This week, Prav and Payman have the privilege of chatting with a giant of implantology and restorative dentistry.

The great Koray Feran shares insight into his exacting work ethic and reveals how polymathic status has helped secure his position at the very top.

Koray also talks about patient-clinician alignment, his thoughts on the bees, butterflies and leeches in practice, and much more.



“Now for me, generalism is the new speciality.” – Koray Feran


In This Episode

00.36 – LCIAD

02.28 – Education and becoming polymathic

14.36 – Holistic planning – cost, benefits and considerations

24.42 – Trust and delegation

29.06 – Mistakes, patient alignment and psychology

33.31 – Associates & excellence

41.49 – Value and USPs

45.32 – Bees, butterflies and leeches

48.06 – Marketing

55.08 – Life outside the clinic

57.53 – Teaching vs clinical

59.34 – Last day on earth


About Koray Feran

Koray Feran graduated from Guy’s in 1989, where he stayed until 1991 on as house surgeon in prosthetic dentistry and oral and maxillofacial surgery. 

From Guy’s, Koray went on to practice in North London while completing an MSc in periodontology, also from Guy’s. 

In 1993, he gained a restorative dentistry fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons in England and has since pursued a special interest in complex multidisciplinary restorative work.

In 2005, Koray founded the London Centre for Implant and Aesthetic Dentistry (LCIAD).

He is also a successful lecturer and dental educator. 

Koray: I think one of the things that we all suffer from in this profession is we don’t spend enough time doing nothing, and you need nothing time. You don’t have to constantly be doing something. Just being able to sit in the garden and chat with your wife because you don’t see her for more than a couple of hours a day during a normal working week.

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: It gives me great pleasure to welcome Koray Feran on the show. Koray’s one of the most highly regarded implant surgeons, restorative dentists in the country. What do you call it, call it LCIAD?

Koray: LCIA, London Centre for Implant and Aesthetic Dentistry.

Payman: Is that how you refer to it? LCI …

Koray: LCIAD, yeah. We just call it the LCIAD.

Payman: You couldn’t come up with a more snappy name?

Koray: Yeah, we thought about Excellent Smiles and all that sort of stuff but yeah, honestly I obviously didn’t give much thought when I named it. I should have called it The London Clinic for LC, at least, if when people search for The London Clinic, they would have got me.

Payman: So you started that clinic, I think, what? 15 years or so ago, wasn’t it?

Koray: Yeah, 2005 I became a limited company, which was … that’s the name we adopted for it. It was just me to be fair, LCIAD was me because the thought process was, look, if it’s all about Koray Feran, then when you come to build a business and you want to then expand it or sell it on or whatever when you retire, if it’s just your name, it’s not going to be particularly valuable, so I think by … the objective has been over all this time, has everybody knows I’m at the helm but it’s about nurturing other people to do that standard, so that the whole team is recognised and then it becomes bigger than the sum of its parts, ideally. That was the idea.

Payman: Yeah, so I think we’ll get to how you’ve built that and why you’ve got such a fantastic reputation because when you talk to dentists, I mean, I guess that must be the nicest thing. When you talk to professionals and you ask them, “Who are the top implant people?” Definitely your name’s always in that list. So tell us about where you grew up and when you decided to become a dentist, Koray?

Koray: How far back do you want me to go?

Payman: Day you were born.

Koray: Okay, I’m the son of Turkish immigrants, so they came here in 1971 and I grew up in North London, first of all very briefly in Crouch End, but then mainly in Wood Green and Turnpike Lane, where we lived for a number of years and we then moved up to New Southgate, into a flat which my parents still live and I grew up in North London, went to skill, Latymer School in Edmonton and what got me into dentistry? We have quite a few family members who are dentists, I think I had eight over the last 10 years or so, we’ve got dentists in the family. All in Turkey though, none here.

Payman: Were you born here or in Turkey?

Koray: I was born in Turkey, I was three when I came over, I was three, three and a half. So I was toying with medicine and to be frank, my grades weren’t probably going to be good enough for medicine when I was doing A Levels, I didn’t really know how to study, I wasn’t a particularly … I was bright but not particularly good at applying myself. I think the word immature came up a few times on my school report. So I actually chose dentistry because actually the artistry appealed to me as well, which you don’t get so much in medicine. I think the artistry of dentistry was there. I was a good artist, I was a good painter and drawer, I liked building models and LEGO and I was very practical. So I think dentistry probably suits me much better than medicine anyway. So I applied for it and I got in.

Payman: Where did you study?

Koray: I was at Guy’s, so I got into Guy’s Hospital when it was still Guy’s rather than-

Payman: [crosstalk 00:04:04].

Koray: … the convoluted name it is now. Still Guy’s to me. I had a very good time there, I spent four and a half years as an undergraduate. I then did a year as a house surgeon, I then did two years doing my MSc. So I spent eight years at Guy’s.

Payman: What was your MSc in?

Koray: Perio. I did the perio MSc, under Richard Palmer, and Trevor Watts, and Peter Floyd, and [Ravi Saravan 00:04:33] and [inaudible] and it was a very good perio team, very strong perio team in London. The thing was though, I’ve always been restoratively minded, I just felt that perio was probably the thing I understood the least when I was a student and that was thing I said, “Right, I’m going to learn more about this so I understand it better.” But I’ve always been a restorative dentist at heart. I’ve never wanted to be one specialty because I’m a control freak and I want to have control of all aspects of the treatment and I couldn’t just do one aspect while somebody else did everything else. I can’t do that, just not in my nature.

Koray: So the buck stops here. The thing I love most about what I do is the multidisciplinary aspect of restorative. I think the only thing I don’t do is ortho, but pretty much everything else I do on my own.

Payman: Endo as well?

Koray: Endo as well, yeah.

Payman: Oh wow.

Koray: I enjoy it, I think I find endo really therapeutic.

Prav: So if you’re doing a big case, will you do … So you won’t refer bits of it out to other team members or anything? You’ll do the whole thing? What would you do?

Koray: Traditionally yeah, I’ll do everything. Everything from the occlusal planning to … everything, so bone reconstruction, endo, perio, cause, provisionalisation, aesthetics, everything and I like that, I like having control of everything. Now I’ve got a bit more flexibility, I’ve got colleagues round me that I really like and trust. The orthodontics, I’ve always referred out, working with Asif Chatoo for a long time in the same practise was very good. I also work with Moira Wong now and they both do different types of cases, so I know what to refer to whom-

Prav: To whom.

Koray: … depending on what I want. Some things Moira’s very good at, some things Asif’s very good at. I have Isabella Rocchietta in with me who [inaudible] do I do bone grafting and tissue reconstruction, or do I leave it to Isabella, she’s got a fantastic pair of hands. So she’s got me out of trouble a couple of times, where a couple of things I’ve done haven’t worked as well and she’s re-attacked it and done a better job than I did. But I like thinking in 3D, I like planning aspects, I like documenting everything, it’s a very big part of my practise that everything is photographed.

Koray: So I now have digital records going back 20 years, I think I’ve got about 120,000 photographs. So there’s a few lectures in there. You learn things as you go along and also, I don’t just take photographs, I have this habit of optimising them and logging them and tagging them with names, so if I go for a search, I’ll actually get a meaningful response out, so I can look for something that’s got … fractured abutment or something, then all my photographs with fractured abutment will come up. So it’s my way of studying my own work outside hours and it’s served me very well. If I’m preparing a lecture, it’s very easy to find everything I need.

Prav: You’re a dream customer for a web designer, Koray and the reason I say this, and I’m just going to bring this up now, is because when I’m having conversations with clients, I’ll say, “Send me 10 ortho cases with crossbites and send me five single tooth implant cases and send me four same day teeth cases. And I want one case that’s at least a full face, blah, blah, blah.” It sounds like with your tagging system, in a heartbeat you’d just be able to find all that, right?

Koray: Absolutely.

Prav: That’s amazing.

Koray: Absolutely.

Prav: And you’d be amazed at how many dentists just do not have that, everything just goes into a folder and at best, we’ll get names and that’s one piece of advice I can give to any dentist, is just organise your photography.

Koray: I use Photoshop and I do basic things, rotate, crop, light and dark and that sort of thing. I don’t ever change content, you shouldn’t do that.

Prav: No.

Koray: But I use Adobe Bridge, that comes with Photoshop and Adobe Bridge allows you to have a tagging system and I run lectures on this as well, or I did before the lockdown, so we do two days on photography and archiving and also doing presentations for your laboratory, so if you want to send a case off to the lab and specify what you want, how to use PowerPoint to do that. Also, luckily we don’t get nailed with it very often, but one of the things I always try to teach my associates is every single one of those photographs should be ready to send off to a third party at a moment’s notice. Referring to somebody, referring dentist, colleague GDC, everyone, every single one of those photographs should be of a level where somebody who looks at them says, “Yeah, this guy knows what they’re doing.” If you’ve got scrappy photographs and everything’s disorganised, it doesn’t look good and I think this habit has served me really well.

Prav: Impressive.

Payman: You seem like you’ve got this, let me call it OCD, attention to detail going on, at one point did you go from being the lazy 17 year old, to-

Koray: Good question.

Payman: Was it in dental school when that happened?

Koray: I had the great honour of the great Atiq Rahman calling me the most anal bugger he’d ever met. I think it was a compliment. When you get that from Atiq, you know that it’s … Where did it go? I think it actually happened in my first year at uni, because I failed my first term exams. I think everybody did, because the previous eight weeks had been a drunken stupor but it honed me to realise that actually, these guys are serious and I need to not do this again, I need to not fail again and my dad … I went through the reading list that Guy’s had given us, there was the recommended list and there was the other reading and I bought everything, or he bought everything, so I basically had every single undergraduate textbook and they’re still in the cupboards behind me, I still have them. So basically everything we needed for the course, I think at the time we spent almost two and a half thousand pounds on books, which was a big deal in 1986.

Prav: Wow.

Koray: So went to Foyles and basically bought the dental department and after that, I think what happened, I would go to lectures, I would come home and everyone went down the bar, I was living at home, so I would sit down, I would open all the books and I would take the same subject from each book and I would collate them all so that I knew that my notes was a culmination of everything in the books and that’s I think where the obsessive compulsive bit started. I think I got to the point where I wanted everything to be complete, everything to be in one place, to the point where I remember having some people in the class saying, “Can I borrow your notes?” Because they knew it was a distillation of everything in the books. I think that’s where I really started learning-

Payman: [crosstalk 00:11:28].

Koray: That’s where when people say … Dave Winkler calls me his encyclopaedia, that’s actually where I started learning stuff because you remember it when you do it that way, rather than just going over it once, you’ve gone over it twice or three times. That laid the foundation for later, I think that’s probably where it all started.

Prav: Are you one of these guys who’s got an excellent recall, so you can just fish it out really quickly, or is it just certain facts, or-

Koray: In some things. I remember patterns, I mean, I’m very good at remembering movies, I’ll see a movie, I’ll sit there and quote it and my daughter’s inherited that from me as well. I’m not very good with names for example, so I’d [inaudible] this guy’s name, he was on our course last year, what was his name? And I recognise the face, I recognise the personality, I recognise the conversations, but I don’t remember the name, but I do remember trivia and I remember patterns, I link things together. So something leads to something else, leads to something else. So I’m quite good at forming patterns but I’m not one of these people who would … I remember interesting facts and I’m the sort of person, if I enter into Wikipedia and read something and there’s a link to something else, I’ll go into that link as well and then go from that link to whatever else is there, I’m just interested.

Prav: And then find five other websites on the same topic and write some notes on each of them, right?

Koray: Pretty much, pretty much. So I think the bottom line is, if you want to summarise it, it’s I like complete information, I don’t like to know scraps, I want to know the whole thing, I want to understand.

Payman: So does that mean Koray, that your examinations take an hour and a half and you need everything?

Koray: Yeah, exactly. Hour and a half. The thing is, someone says, “Why do you spend that long?” It’s like, well that’s how long I need to get all the information I want and they say, “Well, can’t you just get bits of it and then get the rest later?” It’s like, “Well, which bits shall I get first and which bits shall I get later?” For me, it’s like I can’t think unless I’ve got all the info and I’ve done this for Dentinal Tubules now, so Tubules have got the way I treatment plan, it’s not a right way or a wrong way, it’s just the way I do it but I think that it’s stood me in really good stead because it means that I know that patient off by heart by the time I get to treat them and that I think is the bit that’s really undervalued in dentistry at the moment, it’s the bit that isn’t taught well, it’s the bit that I think most of the younger dentists don’t do well and I think it’s the bit that gets people into trouble because they haven’t really looked at a case and analysed it and talked about it. They haven’t spent the time to do it.

Koray: Again, that then leads onto this concept of why are we not paid for that time? Why are we not remunerated for the consultation period? If I was a barrister or a solicitor that was spending time analysing you and giving you advice, I would charge at the hourly rate and so we do, we charge for treatment planning time. If you don’t, that’s where you come a cropper, all your thinking should be done there, not on the hoof. It makes your dentistry much more relaxed, it makes everything much more organised, your staff know what’s going on, your patients know what’s going on, the payments are organised properly.

Payman: Tell us, from when a patient calls, or is referred … and what percentage of your work is referral and what percentage is non-referral?

Koray: It goes in waves actually, [inaudible] the get the waves of referrals of interesting cases and sometimes I get them through patients and sometimes I get them through website.

Payman: So patient contacts you.

Koray: Yes.

Payman: Take us through the step-by-step that happens at LCIAD.

Koray: All right, so the first thing, either they’ll fill out a form on the web, or we’ll get a letter referring them from the referral portal on the web, on the site and then my receptionist or my treatment coordinator will phone them up and say, “Look, welcome to the practise, this is what we do, this is how we do it.” They’ll refer them to the new patient page on the website, where all of our information is, as to what we do and how we do it, and why we do it and we’ll inform them they’re going to be here for about an hour and a half for their first consultation, we tell them they’re going to get a report and all their documentation afterwards and we tell them the price and we take the payment upfront.

Prav: How much is that?

Koray: We take £400. We take £400, which I think is a loss leader, considering it takes me an hour and a half chair-side and probably about two and a half to three hours afterwards to put something together.

Prav: Wow.

Koray: So by the time I get all the patient’s photographs, analysed them, looked at them, done a presentation, done the letter, worked out the treatment plan, done the costing, it’s a lot of time and I do most of that at weekends.

Prav: Is the work that you tend to see, is it mainly multidisciplinary complex stuff, or do you do some simple stuff as well?

Koray: I mean, sometimes I’ll get somebody come in who’s got three interproximal composites to do, fine, it’s not a problem but a lot of the stuff I do get referred is where people have thrown up their hands and just said, “I don’t know where to start.” You’ve got collapsed occlusions and perio mixed with caries, gingival stuff and resorption and no bone all that stuff, so I like planning everything step by step by step. That’s the kind of cases I’m good at.

Payman: Where did you learn to be such a holistic treatment planner?

Koray: I think it was gradually. I think the person that probably had the most influence early on was Mike Wise because this is his approach, or this is the approach that he made known in this country which he bought back after going to the states. I mean, he was in Indiana and it was a case of, “Look, you cannot do good dentistry unless you do good planning and you can’t do good planning unless you’ve got good information and you can’t get good information unless you have a proper consultation process that everybody understands.” He was also obsessive and I spent … I mean, I did his year course back in 1996, I think and I carried on doing his study clubs for a number of years after that and whilst he wasn’t the easiest person to engage with, he made it very clear. He basically said, “Look, this is how it’s done, this is what the literature says. If it’s going to take me six hours and I need to make this money, that’s how much I’m going to charge and if my laboratory needs to charge 10 hours, that’s what they charge.” You tot it all up at the end and you draw the line and that’s the figure and that’s what you tell the patient.

Koray: While some of us where really happy about getting a patient to accept a £500 crown, he was doing £50,000, £60,000 treatment plans and it was like, “Okay.” But then I realised it wasn’t just a case of charge more, it’s like you have to justify … you need to make sure that what you put in the patient’s mouth does not fail. You have to make sure you elucidate all the causes for why the patient is needing treatment in the first place, everything from personality and habits and occlusion and caries rate and perio rate and risk and accountability and patient’s motivation, who’s around them, how much they’re willing to commit to it and then you basically say, “Look, this is what you’ve got, this is what I think should be done and this is what it costs and this is how much time it’s going to take. If the patient bites, then great, you’re on the same page. If the patient … “God, I’m not paying that much for my teeth.” It’s like, “Okay, we have different ethoses, so I can’t help you. Or I can only help you up to a point.”

Koray: But the interesting thing is that even though I will end up having a number of patients, I would say probably one in five patients don’t take up treatment and they’ll … “Look, you’re just too expensive.” It’s like, “Okay, that’s fine.” But they will always appreciate the fact that I sat down and wrote them … “Thank you for the report, I’ve never had a report like this.” They’ll obviously take that report elsewhere. There was an occasion in the past where I was being sent patients who just weren’t returning calls and it was the associate of another dentist that said, “My principle’s sending people to you for the treatment plan and then he’s undercutting you.” There was this flurry of patients all coming from the same sort of postal area.

Payman: Amazing.

Koray: I thought, “Okay, right. Maybe I’m not going to do this any more.” But the thing is, that treatment plan, your notes, that treatment plan, your photographs, when you put your signature on it and you send it to the patient, that is your signature on the future. That treatment plan’s still going to be in circulation on the patient’s notes or in their hand, or under the observation of another dentists, two, three, four, five, six, seven, nine, 10 years down the line. If you’re true to yourself and your true to your patient and you really are giving the patient best service, you’ve got to give them information that they have to make their own decisions on. The patient may completely chose to ignore what you want to tell them.

Koray: They may say, “Right, yeah, I get it all, I believe you, just don’t want to do anything about it.” Fine, I’ve done my job and I’ve done it well and I sleep better.

Payman: Do have patients who, I don’t know, a full mouth reconstruction in your place must sometimes get to a hundred grand, right?

Koray: Not often, I mean, I think the way we do dentistry nowadays, we’ve got it quite slick but certainly upper double figures is not uncommon.

Payman: So do you have patients who turn up, have had no idea that that’s how much it could cost, or do you somehow prime them? Or is the referrer priming them? Because a lot of people don’t know you can spend £50,000 on your teeth.

Koray: The crazy thing is, yeah, how do you justify that? Well it’s very simple, it’s because this is how much it costs me to run my practise and this is how much it takes to treat you.

Payman: No, no, I get that, I get that, yeah.

Koray: But yes, there are patients who just basically come in and say, “Look, yeah, I just cannot … this is just not something I can do.” I appreciate that but at least you’ve come in for a consultation and I’ve given you my opinion and that’s fine. If you can’t afford it or it’s completely out of your ballpark, I’m not sure I could afford me. I would really have to think hard, I’d have to have really major problems but it’s just the way it is, is it’s reality. It’s reality and there’s no getting round the fact that if you’re going to be spending 60, 70 hours treating a patient, that’s the amount of time and laboratory fees and … How does it cost you to treat that patient? You work that out in terms of your hourly overheads and laboratory fees, I’m thinking, “Well actually, I’m pretty good value.”

Prav: How do patients finance this on the whole? Do you do a lot of finance?

Koray: We do finance, we work very closely with Braemar, I’m going to give Colin Cornish a plug here, I’ve been working with him for a number of years now and he’s terrific, he does my finance, my domestic finance, my business finance, my patients’ finance. So Braemar have been terrific over the last seven, eight, nine, 10 years, I think now I’ve been with them. If I want the new bit of equipment, that’s where I go. If my patients need to finance treatment, that’s where I go, if people want to come on our courses, like the implant year course I used to run with Phil Bennett and then [Sanjay Seppi 00:22:15] and then Fazeela Khan-Osbourne and Zaki Kanaan, there’ll be people who say, “I really want to come on the year course but I can’t afford the 10 grand, what do I do?” I’ll say, “Well go to Colin, pay for it over two years, three years, pay for it after you’ve got the information and it starts paying for itself.”

Koray: So for me, I think financing stuff is just part of life. Most people don’t have very large wads of cash sitting in the bank doing nothing to pay out but a lot of our patients do. They come in and you give them and estimate and you say, “It’s going to be this,” and they say, “Okay. When can I pay?” Transfer comes over. When you look at it, it’s a lot of trust. Someone who’s just met you, is coming by your reputation, presumably, they’re in your chair because they trust you at that level, but then they meet you and then you think, “Well actually, this guy is someone who know what he’s talking about, I trust him, I feel like I’m in the right place, but you have that initial contact and you have that hour and a half and then you have that report and that’s all the time you get to convince somebody that you are worth investing in and the fact that so many of our patients do is actually very gratifying and it’s a great thing. I think it shows an enormous amount of trust and they know that we’re not fly-by-nights and we take responsibility for our work and if something doesn’t go right, we’re not going to move premises the next day.

