

Payman Langroud…: Whereas I can think of in practises in I was working at, the hygienist, even though they were a very capable hygienist, they just used to be up there in their room and not the part of the team because they were just there one day or two days a week, not exactly the same.

Vicky Wilson: But to be getting the most out of your team to be working in such an optimal way, that’s what you need as a hygienist or a therapists, always to feel part of the team. Sadly, a morning huddle is the way forward.

Payman Langroud…: We were talking about this before, I was asking you… I’ve been listening to your brilliant podcast, by the way, which we should talk about in a moment.

Vicky Wilson: Thank you.

Payman Langroud…: The podcast is called?

Vicky Wilson: Smile Revolution.

Payman Langroud…: Smile Revolution. Yeah, I’ve been listening to that. The funny thing about it is, I was saying to you that listening to the hygiene, there’s a thread that runs through them, that they’re not being used to the maximum of their education. They’re not being appreciated as much as they should be. I know I’ve certainly come across hygienists that have been in that situation, I’ve read some terrible things on that dentine hygiene group on Facebook about the way some people get treated, which is a scandal, but I didn’t realise even these high level hygienists, famous ones, key opinion leaders, American ones even, some of the ones you’ve been interviewing, have this thread going through them that they don’t feel 100% appreciated. Why’s that?

Vicky Wilson: I feel where we can in the future move forward is I think it comes down to our education. Frequently, dentists are trained separately to hygienists and therapists. We’re a team and frequently, I know some of the courses are changing now. The therapists start with some dentists in some of the training. This, I feel, is the way forward. Because we’re not trained together and there’s not-

Payman Langroud…: There’s a separation from the beginning.

Vicky Wilson: There’s a separation. If we’re training together, we’re understanding each other’s skill set, skill mix, and how to optimise on our skill set and amalgamating that together to work in the best way we can’t serve the patients. Utilising each one of our skill set is really key. That understanding and that open communication is fundamental. I think as education starts changing, this will eventually change. We’re really always constantly now working on open communication, some practises doing it through morning huddles. But the more we are attending conferences together, being invited to panel discussions together, round tables together-

Payman Langroud…: Okay, so this is the solution you’re saying, but am I right?

Vicky Wilson: You are right. 100%, Pay.

Payman Langroud…: That’s really sad, isn’t it?

Vicky Wilson: It is sad.

Payman Langroud…: I really didn’t realise it was such a common thing. I understood there is such a thing that the hygienist isn’t appreciated. But I didn’t realise how common that was. I mean, the solutions you’ve suggested are certainly one aspect, but the business solution, surely the answer comes in by a hygienists worth to the business being proven. So when you’re talking to a hygienist, is that aspect discussed in the teaching?

Vicky Wilson: Not at all.

Payman Langroud…: Not at all?

Vicky Wilson: We’re not trained in business.

Payman Langroud…: Well, neither are we.

Vicky Wilson: But the business side of things, sorry, was that what you were meaning?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Vicky Wilson: So listening to James Gollnicks podcast, he highlighted something beautiful that he does. He’s such a great leader. He talks to his team and finds out if there’s something maybe that’s bothering them or-

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, he was saying anonymously-

Vicky Wilson: Absolutely. Now, this is a great thing for dentists I feel, to ask all team members is there something, specifically hygienists, therapists, since we’re talking about this, “Is there something that we can work on together to optimise on what you’re doing to best serve the patients better? How can we work together?” So facilitating that open conversation question time to get into understand a bit more about maybe the hygienist obstacles, how can they work better? I think that’s a great start for the listeners, some of them to start talking to hygienists to make sure they’re getting the most out of them, because-

Payman Langroud…: Or dentists, yeah.

Vicky Wilson: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah. Well, I’m saying to you 25 years experience and I wasn’t aware.

Vicky Wilson: Exactly. Frequently, I talk to dentists. They’re so pro therapist, they work with therapists, they absolutely love their therapist. Then, we speak about do you really get all the roles or duties that a therapist can carry out? And they say, “Actually, if I’m really honest, maybe not.”

Payman Langroud…: Go on, list them. What are the ones that get missed?

Vicky Wilson: Now you’re testing me. It varies, obviously, from one dentist-

Payman Langroud…: They do fillings.

Vicky Wilson: Yeah, we do fillings.

Payman Langroud…: Perio.

Vicky Wilson: Perio, extractions.

Payman Langroud…: Extractions?

Vicky Wilson: Of primary teeth. [inaudible]

Payman Langroud…: Oh, really?

Vicky Wilson: Yeah, of primary teeth.

Payman Langroud…: I didn’t know that. I didn’t know that.

Vicky Wilson: Instal crowns, restorative.

Payman Langroud…: Whitening?

Vicky Wilson: whitening.

Payman Langroud…: Let’s not forget.

Vicky Wilson: I think maybe sometimes the grey area is in how far can we go without restorative?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah. Up to the pulp, right?

Vicky Wilson: Absolutely, impermanent teeth.

Payman Langroud…: Interestingly, [inaudible 00:16:11], we’re getting a lot more therapists on the concept course. I’m not sure, is it because it’s a self selecting thing? Is it that if you’re a therapist and you’re coming up with 1,000 pounds to go on a composite course, does that mean you’re a super ambitious, super on it therapists? But the results we’re getting are better from the therapists than from the dentist. We say it to them every time at the course. We start the course by saying, “Who are you? What do you do?” We say to them, “You’ve got a lot of pressure on you because we’re getting better results from therapists.” Now, is it because they are better? I’m not sure. I think the kind of therapist who chooses to come on such a course is a better therapist, maybe. But there’s several practises I know where the therapists are doing the cosmetic work really successfully.

Vicky Wilson: We don’t have such a-

Payman Langroud…: Therapists weren’t invented for this, were they? Let’s face that.

Vicky Wilson: No, therapists used to only work in community. It wasn’t until I was studying did it change that we could start to work in private practise. But I guess what we can do is more limited than a dentist. So our focus is specifically on let’s say restorative. If this is our interest, that’s what we focus on. It allows us to concentrate more on that skill set to enhance that, if that’s our interest.

Payman Langroud…: Do you know of examples where the business case has meant that the therapist model is the one that is the best business case? I mean, I know a good friend of mine who’s just bought a practise up north. He’s down south, he’s bought a practise up north. He’s got family member managing the practise and he’s going to have it therapists lead, whatever that means. Do you know lots of therapists where the business is reliant on them? At the PAD team, you must meat people like that, right?

Vicky Wilson: Well, yeah, it’s it’s happening more and more. More hygienists are opening their own practises now.

Payman Langroud…: Oh, yeah? Are success stories there for direct access?

Vicky Wilson: Absolutely. I don’t think I’ve spoken to one hygienists that would say they regret it for a second. They’re so happy they’ve done it. They are so happy.

Payman Langroud…: Are the banks lending and all that?

Vicky Wilson: Yeah, I believe. Also they make their finance plans in place from various different companies to support that. So it’s possible, it’s viable.

Payman Langroud…: But it’s not very common, is it?

Vicky Wilson: It’s not that common, but it’s becoming more common.

Payman Langroud…: Really.?

Vicky Wilson: Yeah, because I think the common thread through the hygienists that have done this say, “I get to what I want to do in my timeframe without any limitations.” They’re their own boss. It’s also more affordable to set up a hygiene clinic rather than a dental.

Payman Langroud…: As far as equipment?

Vicky Wilson: Yeah. You don’t need to set up every dental clinic.

Payman Langroud…: Do you know of a situation where the hygienist employs dentists as well? There must be some.

Vicky Wilson: Yes, there are some, because we need a dentist-

Payman Langroud…: To prescribe the therapy and the whitening.

Vicky Wilson: … to prescribe certain… Yeah, of course. But not all clinics have a dentist there all the time, but of course, they need a dentist for various different treatments.

Payman Langroud…: Can the therapist or a hygienist decide to give LA off their own back or does that have to be prescribed?

Vicky Wilson: They still need a prescription.

Payman Langroud…: Both?

Vicky Wilson: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: Even for a LA [inaudible 00:19:59]?

Vicky Wilson: Yeah because [crosstalk]

Payman Langroud…: Really. You can’t decide to do that yourself?

Vicky Wilson: I don’t know if you’ve heard through BSDHT, the BADT, they are working on the prescribing rights.

Payman Langroud…: Are they working on the whitening as well or not?

Vicky Wilson: Well, it would be great, but that’s under the EU.

Payman Langroud…: Not anymore.

Vicky Wilson: Well, yeah. Watch this space, who knows? Times are changing. I think it’s such an exciting time to be in dentistry.

Payman Langroud…: Are you involved in these political movements?

Vicky Wilson: No, I’m not directly involved.

Payman Langroud…: You know the people?

Vicky Wilson: Yeah, I stay informed as much as I can.

Payman Langroud…: You do get involved with key opinion leader work. You did some work for us at Enlightened. You also did some work with Philips and all that. Some other companies too, right?

Vicky Wilson: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: I noticed your podcast.

Vicky Wilson: They’re the main sponsor of my podcast, yeah.

Payman Langroud…: So tell me this. Tell me what is it about you that you’ve got you told me 6,000 hygienists in the country heads down doing their period treatment. How come you’re not head down, doing your period treatment? How come you’re doing a podcast and you’ve got this KOL thing going on and all that? What is it about you that’s different?

Vicky Wilson: I love treating patients. I wouldn’t say I wouldn’t go back to surgery. I’d love to see patients again, but at this moment in time, recently in the last couple of years, I’ve had children. A bit of a dream I’ve always thought about. How can we think of something new? How can we advance what we’re doing?

Payman Langroud…: Like James?

Vicky Wilson: Well, maybe he embedded it in me when I worked there.

Payman Langroud…: I’m sure it wasn’t you though.

Vicky Wilson: Yeah, I liked it. I have to be driven by my passion. Dentistry has always been since I started it, something that’s a passion has been driven to me. It’s a drive. You see your patients and you’re constantly thinking about what else can we do? That’s, I think going back to your question, why maybe I started Smile Revolution, is through the years of practising , my mind as I’m sure with many clinicians is constantly ticking over why you’re treating the patient. What’s this obstacle here? How can I deliver that better? How can we overcome this to reach this information before they came to us? What more can we as a profession offer to them? How can we fill in the gaps? Because there are obstacles. At the end of the day, dental disease is the most prevalent preventable disease globally.

Vicky Wilson: What can we do more? There are so many outstanding physicians in surgery, in clinics, treating patients doing a fabulous job. But there are some people like yourself and myself that stepped away from it into something else to still serve the public’s oral health, but in a different way. This is where Smile Revolution came about. I love communication. I think that’s probably my biggest interest and has been throughout my work. How can we communicate better? How can we resonate in the minds of the patients more? How can we change patients perceptions, thoughts on oral health? What can we do differently? Another side of who I am is I love film, and television, and taking people on a journey through-

Payman Langroud…: Media.

Vicky Wilson: … the arts, media, yeah, creative. That emotional journey is something that’s fascinating for me. Communication for me was really a real interest. There are so many fabulous clinicians, as I’ve said, out there treating patients that have got so much to share. So going back to your question and how the Smile Revolution evolved, maybe why I’m working with different brands is I went to them and I presented my idea to create something to advance what we’re doing. I created a pilot, for instance, for the podcast. Dentsply Sirona are all about empowering the profession, especially hygienists and therapists. They thought, “Yeah, we want to be part of this. We want to come on board to support the advancement of the profession, empower the hygienist dental therapists.” I realised it’s not just the hygienist-

Payman Langroud…: What do you mean by empower? I notice you ask all your guests that question. What do you mean by that? Are you an empowered hygienist?

Vicky Wilson: Are you fulfilled? Are you driven by what you do? Are you happy in what you do? Because on the forum, as you read, not everybody is.

Payman Langroud…: No, there’s some terrible stories.

Vicky Wilson: How can we support each other? I think the profession is amazing. Hygienists and therapists, we always meet at conferences. Everyone is so nice. We all get on, we really all get on, we have a great time. We don’t have conferences obviously enough, but sharing that through a podcast, sharing what individual people are doing as we’re doing now, we wouldn’t necessarily have time to have this one on one conversation any other time apart from maybe a podcast recording to share amongst the listeners, for others to gain an insight.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, yeah, I get all that, but what is it about you?

Vicky Wilson: I don’t know. I create different things maybe. I don’t know. We all see things differently, but I’ve looked at what interests me. I really go with what I’m passionate about.

Payman Langroud…: I feel like you’re less interested in money, more interested in impact.

Vicky Wilson: I am very interested in impact.

Payman Langroud…: I thought you were going to say, “I am interested in money.” I’m sure you are, but you know what I mean? I mean, you could be working five days a week.

Vicky Wilson: Oh yeah.

Payman Langroud…: Doing loads of whitening and stuff.

Vicky Wilson: I could, sure.

Payman Langroud…: You’ve done the composite course. You could be that critical cat. But the way that you’ve structured it, you’re looking beyond that. It’s almost like a helicopter above, looking down. Did you have mentors though that way? I mean, did you see someone else do something like that, that inspired you? Made you think… The first time we ever met, you said to me, “I want to demystify dentistry for the public.” Rhona Eskander is really into this idea too. Was it that eight year old kid dentist experience that made you want to be the demystifyer of things?

Vicky Wilson: I don’t know.

Payman Langroud…: What is it about you?

Vicky Wilson: I think, Pay, a large part of maybe how the Smile Revolution evolved and other things I’m working on is from my dream of being involved in the arts, creating.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, I noticed that on your Instagram. There’s beautiful images and videos and things like that. Were you good at drawing?

Vicky Wilson: No, I’m terrible. I’m terrible at drawing.

Payman Langroud…: Just like buying art.

Vicky Wilson: Just buying. I love ceramics. I love pottering. I love making jewellery, I love embellishing things. When I was young, when I was-

Payman Langroud…: Still young, still young.

Vicky Wilson: Mom sent me to performing art school because I was so shy. I used to do other festivals and do loads of plays. The reason I went to dental school because I wanted to be able to have something that I loved, a job that I could go in and out of, because my dream was to go to Rhada.

Payman Langroud…: Oh really?

Vicky Wilson: I’ve always liked writing, I like writing scripts.

Payman Langroud…: Do you still secretly want to be an actress?

Vicky Wilson: I’ve done a bit of that.

Payman Langroud…: I do. Is that where this is all going?

Vicky Wilson: You’re tapping into how is Smile Revolution…

Payman Langroud…: I get it, I get it.

Vicky Wilson: I like to create, I like to push boundaries. I have to live by my passion. That is what I’m very true to. I wouldn’t say that I’ve ever lived a day going to work and not loved every minute of it. Now with the children, I want to be with them. But I want to love still my career and I want to make it work. So I’m very focused on I guess building a life and a balance and an overall kind of well being that I feel balance within living my dream in all areas.

Payman Langroud…: How do you feel about balancing this obvious ambition that you’ve got with kids?

Vicky Wilson: It’s a juggling act.

Payman Langroud…: It is, isn’t it?

Vicky Wilson: Yeah, it’s really-

Payman Langroud…: You’re super organised.

Vicky Wilson: Yeah, but when you’re fathoming out a business model, it’s not easy. I definitely got a bit sick last year because I was working so late, until one, two in the morning. I’ve always been somebody that can work late at night. Yet, I found that I got sick and I didn’t get better for six months. It was a chesty cough the whole time. So now, I respect my body. I go to bed when I need to as much as I can. I feel a bit more aligned. I know exactly what I’m doing when I’m doing it more so now, but things are evolving.

Vicky Wilson: It’s not just the podcast I’m working on. So it’s a juggling act. But I was just saying outside to Laura, “You have to be good as a mother, you have to be healthy, you have to be well, in a great mindset to be great for the children and to be great for your business.” So it’s constantly realigning. I’m trying to always be true to myself as I feel the success of anything is really being true to yourself and being driven by what you really believe. Specifically, at this moment in time, I don’t feel like I’m being clinic, looking after or treating patients, caring for patients, and not being there for the children.

Payman Langroud…: That’s cool.

Vicky Wilson: So this is right for me now. So I’m trying to create my optimal dream.

Payman Langroud…: In my experience, you’ll look back on this time and you’ll only realise how significant the things you were doing are later. Once you’ve been around a little while, you suddenly realised that that point, you’re doing something now, it’s kind of uncharted territory. You’re going to look back on this time in six, seven years time and think, “Thank goodness I did that then.” In retrospect, it all ends up being a lot more significant. When you’re doing is, there’s so many unknowns that you sometimes feel like you’re not doing the right thing. Women particularly I’ve noticed are really hard on themselves in this respect. Want to be perfect, want to be too perfect. The perfect mom, the perfect this, the perfect that. We’re not perfect.

Vicky Wilson: You know what I’ve learned recently? You’ve got to give yourself a break. Be kind to yourself.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, all of that stuff. All of that self care stuff. Super important, super important. Tell me about Dubai, because you were living and working out there for a while. How did that come about?

Vicky Wilson: 10 years I was there.

Payman Langroud…: 10 years?

Vicky Wilson: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: Bloody hell.

Vicky Wilson: That was a real journey. It was hard because… I have to say, when I started working with James in Berlin, I would never have left that clinic ever. But this opportunity came up. I moved to Dubai, I got a job out there. It was with an English guy. He opened up a practise and he actually knew somebody that my mom used to work with that was a Maxfax at Queen Vic. So yeah, it was a similar world. I was working there for a while, not that much. Then, I had a few gaps in work. Then, I did find an excellent practise eventually to work in.

Payman Langroud…: The one with…

Vicky Wilson: Doctors and Associates.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, very media orientated. So it suited you?

Vicky Wilson: Yeah, I really enjoyed it. He gave me the free run to create oral health promotional projects. I started working… This is where my work really began working with industry. I worked with Philips, I created this programme for schools with an animal therapist from an autism conference I went to. Is was really different. It really went down a treat in the schools, the children love the little show we put on to support oral health there. David Rhodes was very supportive of everything that I did. I started some seminars within the clinic. I ran those over an evening. Then, I started being invited to lecture.

Payman Langroud…: So it all kicked off in Dubai really, all of this stuff?

Vicky Wilson: Well yeah, I mean, I was how many years into my career before leaving the UK. Maybe three years into my career. So I was young still. Then, I built that in Dubai. In this time, there was no one… Nobody recognised dental hygienists. So we weren’t allowed to have really group organisation meetings there. There was no… We used to like have little meetups, but there was a bit of… I guess they frowned upon… It was limiting to create an organisation. But until I went to the government or the Emirates Medical Association or something like that, under the government, we said to them, “Look, we need to set something up for hygienists.” So then it was a process. It honestly took me nearly 10 years, working with colleagues there to get papers to convince people.

Payman Langroud…: Red tapes a nightmare there.

Vicky Wilson: There’s so much red tape. Speaking to officials there and getting to speak to these officials is so challenging.

Payman Langroud…: If they turn up. I’ve had a few meetings like that in Dubai. The guy didn’t turn up. But what about living and working in Dubai as a general? I mean, would you say… It’s nice to go for a holiday right?

Vicky Wilson: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: What’s it like living there?

Vicky Wilson: I mean, I had a great time.

Payman Langroud…: Did you stay there during August and all that? The killer hot months?

Vicky Wilson: I used to travel back to the UK a lot pretty much because I was working six days a week and then I would have nearly two weeks off. That’s how I worked my time. I was in and out.

Payman Langroud…: Were you in the UK every six weeks?

Vicky Wilson: Not the UK, but I’d come back somewhere or go somewhere. It was great. I mean, I wasn’t married there, we didn’t have children, and it was different. I had a great time.

Payman Langroud…: Bet you did.

Vicky Wilson: Really had a great time.

Payman Langroud…: Half way to Vietnam and Thailand and all that as well, right?

Vicky Wilson: Yes, I used to go all over. I really had a great time. I met some great people there, had a great life.

Payman Langroud…: Were your patients mainly expats?

Vicky Wilson: A lot of expats, but a lot of locals as well.

Payman Langroud…: Expats from all over the world?

Vicky Wilson: All over the world. I think this what really started my interest in… Not started. This is I guess what allowed my interest in communication to really grow because I realised that what I was saying to me being the English wasn’t working when I was speaking to the French. That’s beautiful and that really pushes you as a clinician to enhance what you’re saying, to really understand and work on understanding people.

Payman Langroud…: Very true.

Vicky Wilson: It was brilliant.

Payman Langroud…: Give me some nuggets of having treated so many different populations. What are French patients like compared to English patients? Because I’ve got my view on this. Go on.

Vicky Wilson: Well, in France-

Payman Langroud…: Or German patients.

Vicky Wilson: Yeah, in France, they don’t have hygienists.

Payman Langroud…: Is that right?

Vicky Wilson: Yeah. I worked for David Rhodes, his friend. That was amazing because I had to introduce-

Payman Langroud…: Explain it.

Vicky Wilson: Well, he’d worked with hygienists elsewhere, but integrating that within the team was… There were some other fabulous hygienists there, but integrating that within the team was a challenge and working with so many different dentists from all over the world and working with them as best we can. But it was a challenge. So yeah, I guess you learn different words obviously from different languages to make sure that you try and build a rapport. Going back to James’ podcast, it’s all about the relationship with the patient. What resonates with one culture doesn’t resonate with another culture. So you adapt.

Vicky Wilson: I think one of the biggest nuggets for any physician leaving maybe the UK, if they’re working in the UK, and working abroad, wherever you go, one thing I let… You can’t take your model of how it is here and how optimal maybe it is here and copy and paste that somewhere else. You have to adapt. You have to be open to adapting. That’s I guess one of the greatest things really I learned there and became I guess able to do, and happy, and comfortable to adapt, which has been a skill set that’s really helped me I feel. I’m not scared of change, I embrace change. For instance, I was giving a lecture for Health Education England last week. 20 minutes before, me and my colleague, we received our presentation had been totally changed.

Payman Langroud…: What do you mean?

Vicky Wilson: They transformed the whole presentation.

Payman Langroud…: Why?

Vicky Wilson: Because some other people have looked at it and they decided that we needed to tweak it. So going for a presentation, you kind of know what you’re saying, you know what slide’s coming next.

Payman Langroud…: Without consulting you?

Vicky Wilson: No. We were warned that it may happen. That’s quite nerve wracking going in, but you know where you’re going. You know your hooks, you know what slide’s coming next. My eyesight is not great at the best of times. I’m looking down at a laptop, not knowing what slide’s coming next. A background chat around this slide. But I guess one of the skills that I learned living in Dubai, being okay with change is okay. We managed to pull it off as scary as it was at the time. But being able to adapt-

Payman Langroud…: What’s the best thing about living and working in Dubai?

Vicky Wilson: Life experience. Being okay with not being set in a way. Changing, adapting, being open to listen.

Payman Langroud…: What’s the worst thing?

Vicky Wilson: Things really took time. It tested your patience, but that’s a good thing. Really tested your patience. You don’t get an answer. You never get an answer on something and you have to find out.

Payman Langroud…: It feels like they’re figuring it out as they go, aren’t they?

Vicky Wilson: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: I mean, you’re saying when you got there, there were hardly any hygienist, and then 10 years later, by the time you left, you were trying to make a hygienist association.

Vicky Wilson: Well, we did.