Koray: That reputation takes a very, very long time to build, a very long time to build and it takes very little to tarnish it, hopefully on a relatively small scale, with me, if you’ve got one disgruntled patient, or one disgruntled staff member or one disgruntled colleague, it can be jeopardised, but I think if you do the right thing all the time to the best of your ability, you eventually build up a reputation where people trust you and they know that what you’re doing is in their best interest and the money is necessary. It’s not even something I … I’m not somebody who regards myself as financially successful because I’m 53 years old, I’m still in practise, I still have loans, I still have a mortgage, I still have to pay bills, it’s not like I’m sitting on a pile of money I can retire on tomorrow, it’s a good lifestyle but it’s certainly not an ostentatious lifestyle, ignore the guitars. But I think when you get to that balance, where you’ve formed a reputation for yourself, then it’s-

Payman: Do you have problems trusting others?

Koray: Do I have problems trusting others, no, on the contrary, I probably have problems over trusting others. I expect people to do things to the same standard I do them and think like I do and I’ve learned repeatedly that they don’t but it doesn’t stop me. I’m still the eternal optimist when it comes to human nature but I’ve been stung a few times, as we all, I’m sure.

Payman: But when I stay trust, I mean like delegation, because someone who wants things done to your level, and it sounds like everything, not just [crosstalk 00:25:16].

Koray: I wind people up, yeah. For sure. I’m not a hard person to work with in so far as I’m not a nasty person to work for but I will keep asking for things to be done in a certain way and for people who have a much more relaxed attitude to life and how they live and how they work, I wind them up, for sure. People burn out under me when they work for me but on the other hand, some don’t. My nurse has been with me for seven years, she hasn’t killed me yet, I don’t know if she has plans to but Nina’s been with me as my right hand for seven years and she understands and my practise manager who I’m working with, Zoe Harmer, has known me for a very long time, probably 20 years. Although we haven’t worked together all that time, she understands, she gets it, she understands what the stakes are, she’s been around for a very long time.

Koray: When you have staff members like that, I have no problem delegating. In fact, they do it better than I do, all I tell them is what, they deal with the how. The what is my decision based on how I want to run my practise. The how is their expertise. I’m not going to tell my other dentists how to nurse, I’m not going to tell my practise manager how to manage, but when something doesn’t go … In fact, I probably spend more time telling my associates how to be good associates than I do with my staff and it’s my associates, not my current ones, but past associates in the past, it’s usually them that have been the most frustrating people to work with because they want to do things their way but they don’t really take responsibility for it sometimes. When you have a set of rules in a practise that have been honed over time and if somebody’s not toeing the line and then they cause problems for other people, some associates are not as ready to take responsibility as perhaps they should, whereas staff members, I find are actually the opposite. I think most staff members take a great deal of responsibility and I’ve had the opportunity to work with some really good people. Unfortunately not everyone together, sometimes you get someone really good coming in and then they leave and then not so good and-

Payman: Do you have associates as in general dentists as well, or is everyone a specialist?

Koray: Yeah, I mean, I think most of the people that I’ve taken on have been generalists with few restorative … or Isabella doing perio and implant only for example. I’ve got Geoff Pullen at the moment, who’s known as an implant but he’s a restorative dentist. I’ve got Shiraz Khan working with me, who’s terrific, I mean, he’s a great pair of hands.

Payman: [crosstalk 00:27:43].

Koray: So they’re all general dentists. I don’t really want a single specialist. I’ve got Milvia Di Gioia just doing facial aesthetics for example, which is a much more niche aspect of dentistry, which honestly, until I saw what she could do, I didn’t really believe it and then I saw what she could do and I think, “Yeah, actually this is really good.” I didn’t know it could be this good. So Milvia’s been fantastic in terms of … she’s got an Italian flair for everything but I don’t want this kind of practise which was in position in the ’90s where you had the prosthodontist and the periodontist and the endodontist, practises don’t work that way, it’s very, very difficult to have continuity of patient care when you have a bunch of specialists. You need a really good generalist.

Koray: Now for me, generalism is the new specialty. I think to be able to bring everything together and be the leader, or the director, or the manager of the case is probably the biggest thing. So the buck stops here, who’s going to do what, when, is probably what I’m particularly good at because I really think it through step by step, literally on this visit what’s going to happen, how long is that bit going to take and then how long before they can go and do this and who needs to also be there and that’s where I’m strong at and when I’ve thought the case through that way, I don’t tend to make mistakes and it runs really smoothly.

Prav: Does it ever go wrong Koray? Have you ever made a mistake? What’s the biggest clinical mistake you’ve ever made?

Koray: The biggest clinical mistake is not recognising that your patient is not on the same page as you. It’s not the dentistry, it’s the person you treat. It’s embarking upon treating somebody who-

Prav: You’re not aligned with?

Koray: Either I’m not aligned with or they’re alignment changes during treatment, they start off very enthusiastic and then suddenly their demeanour changes, you don’t know why. So really, I think my biggest clinical error has been the patients I’ve taken on for treatment whose demands have changed, or whose demeanour has changed. From a clinical viewpoint, of course we all make mistakes, we’ve all done silly things like, I don’t know, perf endos and have a bone graft fail and an implant fail. That’s part of clinical dentistry and part of that is not so much a mistake as just part and parcel of what happens. Okay, maybe you’ve failed to diagnose that a patient isn’t very healthy, or is low vitamin D and just isn’t healing or whatever, in which case, you send him for a blood test, you find out, “Okay, let’s repeat it.” But I’m pleased to say that I don’t really have any major clinical disasters. Clinical setbacks, all of which can be rectified, so I don’t really count those as major.

Prav: I guess when you’re doing a one and a half hour exam, as thorough as you’re doing it, you’re very unlikely to pull the wrong tooth out.

Koray: No, I’ve never done that.

Prav: Never done that?

Koray: I’ve never taken the wrong … I’ve taken more than I need out, so I’ve fractured tuberosities and taken out the eight, seven, six while I was taking out the eight, for example, I’ve done that.

Payman: [crosstalk 00:30:52], well done.

Koray: That was early on in my career, but I think nowadays, when you really think … with experience obviously, you look at a case and you think, “I know what the problem is going to be here. I know what I’m going to be faced with, I know that this bit is going to be difficult,” and that’s the big advantage of having experience and that you’ve attacked these things before and you know how much time it’s going to take.

Koray: So if someone said, “You charge how much for taking out a fractured abutment?” Well have you ever taken out a connection fractured abutment? Fractured at implant level? Takes time, a lot of time.

Payman: Great, in your position you must attract some patients to you who, let’s say their problem might be more psychological than [crosstalk 00:31:35].

Prav: [crosstalk 00:31:35].

Koray: Sure, this is what I meant by the kind of patients that … I had one lady recently who came into as my TMJ [inaudible] and she was, she had massive slides and she had non-functioning TMJ on one side, headache … Having taken her through the process of getting her a Michigan splint done and equilibrating and all the rest of it, it’s like, “Yes, but you’re not accounting for the fact that my skull is flexible, my sutures move and my cranial osteopath has said this and … ” Okay, we’re going to get nowhere with this. You just say, “Okay, bye-bye.” Some people just come in with a preconception and it’s not necessarily compatible with reality and with those patients, the ones are completely out of kilter, you can tell straightaway and you kind of think, “I can’t help you.” It’s very difficult sometimes to say, “Look, I don’t think your problems are … ” you can write it in a letter and say, “Look, I don’t think your problems are dental, I think it’s your perception of your problems and I would perhaps actually talk to your GP and maybe seek the attention of a psychiatrist just to see why you feel this way.”

Koray: That’s quite difficult to write but once you’ve written it and you’ve realised how to word it, it’s something that you should actually put in your letter if you feel the patient has a psychological issue. The problem is the ones that are almost there and then at some point, there’s something happens and you’re thinking, “Where did that come from?” Again, it’s just either you don’t read the patient or you … what Malcolm Gladwell calls reverting to truth. You revert back to what you think is happening when actually something else entirely is happening and those are the ones that I think really make you think about, it’s not clinical dentistry, it’s patient management, it’s person management and that first hour and a half is actually quite a good … it gives you quite a good insight but sometimes you’ll get caught out.

Prav: At the beginning of the conversation Koray, you spoke about obviously trying to make the practise not be all about you and having some kind of an exit plan. Have you got that in mind and has that changed as a result of the pandemic and what’s happened? I know I’ve spoken to a lot of dentists who’s views has changed just because of obviously what’s happened over these last few months. What is, or what was your exit plan and how are you working towards that?

Koray: I mean, the perpetual dream has been you set up an environment to a high level, where people who feel and want to do the same things as you do and are dedicated [inaudible] just going to have an environment where they can thrive. For some people, it’s great. For other people, it’s not great, so there are people who will take full advantage of it. I mean, if you give somebody something good and they like it and they thrive with you, a couple of my associates with me for seven or eight years but what then happens is that there are some that will come in and try to take advantage of the practise for their own ends and they really don’t care about your practise, they don’t care about you, they don’t care about the staff, they basically want the reputation that you’ve made to start bolstering them, they don’t follow the rules.

Koray: When I give a little talk on associates … I mean, I’m not having a go at all associates by any means, I’ve got a reputation for being anti-associate, I’m not at all. On the contrary, I want my associates to do better than I do. It’s in my interests for them to but that also means that they have to subscribe to a certain ethos and the standards of which are set by me but not by me just as a person, “Well, this is how it must be done,” but “Guys, this is what we’re trying to achieve and these the steps that we need to do to achieve it.” If you cut corners and hope to still get the same results, you’re going to be disappointed as an associate and I’m going to be disappointed as the principal and the staff are going to be disappointed because they’re going to have to pick up the pieces.

Koray: So how do you choose associates is the most difficult thing because everybody wants it to be a successful collaboration but some people are more driven than others and some people prefer to rest on their backsides and let other people do the work and still expect to form a reputation. I think people come and go, there are no constants. Sometimes it suits people for a number of years and sometimes it doesn’t and I said I’m a hard taskmaster, I demand a certain level and if you don’t want to keep plugging for that level, if you don’t want to put in the extra hours at home, if you don’t want to do your homework, if you don’t want to record the clinical level of your activity and you’re not dedicated to it, I’m going to piss you off because I’m going to be at you all the time and I have broken a few people like that, who’ve just basically said, “I’m not doing this any more.” Which is fine.

Payman: What’s your advice to someone who wants to get a job at your place, let’s say for the sake of the argument. Or a young dentist who wants to do well?

Koray: That’s fine, okay. About three years ago, I sat down with my practise manager at the time and we said, “Right, what are with really looking for in an associate?” So I wrote an advert in LinkedIn, together. We basically sat down and said, “Right, we want them to be this, that, this, this, this, that, this, that, this, this. This is our ideal associate.” We got 24 applicants and the person that we chose actually ticked all the boxes until you realise that they ticked all the clinical boxes but they didn’t necessarily tick all the personality trait and ability to get on with people boxes.

Koray: So the advice I would give is you’ve got to love what you do and you’ve got to be dedicated to making sure that you do the best for every person and being seen to do so. It’s not just doing it, it’s also documenting it. Documenting stuff is a major part of what we do, right from the way you write your notes, to the way you talk to the patient, to the way you write to the patient, to the photography, to the diligence you show and it requires a certain amount of homework that you have to do outside the practise to be just one step ahead of everybody else.

Koray: I spent as much time doing admin as I do doing clinical dentistry and I’m not exaggerating, I really do. Now that’s maybe over the top for some people but I think I can’t do it any other way. I can’t treat a patient to the best of my ability without putting in the time outside. If I push my associates to do that, sometimes it leads to resentment, and it does lead to resentment, because they’ve told me it does. “It’s not necessary.” Well, it is necessary if you want to work here and then when something happens with a patient and they are asked for clinical records and the clinical photographs, it’s like, “That’s why we do it the way we do it.”

Payman: You’re saying you can’t do it any other way but are you saying no one can do it any other way?

Koray: I don’t mind if they do it their own, the thing is, there has to be a result at the end where things are done, a standard is achieved. Now, I don’t care whether they go that way or that way, I’m not saying that the way I do is sacrosanct, but what I do is, or what the ethos of the practise is sacrosanct and that is … My parents are not the sort of people that go to private things, they’re very low key. They’ve grown up just in normal jobs, they don’t have money and they wouldn’t go to a private doctor unless they really had to.

Koray: Earlier in my life, from memory, I think I’m second or third year at school. My mom went to a private doctor because she thought she had something seriously wrong with her and she wanted to go. This chap, whoever it was, treated her so badly she came home in tears and I thought, “How does a doctor make a person cry? How does that happen?” That had a big impact on me and one of the things I thought was, I do not ever want to be that person that a patient goes home and complains about and cries about. I want to be somebody who’s trustworthy. When they come and speak to me, they understand that I’m doing for them what I would do for members of my own family.

Koray: Whenever I’ve made mistakes in the past, I’ve always traced it back to not spending enough time and effort understanding to start with. When you try to teach that to people at the level that you work, “You have to get a photograph of this.” I have a case in point, patient’s come in now for the third time with a fractured distal marginal [inaudible] on her lower sixth and it’s been repaired three times by a past associate who’s never looked at the occlusion, there’s no photograph of the occlusion, or the guidance, or the contact areas and of course there’s a massive plunger [inaudible] straight into that area and you cannot get that restoration to succeed unless you alter the occlusion and I’ve taught them this, they know this because they have to look at it as part of their first new patient assessment, they just didn’t bother. They didn’t bother the first time, or the second time, or the third time. So, I don’t care how he did it, but he should have done it.

Koray: Now, when I see that, it pisses me off because the standard that I’m aspiring to should not let that happen. Is that fine detail or is that basic dentistry? Is that ultra high level demanding or is that how it should be? My views on that might differ to some people.

Payman: You’re in pursuit of excellence man, I mean it’s obvious, you’re in pursuit of-

Koray: But to me, it’s not excellence, it’s-

Prav: It’s your normal, it’s your normal.

Koray: … it’s basic because if you do the basics right, the excellence comes.

Payman: Yeah, that’s [crosstalk 00:41:12].

Koray: Excellence isn’t having a … I can’t do composites like [Govinda Burr 00:41:15], I can’t do crown preps like Mario Semenza, I can’t. I just don’t have that ability but I do have the ability to make sure that what I put in the mouth doesn’t break. I do have the ability to know the patient will be comfortable and looked after, and feel good and I will still see that patient 10 years down the line and they won’t need anything doing, that I do know.

Koray: So when somebody comes in, I want that full diagnosis, the diagnosis is not a fractured restoration. The diagnosis is it’s an occlusal issue. So when it breaks the first time, I got it, you might have missed it the first time, don’t miss it the second time round.

Payman: So we had Andrew Darwood on the podcast and neither me or Prav are implantologists, so forgive us our understanding, but from what I understood from him was that his particular USP was that he could think in 3D, he could keep things very simple, that was what he was saying and then imaging and the whole technology thing, the printing thing. His practise is very much specialists, lots and lots of specialists. What would you say is yours? I mean, I know you do things like bone graftings-

Koray: Andrew’s practise is probably the one closest to us in the West End, both in terms of the scope of work and the-

Prav: Proximity.

Koray: … proximity yeah, it’s 50 yards down the road. I have great admiration for Andrew, I’ve known him for a long time. I mean, I knew him when I was a house surgeon, so I’m talking nearly 30 years ago and he’s always been innovative, he’s always been at the cutting edge, it was at his practise that I saw Nobel really get into gear in the early ’90s and his imaging system and he’s an innovator, he’s got a spectacular mind so I’ve a great deal of admiration for him. He is somebody who … I’m the same, so our practise is multidisciplinary, we deal with all sorts of stuff but he takes it a step further because he also deals with the cancer patients and the facial deformities and the specialist implant designs and things. So with his imaging, he is a cut above the rest, he’s a special guy-

Payman: Definitely.

Koray: … and I think I’m not that level in terms of the scope of what he does but certainly-

Payman: Where’s your value add in the implant world?

Koray: Where’s my value?

Payman: Your value add? I do high level whitening, that’s what I do.

Koray: Do you do high level?

Payman: Because we don’t understand implants, so just tell it to us from a non-implantologist-

Koray: I don’t think there’s something special about implants as such, I think it’s just biology and patient management and good restorative skills. I mean, I don’t really like this term implantologist because it signifies it just somebody puts screws in, it’s not-

Payman: But you said the same, you said the same.

Koray: … that’s not it. You’re a restorative dentist and implants are the same an endo [inaudible] it’s part and parcel of your repertoire.

Payman: You said the same.

Koray: The important thing is I think realising when you should and when you shouldn’t and what solves that patient’s problems in the best way for that patient? It’s not necessarily what you would recommend. The patient may say, “You know what? I don’t want that. I want this.” You’re thinking, “Well, okay. It’s not the best way of doing it but it’s a way of doing it, as long as you’re aware of X, Y, Z, okay we can do that.” But sometimes you have to know when a patient says, “I want A, B, C.” You think, “There is no way A, B, C’s going to work. I’m not even going to go down that road. It has to be X, Y, Z or something Similar.” And they’ll say no in which case, needs to be part way.

Koray: The thing with Andrew’s practise is again, it’s a massive practise, there’s a lot of clinicians, there’s a lot of different clinical activity going on in there and it’s much more difficult for him to control clinical standards at an individual level. I’m trying to keep my practise small enough that I can do that where we all are on the same song sheet, but large enough that we’re flexible and we have a size that makes it a viable business, both to work in and to sell. I couldn’t run that practise on my own but equally, I don’t want a practise where I have 15 associates coming in and out, that’s a hospital.

Koray: So I think four surgeries where myself and the hygienist make up one half of the practise and the associates in two surgeries make up the other half of the practise is quite a good balance. When I talk about associates, I talk about bees, butterflies and leeches, so I think when you’ve got bees in your business, then you have very, very good thriving practise and you can just take your foot off the gas, lie back and just let everybody do their thing because they get it, they get the ethos, it’s integral, and you rest easy. If you’ve butterflies and leeches, not so good.

Koray: The difference between them is the bee will work as hard as you do. The bee will earn more than you, they’ll be on social media, they’ll be wooing the patients, they’ll be following things up, they’ll be doing things to a high clinical standard, they’ll be on top of their paperwork, they will be a version of you, me. Those are the people I want to cultivate.

Koray: On the other end of the spectrum, every practise has seen them, with the guy, the girl that comes in, complains about everything, nothing’s ever good enough yet they’re the ones that don’t turn up to meetings, they’re the ones that don’t toe the line, they’re the ones that don’t obey the rules, they’re the one that expects everybody to run around for them and it’s all about them, them, them. They’re the leeches, get rid of them and they’re the people that are going to take your patients and run off to set up their own practise.

Koray: So those are the two extremes. The difficult ones are … keep the bees, get rid of the leeches. The problems are the butterflies, who start off as a caterpillar and eat everything and they get into the practise and they’re wonderful and then turn into wonderful butterflies and they are there with you and they’re lovely and everybody loves them and their quality of work is good, nobody really complains about them, they occasionally drop the ball but they’re fine and they’re sweet and they’re charming and everything but they don’t really add any value to the practise, they don’t really bring in any patients, they don’t really do anything, it’s just a job. They come in, they go home and those butterflies are the difficult ones because they don’t really help build your practise but on the other hand, it’s nice to have them there.

Koray: The butterflies are the most difficult associate because if you push them to try to raise their game, they shrink back and if you don’t give them enough, they get bored. Those are the difficult associates and you don’t always know what they’re going to be but if you can find bees, pay them well, keep them busy, keep them happy, give them everything they need because that bee is going to be your future.

Payman: What do you do from the marketing side? Do you do marketing or is it word of mouth?

Koray: I’m terrible for marketing. I think the best marketing is word of mouth. I think patients and colleagues who know what you do and what you stand for, refer and keep you busy enough. The trick is always keeping your associates busy because when a patient comes to see you, they don’t want to be given to an associate. I call them associates but they’re not really my associates, they’re my colleagues, they should be regarded as colleagues. I want to share the job with my colleagues but if my colleagues … My colleagues need to be there to pick up the ball and wow the patient. If a patient comes to me, it’s very difficult to move them sideways. If a patient comes straight to the associate and really likes them, that for me is the best thing. I shouldn’t be involved at all and to their credit, that’s what I’ve got at the moment and I’m very lucky but it wasn’t always so.

Koray: When you’re really busy, booked four weeks ahead and you’ve got associates sitting their twiddling their thumbs because neither of them can be bothered to pick up the phone, phone the patients, that’s frustrating, that’s frustrating. I don’t do any marketing. I’ve got a website and my social media skills … we’ve got Instagram set up and Facebook set up but honestly, I don’t know how to use them, I really don’t and I get about 10 emails a day saying, “We can do your social media for you.” Do you understand us? How are you going to do the social media? “Oh, don’t worry about that, we have the formula.” You try them out and you pay them lots of money and absolutely nothing happens.

Koray: For me, I’m too set in my ways. I think word of mouth is still the way to build a practise, personal recommendation, someone who looks you in the eye and trusts you and says, “Right, let’s go ahead.” That’s the level of clientele I’m looking for. I personally cannot handle the Instagram crowd where somebody who … “I had my teeth done at X.” Attracts 200 people to come and call you and say, “Can you whiten my teeth,” is my idea of purgatory. I don’t want that, I don’t want that. I want the old company directors who understand, my sort of age level, old-fashioned values, who want one-to-one, face-to-face, trust. I’m not a marketer, never have been.

Payman: Although I think it’s wrong to generalise that that’s what marketing is. I get you because I’ve done the same. I’ve paid marketing agencies when I didn’t understand it myself, I didn’t understand the lingo and got it wrong but you know, the best marketing will sit with you and get all of that that you just said and set in your business and then come back and give you a plan you’ll be comfortable with, but I hear you. It’s not for everyone.

Koray: I find it a very abstract concept. I think I wouldn’t go to something just based on an ad, or a-

Prav: Yeah, and the type of practise you’re talking about and just sitting here for the last 45 minutes listening to you, it’s not the sort of practise that is the everyday. For one, you’re not going to be shouting about free consultations at your practise are you? It’s a £400 comprehensive, thorough assessment-

Payman: Loss maker.

Prav: … 360 degree … do you know what I mean? So from the beginning, it’s a totally different concept, so if I’m looking at it as a marketeer, the best type of marketing I think that you could do is sharing your patient’s stories. Sharing those life-changing impacts. Sharing their words in their words. Some of them may not be comfortable sharing their words because they’re just not that type of people. Then as you said, word of mouth, internal referral marketing. Marketing doesn’t have to revolve around social media and I think certainly for your practise, it’s the more discerning patient that you’re looking for, rather than your Joe Blogs who rings up and goes, “How much is an implant?”

Koray: Yeah, I mean, this is it. This is the question you get asked and in my experience, the way most marketing is done by marketing companies just doesn’t fit with the way we work.

Prav: Won’t work.

Koray: But it’s frustrating when the young associates say, “Listen, we need to do some marketing.” It’s like, “Okay, do some marketing. That involves you marketing yourself. There’s no point me marketing you. You need to get out there and show your personality so that people trust and come to you.”

Payman: No, but there is the issue of, I don’t know, the Four Seasons hotel in the Maldives might do an advert. I’m not going to go book my holiday to that hotel because of the advert only, but I may call up my buddy who went to the Maldives and say, “Hey bud, do you know what the Four Seasons is like in the … ” do you know what I mean?

Koray: Yeah, yeah, sure.

Payman: So the ad could get you just recognition.

Koray: It’s a snippet, isn’t it?

Payman: Yeah.

Koray: You need seven of those to get somebody to come in, as they say.

Payman: Because I totally understand. You don’t want people to … and have never heard of you, see an advert and come to you because that’s not the kind of person who’s going to go through this process that you’ve just mentioned.

Prav: No, no.

Koray: Much more than that, the objective was to make LCIAD the name to trust. So if it’s, “Actually I went there and they were really good.” That’s basically it. I mean, there are certain medical practises in London, so I had a couple of injuries in the past and I’ve gone to a couple of clinics in the West End of London and it’s like in fact, that’s the place to go and that I think is the reputation that you want and the people that know, know but the trick is turning that into a critical mass that will sustain you and that I’ve done probably much more slowly than everybody else and as a result of that, I’m not probably that well known outside the people that know.

Koray: So I’m just not very good at it. I just find it abstract and whenever I’ve found somebody who says they can do it for me, I’ve been bitterly disappointed. They’ve not even come close to what I stand for. So I’m kind of a once bitten twice shy kind of person but for sure, I think you need it and the way you do it I guess is you just get people talking about you, that’s the only way you can do it. The people that talk about you sincerely, where their eye contact and their body language is, “Honestly, go there,” are the people that have been there. So for me, 90% of what comes through my doors is via word of mouth from other patients, other friends, family members, other dentists, dentists themselves and this is how it works for me.

Payman: Do you get quite a lot of dentists coming to you for their own treatment?

Koray: Not a lot, but I’ve got a few, yeah, a few colleagues who I treat. They’re tough to treat man.

Payman: That right? Koray, what about outside of work? I mean, you said that you work at the weekends as well, writing these reports.

Koray: Yeah.

Payman: I see a bunch of guitars there behind you.

Koray: During lockdown I had a great time because I really got into them and I think those two months were probably the best holiday I had since A Levels.

Payman: You needed a break.

Koray: I’ve not taken two months off before but I think one of the things that we all suffer from in this profession is we don’t spend enough time doing nothing and you need nothing time. You don’t have to constantly be doing something, just being able to sit in the garden and chat with your wife, because you don’t see her for more than a couple of hours a day during a normal working week.

Payman: Does she work as well?

Koray: She does all the bookkeeping. If you look, next to me are two more double screens and so this end of the room is office and that end is playpen but yeah, she’s got on her eye on … but she’s the bookkeeper and the finance and she’s the invoice person, so she’s highly organised, she’s got a background in being an assistant CEO for the biggest dairy company in Turkey, so she knows her spreadsheets. But it’s tough, my average day starts at six o’clock and it ends at 10 o’clock and you just don’t have time to do anything else.

Payman: Wow.

Koray: I normally work four days a week, so all my Fridays and all my Saturdays are spent doing letters and reports and mentoring people and assisting people and answering questions and, “What would you do with this?” I’ve got an inbox with 150 emails to answer. I tend to also Sunday as well, so it’s not until three o’clock, four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon that I finish, then it’s either Grand Prix, or PlayStation. The guitars, you have a burst, sometimes everyone will have gone to bed and I’ll just be here at half eleven at night and I’ll pick up a guitar and I’ll still be strumming away at half one in the morning. Sometimes, you just get that bit of creativity that comes through and it all works, but I’d really, really like to do this when I retire. I’d like to have a recording studio where I actually get to do something meaningful and learn my way through recording but I just don’t have time to do it at the moment and when you do have time, you have no more mental energy left, you just want to sit and do nothing and we don’t have time to sit and do nothing very much.

Koray: That’s what I really liked about lockdown, I got far more done because I was rested and we underestimate how much we fatigue ourselves in this profession, or at least I do. Everyone else might be having a much easier time.

Payman: Do you like the teaching side as much as the clinical side?

Koray: I do. I do like the teaching side, with a caveat in that you really need to teach people who are interested and not there just to tick a box. The most frustrating thing in the world is you go somewhere to lecture and people just listen and they say, “Yeah that was really good.” And there are no questions, there’s no interaction, people just … maybe it’s me, I don’t know but when you do get an interesting crowd, it’s fantastically rewarding and we ran the implant course for 10 years, running the sinus course for almost as long. So when you’ve got people who are really engaging with you and really asking you awkward questions and saying, “Well, what do you do about this? And how do we attack that?” It’s really nice to go back to first principles.

Koray: Sometimes you find holes in your own knowledge and you think, “I’m not sure, let’s go look it up.” That bothers me. If somebody catches me out, I will want to go and look up and understand why I don’t know what they just asked me, but I do enjoy it and I want to do more of it and I did have a number of courses organised, we’ve got the RCID Academy website now. We were doing everything from implants to sinus, to occlusion courses, to photography courses, to treatment planning and fee setting courses. So really, we’ve got a lock in the pipeline as soon as COVID goes, and I don’t know how much of that is transferable to a Zoom situation, but I do enjoy it and I want to do more of it as my clinical obligations reduce over the next few years.

Payman: So I know our time’s limited, I’m going to ask you one more question and then I think Prav’s going to ask you one more question and my question is not to do with teeth, it’s to do with meat. I do love seeing your exploits.

Koray: Yeah, I’m a verified carnivore, I like my steaks. I don’t know, it’s maybe a Turkish gene.

Payman: Yeah, it certainly is.

Prav: What’s the question?

Koray: Yeah but it’s not just steaks. [Mukesh] and I obviously occasionally throw lamb chops at each other on Facebook. I like it, what can I say.

Payman: Me too buddy, me too, well done.

Koray: A good steak is hard to replace. I know we’re ruining the planet, but while it’s there …

Payman: Prav, go ahead man.

Prav: So Koray, it’s your last day on the planet and you’re surrounded by your loved ones, what three pieces of advice would you leave them with and how would you like to be remembered?

Koray: And you leave that for the last minute? What advice would you give?

Prav: Three pieces of advice.

Koray: Three pieces of advice. Is this to my family or my daughter, or anybody, or everybody?

Prav: Your family, your family, yeah.

Koray: My family. The first bit of advice is carry on living. If I’m going, doesn’t mean you guys have to stop what you’re doing, just live life like I was still there and enjoy it because it’s silly mourning after people. I think death is part of life and everyone’s going to slip off this mortal coil at one point or another and sometimes you don’t know when. [Anoup] comes to mind up and we live in a fragile world.

Koray: The second bit of advice, probably for my daughter, would be always do your best and don’t trust everybody at the first step. Give everybody a little bit of time to prove themselves. I trust too much.

Prav: Especially boys.

Koray: Not so much with boys no, just generally in life, everyone from … The world, I felt, used to be a nicer place, I think it’s not such a nice place any more. I think there are a lot of odd people with more opportunities out there to take advantage of you, so just think before you let somebody into your inner circle. Just be a little more reserved is one thing. Behind every person you know, there’s a person you don’t know, so just don’t get too involved with people until you know what they’re about, would be one for her.

Koray: One for my colleagues I guess, is if you felt I stood for anything, don’t forget it. I don’t need to be remembered for anything in particular, just if you think that what I do has value, then pass it on.

Payman: Beautiful man.

Prav: Cool. Thank you Koray.

Koray: That’s a tough, tough question.

Prav: It’s a really, really hard question, especially when put on the spot like that.

Payman: It’s flown by, I just said how quickly that’s flown by. Thank you so much for doing this, buddy.

Prav: Thank you.

Koray: It’s a pleasure, pleasure. Thank you for asking me.

Payman: Really, really lovely listening to you, buddy.

Koray: Cheers.

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 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 guest needs little in the way of introduction as Prav and Payman take a call from stateside and the legendary Dr Larry Rosenthal.

Larry talks about his rise to becoming one of the world’s best-known names and how a meeting with a bioengineer in his early career changed Larry’s life, in the process transforming the face of dentistry as we know it.

The trio talk ambition, happiness, success and what it means to rub shoulders with some of the world’s most influential people. 

An episode not to be missed.



“I didn’t mean to transform the profession. I don’t know if I did, I had some role in it, but I feel pretty good about it.” – Larry Rosenthal


01.49 – Early years

06.18 – Porcelain laminates

16.47 – Innovation

20.26 – Rise to fame and life at the top

32.57 – Happiness and success

36.58 – When veneers fail

43.53 – The making of Mike Apa

54.57 – Zeitgeist 

01.04.14 – Family and life in lockdown

01.10.37 – A day in the life

01.1404 – Larry’s last day


About Larry Rosenthal

New Yorker Dr Larry Rosenthal is perhaps the world’s foremost dentist. Dr Rosenthal completed his residency at the Montefiore Hospital before graduating from New York University in 1972. He is director of the Aesthetic Continuum at the Advanced Aesthetic Program of the university’s Rosenthal Institute, as well as at The Palm Beach College and the FMC/Eastman Dental College of London.

Prav: I’m just curious to know that you’ve got this kid, who you’ve brought from dental school as his father and then there’s a transaction that happens. Talk to me about how those conversations even went about.

Larry Rosenthal: No I’ll tell you, first of all I’m not his father. Sort of a jest in-

Prav: I know, no, no, no.

Larry Rosenthal: I’m his shrink. I’m his shrink. I’m not his father.

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: Well, it gives me great pleasure to welcome one of the pioneers of cosmetic dentistry onto the show, someone who’s inspired, I’d say maybe one-third of the guests we’ve had on this show, have mentioned Larry Rosenthal somewhere along their progressions, someone who inspired them to actually get into cosmetic dentistry in the first place. Coming from New York, born and bred in New York, Larry really burst onto the scene in the UK in the ’90s, but obviously a lot before that. In terms of porcelain laminate veneers, maybe the most experienced dentist in the world on that subject. Lovely to have you on this show, Larry.

Larry Rosenthal: It’s a pleasure to be here. How are my chaps doing there across the Atlantic?

Prav: They’re doing well.

Payman: Just fine you don’t know how many times you’ve been mentioned on this show, you’ve been mentioned so many times on this show.

Larry Rosenthal: I can’t imagine in what phrase they’ve talked about me, but sometimes good, sometimes not so good.

Prav: We’ll get to that. We’ll get to that. Larry, this conversation really is about getting to the person behind the persona, so tell us about your childhood. Where were you born? What were you like as a kid? When did you decide to be a dentist?

Larry Rosenthal: Well, first of all I was born in Brooklyn, New York at the turn of the century, so it was quite a long… Secondly, I was born in a family, my brother is a dentist, he’s five years older than me. He was the greatest brother growing up. He took me everywhere. We were into sports. I hung out with all his friends. I spent more time with his friends than my friends. My mother and father were two of the greatest people of all time. My mother was sweet. She was a typical Jewish mother. She was engaging, she was loving. You could do no wrong.

Larry Rosenthal: My father was the coolest, crazy, wildest guy. Passed away 35 years ago. He’s my idol to this day, and he’s looking at us right now. He’s watching over me, and if I had two million or more men that I could choose for my father, my father would go first and the other million plus would be a long-distant second. That’s how special he is.

Prav: Really. What was he like? Go and tell some crazy stories about him.

Larry Rosenthal: My father was in the garment centre. He made a maximum of like $25,000 a year as a working partner. He designed dresses and things like that, and he had one good year, one bad year, and out of business. But you never knew it looking at him. He always had a cigar in his mouth, he had a great sense of humour. He had a swagger. He looked like he was a billionaire making $25,000 a year. And he was cool, he was fun. He was nice. He taught me… and he said, “Listen, Larry, you’re different than your brother. Your brother would be very content doing his job. You on the other hand, you will not be able to work for anyone. You need to be stroked. You need to be the person in front. It’s going to be very difficult for you to take criticism, and maybe even listen to some people talk about how you could be better, because you’re going to think you’re the one.” And he was right on. He was right on.

Larry Rosenthal: And he said to me one thing before he passed away, he said, “Larry, you never really saw my success.” I said, “Dad, you’ll watch it. You’ll watch it up there.” I knew he was passing away. He said to me, “Just one thing. The only mistake I made in my life was when I saw things happening and I didn’t go for it. If you see something happening, and you think you have a shot at whatever it is, work, relationships, family, if you don’t go for it, you’ll regret it your whole life.” So basically, I’ve been going for my whole life, and I’ve been pretty fortunate that my go-for attitude hasn’t gotten me in more trouble than it did.

Prav: Sounds like a great guy. Sounds like great advice as well. So when did you decide to be a dentist? Was it because your brother was a dentist that you decided?

Larry Rosenthal: No, actually I was going to be a musician. I was going to be a musician. I would have starved and wasn’t that good. I was playing keyboards and I was going to music schools, and all of a sudden, the Vietnam draught came. And being on draught in the United States was one to 365. Your birthday. My birthday was Valentine’s Day, it was number two. The first 165 were definitely going to Vietnam. I was what do you call it, and I was so into the whole thing, I had a beard, I had hair down to here. I was a rebel. If you told me this was black, I would say it’s white. So I was a person that was anti-establishment from the get go. I was going to Canada to run away or I had options, medical school, dental school or veterinary school and getting a 2S degree, which would eliminate you from going at least temporarily into the services.

Larry Rosenthal: And I said, “Well, medical school…” My cousin went to medical school. I said, “I don’t know. That’s life and death.” I always thought it was life and death, so I didn’t want to do life and death. And so I liked animals, but dealing with animals all the time is not good. And dentistry, my brother was in dental school, or going into dental school, first year, and I said, “That seems to be the least path of resistance, the least resistant path.” So I go to dental school, and I’m in dental school, and they accepted me, go back, take a few courses to get accepted, and I get deferment. My first week in dental school, I look around me, I say to myself, “This is not going to happen. How could anyone want to deal with what I’m having to deal with?”

Larry Rosenthal: You wear gloves, put your fingers in someone’s mouth, listen to them, work on them. I mean, the whole idea was basically a very glorified plumber. I said, “That’s not very good for my ego, for my status, or even for my future.” That’s not going to get me too excited about life. But I went through it, and then all of a sudden, as I’m going to dentist school, there’s a guy named Dr. Harold Horton, who was a researcher. He was giving a lecture, and then after the lecture explaining things, and he came to me at, I don’t remember the exact order of the meeting, but he came to me, and he says, “Dr. Rosenthal, I want to tell you something. I am doing something in the laboratory. Please come here. You’re a young guy.” And he said to me, “You have a big mouth,” and pointed for me to go.

Larry Rosenthal: So I go ahead and I go to this thing, and he has porcelain pieces bonded on teeth. And he was actually trying to pull the porcelain off the tooth, and he would pull the enamel off the dentin easier than he pulled the porcelain off the tooth. And they were very thick and they were very… and he goes, “If you help me, and you believe in this, then I will go ahead and do this thing, we’re going to call it porcelain laminate.

Prav: Wow.

Larry Rosenthal: And he said to me in the process, “You can be part of this thing.” I said, “First of all, I have no idea what you’re doing. Second of all, these things look too thick. Third of all, they don’t look like teeth. When you bond teeth and shape them, you can do it too big.” And he said, “Well, that would be your problem. I’ll make it stay. You make it look good. You make it comfortable for the gums. Biologic is your end. I am the bioengineer researcher.” He was a dentist also, I believe.

Larry Rosenthal: So we did that for a while, and believed that in the first 15 to 20 years I did this, I was an outcast. Little Larry Rosenthal is a high-priced salesman. He’s going to sell you something. He’s a little outrageous out there, but it’s not traditional dentistry. You have to cut a tooth, drill a tooth, totally around, move a lot of the tooth, the strength, and for long-term stability, and it’s called a crown.” These veneers will not work. They’ll pop off. They’ll be a disaster. And we didn’t know. And now I don’t know how many thousands and thousands veneers later how we open our bites, transit, things. And one morning, I put pressure on these things, and the less I touch the tooth, the less I drill, the more conservative I am, the less invasive I am, this stuff works. I’ve seen patients… today I’ll see a patient I did 22 years ago. And they decided to do it again. It was remarkable.

Larry Rosenthal: I didn’t mean to transform the profession. I don’t know if I did, I had some role in it, but I feel pretty good about it, but what I did do, and this is very important, I know it’s a long-winded answer but-

Prav: No, no, keep going. Keep going.

Larry Rosenthal: So what I did do was I said to myself, “Regardless of anything else, I’m a giver.” I don’t like to take much. I like to give. And I like to show things as part of my drive or my ego, who I am, or what it is. And I said to myself, “If I can give back, and I can go ahead and show dentists that this might be a more effective way to restore a tooth, restore a mouth, change a smile, doing a smile, all these things, then I’ve done something.” So I went out there and literally I was Donald Trump out there. They were ready to throw things at me. They were ready to protest and throw things at me.

Larry Rosenthal: I had to stand up there, and they wanted me to prove to them, meaning the dental community, prosthodontists, dentists, all around the world I would lecture every weekend that this is the way to go. I said, “I’m not going to prove anything. My scientific data is my office. My research is my office. My recall system is my paper.” So the bottom line is this, that I will explain to you, and I tell them all the time, “This is how I do it. This is what I do every day. It may work for you. It may not work for you. If you disagree with the way I’m doing it, fine. You have a better way to do it, tell me.” I would like to too, because education is the most important thing, I think, that drives this planet. And if we got more educated, we’d have less problems because we’re all the same.

Larry Rosenthal: So not getting to a political venue yet, this catapulted me to a level where today I am in the office full-time as a hobby, in a pandemic I am busy as hell. I have no social media. Half the people think I either died or whatever the other half know I’m there. And my hands don’t shake yet. I don’t have any heart conditions. I’m relaxed. I’m probably as good or whatever I am as I ever was. Once I lose it, I’m out of here, but right now, I am… This podcast, the people listening to this, I really compel you, I beg of you, go ahead and try to reach out for more. There’s so much more you can give your patients. In the end, they get the rewards. They get the satisfaction. They get the results. They get the positive, positive results of really quality dentistry that’s available today, and they get the emotional feedback of feeling good about themselves, anti-ageing, and health.

Payman: Larry, when was that? If you just go back in time in terms of that initial conversation that you had where you talked about bonding this laminate onto a tooth, what year was that approximately?