Payman Langroud…: But that’s how long it takes, right?

Vicky Wilson: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: And in that 10 years, they created a whole new part of Dubai, aren’t they?

Vicky Wilson: Yeah, it’s unrecognisable. I’m sure if I go back now, I wouldn’t recognise it.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, it’s a funny town. They’re just making it up as they’re going along, aren’t they? And in a way, who knows man, like 1,000 years ago, when London was built, probably this was the way things happened, right? And a lot of people say a lot of things about Dubai, but it’s impressive, what they’re doing.

Vicky Wilson: It’s impressive.

Payman Langroud…: You can’t get away from how impressive that achievement is.

Vicky Wilson: The one thing is, one, great, they’re open. They’re open to support what you’re doing. They’re open to change. I think it happens a lot… Obviously, it happens a lot quicker there.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, yeah.

Vicky Wilson: It may have taken a long time to establish the hygiene organisation-

Payman Langroud…: But you did it, in the end?

Vicky Wilson: … but it happened. Did it. And it’s still running now.

Payman Langroud…: Is it? Is it? That must feel good?

Vicky Wilson: Yeah, they’ve got so many members now.

Payman Langroud…: And I noticed, when I was looking at David’s website, there was a lot of Filipino stuff as well? A lot of the NHS now, is being nursed by Filipinos. The cosmopolitan nature of that town is just crazy, isn’t it?

Vicky Wilson: It’s enriching.

Payman Langroud…: So then coming back, when you came back here, which was not long ago. How long ago, about three, four years?

Vicky Wilson: Three years ago.

Payman Langroud…: How did that feel? Going from the sunshine and all that, and the-

Vicky Wilson: Cold.

Payman Langroud…: … land of possibilities? Yeah.

Vicky Wilson: Cold. Do you know that I missed the weather-

Payman Langroud…: I bet.

Vicky Wilson: From the UK.

Payman Langroud…: Oh, oh, when you were there, you missed it?

Vicky Wilson: Because you don’t have the seasons.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Vicky Wilson: So really embraced coming home. It was time for me to come home. I missed my family.

Payman Langroud…: That is a long time.

Vicky Wilson: Yeah, my mom wasn’t very well. So, that was really good. It was a good time to come home. I couldn’t have chosen to come home… We couldn’t have chosen to come home at a better time. Because we were thinking about going back after we had our first daughter.

Payman Langroud…: Oh, were you?

Vicky Wilson: But then, it just felt right to come home. Family support is so important when you’ve got children.

Payman Langroud…: Sure.

Vicky Wilson: And I’m fortunate enough to still have my mom and dad around to help me.

Payman Langroud…: So it’s kind of gone full circle. You’re back in Tunbridge Wells.

Vicky Wilson: Yeah. I have to say I never envisaged myself back Tunbridge Wells. Now, I’m there.

Payman Langroud…: A bit different, isn’t it? Compared to the German banker you were treating in Dubai, compared to the gentle ladies of Tonbridge Wells that you must have been treating after that. What about kids? Tell me about kids. I mean, your particular way of bringing up kids. What would you say? And juggle, expand on it for me.

Vicky Wilson: My way of bringing… I just want them to have a fun life, and to be exposed to us as much, and give them as many opportunities as they can. And for me, it’s really important that I’m around as much as I can, because my husband’s not always around. And I’m there for them as much as I can be.

Payman Langroud…: He’s on projects, away.

Vicky Wilson: Yeah, frequently. And it’s interesting. So, one part of the Smile Revolution is something called Baby Smile Revolution.

Payman Langroud…: Oh, yeah.

Vicky Wilson: Which is softly launched. But anyway, it’s a series of children’s books on oral health. I get the girls to be involved in that. So we’ve got audio books, and Sophia and Alice sing in the book while Sophia does in the first book. Now, Sophia and Alice are recording a podcast with me.

Payman Langroud…: What the hell?

Vicky Wilson: So I’m getting them involved in everything I’m doing?

Payman Langroud…: I like that.

Vicky Wilson: From the age of two and three.

Payman Langroud…: Amazing.

Vicky Wilson: I worked when I was younger. I was only 15, or something. And exposing them to what I’m doing, I think it’s a good thing.

Payman Langroud…: Sure. Sure.

Vicky Wilson: It’s fun. I’m very passionate about what I do and I think it does rub off on them.

Payman Langroud…: Of course, it does. Of course, it does. I mean, my kids know this office very well.

Vicky Wilson: Exactly.

Payman Langroud…: You’ve seen those stickers on the ping pong table here.

Vicky Wilson: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: Every time my kids come to the office, they add one sticker to the thing. If you ruled the world, what would you change regarding the whole dentist/hygienist relationship? You said you would have them train together.

Vicky Wilson: I would say I’d like everybody to feel the team to feel as inclusive as it possibly could be, to be working as optimally together as possible, that everybody feels fully fulfilled in what they’re doing, mixing the skillset as best we can.

Payman Langroud…: When I was a dentist, I used to want the hygienist to back up what I was selling. Yeah? I still want to give a treatment plan to the patient. I would want my hygienist, while she was doing her bit, to figure out where the patient was with that plan. Is the patient going to go ahead or not? And give more information regarding that and come back to me and tell me, yes or no, or how it’s going, or whatever. Is that wrong? Is that sacrilege? What is that? I mean, we’re talking selling dentistry, right? Can the hygienist get involved in that?

Vicky Wilson: Ethically, of course.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah. But do they? It’s rare. I remember talking to my hygienist about this, sometimes back then, this was a while ago, and some of them were annoyed with me for even suggesting it. It’s interesting, because as soon as you say the word selling, people get worries with ethics. But leaving those two things aside we can use, we can use euphemisms if you like, educating the patient or whatever you want. But I think, if you want this utopia of the hygienist being respected and given the opportunity, that the business case is huge, right? The hygienist can add hugely to the business-

Vicky Wilson: They can.

Payman Langroud…: If, one, they become busy, right? That’s important for any practise. And the hygienist has a big influence on that. Is that right? Yeah.

Vicky Wilson: Huge.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah. Because some hygienists will just do what they’re going to do, but others will find the three month recall type patients, whatever it is, the root planing side of it. The whitening, it really annoys me so much on the whitening.

Vicky Wilson: Well, what you touched on, you said was I right in doing that? I mean that comes down to the communication of you as a dentist with your team. Absolutely, it’s treatment recommended for the patients oral health. That’s not… Sales is ethical, but you’re on the same page. That comes down to the team huddle. If you’re going to go with that philosophy in the morning. If you know someone’s coming in and this is on their treatment plan, prepping them, ensuring that their prevention is in place. That their oral hygiene is as optimal as it potentially can be and needs to be.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, but I want the hygienist to go beyond oral hygiene.

Vicky Wilson: Absolutely, of course they can.

Payman Langroud…: To talk about the massive plan I was putting together.

Vicky Wilson: Yeah, but of course. This is the key and this is-

Payman Langroud…: In the best practises that you’ve been at, is that the way it’s looked at?

Vicky Wilson: Absolutely.

Payman Langroud…: Really?

Vicky Wilson: We have something coming soon.

Payman Langroud…: Oh, do we?

Vicky Wilson: We do, to support exactly what you’re saying.

Payman Langroud…: Really?

Vicky Wilson: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: Because that’s so important. Once the hygienist starts doing things like that, then they’re essential to the team. Once they’re essential… We had a lady working in Enlightened who was a hygienist in Canada. She was saying in her particular state, in Alberta, the hygienists used to make more money for the practise than the dentist because they were doing fluoride treatments day in, day out. Whitening treatments day in, day out. She was super respected because the business case was there.

Vicky Wilson: Absolutely.

Payman Langroud…: I feel like rather than focusing on respect me more, you’ve got to prove it to a practise by-

Vicky Wilson: 100%.

Payman Langroud…: … being that important to the practise.

Vicky Wilson: But it’s transitioning. I don’t know if you’ve listened to, for instance, Melonie Prebble’s podcast.

Payman Langroud…: I did, I did.

Vicky Wilson: It’s about understanding as well, and Claire Barry, the business behind dentistry and your value and actually what money you’re bringing to this. To buy your own equipment. All these additional things, but understanding your value. What it is, what it essentially goes back to. Being able to communicate-

Payman Langroud…: Adding value, adding value.

Vicky Wilson: Exactly, adding value but by understanding fundamentally your value, to be able to communicate that to the team. Essentially going back, what we have to come is the Profitable Hygienist, which is to be launched in the next couple of months, which is an online platform of modules that focuses for dentist and the dental team on excellence. Optimal excellence of care, delivering the most excellent care in the most profitable setting for every hygiene department.

Payman Langroud…: What is it? Online education?

Vicky Wilson: Online modules.

Payman Langroud…: Nice.

Vicky Wilson: To support the dentist and the team in getting to that.

Payman Langroud…: Nice.

Vicky Wilson: With Melonie Prebble and Flo Cooper.

Payman Langroud…: I don’t know Flo. Who is she?

Vicky Wilson: She’s a wonderful hygienist. She’s based in Scotland.

Payman Langroud…: Excellent.

Vicky Wilson: She’s got a lot of experience in business in dentistry from the US from training there similar to Mao.

Payman Langroud…: What would be the model? Is it a SaaS model? Would you sell these courses?

Vicky Wilson: Yeah, it’d be-

Payman Langroud…: Would it be a monthly subscription?

Vicky Wilson: … subscription. This is exactly what we’re working on. Whatever we’re working-

Payman Langroud…: When do I envision this will launch?

Vicky Wilson: It’s the beginning of this year. So we actually have a course coming up that you’re part of at the end of February. So soon after that, it’s going to be available to support empowering the hygienists and dental therapists, supporting the dentist to communicate, to ensure that every team member is getting the most out of what they can to be delivering the best care to the patient and being as profitable as possible for the clinics.

Payman Langroud…: Ideally, those two should go hand in hand.

Vicky Wilson: Exactly.

Payman Langroud…: That’s the way it should be. We were talking about when behaviour change, which is a massive part of the hygienist role, education and changing behaviour. One thing that… I talk to dentists about this. Whenever the patient’s brushing their teeth, most of the time, they’re trying to make their teeth whiter or keep them white. We’re focused on the gums, but patients really aren’t. Now obviously, our role is to focus them on the gums, of course. But I was saying to you, and it came out in that podcast, what I was saying to you was we should use the fact that patients are brushing their teeth or would like to brush their teeth to make their teeth whiter to change behaviour and give the health benefit. Interestingly, it came up with Claire. She said something lovely. It was like bring them in on what they want and then tell them what they need. It should be part of the training. Do they train you in hygiene school on behaviour change? They must do.

Vicky Wilson: There’s a small section on behavioural change and I think for the dentist too. But it’s not-

Payman Langroud…: I don’t think we had it. It was years ago. They said, “Brush your teeth like this with the brush at that angle.” They didn’t say how do you get someone to change what they’re doing. The psychological side of it. Although, I’m sure these days, it’s much more in the curriculum.

Vicky Wilson: Well interestingly, I don’t believe… It’s more than when I studied, but I don’t believe it’s still a strong or a heavy module. I’m currently involved in the module for behavioural change in the masters at the Eastman, that module. It’s all quite new to all the students doing the masters. They certainly aren’t aware of many aspects of behavioural change, which we cover within the module.

Payman Langroud…: So you’re deep in this right now?

Vicky Wilson: I love it. I love this topic. When I was in Dubai, I wanted to do another degree or something. When I first studied and left dental school, it wasn’t as available as it is now for hygienists and therapists to do masters and other degrees. But I did find an online course and I did a BSC in oral health promotion, which is what I did my thesis on communication and behavioural change.

Payman Langroud…: So behavioural change is kind of your bag.

Vicky Wilson: It’s my bag. I love it. That’s I guess the basis of the Smile Revelation. It’s all about behaviour change to a point. That’s the long term focus.

Payman Langroud…: Well, if you think of the famous Prav questions that he always likes to ask, I feel like I need to ask his questions because he’s not here.

Vicky Wilson: Go for it.

Payman Langroud…: It’s your funeral. It’s his favourite question.

Vicky Wilson: I’ve heard, yeah, I have to say.

Payman Langroud…: On that legacy fund, how would you like to be remembered, A, by the profession and by your peers and so forth, and B, by your kids? You don’t have to die. Let’s just say what would you like your legacy to be?

Vicky Wilson: I guess, by the profession, somebody that’s there, working with everyone to support the profession, working together with everyone to promote oral health and supporting them in that and bringing the profession together.

Payman Langroud…: Do hygienists argue with each other the way that dentistry does?

Vicky Wilson: I don’t think-

Payman Langroud…: I can’t imagine it.

Vicky Wilson: I don’t know, I’ve never been exposed to anything that happens.

Payman Langroud…: Dentists argue on Facebook and all that. It’s almost under the guise of I’m doing this for the patient. One guy will say, “Invisalign.” and then the other guy will say, “Invisalign is rubbish.” The third guy… Get three dentists together and get four different opinions.

Vicky Wilson: I’d like to say my exposure to the profession, and I said earlier, I feel so fortunate to be a therapist and be surrounded by incredible colleagues. Everybody, I’m honestly exposed to, is lovely. That’s what makes me so happy to do the Smile Revolution podcast, because I get to interview all these wonderful people. It’s not just hygienists and therapists, I interview lots of dentists as well. I think we’re so lucky. I don’t like to ever be exposed to negativity, though, I have to say. If I feel it coming my way, maybe I’ll take a diversion, because it doesn’t feed me Why bring yourself down by something. Let’s look at the positive here. Even if you have a challenge to face, let’s look at how we can overcome it and grow from it together.

Payman Langroud…: And what about advice for your kids? If you had to give your kids, two or three, all our children, a couple of pieces of advice, what are your top tips?

Vicky Wilson: Have fun in everything you do. My husband’s always-

Payman Langroud…: That’s a goody.

Vicky Wilson: … always, always saying that, “Whatever you do have fun in it,” and be driven by your passion. Make sure you enjoy life. If you’re driven by your passion, you can’t go wrong, because you’re being true to yourself.

Payman Langroud…: Are you saying I should go for that international DJ job?

Vicky Wilson: Yes, definitely.

Payman Langroud…: All right.

Vicky Wilson: Turning it back.

Payman Langroud…: I’m out of it. That’s it, I’ve had enough. I’m doing the tour, Sanj.

Vicky Wilson: Sorry, Sanj.

Payman Langroud…: Sorry, Sanj. It’s been fun, but I’ve got to go on a DJ tour.

Vicky Wilson: It’s a bit scary going in the unknown sometimes, but that’s the greatest thing, because you discover and you really learn. The hardest things you throw yourself into, the greatest things you learn. I think that.

Payman Langroud…: That’s true. It’s true. It’s that being comfortable with the uncomfortable, isn’t it?

Vicky Wilson: Well, that’s what I was going to say. I feel very good. I’m fortunate to have such an incredible mom and dad family have always been there for me. And-

Payman Langroud…: I hear that and it’s lovely thing to say, but you’re the only child, so you haven’t got this context that I’m going to do validate. My parents, and my brother’s parents are exactly the same parents, but my brother and I are very different people, like very different.

Vicky Wilson: Yeah, yeah.

Payman Langroud…: I take more risks than he does.

Vicky Wilson: Yeah, yeah.

Payman Langroud…: He’s very, super conservative. You’re saying thanks, of course, say thanks to your parents, because they’re great. I get it, yeah?

Vicky Wilson: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: But it’s so nuanced, you know? Your two kids are so close to each other in age, but you must already see they’re totally different.

Vicky Wilson: Very true. Very true. I remember reading, so if you’ve got a really safe background, you take more risks-

Payman Langroud…: Sometimes, yeah.

Vicky Wilson: Because you can. Maybe that’s what I feel in a way, but I’m mostly that risk taker. I thrive on the adrenaline of taking the biggest risks, I feel.

Payman Langroud…: Really?

Vicky Wilson: I do. I like-

Payman Langroud…: I like that.

Vicky Wilson: I like it.

Payman Langroud…: I like that too.

Vicky Wilson: I like it, because you don’t know what’s going to come and it pushes you to really work to get-

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, but look, for some people, that sounds like a total nightmare.

Vicky Wilson: Oh, absolutely. I know.

Payman Langroud…: I think about my wife, yeah? In a room full of strangers, she’s amazing. Like she handles the room, she talks to the right people. If someone’s not involved, she gets them involved or whatever. Me, I’m a bit sort of uncomfortable in my own skin, a bit shy in a room full of strangers, but I can stand on stage and talk. For her, that’s like the biggest nightmare ever, isn’t it? It’s so interesting that you know that different people that thrive on different-

Vicky Wilson: It’s so true.

Payman Langroud…: … situations.

Vicky Wilson: That’s the beauty, isn’t it? Everyone’s different.

Payman Langroud…: It’s been lovely having you.

Vicky Wilson: Thank you for having me.

Payman Langroud…: And I don’t know should we put this out as a simulcast? No. For now, you’re a dental leader. Nice to have the first representative from dental hygiene therapy. Well, thanks a lot for doing it. I’m sorry, Prav wasn’t here to enjoy it.

Vicky Wilson: I’m sorry, Prav. Yeah, thanks for having me.

Payman Langroud…: Thanks a lot, Vicky. Cheers.

Speaker 3: 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.

Speaker 4: Thank you for tuning in guys to the Dental Leaders podcast. I’ve just got a little request to make. If you’ve got a suggestion of somebody else who we should be interviewing or somebody who’s got a really strong story, powerful story to share with us, please send us a message and help us connect with that individual so we can bring their stories to the surface.

Payman Langroud…: Thank you so much for taking the time, guys. If you got some value out of it, think about sharing it with your friends and subscribing to the channel. Thank you guys.

Speaker 4: Don’t forget that six star review.

This week, Payman and Prav talked with Rahul Doshi, cosmetic pioneer and founder of the groundbreaking Perfect Smile Studios.


The trio talk about the science and art of cosmetic dentistry, what it takes to be a clinical leader, team building and more.


Rahul also talks about his decision to join Dentex, as well as the board of the British Association of Cosmetic Dentists (BACD.)




Rather than being demotivated about, “I could’ve done X, I could’ve done Y.” You’ve got to say, “Right, how do I play these cards now and do well with them?” – Rahul Doshi


In this episode

00.18 – Changing lives, exceeding expectations

07.25 – Art Vs science

14.54 – Mentors and going it alone

20.20 – Highs, lows and love at first sight

25.00 – Partners in practice

31.29 – Leadership, team building, hiring and firing

40.24 – Teaching photography

48.52 – Cosmetics, occlusion & learning curves

51.02 – Buying out and selling up

54.19 – Dentex & a day in the life

01.01.52 – On family

01.03.40 – BACD

01.11.00 – Doing it all again (and coming up trumps)


About Rahul Doshi

Rahul Doshi founded the high-end Perfect Smile Studios cosmetic dentistry clinic alongside wife Bavna in Hertfordshire in 1994. 


In 2017, Rahul’s commitment to the profession was recognised at the Aesthetic Dentistry Awards with an accolade for his Outstanding Contribution to Dentistry.


He has now retired from clinical dentistry but continues to oversee the team at Perfect Smile Studios in a leadership role.


Connect with Prav and Payman:


Prav on Instagram

Payman on Instagram


Rahul: Well when we met, she was into a different type of music than I was. Her outgoing was different to mine. So yeah, we were very much different people, but the value is actually is what connected us.

Payman: Or was she into gangster rap?

Rahul: She was actually.

Intro Voice: 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.

Prav: Today we’ve got the pleasure of interviewing Rahul Doshi on the Dental leaders Podcast. Rahul, for me, I think my journey with you or knowing about you began over a decade ago.

Rahul: Probably, yes.

Prav: I got into the dental industry, started working in the dental industry where my brother had just qualified back in about 2005, 2006 and you owned the most famous dental practise in the UK.

Rahul: I wouldn’t quite say that.

Prav: In my eyes, and I think in many people’s eyes you were leading the field in patient experience in what you were doing, in the way you communicated yourself in the media. And I think you started off a trend or a generation of practises that are today built on the model that you started off. And then that’s how I saw the Perfect Smile Studios, very, very aspirational clinic from the photographs of the waiting room and then once entering your waiting room right through to the experience you deliver to your patients and-

Rahul: Did you go to it back then?

Prav: Yeah, yeah. I visited it then, and first saw the photographs and I thought, “Wow, this is a dental practise.” And then went and sat down, and I even remember sitting down on the cushions and it just being super cosy, comfortable and being offered a drink. And I thought, “Wow, this is different.” Now every practise does that. But you were a decade ahead of everyone else I think. And I think there’s lots we want to talk about, you, your life, how you became to be that.

Rahul: Get to that point.

Prav: Yeah, but if we just focus on that for a second, what was your inspiration behind creating such an amazing practise and the whole experience?

Rahul: Okay, so let’s go back. I think you have to have a vision and we created a vision and the tagline for the practise is changing lives, exceeding expectations, but that was in all areas, whether it’s clinical and nonclinical. So we want to exceed patients’ experience in every single way once they came to the practise. So we wanted to deliver the best clinical care, but also the best care in the journey while they are there and making that unique. As we all know that when you want to differentiate yourself, you’ve got to something which is totally different to what’s being done as a norm.

Rahul: And we spent a lot of time really sort of understanding what other areas in other businesses do to create an exceptional journey and just bringing it in to the practise.

Prav: Take me back to that moment where you were planning that journey. So you were sat down and you maybe you were drawing flow chats together or mapping out that journey from the moment let’s say somebody first makes contact or steps foot in your practise, and you talked about inspiration from other businesses. Did you visit hotels or what? How did you put that process together because you weren’t just copying someone else. You weren’t just saying, “Let me do this, but a little bit better.” You were creating something new.

Rahul: I think we had to break it down into the steps that a patient takes in the journey. And then we looked at every single step and say, “Right, where can I learn about this aspect from?”

Rahul: So for example, in a patient journey starts with the phone as we know, and then comes into when they visit the practise, then into the treatment room and then the case presentation. And then you’re looking at what can I learn from which industry for every single aspect, whether it’s a hotel, whether it’s other dental practises outside the UK, I’m now talking about US because I used to visit the US a lot. Their patient journey there was at a different level at that time as well. Though the practises were orientated to be something different to what we wanted. We wanted to create a unique culture that the patients felt really relaxed. And as you mentioned, the soft cushion at home and we wanted to make the patients feel at home.

Prav: And I think that’s something that I definitely got when I visited that I actually felt like I was a guest. I felt like I was at home.

Rahul: And the key thing to remember is most patients are nervous, especially the type of dentistry I was doing at that time was a lot of full mouth rehab, smile makeovers. So, that involved a lot of dental treatment. And if patients are nervous, you want to try and really make them feel as happy, comfortable, relaxed, as much as possible in all senses, whether it’s what they listen to, what they smell, what they see. And you had to excite every single sense. So it’s trying to do that in a predictable way, but also create a systematic way for that as well for the patient journey.

Payman: I think what was really special about that practise, like I came quite early on, I think maybe two, three years after you’d started, what was really special was the staff the way they were welcomed, the way people took care of you. I remember at the time I think Laura was working there.

Rahul: Correct.