Larry Rosenthal: Well, in 1981, which you people probably weren’t even born is when I met Dr. Harold Horton, and they were doing bonding, and a lot of my mentors were doing bonding, on boastings, it was smile dell, all people around the thing were doing bonding. I joined the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. I’m sitting in here, I’m going, “Wow, look at these dentists. Look at their presentation. Look at what they’re doing. Look at their mindset. Look at their though processes.” And this is off the charts.

Larry Rosenthal: And I will go ahead, we had a philosophy in dental school called See One. Do One. Teach One. I didn’t like that philosophy, so I went ahead and I thought about this. I said, “I’m sitting in London. I was doing a course in London.” I wrote a college position and surgeons, and I said, “I just can’t understand.” I said, “See it visually. You hear it verbally. But you experience it emotionally.” I just can’t. I don’t know what I came from. The instructors said, “What the hell was that?” And I said, “First of all, you got to see it visually. Your mind has to see it, and it has to understand where you’re going to go with it. And the eye has to say, ‘if I do get the chance to do this, what am I going to do?'” Okay?

Larry Rosenthal: And then the hand works. It doesn’t work because I’m going this way and this way and this way, it works because your mind understands it, and your eye sees it. That’s what we try to teach. That the idea is when you know what you’re doing, you’re a painter. You’re not drilling, you’re painting. You’re flowing around the teeth, and the patient feels it. All the vibes and all the experiences of everybody else are different than other office.

Larry Rosenthal: I didn’t know it was different, but I felt it, so I believed that when we make that patient feel great and comfortable, that’s as important as the result we give them. There’s a long process of teaching and learning. Every lecture’s important. Four days a week we’re getting our plan on Thursday night and teaching someone, then developing a hands-on course, and then they’ll be several of them, then going out there and allowing myself to be quietly shot in the back so many times. And that’s how I understand Trump.

Larry Rosenthal: I understand Trump because some of the things that they said about me might be true. Most of them aren’t. I’ve done a lot of crazy things in life and they never got a problem. People don’t understand. But the things they’re talking about were off the charts wrong. All I want to do is understand is I truly believe from my heart, and from my experience, this is the way to go if you’re going to do restorative dentistry.

Prav: So, Larry, do you remember a time when it went from absolute people not believing that this is a way to do it to when the inflexion point when people really wanted to come to your course, and getting more accepted?

Larry Rosenthal: Well, it was a series of times, but one of the defining moments for me… There were two defining moments for me.

Prav: Yeah.

Larry Rosenthal: One was when I gave a lecture at the American Academy of Prosthodontists, and I get up there, and the traditional dentists, most of which either teaches the mind or people that I deeply respect in the field that have a lot more experience than I had, that had successful practises. I was a young stud or mud, or whatever it was, and what happened was I got up there and I said to them, “I don’t know why you invited me here unless you’re here to justify the way you do dentistry as opposed to the philosophy that I have. If that is why you’re here, I am fine, because I am not here to change you one iota. I’m just here to expose you to my philosophy and open up opportunity, and open your mind to the possibilities. Now some of you will be open to it, a lot of you won’t. This is something beyond my control.”

Larry Rosenthal: So I went along the way, and I got to a point where the crisis came in, and they gave me even more time, and I said to them, “Look, can we cut to the chase? Can I tell you exactly how I feel? I feel the way you do dentistry, and the way you taught…” this was, I think, at Harvard, I’m not even sure. It was a meeting out there, lost it. I said, “Is magnificent.” The root of all prosthodontists start in this area, Harvard, all these places, Tufts. And I said, “But you know, that was them.” And basically I was telling them to drain the swamp. I didn’t know that, but that’s what I was telling them.

Larry Rosenthal: I said, “If you don’t open your eyes and ears and your heart and your mind to new things, nothing ever happens.” This profession has tremendous possibilities. If you just think about it, give it a chance, explore a little more, perhaps you’ll have a better life than dentistry. More happiest as a dentist, more success as a dentist, more financial gains as a dentist. Perhaps. And if not, fine.

Prav: But Larry, now that you’re kind of part of the establishment, do you see that in yourself as well? Do you see these young kids coming in with their digital side and all that, and you being the one who has to be convinced… I mean, do you do the digital side or not?

Larry Rosenthal: Okay, the great question is this. I consider myself and how I practise dentistry still revolutionary. I open bites up every day. I expand watches vertically and horizontally, and I do this pretty seamlessly. People say you’ve got a wage, and I have to get temporaries on for a long time, whatever. So that phase, dentistry hasn’t even caught up to that point. If you do anything every day, and it doesn’t work, if you don’t change it, you’re out of business. If it does work, you just modify it, so the proof of the pudding that if people are still coming to me in this age of that, and years and things going, I don’t even see these. We’ll talk about ferries in a second.

Larry Rosenthal: But the point being is this, you’re absolutely right. For some reason, I have resisted the social media, because when I started out, it was first lectures, then a few articles, some of them from Henry Schein. They’re not going to know who you are, Larry. They’ll say you’re a high-priced salesman. You better write some things that are academically, scientifically satisfied in the community, and the community accepts it. So social media’s one of those things I didn’t because I saw some problems with social media early on. People would lie and talk about, not just dentistry, other things out there. And their lies were affecting, and to get it back was very, very hard, almost like getting a credit report back. You get some awful credit report-

Prav: Yeah, but what about the digital side of dentistry, the scanners and the smile design and all that, digital smile design?

Larry Rosenthal: Well, right now we do design dentistry. Right now we have, I think, eight technicians in this office.

Prav: Wow.

Larry Rosenthal: We have a giant lab. We have a digital designer who is from Brazil, who is maybe the best in the world. He came through the great ceramists that came out of Brazil, and dentist he came out, from a digital design expert. So the point being is that they came here, and I have learned so much. I had a technician in my office for a long time when we did veneers. She would sit there. I would prep in the morning, light prep, have almost no temporary bonding, look like I’m put a casing in afterwards for the one-day smile makeover.

Larry Rosenthal: Now, I wash different materials, the billing materials, and the adding on, everything from zirconium to Emalex to this feldspathic porcelain to how we do digital wax-ups or how we do the composite now that are so phenomenal that uses provisional that looks like permanents. Everything has evolved, so I feel good about that. Every single person that comes into our practise gets a digital scan of their mouth as a permanent record.

Prav: Brilliant.

Larry Rosenthal: I think it’s the most amazing thing. I think the dentist, even if you didn’t use a consub-changeable impressions, everyone else will have to get with it. But if you had a digital as an impression, it is one of the best practise management tools to sell. Patients do not like impressions. Now some people may not mind. Some people may. When you say, “We’re not going to do impressions.” It’s a camera, and they’re watching it on the screen develop. There’s no better communication and visual. As a matter of fact, the less a dentist talks, the better off [inaudible 00:20:13].

Larry Rosenthal: I am a total believer in digital world, and I was not until a few years ago. But I believe it’s taking dentistry to another level. I really believe, and I think it’s very, very important.

Payman: So at what point did your business go from… you said you had a small office or you were just starting out in dentistry, and then you became this world-famous cosmetic dentist. What was the transition from being this guy who rocked up, gave a lecture to a bunch of non-believers, and then became who you were today?

Larry Rosenthal: Okay, that’s a great question. I had a three-path platform. I went to get this office where I am now, I had a 700-square-foot office. Now the office became 1400 square feet, and I thought that was like Madison Square Garden. I mean, this is like the Grand Ole Opry or it’s like London Coliseum or whatever you want to call it. It was unbelievable, and it was 1400 square feet. I couldn’t afford to pay for it, so I rented out to every dentist. So I had a dentist in every room. I had 10 people at the front desk. It was absolute total disorganised chaos where now we have organised.

Larry Rosenthal: What happened was some of the methods that I watched, people would say to me, “Listen…” and the story was amazing. There was a story in Time Magazine where a woman had septuplets, and everyone was giving her something for free in Iowa, and the Oprah Winfrey Show called me on the phone and said, “Why don’t you go ahead and do her teeth.” She had black teeth, she had tetracycline-stained teeth. And everyone was giving it to her. It was in Iowa. I said, “Well, I don’t have a licence to go to Iowa.” Jerry Dennehey, he’s in… Europe, but I can’t go there. “Well, why don’t you do it on the show on Oprah?” I said, “Well, I can’t go to Chicago to do it.”

Larry Rosenthal: I said, “Listen, it’s very simple. I will help design, I will help organise, I will do it.” At that moment I had someone in town who was a PR person. She said to me, “Why are you doing it for that person. Let me do this.” And she said to me, “I will build your name up.” So a slow process, a three-pronged process. Number one, write over 30-something articles in a couple years. Number two, I lectured to every group out there from 10 people to 300 in the labs or more, and dental meetings even bigger than that. And the third thing was I went on TV, and I was on TV an awful lot in two years travelling around the country talking about the fact that this is a renaissance revolution of the highest order.

Larry Rosenthal: Oral health is one of the things that has been most dismissed by the public. It’s probably one important connection with cardiac disease and all kinds of other problems that maybe go on. People think they’re just teeth. And then I said to the fact that there was a personal self-esteem problem, that people didn’t smile, the most important emotion, I think, that goes on. If I smile right now talking to you, I sound like I’m smiling. I’m still like that, it’s all I got. So it’s not just what it looks like, it’s how you feel about yourself. And that became the most important part of what I believed was my goal and my drive in dentistry, making people feel better about themself without risking the health, and 90-something percent of the time improving their health. That was the most important part.

Payman: Larry, you graduated from dentistry. You started practising dentistry. Did you go from working for someone else through to having probably one of the most successful cosmetic practises in the world? What was that transition?

Larry Rosenthal: That was a great question again. Okay. I went around, I said, “If I want to be a high quality dentist, sitting in a lecture’s not going to do it for me.”

Payman: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Larry Rosenthal: Little help, I got to see what’s going on. So I want to get a job at the number one prosthodontist in New York that had a gold band, and the beginnings of a porcelain band, porcelain and gold crowns. They were veneer into the gold and porcelain. Some of them were acrylic on top of it. Some of them were porcelain on it. I got a job. I was young. They didn’t want to hire me for anything else. They had me do root canals. Now, the entire population was in pain that year in New York City, because if you asked me to do a root canal, it was like purgatory because I could not do it. I was horrendous. I was awful. I didn’t like it. I did it with one eye looking at the tooth, one eye looking at what’s going on in the office.

Larry Rosenthal: But I did learn a lesson. I went to him, I said to him, “Listen, Doctor, this is Joe, I’ll be in so on and so forth, you guys are the head of the Prosthodontist Society, and you guys are phenomenal dentists, and I’m honoured to be here and I want to stay here, but I’m the wrong person doing this. I will cause problems.” Actually, I wasn’t as bad as I sound, but still, there’s someone else there. “I would like to be part of this team. I will be the gopher, I’ll do whatever you want, but I’ll do that too.” And they kept me around for quite a while, and I watched the way the office worked, the interactions. Two very classy prosthodontists who were excellent dentists, who had a clientele that was unbelievable. And I said, “What is going on here? Why are they coming here, this clientele? Why are they coming to this office? Why are they paying these high fees?”

Larry Rosenthal: And I realised, it was their calm, professionalism, the ease at which they went ahead and did it. The fact that the office was positive, was reinforcing, and that they were quality dentists and they had a quality lab guy there too. And I said, “That’s part of the key.” There’s a team here that’s making it work, and without that team, it’s a struggle. And that was also in the ’80s. It was in the ’80s. I graduated school in ’72. Maybe in the ’70s actually, even before that. It might have been the ’70s. And I went across there and I said, “I’m going to build something great.”

Larry Rosenthal: By the way, I got to tell you something. This sounds very, very pompous, it may sound arrogant, not meant to be. But I believed in myself, and I believed in myself so much that if I was selling vitamins, I’d be the best vitamin salesman.

Payman: Where does that come from, Larry? Where does that come from?

Larry Rosenthal: My father.

Payman: Really?

Larry Rosenthal: My father instilled a confidence in me. I would go ahead to this day and not make restaurant reservations. I go to the hardest restaurant possible to get in, walk in the door, and say, “I know you have no tables, but I’m in the corner over here, and if you get a chance, I’d like a table.” I think anyone that makes a restaurant reservation is a fraud. Because anybody that makes reservations, what’s the difference, you just get accepted. You need to get in.

Larry Rosenthal: I drive around New York City in a car. I had a driver for 20 years. I drive myself. Never put in a lock finding a spot before. The challenge of life is getting things done that no believes you can do. That’s what keeps me going to this day. And when I see the patients, and they go, “How can you do this one more?” I would go into dentists, here I had braces, here I got ortho, here I got Invisalign, here I got root canal, here I got this here. Everything’s been passed all over the place. Or I did this, I didn’t like it, whatever.

Payman: Larry, you’ve treated some of the most powerful people in the world. I mean, I think you were one of the first dentists ever to have people travel across continents to come and see you. They could be the richest people, the most influential people. You’ve had an insight into people who’ve really made it in the world. Do you ever feel like that feeling of… Have you ever seen Eyes Wide Shut, the film?

Larry Rosenthal: No, but I should.

Payman: That feeling of you’ve touched the very highest level of society and I don’t know whether you consider yourself as part of that. For a dentist, sometimes difficult. What’s the key to happiness? I mean, we see lots of unhappy rich and successful people. What’s the key to happiness for you? This process you’re talking about?

Larry Rosenthal: Well, first of all, if you think about any job around the world, the CEOs, the people that run the government, people that go ahead and are rock stars in their own world, the dentist is the rock star in dentistry. The patient sits in a chair, they virtually know nothing. They think they know everything, but they know nothing, right? They’re coming to because a dentist is the expert. He went to school. It’s even different than anything else, because there are teeth. They, the power of people that came into me at the beginning, what they would do, they would do what they do with everyone in their social, in their work environment, they try to dominate and they try to go ahead and let you follow their thought process and what they want. That’s not what they want.

Larry Rosenthal: They want you to take control. If they have control over you, they have no confidence in you. The word is trust. If someone trusts you and believes in you, whether it be this podcast, whether it be dentistry, where it be relationships, then you’re in. And if they don’t trust you, even the best path in the world doesn’t work. So the key is that… And it also is rewards. The power you have over them, over people the are billionaires, that are heads of state, that lead the free world, that are superstar rock stars, that are models that everyone wants to be like, pictures of it, all these people, actresses, actors, people across the board, right?

Payman: What I’m saying is you get an insight-

Larry Rosenthal: How in my office, okay, in my office, they are lucky to be there. When every star comes in, I won’t mention stars, when they come in, they’re lucky to be there. They could be in another office, and maybe get a great treatment, and maybe get the final result even better, but they won’t get treated better. It won’t feel better. And whatever I charge, it’s worth it. And when they tell me, “Can I go… You know, I went to your competitor…” whoever that is, “and the fee was this. It’s lower than yours, can you match that fee because I really want to go to you.” And I say to them, “[inaudible 00:30:46] ask you. You should be there. They’re a great office. They’re great dentists. They will do the job. But if you want me, this is what I charge. This is who I am.”

Payman: Yeah.

Larry Rosenthal: Have a nice day. And the power of control of that, because the fee is $10 or $8 or $12 or 12,000 or 10,000, it doesn’t change people’s minds. It’s not going to be that much crazier. But the idea of this, and the friends that have me, people coming in today, people came in yesterday, I go around the world, I go places that I’m invited, things that I don’t even want to go to anymore, but the feeling of these… Not only my patients, they’re my friends.

Payman: So this is what I’m saying, this is what I’m saying. You must have been exposed to life at the very top.

Larry Rosenthal: I’m never exposed to it, not in my mother and father. I told my father was, I did it. I got married to a woman that went along, was a top model, and went everywhere with me. And we would get into places like Studio 54 and things like that. I’d meet someone, I’d go there, we’d push it, we’d go everywhere. I would never tell them what I do. I would just… Well, who is this guy? It was the fact that I believed in myself. My father taught me something very special, actually my son did. He says, “Larry, you’re bet…” “Dad,” my son said to me, and he meant this, “Your best friends are the ushers of Madison Square Garden and the guys in the garage.”

Larry Rosenthal: My father said to me, and I don’t mean this in a bad way. This is the most important thing in life. This sound bad, but it’s not a bad way. It’s taking care of little people. The little people means not the employers, but the employees that work out there. And I try to make everyone, whether the guy’s a policeman on a corner or sanitation guy or the guy that’s sitting out there trying to sell belts for a living in New York City when no one’s walking around, or masked. I love these people. And I love the people. So therefore my image was, oh, Larry is all this. He’s out there. He doesn’t care. It’s exact opposite. I enjoy those people more than the so-called phonies that have made it to the top and want everybody to know about it.

Larry Rosenthal: You know what it is? You do things for people that they don’t even know you did it for them. That’s why dentistry’s great. I’m sorry, next question.

Prav: So just touching on the same question that Payman asked, you’ve had the opportunity to mix with these incredibly successful individuals who’ve become friends of yours. Can you give us an insight to during the conversations with them, what do you take away as being the top two or three secrets to their success, and does that necessarily mean happiness, and what is that?

Larry Rosenthal: Okay. Happiness and success are two different things. And success can be divided into so many different categories.

Prav: Sure.

Larry Rosenthal: When dentists say success, that means a practise that’s busy, that there’s a kind of dentistry they want to do, the results are very good, basically pretty happy and they’re making a good living, and they’re thought of well in the community. I think that’s a dentist. When I think of success, I think it’s a fact that they cannot believe the experience, that they thought it would be much worse. They thought of dentistry of being more painful, more negative, rather than joint, wanting to go to the dentist.

Larry Rosenthal: When it goes to CEOs it’s the same thing. There are different types of people. There are people that rule by fear. They go ahead and they become very, very condescending and arrogant, and they scare their competition. They scare their employees. They fight everyone else into believing in them, and afraid to object. I do the opposite. I want to get that back that they’re part of a team. They love being here, and they could tell me, “Dr. Rosenthal, this tooth over here doesn’t fit or doesn’t look good.” I’m looking over here, I don’t see it. We got to make it or we got to change it. The smile’s going this way or that way. And I go, “My God…” I will say to my staff.

Larry Rosenthal: Patients say, “You’ve got a great assistant today, because their teeth are always going to the right over here.” We have a great assistant. I have no problem in that way. As a matter of fact, I go in a new direction. I also believe that most dentists are so serious. I think humour is something you don’t buy, but lighten up. You know, life, lighten up. Things can happen bad and good to everybody else, whether you are the president, whether you are the CEO, whether you are the all-star football player, you’re the model of the world. You make mistakes. It happens all the time. Lighten up. And if you loosen up your attitude, you can look at it negatively. I listen to it every day.

Larry Rosenthal: People come to the dentist and what do they do? Complain. That’s why they’re there. They might not complain about you, but complain about other dentists or their teeth in general, or their life in general, whatever it might be. If you’re complaining, it’s negative. We want serotonin, we want positive things. That’s what makes you happy. Your mind starts to feel happy because you refuse to dwell on the negative. I’m going to give you one example. Can I give you one example?

Prav: Sure.

Payman: Sure.

Larry Rosenthal: A friend of mine went ahead… I used this in lectures a long time, I just thought of it. Friend of mine went to school with another friend, and the other friend he went to school there with at the same time, he went ahead and they both graduated. They went into different professions. Similar path guys and same type of education, background, et cetera. One became a salesperson, and the other one became a broker on Wall Street. And the salesperson made like $100,000 one year. The next year he made 130 and he was ecstatic. The broker made a million dollars one year, and went down to 750 the next year and wanted to put a bullet in his head because he was going down and the other one was going up.

Larry Rosenthal: So it doesn’t really matter what you have, it depends on what you want to achieve, and what you need to live your life. It’s all just… I mean, money is the exchange of goods and services to do something. I mean, that’s what it is. You don’t have to have a new car. Your car works. You don’t have to have new teeth. You don’t have to have a lot of things. It’s not what you have to have, it’s what you want to have, and what you want to be.

Payman: Larry, you’re perfectly positioned having done so many veneers to discuss failures of veneers. So where are the failures? What can a general dentist do to minimalize the number of failures that they have?

Larry Rosenthal: Okay, first of all…

Payman: And how do you handle patients when it comes to [crosstalk 00:37:15].

Larry Rosenthal: Okay, I’m going to tell you a story that happened to me last week, and a patient’s actually coming in today.

Payman: Yeah.

Larry Rosenthal: A very short picture, it’s visual, I probably sent them to you.

Payman: Cool.

Larry Rosenthal: What happens is this. What is a failure? If the case is beautiful, two teeth, four teeth, six teeth, a bridge, implant, whatever it is, and it fits perfectly, and the person goes great, and the bite’s great. Comes back the next day and he says to me, “I’m getting food caught here. I don’t feel good. I don’t like the way it looks. It doesn’t feel fine. I’m not the same person.” And you really don’t think you can do better. You can do different, but not better. Is that a failure?

Prav: Yeah, it’s a failure of communication I guess.

Larry Rosenthal: Well, I don’t know, you may have told him the same thing, doesn’t matter. Some patients will go, you do 10 cases, and they’ll say, “I like this better. I don’t like this anyways.” And the failure is to go ahead and evaluate your patient. That’s one of the biggest problems. You shouldn’t be treating some people. I went to five dentists, I’m not happy here. Can you make me happy?

Payman: When I did a lot of veneers I used to have patients super happy in the chair go home sometimes and a family member would see them as different look, and then they would come back and say, “I’m not happy anymore.” [crosstalk 00:38:27]-

Larry Rosenthal: You go ahead and you pay the grandchildren off. You pay the grandchildren, you give them some cash. So they go to grandma, “Your teeth look great.” Or you go ahead and get a homeless guy outside the office and didn’t know it was a temporary, “Ma’am, you look beautiful. Where’d you get those teeth?” 20 bucks and you’ve got a success.

Payman: But let’s talk about critical failures, so staining, chipping, whatever.

Larry Rosenthal: Okay, listen, we’re a triangle, the first seven years, we said the last five years, 10 years, now it’s 15, 20 years, whatever. It depends upon the case. They want you to guarantee when it’s going to last. I can’t guarantee it. I guarantee I’ll stand by my work. So if it’s a clinical failure… Want me to give you a prime example?

Payman: Sure.

Larry Rosenthal: I’m going to expose myself right out here. I’ll undress myself right to you in public. I’m going to do it. So I had a guy last week, I put in a very difficult case, and it was six [inaudible] teeth. It was a bridge from two to five, you could see the implants from two to four. The teeth were dentures at that point. Raising his bite three to five milligramme, overcrowding lower interiors, broken down teeth. Seen this person come in, take impressions, he flies in, I try the case. Nothing fits. I’m talking about I can’t get one thing seated. On the model they look great, not one could be seated. What do you do? America, England, dentist out there globally, what do you do now? I don’t know.

Larry Rosenthal: I’ll tell you what I did. I don’t know what you’d do. I know what my partner would do differently than I do it. I make it work. I sat there for three and a half hours, drilling out the inside of hemax, zirconium bridges, uses provisionals back there. I drilled out with like 44 burrs. I adjusted the teeth and drop, the patient had no idea what was going on. I get the case in. I had a doctor who’s in post-grad in prosthodontics school observing me, watching me do this.

Larry Rosenthal: In horror, the guy is in horror, and I’m going, “Isn’t this great? Watch this.” He goes, “Do you do this in every case.” I go, “Absolutely. Every case we have to do this.” So I put the case in, I put it in, listen to this, I take new impressions, right?

Payman: Yeah.

Larry Rosenthal: Before I do the work inside the crowns. I see the stuff in, I put the bridge in temporarily I put the crown in, the anterior veneers, crowns permanently lowers them fine. I get the bite right. He’s coming in today. Bring me the back bridge in the top front teeth. I told Jackie yesterday that “I hope that girl’s not touching me teeth.” He said, “I went to my mother’s 80th birthday, just before I came in yesterday, on weekend, and they can’t believe how I look, how my face looks like somebody else.”

Larry Rosenthal: I had to tell them, and I didn’t tell them anything, nothing works. Any dentist do that or would they let it go. This is the question for the day. I’m not talking about one tooth failure. I’m talking about the whole thing. The important thing is if someone screws up and I take all responsibility because I’m a dentist. The lab’s going to screw up, Jessica screw up, impressions, everything else, it’s my fault. I said, “If you go to another dentist, it’s a problem, it’s my fault.” I take full responsibility in the beginning. I say if you go to a surgeon, implant fails, I have to live. If he fails, I got to spend my time. The surgeon should pay me.

Payman: Yup.

Larry Rosenthal: He put an implant in, it failed. I got to do it again? I stand by a lot of things. I do every account over there, even sometimes you should put in time. The idea is this, there is a thing in business that is that the cost of doing business. But if I let that guy go, put his temporaries back on, he would have said, “Maybe I went to the wrong place here. It’s a lot of money. Why didn’t it fit?” When I put them in and got them replaced, and I got them in pretty good, x-rays, clean them. So what I’m saying to you is that you stand by it. You stand by it. We make critical failures all the time, and it may not be your fault. It may be your fault. It may be the wrong cement. It may have set on. It may have fit great. It may be the margins chip, don’t fit that way. You didn’t get the impression. That’s going to happen.

Larry Rosenthal: If you do enough teeth, you can’t worry about failures. You have to accept failures. And you tell the patient, I told them, I said, “This case is great. I’m going to evaluate when you come back next week because I may want to make some changes. You may be happy, but I want to make some changes. I’m not sure.”

Payman: But clinically, Larry, what are the few things about porcelain laminates that most dentists don’t know but they really should?

Larry Rosenthal: Well the problem with porcelain laminates is mostly a problem with cementation, over-preparation of cementation. If they prep the teeth too much, they don’t have them. If they did a clinical wax up or a digital wax up and did a trial smile over their teeth and got some sort of result, they’d see they use as a prep guide. They’d see their own prep of the teeth causing problems. It looks like it’s going this way. I’ve done it myself so many times over-prep teeth.

Larry Rosenthal: And the other thing is cementation. The process is very, very difficult, especially when you have light cure and due cure materials in the same, things back and forth. It is a precision operation. It’s like doing your heart or your liver. If you do it wrong, you’ve got to do it again.

Payman: What’s your favourite cement, by the way, your favourite bonding agent?

Larry Rosenthal: Well, I use a whole lot of them. But I still use Loxiflo for veneers. I use Maxim a lot for EMAC. I use all kinds of different cements. It depends if I’m just kind of seeing the colour. I look at things by setting times too, and whether it’s light or heat. I look at some of the properties and I’d like to have obviously more working time, or that I can get a gel cement off. I can go through that whole lecture on that stuff. I can send to your audience what I do, whatever. We have our courses that we give, have some videos.

Payman: Do you prefer teaching or do you prefer clinical dentistry? Which one do you prefer the most?

Larry Rosenthal: That’s a great question. Honestly, I miss teaching and creating. Since COVID, I haven’t been able to teach. I’ve done a lot of podcasts like this, several places and labs, and people around the world.

Payman: I can imagine COVID being a nightmare for someone like you. You’re such a social person.

Larry Rosenthal: It’s a nightmare for everyone.

Payman: But more for you.

Larry Rosenthal: Well, Mike Coburt went to Florida for three days, and I ended up being 64 days putting out 56 days.

Payman: Wow.

Larry Rosenthal: Got my body in shape, do whatever I possibly could. He came back to New York and I was helping him pop up in the Hamptons, and went on, then we’ll come back to the city, same as… and now we’re busier than ever. I can’t explain it. Two and a half months away and now people will do anything, anytime. They don’t know what they’re going to do.

Prav: It’s like a rebound spending, isn’t it?

Larry Rosenthal: And they say, “I deserve it. I deserve it now.” If they’re looking at patients, you have to say to a patient, “Do you deserve this? You don’t believe you deserve it, then maybe you shouldn’t do it.” If you don’t think that you and your life… I’m 65 years old, how long is it going to last? I say, “How long are you going to last?” If you’re going to last five years, you’re about 70, 75. I mean, don’t you want to do it tomorrow or are you going to wait another 10 years to do it? If you want to make it feel good, you should do. Oh, okay, they’re cheap, and who cares.

Prav: Larry, tell us about when you first met Mike Apa and the process for meeting that young kid, because I was there. I remember the time. It was around 2007, ’06, ’07. How did it go from him… I remember you said he wanted to do free Zooms for you to becoming Mike Apa.

Larry Rosenthal: He was in dental school. Yeah, I met him in dental school, but he was in college, he tells this story. I don’t know if he’s telling the truth or not. I never verified this, and it probably is not true, but this is what he tell you. You could ask him too. He says to me that he was in school up in Albany, New York, and he was looking at some video or something like that. Someone gave him a video of me, and he told his dad, he said, “I’m going to be a dentist and this guy, I’m going to be a part of his practise.” Reminds me of someone I know.

Larry Rosenthal: So the bottom line is he goes ahead, he goes to dental school, and he starts the first aesthetic programme, and he invites me to speak. And I speak. And he says to me later on, I don’t know if it’s true or not that I crushed him, because he introduced me, and then after speaking a lot of people came around me, and he never got a chance to get close to me, to talk to me, to do what my intent was not to speak to the people, but to get to know me, and to get me to know him.

Larry Rosenthal: And somehow he says he asked me or did it to me, and I got more and more incensed, more driven. And then I went to the ACV lecture to speak and I said, “I’m the head [inaudible 00:47:30], do you remember me?” And he goes ahead and says, “Should I go into a prostrate programme or should I do a residency?” I said, “What do you want to do? If you don’t want to get started, get a residency.” Gets a residency. He calls me a residency, he’s like, “I’m under a residency.” He goes, “I go to get out of here.” There is old school, it’s old dentures, stuff like that, whatever.

Larry Rosenthal: So I said, “What do you want to do?” He says, “I want to work for you.” I said, “That sounds very good.” I said, “I have a place downtown, we’re doing this far, and we’re we’re doing bleach [inaudible 00:48:03].” He comes by, walk around the office and what’s happening. I don’t want to get into the whole thing. And then after being me for a long time and standing by me and learning, it’s a 10-year process to get really good in dentistry and to understand it. It may be five years, sometimes 15, 20 years to be successful. It’s not an overnight success. It’s not like opening a Walmart or a Target or one of those stores.

Prav: But could you see it in him? Could you see his potential?

Larry Rosenthal: Listen, I had a lot of people that wanted me as a partner.

Prav: Yeah.

Larry Rosenthal: I mean, realise that I need a partner for end of strategy sometime in the future. I wanted to be able to do that. I had a lot of people working with me I called my partner. They’re good dentists, but no one was as driven, as sharp, as obsessed. He was like a fly you couldn’t get off of your sleeve who wants to get better. He was showing me his temporaries, I’d say, “Oh, they’re great.” And then I come to the other side, and he goes, “That’s much better.” He goes, “Well, what’d you do there?” I said, “I’m going to watch it.” Just going back and forth and he kept doing it. Now you see the impressions, time to set up the crown. I said, “We got you.” I said, “It’s permanent.”

Larry Rosenthal: If you start accepting mediocrity, you enter mediocrity. You start with the best, and you may end up sometimes with mediocrity. But if you start with mediocrity, it’s not going to get better.

Prav: Yeah.

Larry Rosenthal: If you want to be good, be obsessed. Now he is obsessed to the point where he’s almost psychotically obsessed. But in a good way. And he’s built, and I’m unbelievably proud of him because he’s built an empire, and he took what I had, and he built it to another level. It was totally due to social media. I said, “Good luck.” But he did, and he exceeded, I think, his own expectations and mine. And he deserves all the credit because he has put in the time, the effect.

Prav: Yeah, he definitely did.

Larry Rosenthal: He is driven to stuff. Do I remember a lot of things he was doing? Somehow I don’t agree with them all, but it’s a whole different mindset. Do I think anything’s wrong? No. It’s different. Different philosophy in that kind of way. So we still have this almost good welfare chat in the morning about life, what’s going on, what’s happening. He’s my boss and I’m his father.

Prav: Nice. Nice.

Larry Rosenthal: You know what I’m saying?

Prav: That’s beautiful put, man.

Payman: Larry, tell me about the transaction. How do you even have that conversation, broach that subject? You may not want to tell us the details, but I’m just curious to know that you’ve got this kid who you’ve brought from dental school, as his father, and then there’s a transaction that happens. Talk to me about how those conversations even went about.

Larry Rosenthal: Well, I’ll tell you, first of all, I’m not his father. It’s sort of a jest-

Prav: I know. No, no, I know.

Larry Rosenthal: I’m his shrink. I’m his shrink. I’m not his father. That’s even worse. But the bottom line is this, what happened was, he was dedicated, obsessed to creating great dentistry, creating a lot of great dentistry at a faster speed than most. He understood. He got it, okay? It took him a while to get the technical things done, and some of the things in his personality to show who he was. He still does it on prior plans and stuff like that. That’s his way. It’s different than I would do it.

Larry Rosenthal: But what happened was after being with me so many years, he goes, “Listen, I looked at myself and I say, ‘When do I want to leave dentistry?'” I think I was 63. I’m 72 now. I said, “I’ve got to leave by at least 70,” or something like that, or 68. Maybe I can’t even walk by then or see by then, or my hands are shaking. What am I going to do. So he came to me, he said, “What do you want to do?” I said, “We’ll do a seven year exit strategy.” And we did a strategy. It worked out from an economic standpoint, and [inaudible] transitions, I think about, I have no regrets about it.

Larry Rosenthal: I didn’t know I’d feel this good at this age, but I still couldn’t run the operation in New York, and like to. Under the radar, I do a lot as well. But when people say to me he’s my partner. I say, “No, he’s my boss.”

Prav: Yeah.

Larry Rosenthal: I think it’s pretty cool.

Prav: Yeah.

Larry Rosenthal: People say to me, “Don’t you feel badly about it? You built this whole thing up. Now you’re an employee?” I said, “It’s better than being unemployed.” I said, “You know, is it in 2001?” I’ve got my little practise.

Payman: Do you carry on the same way as you were before in the office?

Larry Rosenthal: Yes, 97% I carry.

Payman: As in the way you carry?

Larry Rosenthal: Well, I feel that I’m the owner.

Payman: It’s lovely to see Jackie’s still working with you.

Larry Rosenthal: We had Jackie, we had Barbara with me, a hygienist for 26 years. We had a lot of people here for a lot of years.

Prav: Yeah.

Larry Rosenthal: A lot of years. Most of my assistants are 10 years plus, they’re becoming a dentist or they go back and forth. But the point being is that this is a family.

Prav: Yeah.

Larry Rosenthal: When someone comes to get a job in this family, it’s both good and bad. It’s hard to break into the family. You need to have certain qualities, certain goals, certain personality assets, not defects, that make you… and some do and some don’t. Can be technical very good, but a problem with your attitude or the way you looking over people or the way you approach your job. It’s not a job, it’s a life. It’s a lifestyle. You have to give it. If you give it, you get rewarded.

Larry Rosenthal: You may not want to give it. You may not be able to give it, you have family, or whatever it might be. Changing husband, changing wife, back and forth. It’s a hard thing to do, and to manage all these people and do that, I’ve got to give them my critic, and to do it in Dubai and LA it’s all very, very, very hard. I did it with teaching and having courses everywhere and doing it that way. You go and I could leave. I always felt the reason why I didn’t franchise this is because I did… this sounds maybe out of context, wrong, but I wasn’t sure the quality I was getting around, even the dentists that were very profitable, successful practises. Even the dentists that teach for us, and I taught.

Larry Rosenthal: If I put my name on it, and it’s not going to be that quality, what then? You look at plastic surgeons in most of the United States have no partners. People who go to plastic surgeon won’t go to someone else. Dentists interchange back and forth. It’s a different kind and a different set of problems.

Prav: Yeah, yeah. You’ve been, Larry, born and bred New Yorker. You must have seen Donald Trump in his early days when he was doing the property deals and all that. And now, we see the polarisation of your country. I don’t know, I’m obviously not there, but I can see it, it’s polarised quite a lot. You’ve got on the one side, the protests, the Black Lives Matter stuff. On the other side, you’ve got the NRA-

Larry Rosenthal: Don’t you have that in UK?

Prav: We’ve got different opinions, but it’s not so different. I get the feeling… I might be wrong about it, but I get the feeling whoever wins this election of yours, which is going to be in, when? 60 days, 70 days time, is that right?

Larry Rosenthal: Yes.

Prav: Whoever wins that, the other side are going to come out on the streets and cause a problem. What’s your position on Trump? Let’s start with that. I don’t mean now. Before.

Larry Rosenthal: The problem is we’re all problem, because whoever wins will change the way the world is.

Prav: Yeah, yeah.

Larry Rosenthal: They’ll change United States, and the world will adjust to it accordingly.

Prav: Of course.

Larry Rosenthal: Economic, political, military, every kind of social. So this seems to me, in my lifetime, I’ve been around a long time, single most important election in the history of this country and maybe the world.

Prav: Yeah.

Larry Rosenthal: And the problem with the election is this. I was born and raised a total Jewish Democratic. When I go to the voting booth when I was younger, I didn’t look at the name, I just went down D. I’m serious.

Prav: Yeah, yeah.

Larry Rosenthal: And my brother is that way today, hasn’t changed. Then I don’t know how many years ago, he started to be, I said, “Well, listen, why don’t I just listen to the candidate, to the platform?” And so I’d go Democrat, Republican, sometimes back and forth depending on who I thought was right. What I see today is this, and what I know today is this, and then I’ll get into the man himself.

Prav: Sure.

Larry Rosenthal: What I see today is this, is that power, which is the root of most evil in the world, has gotten to the point where anarchy exists in the United States more than I’ve ever seen it in my life. They don’t have a platform. I say they don’t, I mean, the people that are protesting, especially the violent ones who are paid, I happen to know they’re paid. I won’t go on air and talk about it, because they’ll be outside my window, but they’re paid, and what happens with this is that they don’t even know why… If you ask them why they’re protesting, and they don’t have a cause, and they won’t even have a platform. They don’t even know why. They’re just protesting to protest.

Larry Rosenthal: And it feeds. As it starts to go, it feeds. Now the problem is, the reason why people are protesting, the reason why there is chaos, the reason why there is more criminal shooting and looting and everything else, is because one side hates the other side, and they hate particularly one person. They hate a person who said when he went into the office, “I’m going to drain the swamp.” And he meant that the people that have been there forever and done nothing, and have lied about things and done things, “I am going to turn it around. I’m not a politician.”

Larry Rosenthal: Immediately, before it even happened, the president, they went and went to try and unseat him. And they did a lot of things, I’m not going to go into my specific and my feeling about that, is they said, “This man is going to take away our job, take away who we are, and do this thing, and expose us to what we really are. We have to get him out. We have to get him down and pull him down.” And they tried on every single level. Now, having said that, the man himself is vulnerable. He causes half the problems.

Larry Rosenthal: He causes half the problems because he believes this is who he is. He believes this is how I got to where I am in life. I’m not changing it. I’m not changing the way I say it, speak. He’s been, from what I understand, advised by the people he loves very much that if he modified some of his rhetoric or some of his Twitter accounts or any of the stuff like that, he would be much acceptable. And I know him to be, can be a very endearing affable guy if he wants. So, that’s who he is.

Prav: So, New York in the ’80s and ’90s when he was kind of dominating the real estate world, is he the same guy? Is he just the same guy?

Larry Rosenthal: He’s exactly the same guy. He’s tough as nails. He likes you one minute, hates you the next, goes back and forth. He’ll change like that. He’ll change on a dime, but he’ll believe in it. But if he loves you, you’re the best in the world. This is the best book in the world, Open Wide(r) by Dr. Larry Rosenthal. So the point is, this is the best cell phone in the world. This is the best water in the world.

Prav: Yeah.

Larry Rosenthal: So everyone is the best in the world. If he doesn’t like you, he goes, “It’s a failure.” Or, “He’s bad,” or he’s whatever, and he’ll go back and forth between him and his friends. But I will tell you this, call him certain names like racist, like misogynist, and all those things, I know him a long time, he is the furthest thing from that.

Prav: Yeah.

Larry Rosenthal: He hires everyone across the board, and they all like him. Women have worked for him for years, 30-something years. If he didn’t treat them well, they wouldn’t stay there. So that’s all fake news that it caused. And he won’t let it go. So I’m going to tell you one thing. I advised him one time, I said, “Mr. President, you fight like Mike Tyson and Joe Frazier. You get punched. You get back up and you punch them right back.” I said, “Who is your favourite athlete of all times?” He was a Black Muslim, he resisted the draught, he’d taunt over his opponents, he changed his name Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali, and he is the most… if not the most endeared athlete in the world, right? And yet, you look at him like that.

Larry Rosenthal: What did he do? He didn’t get hit. He’d rope and dope. He moved. He moved. He moved. He moved. And that is the number one greatest athlete. If you tweet one day and don’t tweet for three days, it will drive them crazy. Tweet me. Text me. If he did that, that’s what you do. And the problem is that he said, “And you’re right, it’s not me.”

Payman: So did you treat him?

Larry Rosenthal: I’m not going to tell you that. I’m not going to discuss that. But the bottom line is this, that I believe, I really believe in my heart, whether I knew him or not, that if they don’t win the election, this world and this country, the power that’s coming underneath the undercurrent of the far left is potentially very, very scary. And right now, we don’t know.

Prav: Are you not worried about the undercurrent of the far right?