Payman: I remember at the time thinking, “Yeah, it was pretty decor.” Yeah. But I’d seen pretty deco before in practise. But the welcome, just the way they handled you and I was a supplier, not even a patient. I was there to sell something to them. But expecting you when you walked in, knowing who you were before you even walked in-

Rahul: Just the experience.

Payman: Many practises today don’t do that, nice cup of coffee, engaging with you, engaging with you as a supplier. I remember thinking this is super special, but I think we should go back, go back and try and figure out how you got to that point.

Rahul: So actually though, now I think of it, there is a book that I read called Raving Fans.

Prav: Who by?

Payman: Blanchard.

Rahul: I think it’s Ken Blanchard. And it’s always about trying to do something on a consistent basis. We’ve all been to restaurants, hotels, which look amazing and we may have had exceptional food at. But then when you repeat that experience with another person, it may not be consistent, and then you don’t go back again. So achieving the consistency was actually the kep step. And achieving consistency, you need to create a system. So you’re actually systemizing the patient journey of what needs to happen at every single step, when they arrive, meet and greet, create eye contact, the warm handshake, look them in the eyes, try and predict who they are in the name, all that sort of stuff.

Rahul: And then adding plus one. In Raving Fans, plus one means do something extra every single time they come. So what plus one can you think of when you see the patient again or a supplier like you again?

Payman: Yeah, it was special.

Prav: So where were you born? Where did you grow up? When did you decide to be a dentist? Give us the quickie on that.

Rahul: I was born in Mombasa, in Kenya, and I moved over here in 1975 when I was about seven, eight years old. Schooled here. And why did I go into dentistry? Not because I probably wanted to become a dentist because I wanted to join the medical science field. I don’t think I wanted to become a pharmacist, an optician. So it was almost like taking away what I didn’t want to become leaving really dentistry to me as the option that I thought would suit me, my personality in looking after people. I think Asians were always drawn to some sort of medical sort of arena.

Payman: Were your family already in medicine?

Rahul: No, no they weren’t. My family were in their own pharmacies. So they’re in the pharmaceutical industry. So I think I didn’t want to go in that direction. So it’s a question, choosing another direction in the medical arena.

Prav: And was that in sort of in some part fulfilling your parents’ dreams and ambitions? And certainly I know that for me, I didn’t necessarily want to go into medicine from the outset, and I wouldn’t say I was forced into it, but certainly I was fulfilling their dreams. I was academically good and it seemed like the right career choice, my son is a doctor. And so that became part of the process. And then later on I realise that actually this was what I wanted to do and then later on realised it wasn’t.

Rahul: It wasn’t.

Prav: But was that part of your influence?

Rahul: I think for that sort of generation like mine, I think that you’re always trying to fulfil your parents’ aspirations in some way or what they think are the careers that you should probably be in. And I think there must be some subliminal message that must’ve been handed down to me thinking that I need to go in that arena as opposed to arenas that at that time my parents were not considered to be the arenas that you should go into whether it be art or whatever it may be.

Payman: How’s that advice changed with your kids? What have you said to them?

Rahul: Oh-

Payman: To follow their passion? And big achievers, both of your kids, right?

Rahul: Yeah, my kids, I just told them, “You need to do what you’re really passionate about, what you enjoy and what you think you’re good at. Because once you are good at something, you enjoy doing it, you will actually become excellent and then you will grow in yourself. You’ll enjoy life. And that’s what really life is about.”

Payman: Was dentistry something that you want either of your kids to do or they didn’t want to do it?

Rahul: I don’t think, well neither of my kids have gone into the industry. One of them has gone straight into finance. That’s what he’s always enjoyed that since he was a kid. So he’s followed his passion. My other son, he’s really into philosophy and politics, so that’s the sort of field he plans to go into.

Payman: So what an opportunity it would have been for one of them to go into dentistry. Did it even come up or-

Rahul: I don’t think either of them even considered it, to be honest with you.

Rahul: I had a practise that I think they could have easily followed my footsteps. And actually when you actually follow your father’s footsteps, then you’ve got the foundations laid in some way because you try and reduce the errors that you would make because you’re told not don’t do X, Y, Z, and it fast tracks things, but that’s not the career that they wanted for themselves.

Prav: Okay. So then where did you study?

Rahul: So I went to Guys Hospital for dentistry and that was my undergraduate qualification.

Prav: Anyone who we know in dentistry now who studied with you in your year?

Rahul: So in my year.

Payman: Was Ash in your year?

Rahul: Ash Palmer was the year below me.

Payman: Oh really?

Rahul: Paul Abrahams was a year above me. So a lot of people a year above me, year below me. I’m trying to think of people like-

Prav: Which year did you qualify?

Rahul: In ’91.

Payman: And what kind of a dental student were you? Were you swatty?

Rahul: Actually I think people would say I was swatty on most occasions on most occasions and chilled out on others. So I don’t think I was the biggest swat, but I don’t think I was laid back either.

Prav: Were you gifted? Were you just naturally talented, did things come too easily, memory recall, stuff you know in med school and dental school? You’re doing all this processing, were you say were naturally at that sort of stuff, or you had to work hard?

Rahul: I think memorising things became pretty straightforward to me. I didn’t realise this, but I think I loved art. I only realised that I really loved art when I actually became a cosmetic dentist as such. I didn’t realise it when I was in dental school, but I was very particular in the way I did my drilling, filling, my preparations, and how smooth they were. I was very detail orientated. I think it was all about the details at that time.

Payman: I think it’s a bit of that back in our day. I mean we’re in about the same generation.

Rahul: Yeah.

Payman: Back in our day, art was such a dirty word for someone who was trying to go into medicine that we completely shunned. Even like I remember with me and my friends in school, it was math, physics, chemistry, the odd guy did biology. Anyone who was doing something outside of that was-

Prav: Mickey Mouse degree.

Payman: Yeah. Mickey Mouse, wasn’t considered one of us.

Prav: Absolutely.

Rahul: Yeah.

Payman: And yet personally looking at it now I feel like I’m much more art orientated than science orientated, but it was so drilled into us even by ourselves. I don’t know. We were very proud of being science.

Prav: I think part of it is, and I always go back to this is this parental influence and because certainly for my parents back then it was a survival game, right?

Prav: Driving taxes, running corner shops. It was about giving you a career that there was some stability in and a vocation.

Rahul: Correct. It was all about the stability and that vocation, the thinking that people will always need a doctor, people will always need a dentist and I think for the Asian community also the respect that the families got for their children going down certain pathways was an important aspect for them as well.

Prav: And then the advice you’ve said to your kids is, “Look, just follow your dreams, airy fairy or not, just go and live your dream and just be excellent at what you’re doing.” And I’m giving the same advice to my kids at the moment. My daughter is big into art and if I look at how I would have thought about that 10, 15 years ago, I’d have said, “Airy-fairy Mickey Mouse degree.”

Prav: Honestly, that’s what I would’ve said. But now it’s more about actually follow your passion and all we really want our children to do is be happy, right?

Rahul: I think that’s also from my personal experience. So when I first qualified, and you mentioned that did you rightly do the right degree or not? Well, when I first qualified I was doing general dentistry and I don’t think I was as fulfilled in doing general dentistry as I am when I’d started doing cosmetic dentistry. The more cosmetic denture I started doing, the more I thought to really enjoy what I was doing. It was the art side of me that came out, the creativity, the detail, the detail was there. But I think the passion came in doing the cosmetic dentistry and that took my career to another level, but also my enjoyment more importantly.

Rahul: And so reflecting on that enjoyment and the passion is what has led me to tell Mike, as you said, “You’ve got to follow your passion.”

Prav: Who had the biggest influence on your dental career, mentor or otherwise, that sort of set you off on that trajectory that you ended up embarking on in creating this amazing practise and doing the type of dentistry that you did?”

Rahul: I’ve got to say there was so many mentors that I’ve had the fortune to come across and it’s taking ideas from different people that have allowed me to be who I am. So in terms of cosmetic dentistry, to be honest with you, it’s Larry Rosenthal, the idea that you could change a person’s life, smile by doing what he did. Okay. The style of dentistry has changed immensely since he introduced that. But the concept of cosmetic dentistry came from him and to a lot of people in the UK.

Rahul: So I’ve got to give some attribution to him, but also people who taught how to create good foundational dentistry in occlusion. So people like Frank Spears was very influential to me. I went onto the Hornbrook course where I learned a lot about occlusion as well. So occlusion and foundational dentistry was really instrumental in what I did. But then also things in communication, communicating to a patient, looking after patients. Patient care became a big part of that as well. So my mentors at that time were people like Bill Blatchford who was a coach from the US, so Peter Blatchford Solutions.

Prav: Correct. Yes.

Payman: So then, okay, you qualified. Who was your first boss?

Rahul: My first boss was a practise near Harrow on Rayners Lane. His name is Stuart Hutchinson. So it was a predominantly national health practise.

Payman: Did you get there and think, “God, I hate this,”?

Rahul: Actually, I worked very close to home, literally five minute drive as to go home for lunch as an associate. I mean I just can’t believe I used to go home for lunch and spend an hour at home and come back.

Payman: Home, parents’ home?

Rahul: As in like, yeah, parents home. So literally go home, eat, come back, do my work. So it just was a routine for a few years until I started thinking that I want to expand what I was doing. I had a need to improve what I was doing. So I enjoyed it for that time. It gave me a lot of rudimentary foundational skills in dentistry because you qualify and you need to get exposure to just doing stuff. And that’s what he gave me.

Payman: So then you decided to set up your ow?

Rahul: Yeah, so I think the plan was to always set up my own practise and I worked in active couple of practises at the same time.

Rahul: So, my week was split up into working with three different practises. And the key reason for that was to learn from each practise what to do and what not to do. And actually I found you learn what not to do more than you learn what to do and that gives you a perception of how you want to run your own practise.

Payman: So these three practises was one of them more private orientated or how was it?

Rahul: One of them, so my first one was predominantly national health, but I started doing more and more private while I was there. Another one was private and that was near Hemel Hempstead. And then a third one was in Wilson, which was national health.

Prav: Take me back to that era. What was the work ethic like back then? What sort of hours were you putting in? How much time are you putting in into dentistry? And so I speak to a lot of dentists from back in the day and they do the kind of hours and the things that probably younger dentists wouldn’t today.

Rahul: Yeah. I think if I look back now, so my first associate job I was doing about 40 hours, 44 hours, Monday to Friday.

Prav: Feeble rights of the NHS, right?

Rahul: Feeble rights of the National Health. Half day Saturday. But then I think things became tricky when I bought my first practise because I used to… When was that? That was in ’94 so I used to travel from Harrow to Hornchurch, which was an hour’s journey. I use to start work at eight in the morning, finish work at seven, get back home by eight in the evening. So, I used to do that four or five days a week, work as an associate in my practise that I first worked in just to get continuity of income walls. The practise was taking off.

Payman: Was it a squat?

Rahul: It wasn’t a squat, but I think in the first six months, by the time you actually established yourself, you actually get… there was some nationality, you got fee per item coming in, capital coming in. You knew that cashflow coming in and I wanted to make sure there was enough cashflow, so I had to work as an associate and run the practise and do the dentistry in that practise, too.

Payman: Must have been hard times. Did you have any difficulties? Going from associate to principal’s a big deal right?

Rahul: I remember actually first walking into the practise thinking, “I now own this practise. What now? What do I do?” I had no plan. I knew what I wanted to do in terms of developing it in the decor, the cosmetics, how I wanted to run it, but then actually becoming a leader and actually guiding team members.

Rahul: … a leader and actually guiding team members who’d really you’d not really known and may have met for a few minutes previous to that, and guiding them what to do, it was something that was new and you had to learn a lot on how to become a boss and a leader.

Prav: Doing all those jobs at that time, multiple jobs, multiple associate jobs, and buying your own business, which I’m assuming was quite risky, did you ever experience overwhelm at that time? What were your lowest moments, and did you ever think of just saying, “Do you know what, I give up.”

Rahul: I think whenever you buy any practise or any business, the first year is taken up and consumed by the passion to do well. So, once you’ve got through that one year, that energy and that momentum takes you through that. And once you actually achieve some level of satisfaction or success in that first year, then you can sort of slow down and start seeing where you’ve achieved. It’s when it takes longer, that’s when those low moments can come. I mean, luckily, I didn’t get many of those at that time, so I didn’t see that or face that, because I think we tried to work hard to actually achieve as much as we could in that first year and make sure that the foundations were laid for us to succeed. So, at that moment in time, no, I didn’t get any low moments.

Prav: And just painting a picture of what your life was like back then, were you with Bhavna then, or were you living at home, parents? What was the sort of personal situation?

Rahul: So, I was living with parents. I had just met Bhavna a month before we bought the practise.

Prav: How did you meet?

Rahul: So, I crushed a VT ball. She was qualifying. I turned up and I met her and I then turned up at her hall, because I knew where she was staying. I figured out which floor she was staying on.

Prav: Love at first sight?

Rahul: Yes, it was. So, I knocked on her door-

Payman: … but, you were you a fully fledged dentist at this way?

Rahul: I was a fully fledged dentist. So this is three, four years qualified. And then as you did, you crash the ball. And then that’s where I met Bhavna.

Prav: And the rest is history, as they say.

Rahul: And the rest is history. Yeah.

Prav: So when did you propose?

Rahul: So actually, for both of us, we knew we were right for each other and I proposed literally a few months after that, six months after that. And I think it’s all good to do with whether it’s business or home values and the vibe you get. So when you actually have the … when you have values that match, you know that somebody is right for you. We had the right values, or not the right values. There is no such thing. But, the values that I had were similar to her values and that’s when we knew we were right for each other.

Prav: And the family values, right?

Rahul: Yeah.

Prav: Certainly, for me the values that I’ve got from my wife and she gets from me is our upbringing.

Rahul: Absolutely.

Prav: And just meeting the parents and the family seems like quite a traditional way of doing things. But, I think it’s a recipe for a [crosstalk 00:22:59].

Rahul: Values is one of those words, because for instance, if you look at me and my wife, very different people, very different, but our values are aligned. And it’s an interesting point because if you’ve met us for five minutes and didn’t know who we were-

Prav: … totally different. Totally different.

Rahul: But, we do agree on the basics. Actually, so if you look at Bhavna and me, if you spend time with us individually, you’ll see that I’m actually pretty much a shy person, quiet. She’s pretty much outgoing, won’t stop talking.

Prav: Opposites attract, that’s the thing.

Rahul: We’re total opposites. Yet, our values are similar. Well, when we met, she was into a different type of music than I was. Her outgoing was different to mine. So yeah, we were very much different people. But the value is actually is what connected us.

Prav: Was she into gangster rap?

Rahul: She was, actually. That was a joke, and the answer is, she was.

Prav: You’re kidding.

Rahul: Which was totally foreign to me.

Prav: Amazing. She’s got good taste.

Payman: Yeah, he’s a gangster rap guy.

Prav: So, you work at that first practise, was Bhavna also working there?

Rahul: No, she wasn’t actually. So she had just qualified, so she had to go through a VT. So she was doing her VT while I was at the practise.

Prav: And then? How long did that go on for?

Rahul: So that went on until ’96 when we actually got a second practise. And that’s when Bhavna started working with me.

Prav: Did you sell the first one to get-

Rahul: … no. We kept it. And I needed the help. I needed the manpower. So then we started working together. So the challenges were that I don’t think Bhavna ever wanted to work together because we wanted to keep our life separate, not sort of a mix, shall I say, work and home life. But, necessity meant that needed somebody from the inside, shall I say, working with me. And that was important.

Payman: You were taking care of one, she was taking care of the other?

Rahul: Yeah.

Prav: What was the transition like going from one to two? I got a lot of dentists asking me for this advice, and I don’t think there’s a right way to advise this, but I’m interested on your take, is that someone will have practise number one, it will be at 60-70% capacity. Business is good, life is good, right? And they say, “I need to get my second practise.” My advice is always get practise number one to where it needs to be because there’s room to grow here, less overheads, less stress and then go for practise number two. But, there’s other theories that you could scale up multiple practises, do well, and sell or whatever. And what was your transition like?

Prav: Because a lot of people think you go from practise one to two, and you just double everything, right? Income doubles, everything doubles. What was your perception back then and what was the reality?

Rahul: So the perception is that you get a second practise and everything doubles. But, actually the truth is that if you’ve actually done well in your first and you’ve got the systems right and you can make the systems and carry them over to the second practise, that’s what the second practise is all about is actually taking away what you’ve done in your first practise and actually introducing all those elements into the second practise. If you haven’t done that and you’ve just got away by having a practise and these things just run, then the second practise would be really challenging. The second practise had its own challenges. It wasn’t massively challenging, but everything has its own ups and downs, which, and I can’t remember what they are right now, but because we had the same systems that we had in the first practise that we could just transplant into the second practise, it was pretty smooth going.

Rahul: The only things that double are the stresses of team, dealing with the two teams as opposed to one. So, that was something which I started to sort of really sort of learning about, reading about, is actually people management, psychology management, learning how to develop teams. And again, that journey of becoming a better leader too.

Payman: It sounds like you’re very much into reading around the subject of dentistry, right? Self Improvement.

Rahul: Well, yes, reading around, actually many aspects of non dentistry, shall I say, so leadership, team building, communication.

Payman: You’re fascinated by that?

Rahul: Yeah, absolutely.

Payman: Yeah.

Rahul: I really enjoy that.

Prav: When did business partners come into the mix?

Rahul: So what do you mean by business partners?

Prav: You were partners with Ash at one point.

Rahul: Correct. Yes.

Prav: So how did that come about? How did the conversation get ignited? How did you say, “Well, let’s do this together.” At what point in this journey did that happen?

Rahul: So actually, the first practise, [inaudible 00:07:36], I did that with Ash.

Prav: Okay.

Rahul: And that came about because we, again, were similar minded. We were similarly driven. Again, we had similar values as well. And those values is what kept us going until 2010, so we were together in partnership for a good 16 years, which is a good period of time.

Prav: And the second one was with Ash too?

Rahul: And the second one was with Ash as well. Yeah.

Prav: And then it was Perfect Smile after that?

Rahul: Perfect Smile after that. Yeah.

Prav: Okay.

Rahul: So it’s that, I think you have to have the same values with your partners for things to … the same risk profile, I find important.

Prav: Yeah, absolutely.

Rahul: Because Sanj and I, again, my partner, we’re very different. Again, he’s great with systems, he’s great with computers. I’m more a people person. Again, very different. But, our risk profile is similar.

Prav: Are you sure?

Rahul: It needs to be. Yeah, yeah. It needs to be.

Prav: I’ve seen the bar tab when you run your events, mate.

Rahul: You should see the bill for computers. But, also I think the same drive because if one person wants to have … really wants to grow and the other person doesn’t, then you could have an issue.

Prav: What were you bringing to the team and what was Ash bringing to the team? What kind of people? I’m saying, Sanj was very systems and computers and so on, and he really is brilliant in those ways.

Rahul: Actually, Ash was very good, very much a people’s person. So when he met suppliers, when he met the initial teams, he got along with them. He would spend time with them. He was very likeable as a person. He is likeable as a person. I brought in probably strategy, vision, focus-

Prav: … systems.

Rahul: Drive. Yeah, all that to the practise. So not quite systems. I think Ash was more making systems as well. But, I think I was more direction and vision and marketing, et cetera. That came from me.

Prav: I’m involved in multiple partnerships with multiple different businesses and one of the things I know is all the challenges I have is sometimes I want to go in one direction, they want to go in another, or maybe we’re not 100% aligned and you have different conversations. Maybe your lives are going in different directions and stuff like that. What were the biggest challenges during that 15 years in that partnership, would you say?

Rahul: I think it probably is when there may be, as you mentioned, disagreements in the direction or the main direction. Sometimes the small directions can cause issues, but they can be overcome once you have logic and reason. It’s when there is a big differential in the growth or the direction that you want to go into. I mean, we were both reasonable people so we could both iron out issues. So, that would be fine. Sometimes, being truthful, it may be you’d have team looking at one sort of partner as opposed to the other to influence. And one person wouldn’t be able to be influenced in any way.

Rahul: And I think that was me. The team would never be able to influence me. So they’d go through Ash and then Ash would have to come back to me.

Payman: That happens with us too. I’m kind of the soft touch and Sanj is the guy … because it works too, right?

Payman: Absolutely. You have to sort of good cop, bad cop. It does work. And it works well.

Payman: But, we don’t do it on purpose.

Prav: It’s just the way you are, right?

Payman: Yeah. I’m completely stuck on having the happiest workplace in the world. Sanj isn’t. That’s not his number one priority. And you need both.

Rahul: A motivated team is the key.

Prav: So when did Laura Horton come into the mix in your practise? And sort of do you remember your interviewing her for the first time? And I think you saw something in her.

Rahul: She came as a nurse and she came as a nurse before the Hornsea practise. And she started off as a nurse, became a manager at the Hornsea practise, I believe. And we then sold the Hornsea practise and she came with us to the Hertford practise. So that was the evolution. I think, sorry, between the actual becoming a manager and a nurse, she became the treatment coordinator. So she was a nurse, treatment coordinator, then manager. So, that was her journey.

Rahul: One of the most, I think about work, one of the most beautiful things about it is developing people, isn’t it?

Prav: Yeah.

Rahul: It really is. I mean, you’ve got all the downsides, right? You’ve got all the risk, you’ve got the day-to-day, the discipline issues. But, seeing people blossom. And then on the other side of it, sometimes seeing people not blossom. Where you give an opportunity to someone and they don’t take it.

Prav: I don’t know who said this quote, but something along the lines of, and don’t quote me on these words, is that try and build your team up so they can leave. But, treat them well enough so they don’t. [crosstalk 00:12:51].

Rahul: And whenever I hired team members, the one thing you always think of is what potential do they have and how much do they want to grow? And what can I do to help them grow? So it’s about actually being a servant to their growth. And if you can achieve that, then that business will start flourishing.

Prav: Because, you must see it now, we’ll get onto Dentex now. But, you must see in dentistry, it’s quite hard, isn’t it? The path where you’re saying nurse, treatment coordinator, manager. She went from the very bottom to the very top. But in dentistry, a lot of times we don’t want people to move. We want that person just to stay doing what they’re doing. And that’s a problem, isn’t it? Because if you can’t see a future for yourself career wise.

Rahul: So that’s when people leave and move. If you want to grow your practise, you want some stability. But you want a team that’s motivated. And to get a motivated team, you want the team member to feel that they’re actually contributing much more than the simplicity in the work that they bring to just nursing. So, one of the key things I’ve always believed in is actually creating-

Payman: … photography was a big thing in your practise.

Rahul: Yeah. Well, every team member that comes into a practise is able to take photographs. That’s the first thing we teach them, but they need to create a role which makes them unique and that they are in charge of totally. That means they have a real important role to play within the practise. And without them fulfilling that role, the practise will be under pressure and that they won’t get anywhere else. There’s also freedom to work in the way they choose to.

Rahul: So, there is that autonomy. So the three things I always think of is autonomy. And so they don’t have to report to do certain things to people above. They need to be masterful. They are good. And they need to have mastery in what they do, so they feel confident. And that brings passion. And there needs to be a purpose. So they come to work with a purpose rather than feeling that they’re doing just a simplistic role.