Larry Rosenthal: I feel the same way about the far right. I’m not an extreme guy. I’m extreme personality, but I’m a middle guy. That’s [inaudible 01:02:04], middle guys, I’m okay. Probably give everyone, I’m okay. I’m not worried about the whole thing. Everybody has differences of opinions, what you want to do with-

Payman: Because I think, Larry for me, I think it’s opposite of what you’re saying in so much as if the Democrats win, I’m worried about the far right, not the far left. If Trump wins, I’m worried about the far left.

Larry Rosenthal: I totally agree that the fear now is the hate, and the hate, regardless of who wins is [inaudible 01:02:35].

Payman: Yeah.

Larry Rosenthal: They’re not going to leave anyone alone. They’re not going to understand. They’re too vested. They’re too angry. They’re too caught up in this movement that they’re not going to accept any, okay? And the problem is to let things in this country, let these cities go unabated, regardless of who’s running it, doesn’t seem to me the interest of the people.

Payman: Are you seeing a lot of looting in New York? Is that happening?

Larry Rosenthal: I didn’t see a lot. I saw boarding up, uptown. I didn’t see a lot. I went downtown one time, you don’t see it. Most of the problems are in the boroughs or downtown. Again, they’re in low income communities. These people are not protected. They need the protection. They need the help. [crosstalk] reach other… It’s in every major city. It’s been going on for a long time in other cities, New York not so much, I mean somewhat. You need to go ahead and you need authority. I’m sorry, just like parents need to go in and tell their kids, and either scold them or punish them or do what they have to do. It’s the same thing with people. You let people go, and kids were running wild, there’s people going to run wild. You need authority.

Larry Rosenthal: I don’t mean you’ve got to lock them up. You’ve got to show force and strength. And what you’re doing, if it’s peaceful it’s fine. If it’s not, it’s not fine. There are repercussions. If I am elected president, by the way, I would not take this on. What I would do is this. I’d consider being president of the world. Now in Putin, Zay, and all those guys below me, and come through me as the authority, that’s something I can see. The president of the world, the president of the United States, not for me.

Prav: How much time do you spend in the Hamptons, Larry?

Larry Rosenthal: Now I spend a lot. I come here on Sundays. I work, because where am I going to go? So I work here Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday full time. Sometimes I see someone on Thursday morning, then I go to the Hamptons, and I love that. It’s great. It’s a different world, but it’s getting better. It’s remarkable that this virus can come and change the world.

Prav: Yeah.

Larry Rosenthal: I do believe, and I was wrong for a while, I believe it’ll go away. And I believe it’ll go away and other things will happen. But I also believe the scars will be there for millions of people unfortunately, economic scars, social scars, loss of life scars. It is a horrible thing. And even in those conditions, I manage to keep my positive attitude going. I told a patient, I said, “Listen, things are out of control. Take care of yourself. Be safe. You feel uncomfortable doing something, don’t do it.”

Prav: Did you learn something, did you gain something from the lockdown?

Larry Rosenthal: Yeah, I gained everything I always gain. I gained appreciation for life, which I always feel every single day, and I felt sorry for the next generations growing up in this world because who knows where it’s going to go. It’s out of my control. I can vote. I can go ahead and support financially some things like that, but basically I’m one person. So my job is what my grandfather told me, “You can make one person happy at a time, and my job is to make your grandmother happy, and that’s what I want you to do [inaudible] same about it.”

Payman: Larry, tell us about your wife.

Larry Rosenthal: My wife, Sandy. My wife is a lovely wife. She’s a fabulous wife. She’s been very, very good for years. She’s giving, she’s caring, she’s lovely. And I have a son, and he is in Russia on business, and he now lives in Pennsylvania now. I have a grandchild.

Payman: Oh, wow.

Larry Rosenthal: A two-year-old grandchild. He’s in the restaurant. He went to culinary institute, and he’s trying to start his own way and his own things. New York was a tough place to start. Down there’s a little easier. And so he’s working his way up the ladder. He’s very talented. I support what he wants to do. I’m there to listen to him anytime and give him advice. This is the way is another story, but I will give it. I will offer it. If he doesn’t ask for it, sometimes I won’t offer.

Payman: And during the whole lockdown time, did you get time to spend more time with your family?

Larry Rosenthal: Well, I grew up it was a different place. Part of the time back and forth, my son was down there. My wife was with her sister a little bit, and family. I had some illnesses and stuff like that. So we did whatever we could, but the point being is that to this day, I’m one person. I was like sunset. I look out there, look at the world, and I say, “My life, if I had to live over again, what would I do differently?” And what I say to myself is at this point in my life, I am blessed. I became more spiritual as I got older. I wasn’t much before. I believed in the idea that some things are out of your control, and some things are within the frame of your control. You can only do so much.

Larry Rosenthal: You have to accept certain things. Do not dwell on negative, positives things. I’ll give you an example. My mother passed away this year before COVID. She was 100 years old and seven months.

Payman: Wow.

Larry Rosenthal: We all sat at the funeral with immediate family, and we had a shiva call, which is a thing, Jewish thing at my brother’s house right afterwards. So the immediate family’s probably 30 people, 40 people were there when it started. And they’re coming in, they’re crying. Everyone loved Nana. She’s the super nicest person in the world. So I said to them, I said, “Excuse me. If I were to tell you that in your lifetime, you never had diabetes, never had heart disease, never had cancer, never had a stroke, never had any really major surgeries, had a little dementia at the end, but you lived to 100 years and seven months, and you passed away in your sleep, in your own bed, is there anybody here who wouldn’t sign off for that?”

Payman: I’ll take that today.

Larry Rosenthal: This is not a funeral. This is a celebration. It’s a celebration of life.

Payman: Yeah.

Larry Rosenthal: And that’s the whole point. You never lose her. I had a friend of mine that was crying at his father lost, he was 80-something years old, and cancer, I said… You get closer with her. My father was around me all the time. He died at 55 years old. His father died at 38. I mean, all his family, so one side of the family lives forever, one side dies shortly. I’m part of the side that dies shortly, so I’m on borrowed time.

Larry Rosenthal: So I’m going to live every day, and I really believe I’ve lived every day for the last 40 years. I go out to dinner almost every single night, just to go out to dinner every night. I go out there, if there’s a concert I’m going to a concert. If there’s a basketball game… Can’t put it in now. A lot of my life is taken away because I was at Madison Square Gardens three days a week. Wherever I travel, I can get a militia. If I find out there was a concert, what’s going on. I’m a people person. I’m a music person. And I’m a sports person, and I need action and energy.

Larry Rosenthal: To this day I got a text from someone this morning saying, “Doc, you’re the greatest I’ve been.” His name is Dustin Johnson. He became number one in the world and shot 30 under par last week. And it came with a message from Wayne Gretzky. It was his father-in-law, and said to me, “Doc, look at this. Ever since you did his teeth, number one in the rollback.” So he’s a guy, he’s a great guy, I’m very happy for him. He had an injury, been out for a while, so we had a good shot. Playing golf for myself, I’m loving it. Makes me feel good.

Larry Rosenthal: And today, to remove fear for “immediate family,” patients of yours and anything you’ve done, you see a patient out there, you do a vital. Hey, I did those teeth. Or hey, I know that person. It’s pretty special. It goes back to the power thing. If I ever believed in my life I know people, even if I’ve had doors opened to me at places around the world, and castles, and houses and theatres and concerts, backstage and all this stuff, I don’t walk around talking about that, and I don’t do it. It’s not just to impress others, it’s just to go ahead and say, “I’m loving this. I’m blessed.”

Larry Rosenthal: Some reason, some way, they gave me this opportunity. It’s not me who did it. Whatever happened there, I’m blessed, and I’m going to take advantage of it. I’m going to love it. I’m just going to go ahead and enjoy and spread a cheer.

Payman: Larry, map out to me a magical day in your life, from waking up in the morning to putting your head down at night. What happens? Not what happens, the ideal day. Let’s say you could paint the picture of the perfect day, how would that go, Larry?

Larry Rosenthal: Okay. My ideal day. My ideal day, I’d get up in the morning, I go to the gym. I go to the gym in New York. I go out for a little while. I’m not the greatest workout person. Everybody do yoga stretch, and everything else. Have a very light breakfast, walk to work. Beautiful day in New York City, 15, 20-minute walk. Say hello to a few people along the way that I see, shop owners and other people out there. Go to the office, I’m going to have one great case in the morning on somebody that’s challenging and special, maybe the person’s special.

Larry Rosenthal: Then I would go ahead have lunch, and go to play golf with some good friends of mine. Wouldn’t happen often now because I’m working very hard. But I go play golf. Then I go back and play golf and maybe meet somewhere maybe for a light dinner or something like that, and either go to a Knick basketball game or a concert or something out at night, and go home and have a little sex.

Payman: Just a little sex. Not a lot.

Larry Rosenthal: And then hopefully go to sleep.

Payman: It’s amazing that you actually put a patient into your ideal day. I love that.

Larry Rosenthal: If I don’t go to work, I feel a little lost sometimes.

Payman: Yeah.

Larry Rosenthal: I don’t know what I’d do. I’m a little afraid of the day I can’t work, I’m not working, whatever the reason is. I don’t know what I’ll do with my life. It was the same thing with sports and golf and music, and all those things. They seem to come together all the time I’m thinking about things. Must interact with people. I like to… Personally, it’s very verbose as you can tell from listening to people. Look into their eyes and listen to what’s going on in their mind, what they’re thinking about, especially when they feel good about something. That’s maybe beyond… It gives me great vibes.

Payman: You’ve certainly not got the energy of a typical 72-year-old.

Larry Rosenthal: Mike says to me he’s wishing he had the energy now. To be honest, I don’t know why I have the energy.

Payman: It’s amazing.

Larry Rosenthal: I get frightened losing energy. That’s why I don’t stop.

Payman: It’s amazing.

Larry Rosenthal: This is a thing I was thinking about one day. I know myself. I said, “If you take a car, this is like the economy,” what they’re doing now is showing off. If you’re going down the road, and going down a hill, and when you’re going down a hill, you shut the car off, it takes a long, hard, difficult path to get it started to go up that hill again, when you get back on and doing it. You go down the hill and you slow down, you don’t shut it off, and then you accelerate as you go up the hill, piece of cake. So if you shut it down, then it’s very hard to put it back up again. You slow it down, fine. You got to slow down once in a while, can’t keep going the same level.

Larry Rosenthal: I do. They asked me what I do for relaxation, what I would do for my life. Relaxation pleasure is doing things. My mind gets spent, and my body gets working.

Payman: Larry, it’s been a massive, massive pleasure having you on the podcast. Prav always likes to-

Larry Rosenthal: You guys are great.

Payman: Prav always likes to end it with one last question, so would you… Prav, go for it, buddy.

Prav: So, Larry, you’re 110, super healthy, but it’s your last day on the planet. And you’ve got the four or five most important people that matter to you in the world with you at that moment. What are the three pieces of advice that you would leave them with? And how would you like to be remembered?

Larry Rosenthal: Well, first of all, what I’d leave my [inaudible] for and one thing I’d say that we’re going to have crossbows in life and decisions to make. And if you think you have a shot at doing it, do it. You’ve got to do it. Go ahead and think about it. I’ll give you an example real fast. I’m asking my brother, “Do you want to play golf at…” That’s a good idea, I’ll think about it. Ask my mother when she was alive, “Mom, do you want to go have breakfast?” She goes, “Yeah, I probably do, but I’ll let you know when.” “Mom, you want to go to the bathroom?” “Yeah, I guess I do.” “Mom, here’s a million dollars. You want it?””It’s a lot of money, but I’m not sure.”

Larry Rosenthal: So my brother spends his whole life waiting, not sure, go back and forth about doing it. Best brother in the world, great guy, has a personality. Very happy, successful, and I love him to death. We’re different. I asked my father, “Dad, you want to go?” Before I finish the sentence, we’re out the door. So that’s one.

Prav: Cool.

Larry Rosenthal: So my advice to do that. The other thing my advice is that be kind. When you get mad, think about why the other person’s angry, what they’re upset about. Just look at them and understand that it may not be you. It may be someone else and you’re just in front of them at that moment. So I believe in the philosophy of the bully, when he attacks you, step back. When I go into the office, and I have someone, having never gone to the employment in my entire life, just ignore them. I go, “Wow, is Jackie here today? I don’t see her around. I guess she didn’t show up today.” I’m looking right at her. I ignore them. I just ignore them. There’s no greater punishment than being ignored.

Larry Rosenthal: And then the third thing about them is I would say to them, “Here are you on earth. Most dentists and most people out there that have a job and their families, people are not as fortunate as you.” Opportunity or not, going to it or not, difficulty or not, physical disability or not, you’ve got a chance to live your life. Don’t hesitate. You’re here for a short period of time, and you don’t know what happens. Enjoy it, and try and help others, unfortunate. Be generous. Don’t be petty. Don’t be cheap. Be generous to people out there that don’t have the same amount as you have. Unless your life remembered for, I’d like to remember for being a great good who really cares about people and made a difference on this planet.

Prav: Amazing.

Payman: Thank you, Larry. Thanks so much for your time. It’s been inspiring.

Prav: Thank you so much.

Larry Rosenthal: Agreed. You guys are great. Okay, I hope to see you one day soon, all right?

Prav: Thank you.

Payman: Thank you so, so much for agreeing to do this.

Larry Rosenthal: It made me feel good day. I appreciate it. Thank you.

Payman: You’re the best.

Prav: You’ve been amazing.

Payman: Take care.

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. 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.

While Prav washes his hair this week, Payman plays host to ambitious young dentists Hassan Asad and Sorabh Patel.

The pair may be relative newcomers to the profession, but they’re already making big waves.

In April, disheartened by the lack of support for new and younger dentists, Hassan and Sorabh set up the Deciduous Facebook group, which quickly grew to a membership of thousands.

Here Hassan and Sorabh talk about the group. They also relate some of the challenges faced by graduates and reluctantly let slip some of their big plans for the future.



“We want our members to feel safe. To feel like they can post cases and ask and get advice, and ultimately not feel like a shark pit is out there to bite them.” – Hassan Assad


In This Episode

00.54 – Deciduous group

08.26 – Thoughts on careers

12.23 – Soft skills and support

21.44 – Leaving Iraq

24.34 – Gold standards and tales of the GDC

30.52 – The Deciduous team

39.31 – Life in practice

43.26 – Coping through COVID

49.46 – Ambition


About Hassan and Sorabh


Sorabh graduated from King’s College London and completed foundation training in Portsmouth. Hassan is a Leeds graduate, who found fame on social media as The Bearded Tooth Fairy.

In April 2020, Hassan and Sorabh founded the Deciduous Facebook group which now boasts over 2500 members. The group also has a growing presence on Instagram.

Sorab: The other day I was in practise and I get 17 missed calls, and like call me, call me, call me, this, that and the other. I was like, “Jesus Christ, what’s going on? Is he all right? Is he in an accident? What’s going on?” I give him a call and I was like, “Mate, you’re all right?” He was like, “Yeah, we need to reply to Payman.” I was like, “Oh, my days. You could have just texted me this.”

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: So, today on the Dental Leaders Podcast I’ve got Hassan Asad and Sorab Patel. No Prav, unfortunately, so I’m going to try and do Prav’s bits for him. Hi, Hassan.

Hassan: Hi, how are you doing? You’re all right?

Payman: All right, buddy. How are you?

Hassan: Yeah, not too bad.

Payman: Sorab, you’re there?

Sorab: Yeah, I’m good man. How are you, Payman?

Payman: Good. Really, really… I know you guys are busy. You’ve probably just gone back to work. Have you both of you?

Sorab: Yeah. So, I’ve been back since the eighth on a part-time rota basis. But I think I’m going back a bit more full-time from over the next few weeks.

Hassan: I’m due to go back next week. So, from 29th, again, on a part-time basis, but we’ve just been working from home triaging and whatnot.

Payman: And so, in this period, the lockdown period, is that when your little Deciduous group started?

Hassan: I would say so, yeah. I think it was around this period where it just gave us time to really reflect on what’s missing, and what we needed as young dental professionals. And one idea led to another and then it’s grown. I think it was a little idea, and now it’s grown into something more of a network, really.

Payman: So, tell us about it. So, what is it exactly?

Hassan: So, essentially, what Deciduous is, is a network of young dental professionals that has been made to unite, discuss cases, discuss topics, and really hone in on the struggles that young dental professionals face in a safe, honest environment where we want to support each other. I’m sure Sorab will add, but I personally had had enough of seeing the negativity around dentists, and on other Facebook groups. And that lack of support and genuine advice. So we said, right, let’s do something about this. Let’s tackle this. And yeah, it’s essentially that. It’s a support network. And Sorab, I’m sure you would want to add to that.

Sorab: Yeah, mate. It’s pretty much what Hass was saying. I mean, Payman, we’ve worked together on a couple of things back in the day. We’ve met through social media. And we can see that it can be a very toxic place, especially for young dentists. And the old generation of dentists there, there’s a lot of negativity. There’s just a lot of crap out there, and we just wanted to cut through all of that. We’ve been helping young dentist and stuff over the last year or so with DFT, with everyone we’ve met. And then me and Hass was just like, you know what, we keep talking about it. Why not take it to the next stage? Why not just help as many people as possible? And that’s what Deciduous was basically all about.

Payman: Did you guys have any negative experiences online yourselves?

Hassan: I wouldn’t say negative experiences, but you see posts on Dentist For Dentists and someone will ask a question, and then half the comments are not really useful. It’s just trolling. The second half of people just with egos giving opinions that aren’t always necessarily true. And as a young dentist that puts you in a negative attitude automatically. And then you’re quite anxious to ask a question because you feel like you’re just going to get shot down.

Payman: But it hasn’t happened to you, yourself, is that what you’re saying? You haven’t put your head above the-

Hassan: No one’s… Well, to be honest with you. I’m not really that bothered if people want to say to me now that this is wrong. I’d rather be told that because at the end of day, I’m still learning. So people’s opinions and what do matter to me. But I know other young dentists are not going to be confident to pose the question on there because they feel like they’ll just get shut down. And that’s the feedback we got.

Sorab: Yeah, so I think I completely agree with Hass there. I mean, I’ve been on social media for a while, and I’ve worked with a lot of dentists and stuff. And most of the experiences I’ve had have been quite positive. But you generally see the general vibe of young dentists, they should stay in their lane. They should know their place, that kind of stuff. And I’ve seen it to a couple of friends who’ve pretty much just been trolled and bullied, essentially. And it’s just like, we’re the new generation of dentists. We look up to you guys to guide and help and push the profession forward. And then after a while, we’re just like, “Well, why don’t we just do it ourselves?” Why don’t we just inspire the next generation of dentists and just connect and learn and just foster a community of positivity where we help and support each other. There’s enough competition out there as it is. At the end of the day, especially with everything that happened over COVID I think we needed to come together more than ever.

Payman: Yeah. What stage of your career are you both at right now?

Hassan: So, we’ve just completed our foundation year and six months out into practise. So, obviously, in terms of our careers, we’re still very early on. We’ve got a lot to learn.

Payman: How does that feel?

Hassan: Terrifying.

Payman: Exciting at the same time?

Sorab: I mean, don’t get us wrong. We’re not claiming to be the best clinicians out there or we pretend to know it all. We don’t. We’re completely clueless with a lot of things. But the things that we struggle with, and the things that we find really difficult, it’s what everyone else is finding difficult. We’re eager to learn. We’re eager to reflect, and I feel like we’ve gone into pretty good habits where we reflect on our work. We reflect on the situations that we’ve been in, and we’re trying to learn from people. And we’ve got really good mentors around us. So, we just want to try and foster that with a lot of the other young dentists and say, “Look, you guys aren’t alone in this. It’s okay not to know everything from the get go. It is a journey, and it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And there’s loads of support around it.”

Payman: I mean, the first year after VT. I’m going to call it VT? What do you guys call it at DF?

Sorab: DFT.

Payman: DFT. The first year you go into an associate job is probably one of the most stressful years of your life. It was for me. Because you’re still that young kid who a minute ago was in university. And I’m not even talking about from the clinical perspective. I’m talking about you go from an institutionalised situation to VT, which is more, it’s out there. But you’re still in a support network. And then suddenly, you’re by yourself. And I just found it painful that I was out in the real world. I didn’t enjoy it. How do you guys see it? Do you guys feel like, oh, this is what I’ve been trained for, and this is what… Raring to go in this new situation, or do you have a bit of what I had?

Hassan: I definitely had what you had. I think any young dentist finishing foundation dentistry who doesn’t have that element inside them is doing something wrong because dentistry is very difficult. And like you said, not even the clinical elements. Appreciating, understanding things like finances, dealing with patients, treatment planning appropriately without having an educational supervisor. You being the clinician that’s ultimately making the decisions for these patients. All of that together, it’s not a nice experience. And it is something which actually has been said by a lot of FTs at the moment, and I feel for them because me and Sorab were lucky to have the whole year, and the generations before us. Whereas, the new cohort, so this year’s FT-

Payman: Of course missing three months of their FT.

Hassan: It was the last three, four months really of foundation training where you consolidate everything you’ve learned and you try and get into the habit, and you’re not doing an hour examination anymore on an exam scale. You’re really getting into what being associate is about. And to have that cut short I do feel for them. Honestly, I think it is a scary situation.

Payman: Where did you go study?

Sorab: So, I studied, graduated from King’s, and then did my foundation training in Portsmouth as I was in the Hampshire scheme.

Hassan: I studied at [inaudible 00:08:38], and then I did my foundation training on the KSS West scheme, which is part of London now.

Payman: And so, when you look towards your career going forward. How far ahead are you planning? Have you got plans? What do you think? I mean, Hassan, where do you reckon you’re going to be in five years? Are you thinking in five years sort of timescale?

Hassan: Yeah, of course. I think it’s always important to think ahead, to make a rough plan. It does change. Ideally, I’d like to get an MSc under my name just purely because I’d like to hone in my skills. At the moment I’ve got an eye for endo, which I know some people hate, but I’d rather hone in on a particular aspect. I’d definitely like to get a PGCert in education under my name just so that one day I can hopefully teach. At the moment, of course, I’m far away from that because I need to make sure my clinical skills and knowledge are up to scratch first, and then hopefully take Deciduous to the next dimension as well.

Payman: What about you, Sorab?

Sorab: Very similar except the end I think. Our principal is kind of pushing for me to go into Endo because he’s a specialist.

Payman: Endodontist?

Sorab: Yeah, he’s a specialist endodontist.

Payman: Wow, [inaudible 00:09:44], opportunity to really learn, isn’t it?

Sorab: Yeah, I’m trying to learn as much as possible from him. But I don’t think an endo specialty for me is what I want. I think for me, it’s just like Hass was saying. I really want to hone my skills. So, for the first few years, I want to be the best single tooth quadrant dentist I can be, and just really nail the treatment planning on a holistic scale, and eventually try and become the best full mouth dentist I can be. And just really excel and use my knowledge. I think I would probably look into doing either an MSc or an MClinDent in the future.

Sorab: Keep my options open. Restorative is what I enjoy. I just love fixing and putting things back together. And then I also need to find a use of my dental materials degree. So, I don’t know. I’m keeping my options open as much as possible. Just try and be as good as an associate as I can be for now, and just build my confidence, which I’m currently doing because I’m really well supported in the practise on that. Me and Has, we’re both doing a PGCert, a year long course which has really helped us to excel and just get into really good habits from day one. And I think that’s what me and Hass had in common. It’s our ethos, do things properly. And if we do that, then I think we’ll be all right. But I don’t know if I’m going to own a practise or be a specialist or run a course. I’m keep them options.

Hassan: Yeah, I think I’d add to what Sorab said. I think it’s important for us to have a five year plan. But except that this can change and keep your options.

Sorab: Yeah, keep it dynamic.

Payman: I mean, I’m interested in what you’re saying. Sorab, are you saying you want to be a teacher of some sort as well?

Sorab: I think going into some sort of clinical teaching would be fantastic. One thing that’s a goal of mine is to switch up the curriculum in dentistry. And I really want to add an element of mental health and resilience within the curriculum because I don’t think that’s taught at all. And there’s some incredible clinicians that are trying to push for that as well. [inaudible 00:11:37], she’s trying to go for that, and Asher as well. So, there is a movement and a push for that. And I think just excelling and highlighting the soft skills, communication, talking to patients, talking to colleagues, and just building up the softer skills because those are the things that you really lack and that’s what is really going to help you get to grips with day to day dentistry in my opinion.

Hassan: Yeah, I think that what Sorab just said is really important because the curriculum is some parts of it are great. And we do know some parts have to be taught. There are definitely vast areas that can be improved. As a young dentist or going through dental school, you’re not taught about finances, you’re not taught about how to handle your money, you’re not taught about the bigger picture when you go out there. Mental health, again, is something which really needs to be advocated further. And I think these things do need to be highlighted, and they are being highlighted. And as Sorab said, there is this movement. Things are changing. Dentistry is changing. It is evolving.

Payman: But guys, I mean, a big difference between what you’re saying, and what we were saying when I was qualified 25 years ago. Maybe it was just me, I don’t know. You’re one year out both of you are talking about teaching. Why is that? Why is that an ambition? Why teaching?

Sorab: I think we just want to become what we needed.

Hassan: Yeah, exactly.

Sorab: I mean, don’t get me wrong. We’re not planning on jumping into clinical tutoring a year in.

Payman: But why is that a goal?

Hassan: So, me whenever I’ve seen a topic taught to me, I always think, how could I have done that? What would I have wanted? And I want to answer those questions because I know there’ll be other dental students, for example, going through the same thing. But again, we’re going to reiterate, quite far from that.

Payman: No, I get that. But Sorab, are you’re saying some of your teaching left something to be desired, and you want to improve on it?

Sorab: I mean, I had some fantastic tutors, and some amazing mentors. And it was really useful. The biggest teaching I had was from my ESes, who have sort of really, really helped me. But what I’m saying is, it’s the stuff that they don’t teach you in dental school. That’s why I want to come back and change. So, like the softer skills, and the stuff to do with mental health and resilience and emotional intelligence, that kind of stuff. So, soft skills, I think really need to be emphasised. My clinical teaching was second to none. In all honesty, what I got taught when I was in dental school and in clinics was I got taught by specialists. I got taught by consultants. I learned from as many people as possible. So, I don’t think clinically I was lacking, but in terms of soft skills, and how to manage my time effectively, and manage stress, that was lacking.

Payman: So, I read that article of yours about what you went through. Tell us a bit more history about when that started, and what happened.

Sorab: Yeah, so I recently wrote an article talking about my final year journey. Just a brief overview. I’m a post grad, so I didn’t get a lot of student financing or help there. So, I was working a part-time job, and then doing some stuff on the side just to pay for enough to get through dental school and pay for my tuition. At the same time my dad was quite ill. And I remember quite early on he was admitted into hospital. He had some issues with his heart. And then long story short, he was basically borderline risk of heart failure. And that to take in when you’re in final year with all your quotas and everything you had to meet, it just sort of is like smashing into a brick wall and everything just started falling apart.

Sorab: In the article, I talk about how I went through burnout and going through depression because you just feel like everything’s just falling apart. And there was a lot of… There was just lack of support and compassion, really. And it took me a while to get through it all, and I’m in a much stronger position I am now thanks to a lot of people that helped me on my journey on the way. So that’s what the article goes into-

Payman: But explain it to me. I mean, how did you feel and where was the lack of support?

Sorab: So, I just felt completely lost. It was like, I stuck to all the rules. There was a lot of issues with quotas and stuff, and I get it. You have to meet a set amount of clinical quotas and that’s fine. But it wasn’t like I was falling behind. I was never a straight A student or getting 100% in all my exams. But I always turned up to clinics. I was the first in. I was always trying to do the extra sessions. I did all the work that they asked me to do. They said jump and I said how high?

Sorab: And then eventually it got to the stage where I didn’t meet my quotas because patients had cancelled, and it wasn’t anything that I’d done wrong. I’ve chased them up. I’ve given them calls. I’ve emailed them, called them, booked them in, double checked everything. And I had all the paperwork to show it. And then they still said, “Well, you haven’t made your quotas,” and I missed out by two. So it was something so trivial. Two review patients that I didn’t review. And because of that, I got suspended from my final exams. And when that happened, I just felt a complete loss in the system, just loss of faith.

Sorab: I presented everything. I showed them all my paperwork. I showed everything because I kept evidence of everything I did. And I said, “Look, I’ve done everything you’ve asked me to do. I’ve made up for all these sessions.” I really had to fight tooth. And I just felt like there wasn’t as much support for me. I thought I was a one off, and then later on I found out that this was happening to a lot of other students, not just where I was, but across the country. And I feel like, I don’t get it. I don’t know if there’s something I’m missing with dental schools in particular, or they have a very strict criteria or something. But if someone falls behind on something that’s not within their control, a little bit of compassion or trying to understand what the student is going through would really help.

Payman: And so, what happened to you?

Sorab: So, I had to fight tooth and nail and I had a couple of progress meetings. I had to speak to the dean. I had to speak to the leads of the heads of department, and catch up on some sessions. And then I had a very, very supportive tutor who really fought my corner and she backed me. So, Helena Lewis-Greene really supported me there and Dr. Zara. So, those guys really fought my corner and I was able to sit my exam. I only got that approved a week before I was meant to sit it. Thankfully I was revising nonstop anyway just in case. So, I managed to sit my exam. I managed to pass. I got my BDS, and that whole time made me realise I just want my BDS and I want to leave dental school. I’m done with this. I just want to get into practise, focus on my patience, and just be the best dentist I can be.

Sorab: And it took me a while to reflect back on it, obviously, because of COVID I had a lot of spare time. So, I was reflecting back on it, and I reached out to a couple of people in the year below, and people graduate before me and after me. And so many people went through similar things. There were people that went through bereavements in final year. There were people that went through a lot of family issues. There were people that went through all sorts of stuff during their final year. And it was just a complete lack of support from the dental institutes, and I just found that shocking. We’re taught to go above and beyond for patients and to support your team and work together. And it just felt like it was lacking. That was my personal experience of it, which is why I’m so determined to change that.

Payman: Do you think there was an agenda that was outside of the standard? Do you think that someone had a vendetta against you or you rubbed someone up the wrong way or something like that?

Sorab: I was definitely a mischievous one, and I bantered quite a lot. But I don’t think that was the case. I don’t think that was the case. I just think it was… I think there’s just a disconnect. The people that run the show they have no idea what it’s like on the front lines, and that’s my genuine opinion.

Hassan: I would completely… Everything that Sorab said was experienced by my colleagues at university. The clinicians themselves were brilliant, absolutely fantastic tutors and whatnot. Again, taught by specialists, top-end individuals in the [inaudible] clinical world. But then I think it’s the people running the scenes behind the show, sort of the institutions and the admin side, and there’s no connection. So, for example, telling a final year dental student you can’t sit your finals because you haven’t got enough endo cases a month before that’s due at no fault of your own is not very good for your mental health as a student. Considering the stress and everything you go through to be told that.

Payman: I get it. But the quotas are a feature of dental school, and a line has to be drawn. And you’re telling me the way it was handled was the problem, not the fact that a line had to be drawn?

Sorab: Yeah.

Hassan: No, no, no, listen. I think if anything, I wish there were more quotas and more totals because that would mean that when we go out into foundation training, into the real world, we’re more prepared. You’ve got, and you know yourself what some DFTs go through. I did it myself. I came out of dental school having only done eight canals. There are people that would come in through dental school who had one or two. Now, that’s not their fault. We were all actively trying to find these patients or find a way of getting our totals. But it’s not our fault, and to be told that, “Well this is the line late on causes a huge amount of stress and anxiety.”

Payman: Dude, I mean, again, I read some of your story about coming over from Iraq, over the border, and refugees status, and all of this. Surely, this is nothing compared to that, right?

Hassan: I think it’s very difficult for me to compare the two. I mean, look, this is dentistry, and that’s real life, and I think that’s an issue with dentistry. I think that’s an issue of dentists, and-

Payman: Tell us your story of how old were you when you left Iraq?

Hassan: Yeah. So, I was around, reaching towards the end of four or five. And then we left Iraq and Baghdad.

Payman: Which year was that?

Hassan: It was 1999. It was towards the latter stages. So, it was between 1998 and 1999 if I’m very honest with you. It’s not exact, but there was a war going on in 1998. There were some… I think the coalitions, the US and UK were bombing some Saddam’s infrastructure around Baghdad. Someone was always bombing Saddam to be honest with you. Yeah, so we left to Jordan. We stayed there for about six to eight months. And then we came to the UK. My dad was already in the UK with my auntie, and then yeah, just came essentially from there, and built hopefully, my way out worked hard.

Payman: Do you remember Iraq as well?

Hassan: Yeah. I do you remember loads of it. I mean, the food. I spoke a lot about my article regarding the food. I’m sure you all appreciate from a Middle Eastern background how much of a family support network it was. Everything was woven around family, and big get togethers. My nanny used have a huge dog. This is dad’s grandma, which I was petrified of. And since then I’ve had a very turbulent relationship with dogs. I’m one of those Middle Easterners that crosses the road if they see a dog, and I think a lot of Middle Easterners have heard this. Yeah, Iraq wasn’t I think what people think of right now as Iraq being this war zone and whatnot. I guess it is, but for me, I didn’t have that because I was young. I was naïve. My family were comfortable. Obviously, there was always a scare. And people were living under fear. There was a terrible regime going on in the background with Saddam, etc. But as a young four-year-old, five-year-old, you’re oblivious to these things.

Payman: And how many years were you… You came when you were five, six, you got to Britain?

Hassan: Yeah, I was here when I was six. So, it’s quite interesting first few days, months, not being able to speak any English.

Payman: I came at six as well. I used to think silence was a person. We came halfway through the year, we found this one school that would let us in, a Catholic school, and very strict. And they kept saying, “Silence, silence.” I kept thinking to myself, “This silence is a really naughty kid, man.” You keep on shouting at this silence.

Hassan: Yeah, I mean, I think we probably share very similar upbringings in the sense that my parents worked very hard to get me to where I am in that sense. I don’t come from a family of dentists or doctors or anything like that. But they always just told me from day one work hard, and I think it’s that Middle Eastern work ethic, and I think a lot of Asians share that, their parents.

Payman: Yeah. I do have dentist in my family though. I just feel like when we became dentists, and when you became dentist, the world is so different. I stopped practising 10 years ago, and even then the world was so different. I mean, tell me how much of when you’re in dental school, how much of all of our GDC nightmares and things are you aware of or do they start telling you that stuff when you go into VT or was that… When did you start hearing about that?

Sorab: It depends on your tutors. Yeah, I think it depends on your tutors. Some of them were very on it. They were almost like nightmarish tales. And you do get this fear of God put into you when they talk about the GDC. And then you’re just like, “This can’t be real.” And then you look into yourself you’re like, “Oh, my God, this is crazy.” I was quite lucky because my ESs were very open and honest with me and they told me everything that they tend to see and they were like, “Look, if you want to know for real just go to a hearing. See if you can go to one, sit in on one and see what it’s actually like.” And we did and then we saw some of the stuff that people get brought up for, and we’re like, “Oh, my God. People were not lying. People don’t mess around.”

Sorab: The most common thing is you get your tutors in dental school, they’ll be like, “Oh, [inaudible 00:25:59], they have everything. You’re not going to get this in dental practise or when you get out into the real world, you may only get one rubber dam kit for the day or something like that.” We’d laugh it off, and then we get into practise we’re like, “Oh, wow, they were not joking.” Some places, you’re quite limited in what you can do. I think that was the biggest turning point for me realising that being taught gold standard, and then being able out in practise to not be able to do it. It made no sense.

Hassan: That was one of the things, Payman, when you asked us, what is it about going from dental school to work, and were talking about that topic. It’s that transition. You go from the gold standard treatment planning, which you’re taught and it’s embedded into you. And then you come out into the real world and you realise, actually, I can’t do this because, A, there’s lack of resources. And, B, I need to be rewarded for my time and the work I’m doing in a fair way. But then at the same time, you’ve got that conflict in the back because you want to make sure you’re delivering the best, most optimal ethical care for your patient. And that was something that it takes time to get better. And I’m still learning from that, and so does Sorab because we continually ask each other what should we do here? How did you do it? Yeah.

Payman: I mean, the thing to understand is that when you are the most junior dentist in the world, which you guys are, and you’re about what in the some sort of mix practise now, right? Is that right?

Sorab: Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Hassan: Yeah.

Payman: So, you’re young. You’ve got no control over that first step. But the light at the end of the tunnel is that gold standard treatment planning is available. It’s doable-

Hassan: Exactly.

Payman: … out there. It’s just that you’re going to have to progress to that point where you meet those patients, and you’re in the kind of practise where people will pay for dentistry. I mean, there’s a big issue in the UK that it’s not in the culture of the whole population to save up for teeth and pay for teeth. But there is a massive proportion, I don’t know what it is right now, might be only 25 to 40% might be private now. And then you have got a lot more control. But at the same time there’s no way you’re going to spend three hours on a filling. This is not going to happen in the real world.

Hassan: Right, of course.

Payman: Whereas in dentist school you can literally do that if you want to, right?

Sorab: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Hassan: I remember the first one I did, I think I booked in the whole three hours. And even then I was struggling. I was like, “Oh my, God.” But yeah, no, you are right. We all know that there are certain systems in place that don’t reward dentist for particular treatments and stuff and I don’t even want to get into the politics and all that. But going forward, I think for both me and Sorab what you just said is true. We want to be in that position where we can offer that gold standard treatment plan. And enjoy it because we both love our dentistry. We really are passionate about it, and to be able to enjoy it fully and do the treatment you want to do, the resources, the equipment, and be rewarded for it at the same time, you need to be in that environment. And it’s difficult under the NHS, to be honest with you.

Sorab: Yeah. I mean, I’ll just echo that. And I think the most important thing for any young dentist is just make sure you’re in a practise that supports your vision. And that just supports the way you want to do things. I’m incredibly lucky to be in the practise I’m that. And I’ve realised that especially over COVID how supportive, open, and honest my team and my principles have been, and it’s been phenomenal. I can’t sing their praises highly enough, just because I’ve heard so many horror stories about people getting screwed over. And I’m just like, “Wow, I’m lucky to be where I am, and to be able to do the stuff that I do.”

Payman: I think definitely the associates situation has weakened through COVID talking to people.

Hassan: But at the same time I do feel like principals are facing a very difficult task to keep up the payments and stuff. It’s just a terrible situation for dentists and the dental profession in general, to be honest with you. But like Sorab said, I think the support network right now is crucial. And again, where I am in Hampshire with my principal Hardeep, and the [inaudible] brothers in southwest London, and [inaudible] have been brilliant. And I think what is needed right now more than ever is transparency, and people to talk to each other and let people know what’s going on.

Payman: Yeah, so true, man. I mean, it’s a time for us to get together as a profession and understand that all of us have to give a little bit, you know?

Hassan: Yeah, 100%.

Sorab: That’s exactly why we came up with Deciduous at the end of the day.

Hassan: Yeah. And that’s why Deciduous has grown to what it has is because people have realised we need to come together. And I would also like to add, Deciduous isn’t just me and Sorab. There is a team behind it as well-

Sorab: Who else is there?

Hassan: … who are all doing brilliant. So, it’s myself, Sorab, if I miss anyone please let me know.

Sorab: Oh, gosh. I’ll fill you in.

Hassan: So, it’s myself, Sorab, Zahra, [AJ 00:31:06], Mikey, [Liv 00:31:08], [Kevil 00:31:08], [Cheber 00:31:08], and then… Have I missed anyone there? And then we’ve also got [Alsahlani 00:31:13], who’s a change restorative consultant-

Payman: I know him.

Hassan: … as an advisory role, who’s turned into a mentor as well on certain topics, which is brilliant to have. So, we’ve got a collection of young dentists all across the country. Did I miss out?

Sorab: You missed out [Yuande 00:31:28].

Hassan: Oh, and Yuande as well.

Sorab: Yuande and Kev I think. No, you said Kev, didn’t you?

Hassan: No, I got Kev.

Sorab: Okay, yeah. Yeah, Yuande as well.

Hassan: And Yuande as well who’s just graduated, who again is one of these new dentists that’s coming through who shares very similar principles to what we do and she’s doing brilliantly.

Payman: She’s doing good on the content front. I’ve been watching some of her videos.

Hassan: Yeah. And, see, this is another thing, Payman. I mean, dentistry has changed. Social media now is huge, and I know a lot of the older generation dentists don’t like that. Do they?

Payman: No.

Hassan: Some do but then you always hear or see post people being like, oh, these dental Instagrams or Instagram dentists? And it’s again another topic, which is debated, isn’t it?

Payman: Yeah, I think I find it difficult because it’s like saying the internet is bad. The internet is the internet. It’s like, it’s everything. It’s all things. And all things are good and bad.

Hassan: Absolutely. I mean, I’ve connected with so many dentists through Instagram that I’ve not even met. But you build almost like a clinical support hub through Instagram and people send you cases and I definitely suffer from imposter syndrome, and I still do. When I created my Instagram account, and I post the cases sometimes I’m scared, what are people going to think? But what I’ve actually found is more people will give you advice, and say to you, “Oh, you could have done this differently. You could have done that differently.” And I think that’s brilliant because at our stage we need that.

Payman: Yeah. I don’t know if you heard my conversation, our conversation with Jason Smithson, did you?

Hassan: I’ve watched and listened to some others. I’ll be honest, that one I didn’t watch.