Prav: As I speak to a lot of associates or new practise owners. And there’s one skill that you’ve clearly developed over time and got is this leadership that you’ve just clearly illustrated here. What tips would you give to somebody who wants to develop that skill and develop their leadership skills when they’ve got no experience of actually what is leadership?

Rahul: [crosstalk 00:15:13]. That’s a big question.

Prav: Yeah, it is a big question. But, what sort of nuggets of advice would you give to them? Someone who’s new, they’ve just bought a practise, because they want to be an entrepreneur or whatever. And you must’ve seen loads of practises now with your involvement with the Dentex.

Rahul: Sure. So I think to be a great leader, you need to motivate your team. That’s the first thing. If you can motivate your team, the team will follow you. That’s the number one of leadership. And you’re not there as their boss, but somebody to actually inspire them. The second is to make sure that they are fully trained so that they feel totally comfortable and confident with what they do.

Rahul: The third thing too actually is find out and get them to be passionate about what they want to do as well. So you actually grow them in areas that they’re passionate about.

Prav: How do you find that out? Is it one-to-one conversations with them?

Rahul: It’s regular one-to-one. And actually, once you’ve been with them for a couple of months, you get an idea of what they are really strong at, what they love enjoying, and you see that glint in their eye if they’re doing certain things. And that’s what you’re trying to coax them to do. So you coax them to having roles that they feel happy about when they’re doing it, and they feel most fulfilled. And that’s a simplistic way of actually growing any business. It’s just motivating and inspiring your team.

Prav: Have you had to fire many people? Or was that Ash’s job?

Rahul: No, no, that was more me than Ash, actually. I was the bad cop, shall I say.

Prav: Never easy, right?

Rahul: Never easy. Actually, it’s the most challenging thing to do is to actually take somebody away from their job and tell them that the business has different plans for them.

Prav: Do you get butterflies?

Rahul: Absolutely.

Prav: Talk me through that.

Rahul: So, actually if I had to fire somebody, I don’t think I’d be sleeping the night before or as soon as I realised that that person had to go, until that moment that I told them that they weren’t part of the business plan, I would not be sleeping. I’d be having butterflies until I met them.

Prav: Do you have the conversation in your head?

Rahul: Plenty of times. You repeat that. And it never goes as planned. Because as soon as you utter the first few words, your mouth starts drying off and you may say something totally different to what you planned. They may interpret what you’re going to say. And then the whole thing skewers anyway.

Payman: It’s so hard. Prav has a very interesting story.

Prav: No, I’m not going to tell you that. My one and only aggressive ejection from the practise.

Payman: That wasn’t the one I was thinking of.

Prav: Which one?

Payman: I was thinking about the box of chocolates.

Prav: Oh, geez. Oh, yeah.

Payman: Tell him. Tell him. It’s beautiful.

Prav: He’s probably not going to be listening. But I hired a copywriter and I think copywriting is probably one of the most valuable skills in marketing. If you can write to get the right message across for the right person, you’ve won the game. The design, the creative, all that can come later. So I spent a long time trying to recruit an amazing copywriter. And one of my key things was that this person must be able to write much, much better than me.

Prav: And I’m not saying I’m an amazing writer, but I’m okay. Anyway, I found this guy and we took him through some tests. So we wrote some tests and stuff and in the tests he passed, he wrote better than I thought I could. He got into the job and he just wasn’t cutting the mustard. And there was something, and a couple of weeks passed and I thought, look, he needs training. And there became a point where I realised that this guy is beyond training. So there was some behavioural things that I wasn’t quite comfortable with and blah, blah, blah. Anyway, I said to myself, psyched myself up in the morning, went to the gym, full of aggression, going to fire him today. I’m going to fire him today. Aggressively. And I felt to myself, having the conversation, and I’m not going to say his name because he might be listening, just out of respect. But I was having this conversation, right, okay.

Prav: And I’m going to have to let you go. And these are the reasons why. I’m going to pay you for the next whatever, so that you can spend some time finding your next job and all the rest of it. He walks in that morning with a huge box of chocolates and says, “Guys, I just want to say thank you for welcoming me to the team. I feel so welcome and such a part of the team.” And I was like, so I went through with what I was supposed to do. But, I felt like an absolute a-hole.

Payman: I don’t think I would have done it.

Prav: But, I had already convinced myself that was what I was going to do. And if it wasn’t that box of chocolates that have cost us another week or two or whatever, right? And so I had to let him go. And then as he was leaving, he said, “Enjoy the chocolates, guys.” And I felt terrible. I still made the right decision, 100%. But afterwards, my team carried on saying, “Do you know what? He’s left us these chocolates. Prav, why couldn’t you wait a little bit longer? Give him more of a chance.” But, they also agreed with me that I’d made the right decision.

Prav: They’re given more of a chance, but they also agreed with me that I’d made the right decision, but that was probably my toughest firing. It’s always tough. And you always remember when you’ve had to let go of people, but you’ve got to care for the business, because the business actually cares for so many other people who work for you.

Payman: Yeah.

Rahul: And if that’s effecting the business, then they’re affected, too.

Payman: Even the fired person themselves, they’re not exactly thriving, are they?

Rahul: Correct.

Payman: They know who they… That’s one of those things where feelings take over from logic. So then, okay, the first two practises where regular practises?

Rahul: Yep.

Payman: The third one was a spaceship, compared to those.

Rahul: Yep.

Payman: So that was the influence of, let’s say with Larry, and you’ve been on these courses and all that, but what was it about… Did you and Ash get together and say, “Let’s do this completely different now.” And what would be the equivalent today? It would be some sort of, like something… Robbie’s done something in Liverpool, where from the outside it looks like an IKEA, from the inside it looks like a hotel, it’s was like something completely new that I’d never seen before, when I went to see it. But so, did you feel like you were doing something risky? Wanted to spend money?

Rahul: Well we wanted to create something special, so that’s the key thing, that was the drive. And I think we ran to visit quite a few practises in the US, and see how they functioned, and what created the best, should I say, efficient work patterns for the team. So you don’t want the team members running from one place to the other, going through different rooms, but you want to create a work pattern, which would actually make the patient journey from the front to be seamless, but behind the scenes there’d be stuff happening that the patients would not see.

Payman: And it was a squat, right?

Rahul: And it was a squat. And because we knew the systems that we wanted to bring in, what rehearsed plan from the other two practises, we knew exactly what to do for this practise. And we know what had worked elsewhere in the US, so we just copied that.

Payman: What about patients? So day one, no patients, what did you do?

Rahul: So this was actually [Bavnar 00:42:04]. And the reason why we bought this practise, and this is all about work-life balance, was because we lived near Hartford, we did not want, well Bavnar did not want to go to Hornchurch, or Varnett, because we had young kids, so I needed to develop a practise, so that the school that the kids went to was just literally a few miles away. So we could do a school run, go to work, and then pick the kids up, and go back home. So this was driven towards a work-life balance.

Rahul: And we picked the location because, I don’t know if you remember, when you’ve been to Hartford, the practise, it’s on a road, which is next to a traffic light, so when you actually come into Hartford, the only way to exit the actual town is through that traffic light. And that traffic light’s always red. So most people had to stop outside the practise, see what the practise was, and that’s how we actually got all the patients. So at that time, there was very little, there was no online marketing, we didn’t do any sort of PR stuff then.

Payman: So leaflet, or something?

Rahul: I don’t think we even did that. I think it’s literally the location, which created the influx of patients, the word of mouth, and also the uniqueness of what we delivered. So the name Perfect Smiles. So I remember, there were no practises just focusing on one type of dentistry, it was very risky to actually alienate, and say, “We only do cosmetic dentistry.”

Payman: Yeah. Your main thing, right? How long did it take before it was turning profit?

Rahul: We had the first treatment room made, and that was chock-a-block in the first six months, so six months later, we created the second treatment room, a year and a half later, the third and fourth treatment room came up.

Payman: Oh, so not much pain?

Rahul: So not much pain.

Payman: Very nice.

Rahul: I’m sure we did a lot of networking. I’m sure we did a lot of leaflets, but I think location help, and word of mouth helped. And delivering a service, which at that time, seemed so different and unique.

Payman: Were you active in the community somehow?

Rahul: I was too lazy for that. So to be honest with you, a lot of people go onto the networking rotary clubs in the morning, and-

Payman: Because it doesn’t suit a shy person either.

Rahul: … No it doesn’t, no. And also, is it the right target market? Am I getting the right people in the morning? So yeah, I did that a couple of times, and I thought, “This is not for me.”

Payman: How much of your business, in those early days, say the first 18 months, was word of mouth? Because that type of dentistry wasn’t mainstream as it is today, right? So did it have more of an impact? People were like, “Oh, where did you… I didn’t know that was possible,” it was almost like they didn’t know? It was only accessible to celebs and that sort of stuff? Or did word of mouth have less of an impact?

Rahul: I think word of mouth was quite important, especially it’s like the saying, “Birds of feather flock together,” so it’s actually targeting things like gyms, health clubs, beauty places, and actually networking with them.

Payman: I was doing veneers at that time, too, as a dentist. And to answer your question, the way I felt about it, no one had offered patients cosmetic improvements. And so if you had a 50 year old lady, who must’ve had a nice face 30, 20 years ago, and you could offer them improvement…

Prav: Was that like a sin, or a swear word, or a…

Payman: No, no, no, no. What I’m saying, no one had even offered it to them. So when you say, “Oh, I can make things look nicer,” a lot of people were saying, “Yes,” because no one had ever said it before.

Prav: Yeah. And that’s what I was saying, is that word of mouth, things like that, “Is this possible? I didn’t even know.” It was more positive, than negative, in my experience.

Rahul: So you’re right. So when you actually offered solutions, patients would be dismayed that there was even a possibility, that a cosmetic enhancement could be delivered and made for them.

Payman: There was no botox, there was no aligners, there was nothing.

Payman: Okay. So then, when did the course start? How many years after that did you guys decide, “Well, wait a minute, maybe we can teach this.”

Rahul: Well that started in 2005, so literally a couple of years later, after opening Hartford. So we’d been doing cosmetic dentistry between the three practises for a good five years. So we had a lot of experience, should I say, in doing it, and that’s all we did. And we grew a lot of knowledge in that field, and understood what to do, and what not to do, as well. And I think the teaching really helps the dentistry, because when you teach something, you have to learn it so well that you start delivering even better quality of care, because you’ve learned the intricate details. And the actual dentistry helps the teaching, because if you’re teaching, you want to take exceptional photographs. To take exceptional photographs, you’ve got to do exceptional work, so it pushes your dentistry to another level, so it actually helped each other.

Prav: Yeah. And then the courses themselves, was there a demand? Did you have people say, “Hey, let me come and shadow you for a day?” And then you thought, “Hold on a minute, there’s something here,” or did you think, “Well, Larry’s doing this in America, and no one’s doing this in the UK.”? So what was the thought process around getting the teaching going?

Rahul: So actually that was the thought process, that, “Larry’s doing it in the US, we can do it here. We can actually do it a little bit different, than what Larry’s doing.” I can’t say better, because he so much years experience to us, but what we had done was, Larry was very good in inspiring people, motivating people, but we created systems of what he was doing, so methodology. He would do it with experience, and show how to do it with experience. We were saying, “You actually have to hold a bird. This angle, you’ve got to do it this way. This is the methodology to do every single step,” so we were creating detail and steps in that, and that’s how we were different.

Prav: And I guess, for the UK market, as well, it’s like nuances, or differences, or what was it all [crosstalk 00:48:09]?

Rahul: So this was the key, I think the key thing was to create methodology and steps, because we needed that when we learned. When we learned, we weren’t actually given the steps exactly, we had to figure the steps out. So in figuring the steps out, we created a methodology, and that’s what we were teaching. The European, the UK aspect, of making more natural smiles, probably came a few years later, because initially you’re still in this era of whiter, more American looking smiles, than anything else. And then the market, and the patient’s drive, they want as well. And to create more natural, more bespoke, more personal smiles, was where we started really focusing on.

Payman: Well, and I think a lot of times, you learn from the difficulties in your life. Take us through some of the dark times. I mean, what were some dark highlights, lowlights, if that’s the right word, within this whole process? What were the difficulties?

Rahul: Okay. So when you’ve started doing cosmetic, you’re doing a lot more extensive dentistry, than you are probably used to at that time. So the first thing was that you start seeing patients with wear, and you start saying, “I can solve this,” but then the occlusion learning might not be there, and that’s where we really became really hot on learning, and understanding occlusion. Because without occlusion, things would fail, and we had a few failures, where veneers fail, and they are fractured, and the reasoning was occlusion.

Payman: Before you had the knowledge?

Rahul: Before you had the knowledge, yeah. So the key to any dentistry is actually occlusion, because that is what is going to keep it there. So aesthetics will drive the case, but actually it’s the occlusion which will create a longterm successful outcome for any scenario.

Prav: Have you ever had a nightmare situation, where you came to a point, and a realisation, that’s, “This is a disaster. What have I done?” but now my knowledge is at a level I would never do that, and what did you do about that situation, if it did happen?

Rahul: Yeah. So I think, very earlier on, there was a situation where we had a patient with an anterior open bite. And when you have an anterior open bite, and you think you can actually modify the occlusion, and level it, it’s actually the wrong thing to do. You actually need to keep the anterior open bite somewhat as it is. Otherwise, it’s just like creating all sorts of interferences that patient has never been used to, especially in their guidance forward, and laterally. So you don’t want to create more interferences, that was a big learning curve for me, when trying to help people with anterior open bites. Or even class 3… And so the class 3 anterior open bites, rare cases, were the biggest learning curves for me personally.

Payman: What about in your partnership, did you have moments where you diverged, you didn’t agree, you argued, anything like that?

Rahul: I think, it would probably, sometimes in the methodology, perhaps, I’m now trying to think of the details, but it’s so far away, it doesn’t come to my mind, so I’m just being very open. I can’t remember any specific examples.

Payman: So you ended up buying Ash out?

Rahul: I did.

Payman: And how many years after that did you sell the practise?

Rahul: I bought Ash out in 2010. And then my practise joined Dentex in 2017.

Payman: How did it feel… I mean, we’ll talk about Ash later, but how did if feel selling the place? Did you feel that sense of loss that people talk about? I know Dentex’s model is that you’re still kind of involved.

Rahul: So actually, the only reason why I joined Dentex was not to sell, so that’s an important thing. I did not join to sell, or to leave dentistry. I wasn’t thinking of exit, Dentex were offering me to actually grow the number of practises I had. So they were offering me a way of growing, of not just having one practise, but actually having multiple practises, which they have. And my role, I joined Dentex as what was called a regional partner.

Payman: You’re one of the earlier?

Rahul: I’m one of the earlier people, so I was working with 10 practises within Dentex, I think 9, or 10, practises, I can’t ever remember the number.

Payman: So you transitioned from what you had, to working with 10 practises? What period of time?

Rahul: Within a year. Within a year, or two.

Payman: Geez. And were you just honing on with your experience of what you’d done in your practises, and distributing that? Or did you come across new challenges that you hadn’t come across before?

Rahul: So the reason why I joined Dentex was to grow. And at that time, to still carry on with my clinical dentistry, and I want to be totally left alone in the way I did my dentistry. If I worked for any other practise, I’d be unemployable, because the way I practised was so unique to me, with the team that I practised, and the way I worked in my environment, I did not want anybody to tell me what me to do, and Dentex allowed me to do that.

Rahul: So when it then came to growing 10 practises, opposed to a single practise, because I’d been doing a fair bit of coaching with Bavnar, my wife, in growing other practises, I had that experience with her, so we joined, as a team, to Dentex. And we then were able to grow many practises with her, only because of the experience we had, had in growing other practises previously. And every practise is different, every practise that we’d grown previously had its own challenges. So we were literally just using that same knowledge that we’d gained, and putting into Dentex.

Payman: So just like muscle memory, really?

Prav: Correct.

Payman: You’ve experience the challenges, and you say, “Well, we’ve come across this problem before, and that’s how we’ll fix it.”?

Rahul: Absolutely. And so-

Payman: And it went so well, then they put you in charge of 80 something practises?

Rahul: … Well, so Dentex now has 71 practises. And yeah, so I’m the clinical director, so my title is clinical development strategies director, so my growth of these 71 practises, clinically and in other ways, as well.

Payman: What does that mean, your day-to-day? Day in the life of typical what you’re doing now, compared to what you were doing back then? How different is it? Could you map out a week, very quickly, in terms of what type of conversations you’d be having with whom? Would you be visiting the practise? Would you be overseeing the dentist? Are you doing anything clinic, at the moment?

Rahul: First of all, I don’t do any clinical dentistry now. So one, it’s actually working with dentists, and seeing how I can develop them. So the quickest way to grow any practise is to develop the team. That’s the dental team, and the non-dental team. So I would influence the dentists, by creating a strategy, or a development plan, specific for them, with all the knowledge that I have, and experience I have, on how they could grow individually. How I would help guiding the business managers of Dentex on perhaps what strategies may be needed in the group of practises. I’d be looking at developmental courses, introducing different types of dentistry, to different practises. So it’s so varied, and it’s very much strategy level, a strategic level, and work really with the senior team members, as opposed to going into working with your team members, which is a totally different way of working.

Payman: What are all the… I’ve been to your office, and there’s loads of young people, usually, there working.

Rahul: Yeah.

Payman: What are they all doing? How is it all broken down? Acquisition’s a giant part of it, right?

Rahul: Yeah. So Dentex actually prides itself, in a sense that it really wants to have a support centre for these practises. So we look at the practises that join, as being like the actual customer, that we want to make sure that they’re so happy. And Dentex provides support to them in all various fields, whether it’s HR, marketing, the clinical development that I do, in compliance, which is amazing, the business support, and the business development that they’ll need from the business development managers, financial support of helping them with all their finances, the payroll. So all the people that you saw, were all these different departments supporting these practises. That being, that these practises actually started growing, because all the stuff that they didn’t want to do is outsourced now, to Dentex, and they just focus on their clinical dentistry.

Payman: I was going to say, talking to the practises, or the principles that have been acquired, for now, it seems like it’s working, that they’re happy. And it’s rare. A lot of times when a corporate takes over your practise, people end up being unhappy.

Prav: Yeah, so true.

Payman: I think the challenge is, can Dentex keep that going with the growth? Because I speak to quite a lot of corporates, who have wonderful ideas, but as the thing grows, those ideas get diluted. And it’s great that they’ve done it so far, with these 70 whatever it is, that they’ve got. But it’s nice to see a happy corporate stories. That’s the thing, because of all those sad corporate stories out there. Can you just briefly summarise what the Dentex acquisition model is, and their values? Because I think, it’ll be good for us to all understand that, and to get an insight as to why these practises are so happy.

Rahul: So I think it all boils down that before, even when the first, or second, practise was acquired, minus probably the first few, it was about creating the right values, and the right culture. And the values were all about igniting passion, integrity, self improvement, creating positivity within the practise, creating ethical quality dentistry, and collaborating with the practises. It’s all about collaboration. So Dentex never actually wanted to inform the practises what to do, but actually collaborate-

Payman: To impose? They don’t impose?

Rahul: … Correct.

Payman: That’s one they say, they say, “They leave us alone.”

Rahul: That is the DNA. So an example, not of Dentex, but of Perfect Smile, where I rarely visit now, so I developed the Perfect Smile studios, the team, the way it works, and I go there once every week, once every two weeks, for half an hour, and it still runs exactly the way I left it. Why? Because the DNA, or the values of the culture, have been ingrained into the team. In the same way, Dentex has ingrained its values of collaborating with the actual incoming practises, and the culture, so much, that everything is built around that, and nothing should actually come in the way of the values and culture. And that was important part of Dentex’s growth, and is.

Payman: How’s the acquisition deal structured? So I own my own practise, I come to Dentex and say, “Hey, I’ve heard good things about you. I’m ready to cash in my chips,” how’s the deal typically… I know every deal’s probably different, right?

Rahul: Right.

Payman: But how’s the deal typically structured? You buy 70%, I retain 30%, and then this whole partnership model just happens? How’s that all…

Rahul: Okay, so what happens is that we buy out the practise, but you get 20% is retained as shares, as Dentex shares. Now, so you get 80% up front. The 20% are given on you achieving the same targets that you were doing last year.

Payman: So not unrealistic goals.

Rahul: Exactly the same goals, no different. And it’s just turnover based, often. And you get back the value of the shares, what they will be worth, in five years time. Now, if the Dentex shares, which they will, grow significantly, you’ve got a second upside…

Rahul: Grow significantly. You’ve got a second upside, so you’d not just getting the 20% back in five years, you’re getting the upside back. So you could be getting back a significant amount, as almost like a second exit, in five years or so.

Prav: So it’s like I’d buy in at 20% today’s value and cash in at tomorrow’s value?

Rahul: Correct. Now that’s the biggest advantage in the way the acquisition process works [crosstalk 01:00:27].

Payman: Assuming tomorrow’s value is more than today’s value [crosstalk 01:00:29].

Rahul: And the values increase, the more practises you have. And actually how successfully Dentex maintains the profitability of the practises, which it’s doing exceedingly well in right now.

Payman: So there’s a Canadian corporate that this was all based on, right, that did extremely well?

Rahul: So there’s a Canadian corporate called dentalcorp, which has a lot of influence on some of the ideas, but also our CEO, Barry Lanesman, he’s extremely talented, extremely knowledge in how to build businesses working with partnerships. So he’s almost repeating his knowledge.

Payman: I’d like to say that an idea is nothing. Execution is far more important than the idea.

Rahul: So there’s a lot of experience that’s come in in developing Dentex from his side as well.

Payman: So who is he? Is he a money guy? Who is he?

Rahul: So Barry is a dentist-

Payman: Oh, he’s a dentist?

Rahul: …who studied dentistry. He went into doing an MBA, realised that actually doing dentistry was not his forte, but actually developing other businesses were. He went to helping out financing businesses in Australia. He developed [inaudible] , which he then sold out and came back and-

Payman: A dental company?

Rahul: It is financing dental practises. Yeah.

Prav: Okay. Let’s go back to Rahul, the family man. Tell me about when your kids were born, when they came into this. This whole story you’ve told us at what point they came into the mix and how life changed for you. Because I certainly know it’s… I always refer to it as different levels, different devils, and it’s just different challenges when either new businesses come on board or family dynamics shift. So just talk to me about that and how things changed.

Rahul: Yeah, so I think I always knew when my kids were born that I had almost like a limited shelf life on time with them until they were going to be teenagers where they would want my time and I would want their time. And then as soon as they became teenagers, they would want less of my time. So I wanted to be able to deliver as much time to them when they were young. So yep, we worked hard, but I wanted to ensure we had plenty of time allowed for holidays. I took Fridays off almost to try and do a lot of admin, so I could evolve and give my weekend to them.

Rahul: So it’s one of the reasons why I never sort of took up hobbies, such as golf, because I didn’t want to take up my time away from family time to be spending several hours on the golf course. And literally it was just doing as many things as possible with them whilst they were young. And as they grew up, found that we start developing more time than we’ve ever had.

Payman: And one’s going to Oxford?

Rahul: Correct. One’s almost completing Oxford. He’s in his final year.

Payman: The other’s going to Cambridge?

Rahul: The other one… Well, not quite yet. His in a gap year, so he got his interviews now, and he’s going to China to do teaching for several months.

Payman: You must be very proud of them.

Prav: Tell us about the BACD role. When did you start getting involved with that?

Rahul: So you know what? I was there the first meeting for the BACD. So I’ve always been a BACD member right from inception as I was… well, with my kids, developing the other practises, and the courses, I never had time to get involved as a committee member or a BACD board member until later on in my life. So I actually didn’t want to take up any sort of responsibilities with the BACD until then. So I started working, I joined the board I think in 2011 and I’ve been a board member since then. As you know, was the president last year. So now the immediate past president. And it’s been great working with the BACD because promoting, the word is ethical cosmetic dentistry, is at the forefront of what the BACD does, and getting the message out there to do things correctly, to look after the patient in the best way, to diagnose properly, to evaluate properly, to consent properly, to give all the sort of pros and cons of what you’re doing, is what BACD is all about. And giving that knowledge in the minutia to achieve that.

Payman: But the process of starting, what were you? The education secretary or whatever, and then going up that organisation to become the president. How much of your time is given to that? I mean how much-

Rahul: So the amount of time each board member gives to the BACD is absolutely amazing. As you know, it’s unpaid time. So there are at least seven, eight days of meetings that you just have to evolve. That does include endless emails and conversations that take place in the middle of the week. Then there are committee meetings that take place on a monthly or every few months. So it’s an immense amount of time that you’ve got to give part of the BACD board. But it’s also gratifying because you’re giving back to your profession with knowledge and experience and that’s pretty satisfying.

Payman: But would you say… What are the upsides then? I guess getting access to world famous speakers that you wouldn’t have otherwise had if you were just a member of the BACD or…?

Rahul: So joining the board actually is more about service than actually trying to get any benefits from it.

Payman: But what are the benefits? That’s what I want to know. I get the service level.

Rahul: So as a board member, benefits would be… You may get some access, but that’s not the… you don’t get that much access really. So if a speaker came to the BACD conference, you may speak to them for 10 minutes more than you would otherwise.

Rahul: It’s literally service focused. There is no-

Payman: Setting the agenda, I mean, does the dossiers, did it go in… For instance, when [TIFF] was president, the thing went very much down the [inaudible] route for instance. What would you say your influence on the BACD has been compared to someone else’s influence?

Rahul: Okay. So I think one of the things that we created for the BACD last year was actually create what’s called the values for the BACD, what the BACD stands for. So going back to the values of me in Dentex and in Perfect Smile, it’s important at the BACD because it’s all about the culture, making sure it’s the right cultural fit for our member wherever you are. Whether you’re at a practise level, corporate level, or at an academy level as well.

Rahul: We’ve changed the website. So that’s evolved massively. Education’s been a big forefront of trying to make sure that we are financially stable now. So the reason for the financial stability is that you can only get great speakers if you can afford to pay for them. And that means financial stability. So I think that’s been really good over the last few years because I was part of the financial director and then joining the executive committee. Our role was to make sure that we were really financially sound to drive the actual education, which is what really the academy is for.

Payman: So in your different hats that you’ve got, you’ve got this, this hat, the BACD kind of hat, you’ve got the Dentex hat, you’ve got the cooperative dentist actually with patients, you’ve got the running a business from scratch to sale, you’ve got the teaching element. Which of these is your favourite?

Rahul: The truth is when you’re actually doing… Each of those, I enjoy immensely. Otherwise, I won’t be doing it. So when I’m teaching and I’m actually influencing people, I love it and I know that people are taking things in and you are making a difference in their life. Same with the academy where I’m making a difference to the actual academy. When I’m with patients, knowing that I’m making an influence in their own life because of the way they feel about themselves in the way they look.

Payman: But do you miss clinical dentistry?

Rahul: Yeah. So I think if you’ve been doing for such a long time, you have such immense knowledge in that field, you’d always miss something about it.

Payman: The thing you miss the most, though?

Rahul: So I do miss actually-

Payman: The reveal.

Rahul: … I miss the reveal. I miss showing them what I could do, working as an artist, actually doing the actual dentistry itself. I miss that immensely. I don’t do much clinical teaching, so I do miss that as well. Whether the knowledge of-

Payman: I miss people in dentistry. You meet a lot of people.

Rahul: You do.

Payman: And do you get that now? I guess you’re meeting quite a lot of people with [crosstalk 00:09:12]?

Rahul: So I’m still meeting people. I’m meeting loads of people all around the country. So I don’t think that that’s changed too much. I just meet different people now as opposed to patients. I meet more dentists and team members and in the business world as well.

Payman: Are you on the road? Are you literally off away every week?

Rahul: So I will visit practises. I’ll visit practises that need my help and guidance and that’s really useful. So it keeps me that coaching mode and also educational mode. And ultimately when you go to visit a practise, it’s quite nice because you’re going back to your roots, in a way, of where you came from.

Payman: And with associates, what would you say is your bugbear? What are the things that if someone wants to be your associate, whether we’re talking practise or now Dentex, you’ve got this situation. What would you say is good advice for an associate if they want to excel, they want to do well?

Rahul: I think it’s all about trying to give, being committed, and always on this journey of self improvement and learning. Because, and whether you’re an associate or whether you’re a team member, if you can actually get people or people who want to do that, they will grow and they’ll be more fulfilled in what they’re doing and you’ll enjoy working with them. So I would definitely recommend that people who have that passion, the word passion again, for what they do. And also I tell associates, don’t try and diversify in so many areas of dentistry because you won’t become a master of any.

Rahul: Trying to figure out what you really enjoy, become passionate about that, learn more about that, get experience in that. And then you’ll actually start enjoying dentistry even more than you do. I’m not saying that they don’t, but they’ll start taking the enjoyment to another level.

Payman: Rahul, if you were to do this all over again, what would you tell your 21-year old self?

Rahul: You know that there are always things that you learn about what you should do and what you shouldn’t have done. Always in your life. But I think the way I think about life really is… and I tell this to my kids… I love playing cards. I love card games, and I love also winning my card games as well.

Payman: What’s your favourite card game?

Rahul: Actually, it’s an Indian game. So [inaudible] but the interpretation might not even come out, but it’s like Trumps. So whenever you had… You get a set of cards and you do the best with those cards that you’re given. So with life there will be things that I could have learned and done things different but these were the cards that I had, and that’s how I played them. So I wouldn’t want to take or change any of them because that’s led me to where I am right now.

Prav: Really nice way of putting it. Actually a lot of people go back and say, “I wouldn’t have made this decision, I wouldn’t have hired that person, wouldn’t have done that or taken this direction.” But it’s a really, really nice way of looking at it because you are the person you are today because of your cards.

Rahul: These are the cards that I was handed, I played them. And you played them to the best of your ability rather than being demotivated about, “I could’ve done X, I could’ve done Y.” You got to say, “Right, how do I play these cards now and do well with them?”

Prav: So apart from playing card games, what does Rahul do for fun?

Rahul: I love running, I like going to the gym, like football-

Prav: Time with the kids.

Rahul: Time with the kids, absolutely.

Payman: So you were close with Anoop?

Rahul: Yeah, absolutely.

Payman: And still are, I’m sure. How did it affect you looking at your own life? I mean okay, we all went through something depending on how close you were to Anoop. How did it affect you, thinking about your own life, what happened with Anoop?

Rahul: You know what? It was quite a difficult time when I found out about Anoop. And you always self-reflect about yourself, as you mentioned. He was a family man who enjoyed time with his family and it just reminded me of how important that was and is, and making sure I develop that.

Rahul: The second thing is, I think, a health scare to every one of us. Thinking you’re at this age and if something that can happen unexpected to Anoop, somebody you know, who is fit and healthy, who used to go to the gym and watch his diets. I’d known him for many years and he was trying to do the same thing I am as well, and he used to go to [inaudible] and try and keep healthy in as best way as possible. But also stress levels in terms of trying to make sure you regulate your stress and don’t overburden yourself with things that you have to do.

Payman: What about you, Prav?

Prav: For me it was really tough because he messaged me before he passed. And it was going through elements of disbelief, utter shock [crosstalk 01:14:06]-

Rahul: I was… Actually, the disbelief and the utter shock was something… First of all, you couldn’t fathom it and it would take a while and, sorry to interrupt, even right now we had the BACD conference, and this was the first conference that I had been to where I did not see Anoop. So BADC conference would be the time that I spent a lot of my time with Anoop, and he wasn’t there.

Prav: And he mentioned you a lot, Rahul, as being somebody who is very authentic, someone who is very genuine, and he thought incredibly highly of you. In my personal conversations, he always used to talk about you as being one of the guys who you get what you see, and is a genuine down to earth, honest guy. And he always used to say that about you.

Prav: For me, the shock, the disbelief. I even had conversations with him in my dreams because I thought he was still here. And today he still haunts me regularly by either popping up in my inbox when I do a search for something else or on a timeline and things like that. And the only thing he brings back is a huge smile to my face because every interaction with him was positive. It was funny, he made you laugh, you remembered how kind he was. And I think he’s definitely left us with a legacy of somebody who influenced far and wide, but also everyone just had positive things to say about him. I actually didn’t know how “famous” he was, because for me, he was very one-to-one advisory and he’d tell you straight.

Rahul: Absolutely. You know what? I’ve shared so many… We’ve been away a lot. We’ve been on sort of trips together and-

Payman: Brazil you went to together.

Rahul: We went to Brazil together, I shared a room with him, and you have these memories in your mind of having fun. And you’re right, he just brought a smile to your face. And to be honest with you, it was because of him I actually went and joined the board of the BACD. It was his persuasion, or consistent persuasion, for me to join, that I joined the BACD board. So I was a basic member, but I had no intention of joining the board if it wasn’t for Anoop.

Payman: So for me, two things. One, the family thing that you said because he really was so into his family and it made me think, you know, my family.

Payman: But the second thing that a number of people this guy touched, the people that came out saying, “Oh, he helped me with that. Oh, he helped me with that. Oh, he helped me with that.” And we talk about legacy-

Prav: True measure of a man.

Payman: Legacy isn’t only the institutions you leave behind or… Legacy is the memories you leave. Individual memories with all these people. And yeah, the people you touch and the positive effect you’ve had on them. And he was so positive.

Prav: He touched so many people, but if he could hear me saying this now, he’d make a perverted joke about it. Because that’s just the way he was and yeah, such a special guy. Really, really special guy.

Rahul: Absolutely miss him today, I really do.

Prav: Likewise.

Rahul: I really miss him so many times, so.

Payman: What would you, Rahul, think would be what you want your legacy to be?

Rahul: Actually, I’ve always thought of this, that… not thought of this, but I’ve always want to be thought to be authentic. Almost what Anoop said. I don’t want anybody to have a perception of me being anything different. And that’s all it is. So it’s being who I am and what I do. I’m not there to leave a massive fan club behind or trying to leave a legacy or anything like that. I just want to be the most authentic person I could probably be.

Prav: What three messages, let’s say it’s your last day on the planet. What three messages do you want to leave for your children?

Rahul: Enjoy life. It’s so precious and can be taken away. So for that reason, be healthy. So do everything to maintain your health, and grow in your mind and in every way you can. So yeah, those would be the three messages that I’d give.

Prav: Lovely, lovely. Rahul, thank you so much for your time today.

Payman: Thank you.

Rahul: My pleasure. It’s been great. Thank you so much.

Outro Voice: 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.

Prav: 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 had to say and what our guest has had to say. Because I’m assuming you got some value out of it.

Payman: If you did get some value out of it, think about subscribing and if you would share this with a friend who you think might get some value out of it too. Thank you so, so, so much for listening. Thanks.

Prav: And don’t forget our six-star rating.

This week’s podcast had our hosts wishing they had more time. Prav and Payman chat with legend Linda Greenwall about the role of women in dentistry and her pragmatic approach to raising a family while in practice,


They also find out all about Linda’s charity work, and talk at length about why whitening may be one of the most neglected disciplines in all of dentistry.




“No secrets. The secret is no secrets.” – Linda Greenwall


In this week’s episode

01.06 – Entering the family trade

03.55 – Women in dentistry

13.33 – On work-life balance

22.03  – What-ifs and creating a better now

36.42 – On whitening

59.26 – Looking back and speaking up

01.08.42 – Why no dentistry is the best dentistry

01.16.51 – Influence, leadership, vision and chill

01.28.56 – Linda Greenwall’s last day on earth

About Linda Greenwall

Third-generation dentist Linda Grenwall was born in Cape Town South Africa and graduated from Witwatersrand, Johannesburg in 1984.


She is a prolific lecturer on the international circuit on whitening and also runs a London-based multidisciplinary private practice.


Linda’s debut book, Bleaching Techniques in Restorative Dentistry won the award for Best New Dental Book 2001 and her latest book, Strategies for the Aesthetic Dental Practice was published recently by Quintessence.


Linda is founder and chair of the British Dental Bleaching Society (BDBS) which educates dentists on whitening and lobbies for science-based policy change. 


In 2011, Linda launched the Dental Wellness Trust (DWT) charity, which raises awareness of oral health issues in less fortunate communities across the globe.


Connect with Prav and Payman:


Prav on Instagram

Payman on Instagram


Linda Greenwal: So we have our plans and our things to do to, to work on that.

Prav Solanki: Unbelievable.

Linda Greenwal: You have to pay-

Payman L: By the way, we haven’t even scratched the surface of all the things you can accept. Honestly, we haven’t.

Linda Greenwal: We have to also talk about how do you chill? Do you know what I mean?

Payman L: How do you chill?

Linda Greenwal: So how do you-

Payman L: Do you chill?

Intro Voice: 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.

Payman L: It’s a real pleasure to have you Linda on the show. We go back a long, long way, particularly with everything that’s happened in bleaching over the years. I guess for me when I think about you, you’re the person who does the most that I know in the world. Every time I come and visit you, I go back home and start complaining to my wife, “We were not doing enough.” And you come from a long line of dentists. Tell us a little bit about that. Tell us a little bit about the history.

Linda Greenwal: Okay. So, I’ll tell you a bit about the family history. So my grandfather’s brother in 1918 decided dentistry was for him. So he came to Guy’s hospital, and he trained at the London hospital. So, there were no dental schools in South Africa, so he had to train in London. He was a keen rugby player. So, soon became very popular, was in the rugby team. His name was Joe Greenwell. And then his brother, four years later came from South Africa and trained at Guy’s.

Payman L: Your grandfather?

Linda Greenwal: My grandfather, yes. And then they went back and the two brothers didn’t have a practise together. One had a city centre practise and one opened a practise in the suburbs. And my grandfather was very dedicated. He did all his own gold work. He had a technician. And then 40 years later my father came along and they worked together in their practise. And then I joined them in 1984 when I qualified.

Payman L: Oh well the three of you practised at the same time.

Linda Greenwal: Yes, my grandfather was just retiring, but he used to come and have coffee at the practise. My grandmother would kick him off, out the house, he’d catch the train and go and sit and have coffee with his patients. Cause they’re all long-term patients, and he would just enjoy being in the surgery environment.

Payman L: And what do you think it was about you that made you want to be a dentist as opposed to you and your brother, wait did you have a close relationship with your grandfather or something like that?

Linda Greenwal: I personally like to work with my hands, and I like art and the creative process. So originally I was looking at physio and OT, the creative and helping and working with your hands. And then when I was 16 I asked my dad, “Are women are allowed to be dentists?” I didn’t know any and I thought maybe they’re not allowed to. And he said, “No, of course you could, women are allowed to do dentistry, but you have to realise it’s a really hard job. Maybe you want to be a hygienist.” So I thought, well let me try dentistry and if I fail first year, then maybe I’ll do speech therapy or something else.

Payman L: Were you an achiever in school?

Linda Greenwal: I coasted along until I found a subject that I was really interested in. I went to an all girls school and they had certain guidelines of how ladies should behave and all that and how women were in the sixties and seventies. And when I realised I was looking at a medical career, I needed to change schools because they didn’t have that kind of facility to study sciences, changed schools, did my graduation and then went on to dental school.

Prav Solanki: Where did you go to dental school?

Linda Greenwal: Oh, I went in Johannesburg. At a university called Wits Dental School.

Prav Solanki: Uh-huh.

Linda Greenwal: That was the only one that was in English. And there are five dental schools that were English speaking.

Payman L: Okay. Its got a very good name, isn’t it Wits?

Linda Greenwal: Yeah, it’s a very good school.

Payman L: A lot of the top guys have been to Wits.

Linda Greenwal: Yes.

Prav Solanki: And you mentioned that you sought permission or you asked, are women allowed to do dentistry? Just why was that a thing back then and also how many women were on your course?

Linda Greenwal: I didn’t know. I had never met a woman dentist, so I didn’t know that women did this kind of thing. I knew about women doing medicine. So, on my particular course there were six out of 60 and we had quite a tough time shall I say, with the people in our class. And we soon realised there is a difference between men and women and we all had to learn how to get along because there were a lot of joking and side remarks and comments, and we realised there’s a name for this kind of stuff that used to go on. It’s now called sexual harassment and hashtag me too and all those things. But in those days we didn’t have that.

Prav Solanki: So, we have interviewed another guest Mahrukh who has set up a group of dentists who focus on empowering women in dentistry. And I know you do the same Linda, and I just want to get an insight into a bit more detail into what that was like being a trainee dentist as a female back then?

Payman L: By the way do you feel it’s harder being a woman dentist than a man dentist today in Britain?

Linda Greenwal: Today not, but I think that there still many issues that need to be dealt with. So, when I qualified as a dentist and I went to work straight for my father, I did a research study and I looked at stress patterns of women dentists. So I did a survey of all the dentists in South Africa, which is not really a lot, and I looked at the responses. And I looked at what stresses a male dentist versus what stresses a female dentist.

Linda Greenwal: What stresses a female dentist is, her child is ill, she’s been up the whole night and she hasn’t had much sleep and she still has to go to work. What stress is a male dentist is the suction and the compressor’s broken down and he can’t work. And that’s a terrible thing. And I looked at ways that they dealt with stress because I wanted to know, I wanted role models, I wanted advice, I wanted to know how to do that. And as I was doing my research, this is in 1984, I started reading about this lady called Jennifer, who’s just retired now, although Jenny, she’s one of my role models, amazing woman.

Payman L: Lovely lady yeah.

Linda Greenwal: And I read that she was taking Canada life to court because of the issues with medical sickness insurance and the unfair changes. And I read about her and I started reading about a few other dentists, female dentist who were doing things. So when I came to the UK we met up and in 1985, we set up the Women in Dentistry. And that was a very big help for me and the excellent society to help all these issues that women had. And we dealt with lots of issues.

Linda Greenwal: We were able to change pension legislation, we were able to change all the maternity issues. We’re able to get women dentists, maternity rights. And I was one of the first to benefit in 1991. And that was very helpful. And so through that organisation we did assertiveness training and training for building your practise and building your teams and met people. And that was really excellent. And it went on for 30 years and we retired a little bit.

Linda Greenwal: But now we’ve realised there’s still more issues that need to be dealt with. And very well known dentist came to see me. They said, “Linda, seriously, you need to do this again.” I was like, “Really?” So, we started again and we’ve set up, it’s called WDN, the Women Dentists Network. There’s a Facebook site and we having a conference next year in June to deal with a lot of the issues and they’re plenty of issues.

Payman L: So what are the issues now?

Linda Greenwal: So another interesting thing that we’re looking at, and I’ve written editorials about this is the pay gap… The gender pay gap.

Payman L: How does that work? Even in hospitals?

Linda Greenwal: No.

Payman L: I mean in private practise from a pat-

Linda Greenwal: And everywhere.

Payman L: From the patient perspective.

Linda Greenwal: Not from the patient-

Linda Greenwal: wow.

Payman L: Whether it’s a man or a woman.

Linda Greenwal: Why do women, dentists, women lawyers, women physicians, why do they earn less? Why? If they self employed or if they’re government employed, why are they earning less? Why? So I’ve started to look at these issues and the whole gender pay gap, you know the gender pay gap has started the whole discussion about it at the BBC, and nothing newsreaders get from their interviewers and their shows.

Linda Greenwal: And then it brought this whole thing to Line. And The Royal College of Surgeons did a whole thing on the gender pay gap in medicine. And-

Payman L: I get it in a hospital situation for the same job being paid less. But if we’re talking private practise, then the market is deciding what anyone gets paid and-

Linda Greenwal: Wow, it may be the market, but then there’s two people who’ve done PhDs in the subject and they looked at does it work against or does it work about hours? The hours worked, the number of children and all those things, and it doesn’t relate to, we thought that maybe if women have a lot of children they don’t earn so much because they have to be at home, but there’s many issues, which are not resolved, which need to be looked at. And the issues that women don’t ask for pay rises.

Payman L: That’s true.

Linda Greenwal: And even some of the corporates have now had… they do have those studies and there’s ongoing research.

Payman L: Do you not think the biggest exploitation of women in dentistry is with the nurses and hygienists rather than with dentists? I mean, I definitely think there’s lots of exploitation of women, but it’s formed the-

Linda Greenwal: And how do you think hygienists are exploited?

Payman L: Well if you look at the hygiene group, if you read their posts, some terrible stories of the way hygienists are treated by their bosses and we’ve all seen nurses being treated badly by people in practise. I certainly think that’s an issue that needs talking about for sure.

Linda Greenwal: So there’s the bullying aspect, which is another bullying aspect of associates and bullying aspect of all staff of course. And that’s another issue. And Jenny, that’s one of the issues she wants to tackle, the bullying of associates in corporates or in positions like that. So, thats another issue.

Linda Greenwal: We also looking about the working patterns of women’s lives, how they balance having family and working and those issues, but also finance issues and pension issues. And we had a really interesting meeting discussing, ensuring women’s futures and what happens, what provisions do they make for themselves. They go, Oh, they get married and their husband gets, “Don’t worry, I’ll do all that.” So the woman just leaves it to the husband. Suddenly they’ll end up divorced, discovered that they’ve got no pension provision, they’ve got no this, they’ve got no this, and they financially better off. What they didn’t take, they left it to their husband.

Linda Greenwal: So those kinds of issues. So there’s a social issue. There’s the social aspect, there’s the woman’s life aspect, there’s the career profession aspect. There is not enough women leadership in terms of many of the organisations. Where are the women’s speakers? I know I speak a lot, but-

Payman L: That’s true.

Prav Solanki: Very true.

Linda Greenwal: Where are the women speakers? Because sometimes this is controversial so I’m just going to say it, when they decide a conference for example, when is it decided? It’s decided at two o’clock around the bar in the evening where everybody’s had the one composite plan in the next hundred. The women dentists are actually nicely tucked up in their bed because they’re absolutely exhausted. They’ve checked in with their kids and they’re sleeping and they are not considered when it happens with a conference and that has to change.

Payman L: Having set up a conference recently myself, we were talking to Bertie Napier on this subject.

Linda Greenwal: Yes, yes.

Payman L: Yeah, he was saying that there should be a rule, they should be a minimum number of women.

Linda Greenwal: I actually think they should be because many women don’t put this themselves forward and not, and at this moment, probably for the next five to 10 years, it needs to be considered. Later on when there are known and they’re more women speakers, then absolutely it’s a natural. But what people have said to me, and I’ve just spoken in class for the whole day on Sunday. They said, “It’s actually a pleasure to hear a woman’s point of view from the clinical side of things. It’s actually really interesting.

Payman L: Definitely.

Linda Greenwal: And so that is often the comment that-

Payman L: But the notion that there needs to be a minimum number. So, we set up this conference and there was nine speakers, and it was difficult actually thinking of women-

Linda Greenwal: That’s what I mean.

Payman L: To put on because for me, the top nine speakers on the subject were men. I mean it would have been you Linda, but I took that bleaching, I did the bleaching myself.

Linda Greenwal: Took it away from me yeah.

Payman L: But I just felt the top and in the end, well we did have one speaker, we had Slaney who was a woman, but-

Prav Solanki: Still is.

Linda Greenwal: She is still a woman as of, yeah.

Payman L: The idea that along with all the hassles that you have when you’re putting on an event to have, to have that minimum number of women in as well as the fact that you want people to get it for their own, for real rather than because there’s a quota. What do you feel about that? Do you feel like it devalues-

Linda Greenwal: Okay, so the thing is-

Payman L: The information to speak?

Linda Greenwal: Not really. I think let’s look at who the audience are now and what’s the age group of the audience and what’s happening because of the big swing away from just the known quotas. But there are a lot of women dentists qualifying now. It’s up to 60%. And because at the moment still they are the ones having babies, the mark could change. But that kind of career balancing, those kinds of gender stereotypes-

Payman L: Let’s go there because you’re the ultimate career balancer of four kids.

Linda Greenwal: Four kids Yeah.

Payman L: How did you balance four kids, a practise, the teaching, this womens thing and all the other things. The charity work you do, the changing the law several times.

Linda Greenwal: We’ve got more work to do on that.

Payman L: I know. How do you balance? And I’ve got a small insight into it. Trying to arrange this appointment with your PA, and your minute by minute scheduled. I did get this well. But what do you do? What’s a hack for other women?

Linda Greenwal: Is it like? What is it like?

Payman L: A hack, it’s a-

Prav Solanki: Shortcut .

Payman L: Or cheat something other women-

Linda Greenwal: How do you do it?

Payman L: Yeah. How do you do it? What’s your secret?

Linda Greenwal: No secrets. The secret is no secrets.

Payman L: Do you wake up at 5:00 AM and go to bed at 2:00 AM?

Linda Greenwal: No I do sleep. I know you have to sleep and you have to have a lot of rest. You seriously do. When I was deciding about having kids, I was married four years I was at 29. And I was thinking about studying for my masters and I was thinking about what do you do? How’d you do this? Should you do the master’s first? Should you have a baby first? What happens? Then I thought about what happened if had this fabulous, brilliant career and it said 45 I decided, okay, now I’m ready for kids. And then they don’t arrive.

Payman L: Yeah.

Linda Greenwal: It’s not so easy. So I thought, well, what is more important to me in my life and it’s more important to have a family. So I thought, why actually let me see if I can start a family side. Started with trying for a baby and I registered for a master’s at the same time. So, my life when I finished the master’s was like this and my specialty, I did Monday, I finished my specialty exams and my MRD exam. So I did a masters and I finished my MRD, it was Monday, Tuesday, I opened my dental practise, and Sunday I had baby number two.

Payman L: Wow.

Linda Greenwal: And that was the one week, and that was a little bit crazy. And while I was kind of having maternity leave, I didn’t really have a maternity leave that time. While I was there my mom said, “Just come sit in the practise and you’ll see what happens and somebody will walk in and you know, you’ll start your practise like that.”

Linda Greenwal: So I did that. So eight days later I took the baby in a basket and brought him there. I was just about walking by at that stage, and started the practise and people curious, walked by trade started and about four months later a journalist came to interview me from the local newspaper Ham & High. And the next morning we had 500 new patients call the practise and at last-

Payman L: It kick started.

Linda Greenwal: Yeah, kick started. So I did all my clinical stuff and then I realised, “Wait a minute Linda seriously like how do you run a practise?” So I did five degrees in dentistry and diplomas, et cetera. When the specialty or prosper and restorative, I actually had no idea about how to run a practise. I had my vision of how I would like it to be, but I had no idea. So during that time I read this book called Great Communication Equals Great Production by Cathy Jameson. So, I read the book and I thought, actually this is really fascinating.

Linda Greenwal: I loved her approach and what she was saying about communication. So I wrote to her and she said, “Linda, do you want me to come and train me?” She’s lives in Oklahoma, I’m in London. And she came and trained me for the year, once a month and we continue to train for 25 years and we still train.

Payman L: Wow.

Prav Solanki: Wow.

Linda Greenwal: And she taught me a lot of strategies. She taught me protocols, strategies, systems in the practise. She’s taught me about delegating. The dentist does only what the dentist is allowed to do and everything should be trained by staff, by the team, the hygienist should be used to do, not to be used, but should be an integral part of the team that they do the best that they can be. They be the best hygienist they can be with full clinical skills using all those clinical skills.

Prav Solanki: Just taking a couple of steps back. You had a baby, you opened a practise and you just passed your exams.

Linda Greenwal: Yes.

Prav Solanki: Now I know, from having four kids myself, that bringing a child up is a full time… It’s more than a… I’ve got a full time job. I’ve got several full time jobs, my wife has got it lot, lot harder than me. Okay.

Linda Greenwal: Yes.

Prav Solanki: I go to work and she is at work every minute of every day. How did you do that? I mean just the routine, the baby cries, you doing dentistry, you’re running a business, you’re hiring people, you’re firing people, you’re marketing, all these cashflow, all these different things to think about whilst bringing up a newborn child. I’m assuming you must’ve instantly fell in love with it right?

Linda Greenwal: Of course.

Payman L: Would you recommend it to others or not?

Linda Greenwal: What falling in love with your babies?

Payman L: No.

Prav Solanki: No, no, no.

Linda Greenwal: I think the issues these days in the world is everybody wants to have a perfect life and a perfect life and all that. So we’re very much into box ticking these days. Everyone thinks that when they choose their partner, they has to tick every single box and be 95% compatible before they’ll even consider a date with that person. And I think that we sometimes have to let go a little bit, so that we don’t micromanage to go, “What if you can’t live in constant anxiety about what if? And what if I do this? You have to go with the flow and trust your instinct sometimes. But coming back to the baby, the baby number one, his name is Andrew and Payman knows him.

Payman L: Yeah.

Linda Greenwal: He did a Master’s in Finance Works, in the bank for property. But I took him to back to work. I was working with my husband at the time, and our receptionist looked after him and that’s how I managed, and I’d go and see him at lunchtime in the practise and that’s how we did it. And then when baby number two came along and I went back to work that same week. I realised that, wait a minute this is pretty hard going. So, I actually asked my mother-in-law from South Africa to help me to send one of the ladies who works with her and she’d already been working 30 years with her family, and she was running the photo shop, the one art developing shop. So, she came to London and she started helping me look after the baby and she stayed with us 20 years.

Payman L: Did she pass away recently?

Linda Greenwal: Pardon? Yes, she’s the one who had passed away.

Payman L: I met her at your house.

Linda Greenwal: You saw her on Facebook, Susie, she has an amazing, amazing, amazing woman and she had a wonderful temperament and she was like sending a grandmother, sending my mother-in-law there, he was just wonderful with the kids and the kids really, really helped her.

Linda Greenwal: But when I had baby number four I was like, “Okay, how are we going to do this?” So at baby number four, it turned out that my receptionist was also having a baby, within two weeks of each other, we hadn’t planned that together. And so I thought what do we need to do now is we need a practise nanny. So we had a practise nanny.

Prav Solanki: Wow.

Linda Greenwal: And so what happened? The practise nanny arrives for the first day in the job with thigh high boots and a micro mini on. And both of us are standing with our babies who are about six weeks old thinking, “Again how’s this gonna work?” And that was kind of her standard uniform so I said to her, “Actually I’m going to give you a track suit cause I mean you need to be on the floor, change the baby, it will be more comfortable for you to wear the track suit.”

Linda Greenwal: And we had these two babies in the practise for two years, and that worked really well. But in order to get that baby ready to come to the practise, he’s now 16 years old, just on GCSEs. In order, that meant I had to get up at five o’clock in the morning and feed the baby and then express milk and pack the baby ready to come plus, all the food and whatever was needed, then drive to work at seven 30 in the morning to be at work by eight o’clock, but get the baby settled, the nanny would start at eight o’clock in the morning. Nanny desperately needed to go out for lunch to smoke. And so she wouldn’t let the babies crawl around the passage way, the hygienists would get angry and we were left at lunchtime holding our babies, answering the phone and feeding and everything else.

Payman L: Wow.

Linda Greenwal: But it was a really wonderful time.

Payman L: Which baby was it that became a dentist in the end?

Linda Greenwal: Joseph, number two.

Payman L: Number two?

Linda Greenwal: Yes, yes.

Payman L: Was someone going to have to become a dentist out of those 4?

Linda Greenwal: Absolutely not. There’s no pressure there.

Payman L: Really?

Prav Solanki: It was obviously the baby who was born the week the practise was up, right?

Linda Greenwal: There’s no pressure, but he chose, he wanted to, he came to me at 16 and said, I think I’d like to do this. There was no like, Don’t you think there was none of that .

Prav Solanki: And he just got a place in Harvard I saw?

Linda Greenwal: Yes, his a

Payman L: Excellent.

Linda Greenwal: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Wow.

Linda Greenwal: Yeah. So yeah, so we just went along with the flow. But I think you have to be flexible. I think you can’t take yourself too seriously. You can’t live in the “What if?” you have to live in the now. And that’s one of my really key philosophies is to appreciate now, live in the now, what’s gone is gone.

Linda Greenwal: Can’t change the past. You can live in the present, the present is the present and don’t think what if? About the future. Cause you can’t do that much about that now, you can make plans, but you’ve got to be in the now and you’ve got to be present now and enjoy the now and be 100%.

Payman L: Linda where does the can do? Where does the arrogance, if you like, come from? Okay, mother of four a specialist practise. Most people would carry on with that and that would be that. But then write a book, teach all over the world. This was the can do. What’s the process? Well, I’ve, I’ve thought some times I’ll do X, Y or Z, and just haven’t done it. What is it about you? Do you just take action straight away? What do you do? What are your-

Linda Greenwal: I think that I looked at this, why kind of, why me story in terms of what is it? And then I looked at the patterns of my life. Even at dental school, I was the social secretary. I had to run all the student balls, all the cocktail parties. I was even arranging dates for the dentist who didn’t have them so they could get to the ball so we could have enough people at the ball and the food and all that stuff. And my professors got really angry with me. Again, “you’re going to fail.” And in actual fact, because of that, I actually had to get firsts to get the prizes to do that because of the balance. But I’ve always been somebody who’s been involved and engaged with people with change making. If there are injustices then there should be changes. So I have a strong self, a sense of-

Payman L: Right and wrong.

Linda Greenwal: Right and wrong. But also not the complaining aspect, not the, “Oh, isn’t that so terrible?” But, “Okay, this is the situation. What can be, how can we rectify it?” Don’t dwell in the negative.

Payman L: Practicality.

Linda Greenwal: The practical, what can I personally do about this? What small changes can I make personally? So when I had a significant birthday, somebody sent me a video and they said, “Watch this video.” When you’re about to reach a major age change. Watch this video and the video said, how you should contemplate your life and consider your life before and consider your birthday and be grateful and look at the gratitude and then look at, if there’s anything that you really want to do that you always say, “Oh, I’d love to do this.” On your birthday you have special blessing because that’s the day you were created. It’s very philosophical, but it’s the day you were created.

Linda Greenwal: And they actually say that on that day. And this is very spiritual. Your stars were aligned to be created. So, actually you’ve got power in terms of doing good in the world. So if you want to harness that to do good, that is the day. So you build up to that day to think about changes, over as you change from one age to the next. I always spend time on that day, and like a week before starting to contemplate my life so far, what needs to be done? What needs to be changed? What good can I bring to this world? And I’m very serious about that because there’s so many issues that need to be done.

Prav Solanki: And you do that on every birthday or has it been specific-

Linda Greenwal: I’ve been doing it for the last eight, nine years. After I watched this video, I was like, “Okay, seriously, we need to do that.” And that’s when I decided that I wanted to start the charity. And I’d been thinking about the charity for quite a few years and thinking about giving back and looking at ways that I could do that. And I thought, well, I do know a little bit about dentistry and maybe this would be, we can do something with dentistry.

Linda Greenwal: And I’m astounded at how we’ve been able to grow and there’s more growth that needs to be done. There’s global issues with dental, there’s oral health inequality, there’s so much. But again, going back to the basics, there’s a lot of work to be done.

Prav Solanki: So what are the top three things you want to achieve in your next sort of set of goals or your next vision that you’ve got planned?

Payman L: Thought there’s nothing left is there?

Linda Greenwal: No, no there is. So I think again, first of all, on the humanity point of view, I think we always have to consider our role as humans. But the humanity side, and the kindness and the caring and creating a better world because there’s, I mean, a lot of healing that needs to be done all over the world. And so that’s one of the key things. That’s one.

Prav Solanki: What do you mean by healing specifically?

Linda Greenwal: Look at the issues. You pick up the newspaper and see what’s going on.

Prav Solanki: Of course.

Linda Greenwal: And then you see how healing can take place and how it can be done.

Prav Solanki: Is there anything-

Linda Greenwal: And look at the tolerance issues, the issues with all the kinds of things in the world that we live in. And somebody said to me recently, “Linda, what are you personally doing about this situation?” And I thought, “Actually that’s not on my agenda. I’m not looking at that.” And I go, “Well you should.” And I went back. I thought, actually wait a minute. As a human in humanity, if the situation’s wrong, then what are we going to do about it? You can shout and scream, you can march in the streets or you can do something practical and so that is how I looked at that. So the woman dentist issue is an issue that needs to be up there.

Payman L: So to your point, when you were, especially when you were younger, the apartheid regime in South Africa, did you see it for what it was or did you accept that, that’s the way life is because you grew up that system?

Linda Greenwal: No.

Payman L: Or what was it? What sort of things went-

Linda Greenwal: Not really. Growing up in the 60s in the apartheid story, there were already many inequalities that as a little child we noticed and our parents explained those things coming back to humanity, the injustices in the world. And again, there was, we got to dental school for example, and they go, “Now listen here dentists, you are here to do dentistry. You’re not here to do politics. So no marching in the street. And none this.”

Linda Greenwal: In those days there was a secret police. And I think a few years before that, a medical doctor had died in torture, Steve Biko. And there were many issues and Wits University is an anti-apartheid university and a very liberal university. And that’s the opposite way around because of other issues is that went on over there. But because of that, the tolerance and the importance of being, because remember we talking about dentistry, we are carers. We in the caring profession, we care for our patients. So we bring that with us when we come to the patient to treat them. And it’s about when you treat the patient, knowing what’s behind the patient.

Linda Greenwal: Understand their family life and their issues, their concerns specifically about dentistry. But you keep, retreating your human say you need to look at what’s behind the human and if the thinking, maybe the patient’s aggressive and rude to you, maybe it’s because it’s not to do with the dentistry. It’s not to do with any of those things. They’re nervous or anxious or stressed because they’ve had a major life event just yesterday, which has happened. So those are the kinds of things.

Linda Greenwal: And as we lived through the system in 1976 where the riots, so I was in high school and they had the anti-apartheid riots where all the schools were closed because the black students didn’t want to study Afrikaans. And the slogan was we don’t need no education. And we had to be at home because of the dangers, because of the rioting, et cetera, et cetera.

Linda Greenwal: And 10 years ago I went with rotary into the townships to see how we could help, eight years ago, to see how good help with a charity. I’d actually never been into the townships in South Africa because you are not allowed to. I would be arrested. And I looked at what I saw and I wrote to the mayor of Cape Town I said, “Seriously, what are you doing about the oral health of these children? What are you doing?” And they go, “Would you like to open a clinic here? We haven’t opened a clinic, but it’s our intention to open a clinic. We need more money. We need lots of help.” But at the same time, so we looked at that and we looked at how we could, what positive can we do now? What can we do now? And that’s when we started with a research study doing the toothbrushing.

Linda Greenwal: So we started doing the toothbrushing and very quickly we grew to look after 10,000 children a day in Cape Town, in the townships. And what happened was this woman who was one of the teachers who was involved in our programme, she came to see me. She said, “You know Linda, this is an amazing programme you’re doing in the schools, I think you should do it at night. And I’d like to do it in my home with a hundred children.” Her name is Mavis. I said, “Mavis, how are you going to do this?” She said, “Come and see.” So I went to her house at six o’clock she wasn’t even there, because she was only clocking of work at five 30 she’d got eight year olds and 10 year olds to set up the toothbrushes to get them all ready to pet it, place the toothpaste on the brushes to take a roll call to go and fetch the local children in the community to come to do the brushing programme.

Linda Greenwal: So she had one group at five o’clock one at five 30 and one at six o’clock by the time she came home, that’s a hundred kids.

Prav Solanki: Wow.

Linda Greenwal: And then she spoke to other mamas in the townships and told them about it. And very quickly we grew that to what it is now. And toothbrush mama Mavis, that’s what she’s called a toothbrush mama. We’ve just recorded an album where they’re singing and they teach. It’s part of the African culture to teach through stories and drama and singing and dancing.

Payman L: Mm-hmm

Linda Greenwal: So, they created a whole series of oral health songs. You can download it on SoundCloud. We took them to the recording studio to do that. And I have learned you go to set up a charity, but actually what you get back is so much more than you’re ever expecting. It puts a completely different perspective on life, on the way you look at things.

Linda Greenwal: Not only to be humble and grateful, but you see the joy that you can bring in a simple way. And that’s been totally outstanding. So then we started here in London, in Luton and Luton, for example, 16,000 children out of 18,000 live in poverty in Luton. Did you know that? It’s very high, very high. It’s half a knot from here. And so we looked at what we could do and could we implement the same programmes. And one of our trustees, his name is Dr. [Saul 00:32:49], spoke at the poverty conference in Luton. And the schools approached him to say, please could you run some toothbrushing programmes in the schools? And we went to see one of the poverty charities, it’s called level of trust. So we went to see the uniform exchange where they give free uniforms to kids in Luton. And it puts a lot of things into perspective.

Linda Greenwal: We live in different worlds in our life. We live in so many different worlds. We live in our dental world where every 0.3 of a micro millimetre is 100% important when we are assessing a bite and we live in the world where our patients are such a perfectionist, they bring selfie photos of every angle of themselves to have a tiny micron removed from the central incisor, which is not perfect.

Linda Greenwal: So we live in such diverse worlds and so the giving back puts things into perspective. The other issues, which we have a lot, is the burnout of dentists, their stress levels and the intensities. And my one cousin also became a dentist, but he found it extremely stressful working on the NHS. And he, he did a countdown in his kitchen of the months when he could actually give up because he was so stressed working full time on the NHS.

Payman L: Do you do expert witness work as well?

Linda Greenwal: Absolutely. I do. Yes.

Payman L: You must see some stories.

Linda Greenwal: Yeah, and it’s very sad. I think it’s terribly sad when we see this expert witness the stories or meet the people who are making a complaint or to understand the story. How did it get to this level that there is a major lawsuit? How did it get to this level? And what could have been avoided? Because we always want to learn from this, from the experiences, what could I have done differently that wouldn’t have led to this problem and how and who’s making the complaint and why, et cetera. And I think it’s terribly sad because I think it shouldn’t get to that level. I think as soon as problems arise, I think it’s also expectations of patients, expectations of dentists or expectations of dentists themselves to try and be perfect and do the perfect outcome when it’s not always possible.

Payman L: I think there’s been noted where can, even people don’t sue people they like.

Linda Greenwal: Yes.

Payman L: Things like that. So the communication side of it is big.

Linda Greenwal: Yes. So the communication is really, really important. And that comes back to the same discussion with Cathy Jameson. So, when I started the practise, the most important thing was to have a room to sit down and communicate and actually talk it out. Talk first, talk first, talk to the patient. What are your hopes and aspirations? What would you like from me, what would be your expectations of me and ask and wait and, and build a different rapport with the patients so you can totally understand what it is they want from you and what they’re expecting. If they want to be on love Island tomorrow with the whitest teeth, that is a different story.

Linda Greenwal: And recently I was teaching in Derby and the dentist told me, they said, “My biggest problem is everybody wants Jack’s teeth because Jack won last year, because his teeth was super white and they were so white, he went off to Turkey to have a new shade called toilet bowl white.

Linda Greenwal: And so those are her problems, which was really interested. So we looked at ways to strategize and to talk to patients about those kinds of patients who want that look or those expectations, particularly with what whitening can do and what not to do. But what does that look mean for the future to have 20 veneers, what does it mean? Some of them are going to break, some of them are going to need root canals. Some of them the gums are going to recede, they’ll need more dentistry every 10 years and those kinds of things.

Payman L: Tell me about when you got into whitening, because young dentists now take whitening completely for granted, but when I got into, it was around 2000 and I think you’re already an expert at that point. You’d already written your first book. How did you get into whitening? How did you get in touch with the Van Hayward and all that? How did it all come about?

Linda Greenwal: So I was doing my masters at Guy’s 1990 I started and my first research study was then on amalgam toxicity because that was a huge controversy. Everybody was complaining that they fillings are toxic and they are having behavioural changes and memory loss and all those things to do with it. It was a huge controversy in school the toxic tooth syndrome and dentists were changing their practises to have a mercury free practise. This was in 1980, in the 80s, and I wanted to know as a scientist, what is the reason? Are they really toxic? And what are the issues with it? So as an inquiring mind that’s when we started to end the controversy. I like to know about these contemporary issues like the charcoal toothpaste. Which is published on net.

Payman L: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Linda Greenwal: But coming back to that. So I was doing this research study and I spent six months researching the toxicity of amalgam to understand who gets mercury toxicity? Who loses their mind? Who loses in their memory? Is it genuine? Is it valid? Where’s the clinical evidence? Because as a scientist, that’s our first training and we discovered that actually people who complain of their mercury fillings do not have a job, are unemployed, have major life issues and they used different things, but the mercury was the issue because we looked at those people who had mercury fillings. Did they die sooner than those who didn’t? And a big study was done in Sweden. The only clinical fact was that, if there’s a mercury filling like a buccal amalgam next to the gingiva and there’s lichen planus there, then that’s a reason to take it out. There was scientific evidence of that, which I’ve used to base on that.

Linda Greenwal: So then I had to start the research study, the clinical research study and the professor goes, “No Linda, I know what you’re going to find. So find something else to research.” And I was like, “What I’ve spend six months doing this research? How could that be possible?” So I had to go back into the library and I was recently looking at some of the journals and I saw the Quintessence cover. The Quintessence covered Van Hayward’s article 1989, which is now 30 years ago, had a picture of the upper teeth white and the low teeth are yellow. And I’m kind of a visual person. So I looked at it and said, “How can that be? What is this? What’s going on?” So I read the article about the whitening and I went to my professor and I said, maybe I should research this. I’d like to look at this.

Linda Greenwal: He looked at it, he glanced at, he says, “Okay, you go girl, you go do it.” So off I went to start on the research study and then there was very little evidence about whitening. So the first thing we wanted to know is does it actually work? Is it valid? Is it genuine? Does it work? Is it safe? Those were the key things.

Linda Greenwal: So we took blood and we spun it into wisdom teeth. We sectioned them and we tested eight different techniques. So coming back to the story, it was 1990 it was a year, 1991 it was my first mother’s day and I was in the lab on a Sunday making saliva, fake saliva to test on the whitening, I was like, “Seriously, are you really doing this, it’s your first time you’ve been a mother and now it’s mother’s day and here you are.” And so we looked at that and then we looked at all the studies.

Linda Greenwal: So this was 1991 and 1992 all the studies, all the research, all the evidence about whitening, and it’s a fascinating subject because it was basically brand new. It had been done for 200 years. It was super popular in 1860’s to have power whitening. But there had been no updates about it. And so I looked at everything, every single journal as abstract, every single thing that came out. But in those years, which wasn’t a lot, now there’s thousands and thousands of articles per month. And we still track and look at the research, but we wanted to understand the mechanisms. And then we discovered there were some basic ways that it works. So of course I contacted Van Hayward and I believe that again, coming back to the communication, we should meet these people. You should meet, who is the best in this? Who do we need to speak to?

Linda Greenwal: Have the chutzpah – it’s called chutzpah – to call him up. Call him up, go meet him. Go see him. Go learn from him, learn from the best, and continue your quest for knowledge. That’s the genuine knowledge. Now there’s all this fake news and so you have to be very distinguished as in terms of as a scientist, what’s valid? What’s right? For example, when you go to a lecture, you want to get the facts. You don’t want the nonsense. You don’t want the, I’m so awesome. You want actually the real stuff. Why have I taken off the day today to come to a lecture and somebody is giving me a whole spiel, but I want to know what’s the truth? What’s the evidence? So I started going to these bleaching lectures and I would hear the whole story about the power whitening and all that stuff. And I was genuinely, genuinely interested because when I started it, I couldn’t see much difference.

Linda Greenwal: This is now 1993 I’m in my practise, I’m doing power whitening. I’ve spent five grand on the light and I was like, I’m not really sure, but I think it’s me, but I don’t see anything happening. So I’d go to these bleaching lectures from lecture to lecture and I’d ask the lecturer and find time afterwards or during or when there was a break and say, “Seriously, what really happens? Because, I’m not seeing much happen.” And then quietly they would tell me the honest truth where they also don’t see much happening. But in the lecture they will give me a whole story. And so I was trying to like, well whose right? And what is the story? Which continued the quest and then we discovered the whole legal aspect.

Payman L: Yeah.

Linda Greenwal: And then we discovered all that stuff. And I’d been talking about this a long time. And then, so Paul Beresford, he heard me one day speaking at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and he goes, “Linda, not many people understand your South African humour, but don’t worry cause I’m from New Zealand, I get it, I get it. But he says that I really want to help you. We need to make some changes.” And so we set up in 2008, the British Dental Bleaching Society to lobby for change and to make dentistry the tooth whitening within mainstream dentistry, but specifically to get dentist to be able to practise legally, safely, and to have the patient’s best interest at heart. And so-

Payman L: And you got it done in 4 years, was that 2012 when it really happened.

Linda Greenwal: But Now there’s still more issues-

Payman L: Of course.

Linda Greenwal: And now there’s the issues of the under eighteens.

Payman L: I think the first time we met Linda, we were taking the peroxide out of the gel. We were selling carrier gel without peroxide to the dentist. And then we were saying to the dentist, get your peroxide from wherever you want, but this is where you should get your peroxide. And then the dentist was mixing the two at the chairside at the time the dentists could buy peroxide then use it for internal. We could sell the carrier gel to the dentist without peroxide.

Prav Solanki: Wow.

Payman L: But these were the hoops we were having to jump through and people don’t realise that we were in from 2001 to 2012 selling illegal products and you were teaching on it. Martin said he’d go to jail for it if-

Linda Greenwal: 6 months in Jail.

Payman L: it was an interesting time.

Linda Greenwal: For supply of gel. And then the link with Europe and what happened with Europe and the European legislation and still, what’s happening? And the Brexit issues and all that because so it took a long time. And people like Stewart Johnson, who in the BDA made changes and represented Britain on the scientific committee in Europe. And we have the, there was a tooth whitening committee where we would go and Britain was leading the way in this.

Linda Greenwal: I’m not shy to say that because we had taken whitening onboard, tried to be legal, but the uptake and the education, and it comes back to educating dentists about that. We are quite advanced in our education process with whitening and aesthetic treatments, et cetera. But the current issue is not really an issue, of the under eighteens whitening, It’s not really an issue. It’s only a classification thing. It just at the time when they made the change in the law, they didn’t think they could change two laws. So they kept it simple. But there’s no reason for it not to be. It’s perfectly safe. That’s why-

Payman L: Clinically, yeah.

Linda Greenwal: Clinically it’s perfectly safe for kids under 18 to have it. And that’s why we having the conference on the 15th of November. We are going to lobby and change it and we’ve got an action plan ready to go.

Payman L: So today, well, where we at today in July of 2019, if a dentist has a child who has got a non vital teeth.

Linda Greenwal: Child patient.

Payman L: Child patient, yeah. Or if a dentist has a child patient who has particularly dark teeth that they’re being bullied, should they or shouldn’t they bleach their teeth today?

Linda Greenwal: So, very clearly it comes back to the ruling or the guidelines of the General Dental Council. The General Dental Council said, “If a whitening is for treatment of disease, then it can be undertaken.” So in our recent paper, which we published last July 2018, we looked at the 10 categories when it’s appropriate to undertake tooth whitening for children. I wrote an index of treatment need, which I’ve published for children having whitening and when it’s totally appropriate to whiten.

Linda Greenwal: The main thing is the impact on the child. If it’s impacting the child and it’s in the child’s best interest and they’re being bullied at school, then absolutely it’s the right thing to do. Not just a random thing cause a child wants the same teeth as on Love Island. It’s actually a genuine thing. Now, the problem that we have is that there’s a lot of new diseases in the last 20 years.

Linda Greenwal: There is new diseases and the environment that we live in causing toxicity on the kids’ teeth, the toxicity and the environment, which reflects as white spots on these kids’ teeth. So there’s a global increase in disease of 14% with white spots on their teeth, but there’s a 25 to 40% increase of children’s teeth that are erupting with white spots on their teeth.

Linda Greenwal: That means all of us have to deal with this in our practise. And a lot of these children who had the white spots actually have MIH, which is a disease and that causes a lot of sensitivity, extreme sensitivity. So, all of us have to treat these kids. It’s not a matter of, Oh, I’m not sure I’ll send it to the dental hospital because the paediatric dentist will do it. Many of the dental schools don’t even have whitening gel in the paediatric department because they’re too scared of not following the law.

Linda Greenwal: So it needs to be in the patient’s best interest and absolutely it’s the right thing to do. Specifically when a child at this time of the year, the children have finished school, primary school, about to go to private secondary school and that is when they want to change their appearance and want to. So at the moment we are treating a lot of those children who have severe discoloration, brown, orange, yellow, orange marks, white discoloration at this time so that when they go into high school in September, this is not going to be an issue for them.

Linda Greenwal: And the thing with whitening and the thing with these minimal invasive treatments, it’s so simple to treat.

Payman L: Mm-hmm.

Linda Greenwal: The remaining aspect is the mental health issue, which is a much more difficult. We are not allowed to, we don’t treat that, but we can treat from in terms of the view of the minimal invasive aesthetics for these children who makes a huge difference in their lives.

Payman L: What’d you say to dentists who say, “Whitening isn’t rocket science and it’s not a subject that anyone should choose to focus on because it’s not real dentistry.”? I mean I know what my response is to this is, what’s yours?

Linda Greenwal: So, the first thing that, the biggest issue I have when I teach dentists is they’ve never bothered to learn about the science of whitening, the evidence of research or whatever. They do not know whitening. They make it up as they go along, they make random facts, a new associate will join the practise. The principal hasn’t learned whitening. They give them fake news. They say, well this is what’s done and nobody is the wiser and there whitening programmes are not successful because they just making it up with random nonsense. But there is a lot of, as we know there’s scientific evidence and this certain protocols that need to be followed.

Linda Greenwal: So if the dentists take the time to learn it properly themselves, they can be better teachers for the associates and the hygienists and everything else. And the biggest problem is they’re just making it up as they go along.

Prav Solanki: So it’s more than just taking an impression and whacking some gel in there and telling the patient to go home. Because, I speak to a lot of dentists about different whitening products just mainly from a marketing perspective, right? And it’s the same attitude that Paymans just said there, is that they don’t differentiate between products apart from price and they say, “Oh well this does the same as that does the same as that.” All you’re doing is sticking bleach in there, sending them home and it’ll do the job and their results tend to be variable. So they get some cases that were really, well, some cases in my personal experience from whitening using Payman’s stuff.

Linda Greenwal: It’s very good.

Payman L: It’s free.

Prav Solanki: Because it’s free. Yeah, there is that, but I only need to wear my tray for a couple of nights and they glow. Yeah. And that’s as far as I need to go even though the instructions say 14 nights or whatever.

Payman L: The funny thing in our industry, the weird thing about it is everything’s named by percentage.

Linda Greenwal: Yes.

Payman L: And a lot of people like to think they know what’s going on. And so they think, well 16 centimetres like Nurofen 200 milligrammes is the same as Ibuprofen 200 milligrammes

Prav Solanki: Mm-hmm.

Payman L: But you know, the, the whitening situation is so flexible because you’ve got a physical situation with a tray. And then you’ve got a chemical situation with a chemical.

Linda Greenwal: And you got a patient with anatomy.

Payman L: And you got a patient with anatomy.

Linda Greenwal: Anatomy of teeth or trauma-

Payman L: And bruxism and the difference in the physical things that can happen there and the volatile liquid, the whole point about it is it breaks down and so it’s very, very different to you. Even, though the composite restoration is much more understandable than whitening. But for me when someone says it’s not rocket science and all of that stuff, generally that guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Linda Greenwal: Exactly.

Payman L: But secondly, we know humans know, not just us. The humans know the colour of teeth is the number one concern of our patients.

Linda Greenwal: Absolutely.

Payman L: By far it’s way bigger than orthodontics, caries. That’s what they care about the most.

Linda Greenwal: Absolutely.

Payman L: And often you see these full examinations that the practises sell and market, Oh our examinations, an hour and a half, two pages on the internet about what’s covered. Or we look at the TMJ, we look at the lymph nodes or manifestation, all of this is good stuff. And yet shade’s not mentioned-

Linda Greenwal: Yes.

Payman L: In any of that.

Linda Greenwal: So-

Payman L: Is it a primary concern of our patients? Isn’t culturally in our examination and it needs to be.

Linda Greenwal: Absolutely.

Payman L: And so whitening is to be talked about more or less. Obviously I haven’t got a horse in the game, right? I’m biassed. But this idea that it’s not real dentistry. Well, you’re not treating real patients though if you don’t think its real dentistry.

Linda Greenwal: It’s good to listen to all the objectors and the objections because from a hearing, all that stuff, you can have a strategy to change, to move forward. So here’s the thing, we say number one, take a shade on every single patient. It’s a science actually. And that’s part of your exam. That’s the first thing. Why do you do that? And we teach the dentist to just start with basic shade, which is called A3 just have loads and loads of A3 shades and measure every single patient. The patient wants to know, “Oh, is that a good thing or a bad thing?” So it starts the opening discussion. Some dentist say, “Oh, I’m not really, I’m not good at selling, so I can’t sell whitening.” This is not a sales thing. This is a scientific measure.

Payman L: It’s a service thing.

Linda Greenwal: It’s a service thing, it’s a scientific measure, measure the A3 are they lighter or darker than the A3 you recorded? The patient goes, “Can I see the shade guide? What’s lighter than A3? So my teeth are A3,” and the dentist goes, “Well 90% of patients may have that shade.” And they go, “What’s lighter?” And they go, “A1 well that’s quite a nice shade. Can I have that? Would that be appropriate for me?” And I teach the dentists to do an audit. Everybody hates doing radiology audits, which is fine, they can do that. But do an A3 audit say, in the next hundred patients had come in and we’re going to measure the shade with see who uptakes on whitening.

Linda Greenwal: For it’s a basic thing, six months later the patient comes back, they go, “Could you just check my shade because I think my teeth might’ve got darker. I’m interested now in doing whitening.” So it opens the discussion. It’s a scientific measure. There’s a really nice device now called the VITA Easyshade, I don’t know if you’ve seen it, really excellent. And I think actually many dentists should have that in their practise because it’s a scientific measure. It’s got Bluetooth, it’s got an app and you can measure their bleaching percentage and all those things. As dentists love technology and they love all their stuff. So this is quite a nice handy piece of kit. But every patient should have their shade measured and that should know what’s your shade? It’s not a personal, it’s not an invasive question. So not an invasive question.It’s a scientific measure.

Linda Greenwal: So you start from that. When they say it’s not rocket science, there is tonnes of science behind it. But you start with a basic in terms of, again, coming back to communication, what it is that you want? Did you ever consider, if you’re about to start restorative dentistry, about to do a crown, go to the patient. Mrs Jones, “In the next five years, were you ever going to consider whitening your teeth because we were about to do a crown on your front tooth and we need to keep it at the same shade as your teeth are now. But if you were considering whitening, would you? Now is the time to rather do whitening first before so we can choose a lighter shade of your grant.” So there’s some basic questions that we need to talk about to patients. It’s not a sales technique.

Linda Greenwal: And then the story about the 16%. For some reason, I don’t know why Payman, that they think 16% is the only one and there must have 16% and that’s it. So if you do a survey of an audience, just as I’m about to speak to dentists, they all go they only think that you’d start with 16%. They don’t know when they say, “I only use 16%,” then I know they haven’t had any training on whitening at all. So I know where we starting, which is fine, but we want to educate dentists to able to learn the science to be able to provide the service on top of which the whitening oral health benefits is major, so-

Payman L: Root caries and all of that.

Linda Greenwal: The root caries, but also the gingiva swelling and improvement in oral health. So you turn it all the way around on an elderly patient.

Payman L: Do you tell your patients whitening is good for them?

Linda Greenwal: Yeah. I don’t say it’s good for them, I say it has oral health benefits I say improves the gums, it reduces the swelling, it makes the mouth feel cleaner, the plaque doesn’t stick as much to the teeth. So we talk about those benefits. So we also talk about sometimes we need to integrate it into the whole process of dentistry where we will do cleaning, we’ll start the whitening review and constantly improve their oral health first and then we continue with whatever’s needed.

Payman L: Then the reason you were in the birthday honours with the Queen, was that what it was?

Linda Greenwal: Yes.

Payman L: How did that feel being honoured?

Linda Greenwal: It was a very interesting process. It was, actually last year I went to Buckingham Palace to the Queen’s garden party. That was awesome. But the medal ceremony was in November before that. So November. It started in June 2017, where I was listed in the Queen’s birthday honours and I was very humbled to be recognised for the service to dentistry.

Payman L: Is there a process if Prav wanted to become Lord Solanki of… Is there a process?

Linda Greenwal: I think there is a process and the department of health put out the process to dentists at the time they were looking for a regular people working on the health service and they do, they do want to support people working on the NHS and providing service for care. So the day that I was there at Buckingham palace, we met a lot of the police. We met a lot of people working in the health service, people working in the services. A lot of people give off their time unconditionally, begin to create a better world to do good. And what happened with the seminar, it was announced in June and then I went to the ceremony my mum was invited. She was too delighted and my husband and one child was allowed.

Linda Greenwal: And when it was held at the Tower of London and the Queens Emissary, which is the Lord Lieutenant of London, gives out the medals. And he started by saying that at the event, he said, “This morning I was reading the paper and having my coffee while you’re all driving here or getting here and reading the news is very depressing.” He said, “But today you’re going to hear very inspirational stories of people that have really made London a better place.” And so what happens with the medal ceremony as you go up onto the stage and they read ati citation citation about you and about what you’ve done in your life. And for about 10 minutes and then you receive your medal and have a nice photo. But the stories of the other recipients was very inspirational and it’s a regular person who has done good and taken it upon themselves to do good. And I am interested in that kind of story.

Payman L: Mm-hmm.

Linda Greenwal: I’m interested in somebody who wants to make their life better. They come from nothing with no graduation, no nothing, but they have a determination to want to do good. Like we watched Goodwill Hunting this movie. It’s one of the greatest movies. To see that process of a person. You start, create something out of nothing to do good for society. I think that’s really a key thing.

Payman L: Talking movies, have you seen that Sugar Man movie?

Linda Greenwal: Yes, I did. So when we grew up,

Payman L: Did you know that music?

Linda Greenwal: Yeah, absolutely. It was banned

Payman L: Yeah, really.

Linda Greenwal: and so-

Payman L: Because it was kind of anti-apartheid.

Linda Greenwal: Yes. And all kinds of things anti… And when I went to summer camp we would all, I used to play the guitar,

Payman L: Oh really?

Linda Greenwal: And I used to play all that music with all my friends and yeah, it was quite, quite a big thing.

Payman L: Going forward Linda, I’m sure you’ve got things that you want to achieve like Prav was saying, but do you think that looking back on your life, there were the things that maybe your family missed out on because of your achievements, your ambition? Did Dr. Cohen take care of dinner? Did Henry do bits that you should have been doing? Or you’d, no regrets and you feel like you did everything right? What would you do differently?

Linda Greenwal: And there’s a lot of questions in that one question.

Payman L: Yeah, sorry I was trying to obtain a thought.

Linda Greenwal: So basically, first of all, I think that the one shouldn’t have regrets. I think that every opportunity is an opportunity for the positive as well as the negative. And you’re always seek the joy, you have to learn to seek the joy and seek the positivity. So if a situation arises, which could be construed as a negative situation, the experience that you’ve going through, how can you to turn it into a positive? So what have we learned here? What do we do differently? How did this happen? Now that we’ve learned this in terms of, now the buzzword is reflection, on reflection I would have done this, this, and this differently. So we now know the challenges that arise are there to make you grow as a person.

Payman L: So what would you have done differently on reflection?

Linda Greenwal: Of course, we had lots of stress in lots of things like coming here from South Africa and working as a new graduate and working for a boss who was extremely tough on me and men I was thinking about, for example I felt, I’m sure it’s not legal to sign a form when you haven’t done the filling, but the boss says, just sign the form anyway.

Linda Greenwal: So then I started looking and taking advice, isn’t right you have to sign these forms and it says you’ve done 10 fillings but you didn’t do any. And so those kind of things and realise, you have to stand up for injustice. If in your heart of hearts you know it’s wrong, it’s wrong. And so speaking up, that’s when you asked me about what is left to be done? And what did you learn? I’ve learned as you get older anyway, you speak up more. When you’re in your 20s you always want to do the right thing, “What would this one say about me? And what this one say about me?” In your 20s. When you get to my age now, you can actually, it’s very liberating because you have to speak up, you have to speak up so-

Payman L: I think one of your biggest strengths is you don’t really care what people think about you.

Linda Greenwal: Now, but I’ve learned that you have to speak up you have to say when you’re bringing up four boys, who are rowdy and difficult and the neighbours car window has been broken five times in one week. Then you have to speak up and talk to the boys and say, “Maybe we shouldn’t be playing football or cricket next to the neighbour’s window again.” And so you have to speak up and you have to speak up a lot. And you have to say what you have to say. And bring up boys, you can’t skirt around the issue. You have to deal with it head on and it is what it is.

Linda Greenwal: But the speaking up and the not tolerating the bullying and not tolerating whatever is happening. This is not right. What needs to be rectified rather than get stuck in the misery of the wrong decision and you have spiral negatively downwards.

Linda Greenwal: You think, what can I do to rectify to get out of this situation? In terms of a patient, if something has happened and it happens, stuff happens all the time, immediately apologise. I really, I really strongly believe, high hold up your hands and say, “I’m so sorry this has happened. I didn’t expect it to happen. We weren’t expecting this. This has happened. I’m terribly sorry. I want to rectify this situation or whatever it is.” Appease with the patient if it needs to give them money back, there and then for the simplest thing now rather don’t let it fester and fester till it’s a major volcano. Just sort it out as quick as possible now. When you leave it to fester, it’s very stressful for your own personal circumstance, but it’s stressful for the patient. It’s stressful for the entire practise. If these things are going on and the complaints going on.

Linda Greenwal: So I think that speaking up quickly, rectifying as soon as you can, as quick as possible and move on, learn from it, don’t dwell on it, learn from it. This is what I learned. But move on, move forward, proceed forwards without dwelling on the negative. If you spend too much time thinking about the negative, it holds you back and you spiral. So rather think about, I learned from this, this happened, stuff happened. I’m so sorry. Move forward. How can we rectify.

Prav Solanki: Linda, talking about mistakes? What would you say the biggest clinical mistake that you’ve ever made?

Linda Greenwal: That is a very deep question and it’s been like a long time since I’ve practised. I think some of the biggest clinical mistakes for me personally were, working on the NHS when we were limited to time and so we couldn’t do the best that we could do because you were time restricted and funds restricted and admin restricted.

Linda Greenwal: So you compromise a lot and you have to think about is this the best that I can do for this patient? This is what I can do now under these circumstances. And I worked on the NHS for 10 years looking at these situations. And one day we had to do a, in those days a private white filling probation, and I think the fee was 20 pounds and the patient’s sitting with her Prada handbag 1400 pounds and she said, “20 pounds for the filling. Oh my gosh, what a rip off.” And I thought, “Really?” Let’s put this into perspective here.

Linda Greenwal: And so again, sometimes you work in a situation where you know that it could be different, but you compromised because of decisions and because of these situations. So you always doing the best that you can. And so stuff happens because it compromises this, this, this and this. You can do X, but really a that, that holds you back. But the thing is with dentistry is we have a lot of choices. We make decisions all the time. We even have a lot of freedom to make decisions and as to how we practise as well.

Prav Solanki: Sure.

Linda Greenwal: We’re decision making on a daily basis. Sometimes we may make the wrong decision at that time and you can’t rectify it, but we have choices. And so for me that was very hard working in a system like that. When maybe you couldn’t wait for the gums to heal to take the crown because you were only getting a small amount for the crown fee, so you had to just fit the crown and the gums were swollen or whatever. You do the best that you can.

Payman L: Do you remember were you planning from the beginning to go out of the NHS? Would do you remember the time when you realised, I’ve had enough of that and I remember you were with Mike Wise group for a longtime.

Linda Greenwal: Yes. I trained with Mike Wise for 30 years and that was really an awesome guy. I think that also for us, we always, all dentists need mentors. They need mentors, they need advice. They need people to genuinely help and guide you as you go along. We need good teachers. It’s hard to find a good teacher and it’s hard to find somebody that you can relate to and can follow advice. That’s why we need a deeper kind of philosophical things as well, because our lives need to be in balance. But Mike taught me a lot about clinical excellence, about not compromising, about constant reading, the evidence and the research and the journals. What does the research say about this? Which is the best way to make a post? Should be this post should be that post. What does the research say? And going back to the literature and the signs. And he was a very inspirational guide with that.

Payman L: He’s in touch?

Linda Greenwal: He’s just retired. So we are still in touch. I do see him and we do communicate yeah. But then I also had many other teachers and the study groups and learning from certain people. Not all dentists share knowledge,

Payman L: That’s true.

Prav Solanki: Mm-hmm.

Linda Greenwal: They don’t want to, they keep, they’re worried that we’ll know more than them. And so they hold their cards close to their chest and that is a pity. And I think another issue Payman, is professional jealousy.

Payman L: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Linda Greenwal: This is a really big issue and I’m astounded at what I see on Facebook on the chat lines, on the chat groups because somebody is genuinely asking a genuine, sincere question. And many people often respond in a flippant way, “Have another whiskey or whatever,” when the person has actually asked a genuine question and then it turns into a personal discussion, a personal aberration of something.

Linda Greenwal: And it goes completely off the tangent, when actually what we should do be doing is respond kindly and actually genuinely wanting to help our fellow colleagues. But that doesn’t happen. But the other issue is we work all day really hard and what do we do? We go and relax and switch on Facebook and see intolerance by other dentists just being mean to each other. I mean it may be entertaining for some, but we actually need to switch off. We need to balance with exercise and with all the other things.

Payman L: What’s your view on the Instagram dentistry?

Linda Greenwal: So-

Payman L: I see your posting a lot more.

Linda Greenwal: I’m working on, greenwalldental is my Instagram, and just today I reached 4,000 which I was super excited about it. It’s actually quite crazy, what we see on Instagram dentistry. The way people learn these days is Instagram University, Facebook University and all those other sites. But there’s a lot of genuine dentists and dental students who actually are really learning stuff.

Payman L: Yeah, yeah.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Linda Greenwal: And what I’m concerned about is certain dentists with a following, where they do work out and they show their naked chests on their work out session on the Instagram and then the next case is a 20 veneer case and then you’re watching him work out and all that stuff. But when we see things like, patient was too sensitive, we didn’t do whitening, we just did 2 rejuveneers. We think, wait a minute, let’s start with treating the sensitivity. We haven’t got time to treat the sensitivity. We’re going to just do 20 veneers. And those kind of remarks were, in the end of the day, our philosophy should be minimal invasion.

Prav Solanki: Mm-hmm.

Linda Greenwal: The best dentistry is no dentistry. Actually, no cutting. So how can we improve the patient’s oral health first? Of course there’s the beauty aspect and all that or what you see on Instagram is also not real life.

Linda Greenwal: So maybe that dentist has a beautiful photo of the before and after because he did one patient the whole morning and he took all the photos and he made a movie out of it. But that’s a one patient and that’s not real life. And may look gorgeous then, how will it look next year? And in 10 years? And what will be the stability of that? So, I have concerns so, some of it is very interesting, I see so much unnecessary cutting I’m really shocked at how-

Payman L: Because we are exposed to the whole world-

Linda Greenwal: We’re exposed to the world.

Payman L: And the whole world’s as minimally invasive as we’ve become.

Linda Greenwal: That’s right, as the philosophy.

Payman L: But it’s lovely. And you’ve been really at the tip of the spear of that minimally invasive. Maybe you, Tiff, Jason maybe now Tipesh is doing his best. It’s lovely to see the UK excelling at that because with that NHS sort of baggage that’s been holding us back, let’s face it dentally not medically, but dentally. We never really excelled like the Italians or the Brazilians. But now we really are. And in the area of minimally invasive, we really right up there.

Linda Greenwal: We really are.

Payman L: And its nice to see.

Linda Greenwal: Its fabulous to see and there are really some excellent dentist. So often if I’m lecturing in the US for example, the US have a big thing about British dentistry and English teeth. There seriously obsessed they, from the Simpsons TV show where Lisa opens the big book of British smiles and everyone’s got yellow ugly teeth. That is the stereotype of UK dentistry.

Linda Greenwal: So, whenever I give a lecture in the US I have to start with that because, they all giggle away and they’re like, “Seriously you’re a British dentist, what are we going to learn from you?” And then I say to them that, “Actually, I’m going to show you some minimal invasive treatments, some beautiful dentistry where we’ve created a beautiful smile in a minimal invasive way.”

Linda Greenwal: I recently taught at Tampa University and I gave my presentation with minimal invasion, the three step technique for treating tooth wear by building up the bite with composite restorations and palatal veneers, et cetera, and micro abrasion and whitening and all those things. And at the end of the lecture there was a five minute silence because the Dean goes, “Wow, you did all that and you didn’t pick up a handpiece.” I said, “Yes, so I need to just smoothen on overhang or whatever.”

Linda Greenwal: And that is how dentistry should be going. That is a major paradigm shift. So, to get your head into gear with this noninvasive approach to being able to do this, takes a major rethink in after loss fees. And some dentists, as you know, hate change. They know what they like, amalgam works beautifully in my hands. I’m going to do it for the next 40 years. And then there forced to change, they don’t like to be out of their comfort zone.

Linda Greenwal: So when you have to make these changes, who’re really essential, to be ready to be out of your comfort zone to go, “Okay, this is a new technique. What are I need to know? Who’s going to teach me? Who’s the best in this field? And what I need to learn from them. And how am I going to go from this level to that level and what I need to get there. Which is why I wrote the textbook with Cathy Jameson.

Linda Greenwal: I wrote a book called, Success Strategies in Aesthetic Practise. Because I want to know those secrets of those successful dentists. How do they do it? What does it take to do it? And how do I get there? And how do I maintain? And can I learn from their wisdom? That’s what I want to know. So my current training that I’m doing and learning and I’m undertaking is training with Francesca Villete.

Payman L: Oh really?

Linda Greenwal: Three step technique.

Payman L: Amazing.

Linda Greenwal: And I’ve done eight trainings with her.

Payman L: Have you?

Linda Greenwal: Absolutely.

Payman L: Amazing.

Linda Greenwal: Yeah, and I’ve been to Geneva and Barcelona and wherever she is, I train with her because it’s such an ama-

Payman L: People forget you’re a restorative specialist as well.

Linda Greenwal: They just think just “just whitening”. At the end of the day. We’ve got to go back to the basics and first of all it starts with, if you’re going to do whitening, you need to exclude pathology. That’s the secret word, excluding pathology. What does that mean? Means you’ve got to assist the patient thoroughly and properly. Do when if you need to take a radiograph of a discoloured tooth, you need to do that. But in that assessment, that I need to do, it’s a full restorative assessment because you’ve got to look at all these things, not just whitening the teeth. There’s other issues, which need to be taking place and that’s what Mike Wise taught me about the comprehensiveness of doing a comprehensive treatment plan.

Linda Greenwal: How do you do a comprehensive treatment plan? You sit away from the patient in your specifically dedicated time minus Thursdays between 12 and one and goes through 12 to two and just look at photos and have quiet time where nobody is disturbing you that you can actually think out and plan out carefully the treatment plan. You can’t do this, you make it up on the spot. When you’re seeing the patient for three minutes, you need that planning time.

Linda Greenwal: And so coming back to, that when Mike Wise introduced me to Francesca Villete, and many of the BACD people had told us about Francesca’s techniques, I was like, okay, I need to learn this. What I need to learn, How do I need to do this? How can I do a hands on? How can I do training?

Payman L: And there’s going to be more and more of that kind of disease.

Linda Greenwal: There’ll be more and more because now with digital dentistry, so I’ve just invested in my digital, my scanner,

Payman L: Which one did you get?

Linda Greenwal: The Sirona, the-

Prav Solanki: Primescan?

Linda Greenwal: Primescan yeah.

Linda Greenwal: Primescan and the milling machine. This is the beginning of the journey because with the minimal invasive, with what she teaches, instead of doing direct composites, you will be able to mill that hole out, and stick it in and save a lot of time and open the bite two millimetres and do the whole thing in one hour.

Payman L: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Mm-hmm.

Linda Greenwal: And that’s kind of my thinking where it’s going and because tooth way is such a major issue now that more patients keep their teeth. Everybody has some type of tooth wear and in general, 70% have severe tooth wear of our patient group. We just go, “Okay I’ll just watch and monitor and just check again.” But actually what Francesca says is that, “Don’t wait. Don’t leave it till it’s so difficult to repair. Get started, be proactive and keep the health minimal.” And with the new techniques there’s no prep, no prep. You open up the bite and no prep, etch, bond and put on the on lay or you do the composite.

Linda Greenwal: That’s again a huge paradigm shift. When the age is, I said, “one millimetre here, 1.5 millimetre you had a formula you had to create.” You don’t have to do that anymore. So that takes the thinking away because you’ve got to go new directions and you’ve got to be ready for it.

Linda Greenwal: But what worries me about the new dentists, they’d go on Instagram, they got Instagram dentistry, they check it out. Okay, I’m going to do 10 but actually they haven’t learned. So you have to learn it face to face. There’s many ways of learning.

Payman L: I mean you’re clearly very passionate about all of this and whether you like it or not, you’re, “the influencer,” key opinion leader. So, does that weigh on you? The fact that what you say moves lots of people. And so, I mean it would weigh on me, in many ways in bleaching your the sort of the final tertiary referral, that you know the final person’s going to get the final answer on all of them.

Linda Greenwal: Yeah.

Payman L: On any particular issue.

Linda Greenwal: Yeah.

Payman L: Does it weigh on you?

Linda Greenwal: It weighs on me. But in that, there is so much more knowledge and stuff that we need to learn. And when I find out new stuff for example, cause I have-

Payman L: The charcoal thing.

Linda Greenwal: Why is that a thing? Why are they 3000 posts on Instagram? It must be good. And then we go, “But is it whitening? Is it this? Is it this?” That’s like, why is no one talking about it from a scientific point of view. So there’s more work to be done and we need to look at it. We need to research and we need to do it. If there’s a genuine thing that it does make a difference and it’s scientific evidence, then we all need to participate in that genuine thing and give a better aspect for our patients.

Payman L: What did you find going to tell us quickly, if-

Linda Greenwal: So, what did we find out about Charcoal toothpaste?

Payman L: Yeah, if a patient asks a dentist, charcoal toothpaste? What’s the answer?

Linda Greenwal: The answer is that we also need to look at their dentition and see if they’ve got any tooth away. But also charcoal toothpaste don’t whiten. They say they whiten because it gives the appearance that the teeth are cleaner, therefore whiter cause the yellow plaque is removed but they don’t actually whiten teeth. Some of them are very abrasive. Some of them have got carcinogenic ingredients in, some of them have no fluoride and there’s no legislation as to where does the charcoal come from? Is it burnt leaves? Is it random stuff? There’s no guidelines. And there’s no, and so everyone’s jumping on the bandwagon.

Payman L: Even Colgate brought one out recently.

Linda Greenwal: Yes.

Payman L: But when you look at the numbers, its gone berserk that, that is selling like hot cakes. The strange thing is why.

Linda Greenwal: It’s strange and so we need to, as scientists and as dentists and as professionals, we need to look, is this good for our patients? If it’s good for our patients then we can recommend it. So, once again when I come back to talking to dentists, “Hey guys, do you realise that this causes damage or this is a problem?” Or, “Hey guys, do you realise this is actually a genuine thing?” And then more people should know about it?

Prav Solanki: Just going back to your Instagram dentistry. So what’s wrong with taking selfies with your chest out and working out and then-

Linda Greenwal: Do you do that? Am sorry if you do that.

Prav Solanki: I don’t, I don’t, no, no, no, no, no. I’m not one of those guys. But I just want-

Linda Greenwal: I think there needs to be a level of professionalism at all times. If Instagram’s going to build me a huge polling, because I’ve got a hot bod in my bikini on my yacht. That is one aspect. But I think that, again dentists need to come back to professionalism. Never compromise your professionalism.

Payman L: Professionalism, I mean if you do something wrong, you should put your hands up and act professional.

Linda Greenwal: Yes, yes. But now we haven’t, I think we should-

Payman L: But are you saying a dentist has to hold themselves in a particular way in the society.

Linda Greenwal: They do yes, unfortunately they do because of the General Dental Council and patient’s expectations of what a dentist, of what a professional should be and should be like.

Payman L: Is that not changing then?

Linda Greenwal: It is changing, it is changing a little bit, but there’s a certain line, there’s a certain line that you shouldn’t cross. For example, some of the medical legal work that I do when I see something’s going wrong, it’s because often the dentist compromise their professionalism where they felt in the heart of hearts it was really wrong. Don’t compromise your professionalism. There’s a code of conduct. There’s a behaviour that is expected of us, of course we need to behave and that is why it’s very, very strict. The behaviour of, the way we do things. So there needs to be a behavioural expectation as well as being a professional person. And that needs to be, that needs to be redefined.

Linda Greenwal: But there are lots of interesting things about it, about the Instagram, and we can all learn a lot and we see some beautiful dentistry in many different countries. But I think that, what your patients see or what the general public sees, I think there’s certain things that don’t, people overshare, they overshare stuff.

Linda Greenwal: And I don’t have a lot of time to go through Instagram. I look at a few things. Not everybody’s got their time. You want to get to the point to say what needs to be done. You know, our lives are too overexposed to too much social media and unfortunately you still got to have a real life. You’ve become so obsessed, they make us be obsessed with our phones. We need digital detox, We need time to be away from it and actually communicate with our loved ones and, no phones, no this, no TV. Let’s just talk it out. Let’s start, “So how are you today?” Rather than everyone being distracted and you take a family meal. Everyone’s on their phone the whole way through the meal who said hello? Who will pass me this? Pass me this? And at the end of the meal, everyone goes back on their phones. You didn’t engage with those people.

Prav Solanki: So true.

Linda Greenwal: That you really need to.

Prav Solanki: So true. Linda, I’ve been sat here for the last hour, absolutely gobsmacked with what you’ve achieved. I didn’t even know half of it and I say if anything, can I work bloody hard and I don’t think I’ve even started to scratch the surface of what you’ve done. I just want to get an idea of how you fit all that in. Because obviously when you do that, you’re surrounded by a team and you’re surrounded by people that give you that freedom to go and realise your vision. What is it about your leadership that makes people want to do things for you? The way you… That allows you to live your dreams in your vision.

Prav Solanki: Because not everyone will be able to, we’ve all got dreams and visions, right? But sometimes, you know, we are our own biggest victim because we have these ideas, but as Payman says, we don’t always execute them. You’re executing, and despite having been in it for 40 years?

Linda Greenwal: I started, my first year in dental school was 1979, yeah.

Prav Solanki: Your passion hasn’t declined whatsoever, That’s so clear. So what, what is your secret to successful leadership?

Linda Greenwal: The first thing is, as a leader, that’s a responsibility and you need to know that, am I doing the right thing in this situation? I think engaging the team is really important. You can’t lead without a team, but your team needs to be fully engaged with you. And there’s the discussion that, are you on the bus? Are you off the bus? Are you in the right seat on the bus? And there’s new bus discussions about the bus. And when you come back to decision making, is this person in the right seat on the bus? If not, and I consult with the teams. And my team is very, very important to me. My key lady has been with me 25 years, my hygienist 20 years because-

Payman L: Whose your key lady?

Linda Greenwal: Nicola Bannerman.

Prav Solanki: Shout out.

Linda Greenwal: She’s been, she’s awesome, she’s absolutely awesome. And she’s been with me right from the beginning of the journey and we had our babies with the nannies together and she’s been absolutely amazing and she will quickly come to me and say, “Linda, this is wrong. This is wrong. What can we do to rectify it?” I like to problem solve and brainstorm all the time along the way.

Linda Greenwal: So in terms of leadership, your team need a clear vision. Where are you going? Where have you come from? Where are you going? Or what is your… Where are you heading? That’s the first thing. And all teams need to know your vision and empower it for their vision and listen to the team, engage with them. And there are so many good things that teams have to share that you can take on board, let them run with it and delegate what they want to do. It’s a very creative process. So this morning we had a team meeting and we brainstormed a lot of what needs to be done? Where are we? What’s happening? What’s our schedule? What’s the plan? Every morning we meet every single morning we really.

Payman L: When you have take us through your day to day? Like what time did you wake up?

Linda Greenwal: So, I try to wake up at seven but most of the time it’s six 30, I wake up at seven have breakfast. You’re going to be really amazed at this, but actually my husband wakes up early and he brings the breakfast and we have tea in the morning together

Prav Solanki: Wow.

Linda Greenwal: And just kind of chat in the morning. Then I will start at about 10 past seven on my phone. Not always a good thing, but actually I have to be out of the house at seven 25 to catch the school bus for my son and we cannot be late. We don’t want to chase the school bus, which we have done. So seven 25 out of the house, take the son to the bus stop and then ten to eight to be at the practise. Eight o’clock start up team meeting, it’s supposed to be from eight to a quarter past eight. First patient at eight 30 going through till one o’clock lunch between one and two and finish at six.

Payman L: Yeah though but today you came here-

Linda Greenwal: So, today-

Payman L: Are you going back to the practise.

Linda Greenwal: Of course.

Payman L: Are you?

Linda Greenwal: Of course, I’m going back to the practise. At our team meeting this morning, we allocated which roles, what do we need to do now? For example, at this time of the summertime when it might be slightly quiet and other people are on holiday, we review the year. We say, how many new patients did we have? Where is the dentistry? What follow ups do we need to do? What is next? Who has dentistry that’s been diagnosed without having treatment?

Linda Greenwal: And we look at all those things. We look at the hygiene retention. For example, what is our hygiene retention rates? It should be at 80 to 90%. Where are we this month? Where were we last month? Where were we? Where are we going? How can we do this better? Who needs to come in? Who’s going to phone that person who needs to come in? How are we going to schedule them? So this morning we allocated, each team member had a role and is going to be working on that like while am away. Besides, receptionist clocking in the patients, et cetera. So we have our plans and our things to do to work on that.

Linda Greenwal: You have to pay and you have to-

Payman L: Pardon, we haven’t even scratched the surface in all of the things.

Payman L: Honestly, we haven’t.

Linda Greenwal: We have to also talk about how do you chill?

Payman L: How do you chill?

Linda Greenwal: So, how do you-

Payman L: Do you chill? Not how do you chill?

Linda Greenwal: So my children-

Payman L: Actually you go away a lot, do you? I do see you travelling.

Linda Greenwal: It’s mostly for teaching.

Payman L: Is it?

Linda Greenwal: Okay, the chill thing is number one, Saturdays are to family time

Prav Solanki: Uh-huh.

Linda Greenwal: And we really digital detox and day of rest and I read a book and check in with those children and just do nothing and eat and rest and go for walks, et cetera. So that’s one thing, joy in… How’d you get the joy? You always have to seek the joy. And for dentists because it’s such a high stress level, you have to have some aspect that brings you joy besides your work, which should bring you joy. So in your work thing, you work out very early in your career, what brings you joy in dentistry to do more of that and do less of what doesn’t bring you joy.

Linda Greenwal: And we do have this choice, but coming back to the joy, what are your joy things that bring you that little extra. Because, of when you are in your joy litter. I like to do my dancing. I do nia, zumba and yoga and walking, but when you your mind is at rest. That is when your biggest insight comes.

Payman L: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Absolutely agree.

Linda Greenwal: And so you need that rest time. Most people have the Eureka moment in the shower.

Payman L: There is a reason for that, yeah.

Linda Greenwal: Because their mind is actually, there’s- Actually your vision is like, you just chilling and you’re just that, and your mind is clear. We don’t want to bombard ourselves on the phone with all the stuff. So when your mind is clear, you’ve gained clarity and insight. And that kind of, it comes to you because you’re not thinking, thinking and overthinking you actually just resting. That gives you your great- the clarity, helps you to plan your week and to run with the good thoughts, not the bad thoughts to keep with that and so, that’s what I try and do on the weekend.

Payman L: So Linda, we’re definitely getting you back for part two and maybe three and four. Imagine it’s your last day on the planet and your kids are around you and you are going to give them three pieces of advice. You’re going to leave your children in the world with three and only three pieces of wisdom what would they be?

Linda Greenwal: The first thing, if it’s your last day, is you have to share with your children how much you love them. And children have to know that they are loved unconditionally. And that’s really key. If it’s the very last day, that’s making me cry now, It’s very, very important because, children are worried that the parent doesn’t love them or whatever.

Linda Greenwal: So the first basic thing, and we try and tell our children that every day how much we do love them and we accept them unconditionally. And we want to know from our child that, their best person that they can be. If their name is Johnny, that they did, they were the best Johnny that they could be because they were self-actualized and those talents that Johnny was given by God has been able to achieve and accept those talents because, that God gives them that.

Linda Greenwal: So that’s the one thing, is loving unconditionally, be true to yourself and be human. Be kind and caring and make the world a better place.

Prav Solanki: As your children have got older, do you still tell them that you love them, even though they’re young adults?

Linda Greenwal: Even more so actually, actually, actually even more so.

Prav Solanki: Even more so, right?

Linda Greenwal: Even more so because as they become young adults, they’ve got even more decisions to make-

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Linda Greenwal: About their futures and about their direction and all that, and they need to know that you, as long as they not doing dangerous and all those going off the wrong path, keep them on the path that you love them unconditionally. Because children have challenges as a teenager, they have all these issues that are all very exciting things as a parent, you have to go through.

Linda Greenwal: I’ll tell you about that on another issue, another time. But they have to know that they loved unconditionally.

Prav Solanki: So I tell my kids I love them too many times a day I’m told. Okay. And I cherish those moments where my little girl drags me around the house holding onto my hand thinking one day she won’t want to, okay. Because, they’ll be too cool. It’s not cool to hold daddy’s hand anymore. And then I think that comes around full circle when they get older, right? Did you experience any of that in terms of, there was a little bit of a gap at some point where it was too, “Hey love you mom, love you dad,” all that sort of thing. And then it, and then it’s come back full circle again. Have you experienced any of that?

Linda Greenwal: I think that, so I’ve always tried to be a cool mom in terms of I love to have my kids, I like to keep an open home. So, I want my children to bring their friends over, I want to see who there friendly with, who they mixing with and see what’s going down? What’s the thinking on those children? And to understand that.

Linda Greenwal: So, because again, it comes to communication. To find out and if they say, “Look mom, don’t be embarrassing, whatever.” Of course, I’ll retract back. But if one of their friends is coming to the house, the food comes out the, what would you like to drink? That’s not alcohol, that’s not going to cause an issue at that age, whatever. But welcome to our home, we’re here for you. How can we help? And recognising, to be kind to guests.

Linda Greenwal: And then those kind of values are really key that children grew up with the values. Because you think, what lessons did I give my children? At the end of the day, you’ve given them the family values that you are true to you, that you live your life, but also where you come from. You bring everything where you come from and it’s always important. It’s called one of the sayings that we use is called ethics of the fathers. Always know where you come in order to know where you’re going.

Prav Solanki: Beautiful, beautiful.

Payman L: And a great note to end on. Thank you so much.

Prav Solanki: Thank you, Linda.

Outro Voice: 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.

Prav Solanki: Thanks for listening guys. Hope you enjoyed today’s episode. Make sure you tune in for future episodes. Hit subscribe in iTunes or Google play or whatever platform it is. And we’d really, really appreciate it, If you would-

Payman L: Give us a six star rating.

Prav Solanki: Six star rating. That’s what I always leave my Uber driver.

Payman L: Thanks a lot guys.

Prav Solanki: Bye.