Payman: We were talking about this question, and he was saying… And I kind of agree with him to some extent here is that the room that Instagram is isn’t always the best one for learning. Now, that’s not always true because there are some accounts you learn so much from, but it’s a bit short form, isn’t it?

Sorab: Yeah, I agree with you there. I think it depends on where you go on Instagram to learn-

Payman: Of course. But I’m talking as a platform. Why is Deciduous on Facebook? Okay, Facebook has groups. Yeah. But also on Facebook you can write longer form. Of course, you can on Instagram, but no one does.

Sorab: Yeah. No one’s going to read that.

Hassan: Yeah, I think Instagram is a snapshot, isn’t it?

Payman: Yeah.

Hassan: You can’t discuss a [inaudible 00:34:02]. I mean, you can and some people do, and they’ve started doing that, but it’s a snapshot.

Payman: But if you want to know why some older dentist feel the way that you’re talking about I don’t know how you feel about TikTok.

Sorab: Hass is a massive fan of TikTok.

Payman: Yeah, so you guys, I know five years seems like a long time here. But before you know it, you’ll be five years in here. And there’ll be a couple of Sorabs and Hass types here who’ll be TikTok dentists.

Hassan: God forbid if there’s another Sorab.

Payman: But there’ll be TikTok dentists. They’ll be telling you, on TikTok you can really connect and learn. Because you saw where it came from, you watched it. You saw the 12-year-olds on it you think, “Oh, this is just rubbish. This can’t be true.” But even TikTok I’m sure will have something about it or Snapchat or whatever it is will have something about it that’s valuable. But that’s that’s where people come from. And then also because it’s the whole world, you end up seeing a lot of crap dentistry on there.

Sorab: Oh, mate, it’s shocking.

Payman: You see a lot of… One thing that is true you see a lot of dentists talking directly to patients. They’re not talking to dentists when they’re posting. And when you’re posting for patients, it’s a different type of post.

Sorab: Exactly.

Payman: The patient doesn’t have to know when you drilled those teeth, the before or after. Not the drilling bit, or drill that. These are the things. I hear what you’re saying about trolling and all that. But is it really that bad for you? Like you really worry about it like it’s a thing?

Sorab: No, I mean, for me and Hass-

Hassan: I’ve switched off, to be honest, yeah, no.

Sorab: It doesn’t faze me. But I think other people it really affects them. It causes them anxiety, it causes them issues, and it’s just like we just don’t need that. Do you know what I mean?

Hassan: If someone takes their time out to put something negative on a post that you’ve created rather than individually message you to say to you, “Hi, mate, I’ve seen this post. My opinion would be X, Y, Z.” And then you can have a conversation about it-

Sorab: Yeah, that’s the way to go.

Hassan: If they’re going to take that time out to purposefully just ridicule you or troll your post… Am I allowed to swear on-

Payman: Yeah, sure, man.

Hassan: Oh, cool.

Sorab: You’re being so polite.

Hassan: Sorry. To be honest, mate, fuck it. That’s their opinion. People are always going to have opinions. It’s very important, if you’re genuine and true to yourself then that’s it. No one can knock you down if you’re true and genuine to yourself.

Sorab: As long as you’re doing your-

Hassan: The right thing.

Sorab: Yeah, the right thing. Yeah, that’s the little caveat on top.

Payman: Yeah, but look, what I’m trying to say to you is that… I don’t know, how many years have you guys been on social? From the beginning, right? From when you were children, is that right?

Sorab: Whoa. Pretty much I’d say.

Hassan: Not from children-

Sorab: Probably in our teens.

Payman: Yeah. So, what it means to you might be different to what it means to me. I look at it as a marketing platform. Take it for what it is.

Hassan: I think it’s important to just pick your audience, and what your social media account’s purpose is for. That’s the most important thing. And then from there, your cases and whatnot, and what you post is relevant to that particular audience group, if that makes sense.

Payman: Yeah, of course. But it’s so funny, isn’t it? Because we end up talking about social more than anything else in dentistry.

Sorab: It’s because we’re in lockdown. We can’t take any-

Payman: Not always, man. It’s because a lot of times people communicate, like you said, you know people that you’ve never met before, but you actually know them quite well. There’s a photographer in Peru who I think is a really good buddy of mine, but I’ve never met him.

Sorab: International pen pals?

Hassan: It’s just really smart, isn’t it? Look, that’s almost something we should actually be very grateful to have that platform for you to be able to have that connection. But of course it’s got its ugly side, and I think its ugly side can be very detrimental to one’s mental wellbeing. You become obsessed. You watch other people’s cases and you, go, well, my [inaudible] looks like a potato. This person’s looks amazing. What’s going on? Why? But again, that’s part of development, and something we do need to tackle. Did I mentioned Mikey, by the way?

Sorab: You did.

Hassan: I did mention Mikey. Mikey is. Yeah, sorry.

Payman: Out of that group you mentioned I think I know AJ. Is that [Dinar 00:38:38]?

Sorab: Yeah, that’s the one.

Hassan: Yes.

Payman: I know Liv. Is it [Scora 00:38:38]?

Hassan: Yeah, Liv Stora.

Payman: I don’t know anyone else in that group. Both AJ and Liv have been on our course.

Sorab: Oh, nice.

Payman: Yeah. Both of them very good, actually.

Hassan: The [inaudible 00:38:57].

Payman: Yeah.

Sorab: It’s funny that you were talking about meeting people through social media. That’s how me and AJ connected. We met through social media. I never met him before. And then we did a talk to fifth years at King’s. We did this talk, me and him together. And we were literally just liaising online through PowerPoint and stuff like that. And then at the end of the day students and all you go to the bar, have a couple of drinks. And then guys were like, “Oh, shit, how long have you guys known each other for?” This and the other. And I was like, “I’ve just met him today, mate. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” But it was like, I’ve known him for ages. Yeah, that’s the power of social media.

Payman: Do you feel like you already having to work out what it’s like the mechanics of a practise? Are you learning how to manage people?

Sorab: Absolutely.

Hassan: Yeah.

Sorab: Your team is the most important thing around you. I had a new nurse join me last week. And I was just bringing her up to speed on how my surgery is, where things are, this, that, and the other. And I just said to her, “Look, at the end of the day, I am only as good as the team around me. And one thing my tutors taught me is you are only as good as your nurse and your technician. If you look after those two people, you’ll do amazing dentistry.”

Hassan: I’d add your receptionist.

Sorab: Yeah, mate. Your receptionist will make or break you.

Hassan: Yeah, that’s crucial.

Sorab: Yeah, they control your life. Always be nice to your receptionist. Always be nice to your nurse. Always be nice to just everyone in the team. I think learning the ins and outs of practise is vital for anyone. Because you’re a team player. If the practise does well, you do well. If you do well, the practise does well. And I think a good associate should add value into his practise. And a good principal should know the value of the good associate. That’s what my ES taught me.

Payman: That’s very true. Did you take the opportunity in your FT year to delve into some of that stuff?

Sorab: Absolutely.

Payman: Did you?

Sorab: Yeah. So, I was very lucky where I was because my ES, Hardeep and Puru. They were completely honest with me. Hardeep was like, “Look, if you want to see the accounts, you can. If you want to see what labs cost, if you want to see what materials cost? Absolutely. Go for it. If you want to help out with calling patients back, this, that and the other, do it.” And now the practise I’m at now in Croydon, my principal, Kunal, at Dental Beauty in Croydon, the way we do things is just insane. Like learning about the whole patient journey, following up with your patients, calling them. It’s that level of service and care. And then just knowing how the team works and the equipment and the level of investment they’ve put into you and into the practise, and making sure you’re using things properly, and knowing how to train the team up. And I think that’s vital.

Hassan: And I think it’s only until you start recognising the costs and the implications that principals face to run the whole place. As an associate, we come to appreciate and understand the stresses they go through. And understanding that and having that transparency with your principal is crucial. So, I sort of just said, Hardeep, is now my principal. Yes. So, having that network is brilliant. And then in the other place I worked, the [inaudible] brothers, so one of them [inaudible 00:42:02], they were very transparent from day one. And they’ve taught me how to do things ethically and correctly, but explained to me the importance of the patient journey and valuing your patient.

Payman: It’s so nice to hear you guys say this stuff, man. I mean, would you say this is you guys are out of the ordinary as far as this stuff goes? Or would you say this is standard? Most FTs are thinking this way or most first year associates are thinking-

Sorab: Oh, great. That’s a difficult question. I think it’s a mixed bag. I mean, I would say to any principal listening to this, just be completely honest and open. I completely understand the financial pressures, and all the CQC pressures or principles are under but don’t screw over your associates. Just be completely honest and transparent with them. Just let them know, “Look, we’re going through some hardships. Is it okay if we do this? Or do you have any ideas?”

Sorab: They’re a team at the end of the day, and I think that’s what my principal did with me. He sat me down. He spoke to me about everything. He says, “Look, we’re going to tackle this as a team. End of the day, we want to make sure this practise is here, and we want to make sure that you have a job at the end.” And I fully respected his openness. And I get things are tough, but you can’t take it out on the team around you. Because when things are up and running, you’re going to rely on these people to help boost you and to get you up and running again. But if you’ve screwed them over in the interim, I don’t think they’re going to be.

Hassan: Associates, yeah, they’ll remember it.

Payman: Tell me something… you must have, some of your friends must have some awful stories. Tell me some awful stories, bring it out. What kind of things have happened to young dentists?

Hassan: For example, if you’ve signed a new contract, and then COVID happens, so say in February you signed a new contract for a certain amount of EDA then COVID happens. And I think the BDA’s advice was to be paid for what you were supposed to be doing like schedule, people not being paid that. Being paid for what they’d actually done. So, for example, if you’d signed a new contract, and you’ve only worked for two, three weeks part-time, and then COVID strikes you wouldn’t have done anywhere near the amount of your days you were supposed to, but you were only being paid for those on a monthly basis, which is not fair.

Payman: Well, let me give you the other side of it. The BDA is advisory, right?

Hassan: Of course.

Payman: So, it’s not like legislator. It’s not making the rules. The BDA is saying that’s what should happen. That’s the way the principal. I hear you, man.

Hassan: I get you, look-

Sorab: I think you need to balance. You need to balance it.

Hassan: It’s the transparency and openness. If your principal… If I was in a scenario, and the principal said to me, “Look, this is the situation. Can we meet on a middle ground? Come in, let’s have a meeting about it. And this is what we’re going to do. Are you happy with this? Are you happy with that?” You shake hands on it, then that’s fine. I think what young dentists and individuals want, and any associate wants is just that transparency with your principal, and that openness. And that direction, and this is where we are, this is where we’re heading. What’s your input? How do you want to make the practise better? What do you think we should do? There should be decisions made with everyone, the whole team. This is a team thing.

Payman: Exactly.

Hassan: That’s what I think that’s what I think makes a very successful practise, and provides that holistic patient journey. That’s from the door opening to the receptionist, to the nurse, to the dentist, to the technician, everyone involved. It’s an environment that all needs to be together.

Payman: I mean, I don’t know, I’ve been talking to a lot of dentists, specifically, a lot of our users, right? And I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the way people are thinking about all this. A lot of people are just seeing it as a speed bump, and saying that it’s an opportunity. They’ve been thinking in lockdown about how they can do things better.

Hassan: Absolutely.

Payman: Other than that, maybe it’s self selecting, right? An enlightened user might be at a different stage of his career than someone else. But at the same time because we’ve been doing the podcast and all that, I have heard messages from the other side of the coin. People kind of melting under the stress of it. And both situations are real, but it’s one of those, what you’re saying. Just thinking about transparency, everyone gets an equal shot and…. A lot of times that just comes straight down from the top, the agenda that’s set. And unfortunately, a lot of business isn’t about transparency. A lot of business people don’t want everyone to see the numbers, for instance.

Sorab: Yeah, I mean, I can appreciate that in normal circumstances, but I think with everything that happened with COVID, I think-

Payman: Oh, yeah, of course.

Sorab: It’s all just thrown out the window. I mean, I kind of get it from a business point of view. You don’t want everyone seeing everything, but you need to be transparent enough so that people can understand why you’re making the decisions that are going to affect your team.

Payman: Yeah. It’s sort of where were you headed so everyone knows.

Sorab: Yeah, completely agree.

Hassan: It sounds really cliche, right? But what I’m about to say is very, very cliche. And I do apologise guys, but in the darkest times stars come out, right? And I think what… I know Sorab’s laughing right now [inaudible 00:47:13].

Payman: He’s feeling his feelings.

Hassan: I’m surely in my feeling right now, but the reason why I say that is because COVID’s been a terrible situation, but at the same time, it’s given us that time to slow down and reflect and see, what can we do different going back? You’re seeing individuals doing these video consultations, and completely reconfiguring the way the practise is run, and I think people will bounce back from it. And we have to, we have to.

Payman: Yeah, I think we will. Guys, I’ve been around long enough to been through two big recessions. Don’t get this wrong. This is a recession coming, we’re about to hit. A lot of it is covered up by the furlough situation and so on. But I’ve been around for longer. Dentists generally are more recession proof than a lot of society. And we tend to find a way. I guess it’s like a problem solving kind of thing that we tend to be quite good at as dentists. We tend to find a way when in the end we’re needed by society. But what’s interesting is listening to different people, asking them questions about what they’ve been up to, and so on. And just the incredible business people. When I say business people you might think I’m talking about, and by the way, we have these two. People who own like 400 practises.

Payman: All right, incredible business people. But the incredible business people who just run one practise, and are on it and got their PPE sorted months ago, and got their new procedures in place, and they’ve been told to their teams, and they’ve been doing video consults with their patients. At the end of the day, what is being a business person? It’s taking, serving all those different communities of your… By the way, me, at the end of the day I’m the supplier. Taking the time out at this point in the game where everyone’s talking about SNPs and PPE and all that to talk to their supplier for 40 minutes. Just some incredible business people, man. And I’ve been really pleasantly surprised with what I’ve heard talking to people.

Payman: And I’m really pleasantly surprised with what you guys are saying. I do hope there’s more of it around than just you two. And I know you two are-

Hassan: There is. There are more people. [crosstalk 00:49:46].

Payman: You two must be pretty ambitious type. Sorab, I knew you from before, but you two must be sort of pretty ambitious types to do this Deciduous thing, and you’re clearly into doing the best, and getting the best out of this profession. And my advice to you would be don’t think just because you’re young, you can’t make massive changes to stuff, you can. You definitely can. I met Deepesh when he was a VT, your age, just after VT. And by the way not to get any credit. Because he was very good back then. What I’m saying is you can be really, really… Sometimes a 24-year-old, is that what you are?

Hassan: I’m 25.

Sorab: He’s 25. I’m a little bit older, 28 now.

Payman: My point is sometimes a young man might think he’s-

Hassan: I’m not married, by the way-

Payman: Or a young woman. You’re not married, Sorab. Is that right?

Sorab: Yeah, it’s the same with Has. He’s not married. I think he’s got his data profiles, and all that stuff up and ready, so give him a shout out guys.

Hassan: Wow.

Payman: Swipe right. What I say is sometimes you’re a 25-year-old person with a vision and a view. And you want to change the world, and sometimes that 25-year-old kid does change the world, man.

Sorab: Yeah, I completely agree.

Payman: It’s real. It happens.

Hassan: Look, I’ve listened to the individuals you’ve had on this podcast, and the calibre of dentists you’ve had on here. And me and Sorab aspire to be like some of these individuals, but we are hungry. We do have that drive. And we do have that vision. And I think the reason why me and Sorab have become good friends is because we bounce ideas off each other continuously throughout the day. Why don’t we do this? Why don’t we do that? I think he’s called me at one before. I’ve called him at one before. Like, “Should we do this?” And he’s like, “Man, I just want to sleep.” I’m like, “All right. Call me as soon as you wake up.”

Sorab: No, literally. It was literally the other day I was in practise and I get 17 missed calls, and like call me, call me, call me, this, that and the other. I was like, “Jesus Christ, what’s going on? Is he all right? Is he in an accident? What’s going on?” I give him a call and I was like, “Mate, you’re all right?” He was like, “Yeah, we need to reply to Payman.” I was like, “Oh, my days. You could have just texted me this.” He gets… I get it. He gets excited.

Hassan: Yeah, when I get an idea and a vision, I would just sit down and get it done. That’s the way I am. And I think it does rub people off the wrong way sometimes. Sorry, Sorab.

Sorab: It’s all right.

Hassan: I’m just one of those individuals. I like to get things done when I need to get them done.

Sorab: Yeah, I mean, the one criticism that we’ve been given is people keep saying, “You’re not dreaming. You’re not thinking big enough.” And that kind of shifted the way we were thinking about things, and we’re like, “You know what, maybe we do need to take things bigger. Maybe we do need to go slightly further ahead in this, that, and the other. And that’s when we decided, you know what, let’s… I mean, this was before COVID when we were thinking about helping people and people saying dream big. And then we were like, “Well yeah, let’s do this Deciduous thing,” and we got it styled. We never knew we were going to have this kind of support from young dentists or these kind of numbers-

Hassan: The feedback.

Payman: What have you got? How many have you got?

Sorab: Oh, gosh-

Hassan: So, we’ve got 2500 members. And then on our Instagram we’ve got 1200, and it’s growing. Look, Deciduous started off as a WhatsApp group. I invited people in, and within a few hours we had over 50 people, and I was like, “This is too much.” That went on to a Facebook group, and in a space of two months. So, just some figures for you. Our engagement, our impressions, we’ve got 32.6K impressions. These are big numbers.

Payman: Yeah, there’s a lot of activity on that group, man. A lot of activity.

Hassan: The reason being though as well is because it’s needed-

Payman: By the way, can anyone join or do you have to be younger than a certain age?

Sorab: No.

Hassan: No. No, no, no.

Sorab: There’s a strict criteria now because way you see our Facebook-

Hassan: And we’re going to make it stricter.

Sorab: Yeah, the Facebook thing, it’s there’s no advertising. There’s no people from advertising or anything like that. It’s completely ad free to protect our members, and to keep things genuine.

Payman: When you say ad free what would you do if I go on there and say, “Hey, buy Enlighten.”

Sorab: I’ll delete it.

Hassan: Delete it.

Sorab: I’ll delete it straight away.

Payman: By the way, you wouldn’t let me in, in the first place because I’m too old. Is that right?

Hassan: No, see, that’s the thing. So, we said, I’m going to be very transparent because, so we said to individuals and the team. We said, “Look, why don’t we say put a year of 2015 qualification?” The reason being is because we’re around the same generation of dentists going through dental school and the pressures and the stresses we’re facing. Having someone who’s in that group that has seven multiple practises in their ’60s and is retired isn’t really going to add too much value in regards to foundation training or the process of that or dental core training, which a lot of young dentists are asking us about. That’s what people want to know more about. What specialising etc.

Hassan: However, if someone wants to really want to join the group, and they think that they can add value to it they’re welcome to message the admin team and say, “Look, this is my experience. I’d love to give advice on maybe running a practise, etc.” We’d allow them in, but they need to add value to the group.

Payman: Exactly.

Hassan: We want our members to feel safe. To feel like they can post cases and ask and get advice, and ultimately not feel like a shark pit is out there to bite them.

Payman: Yeah, but what I’m saying is that I saw the group about… I don’t know when it was, when you started, I guess, a couple of months ago was it when you started?

Sorab: April.

Hassan: Yeah, it was April.

Payman: I saw it. I got to the page where it said, who the hell are you? And it kind of put me off, right? It said, “When did you qualify for something?” Does it?

Sorab: Yeah.

Hassan: Yeah. That’s one of the questions.

Payman: And it says, the young dental forum, and I just thought, “Oh, forget it, man. That’s not for me.” Now, obviously, you wanted that. You want the thing populated with young dentists. But at the same time, I’m super interested in what young dentists are thinking. Not only for my own selfish goals because-

Hassan: Yeah, and we spoke, didn’t we? We spoke.

Payman: But it’s different because you know me, I know you, it’s different. But what I’m saying it’s if I was just some dude who turned up, I just wouldn’t even apply because it puts you off. It’s cool if you’re saying, you just want it to be populated with young people.

Hassan: It’s not a case of we want it to be populated with young people. It’s we want-

Payman: The right people.

Hassan: … it to be populated with individuals that are going through the same journeys, and the same struggles. And I think that’s the most important thing.

Payman: But don’t you think you just end out with it’s just a pure sharing thing rather than getting… Like this guy you’re saying who has six practises could contribute to the thing there.

Hassan: Exactly. And I feel like if they really wanted to… If they wanted to actively add value to Deciduous we want to know because I want to know how to run a practise, and so does Sorab or how to have a business, something like that. But they need to actively approach us in a way that’s going to benefit Deciduous and add value to the members. Because that’s what people are asking on that group. People want to know, do I do dental core training? How do I specialise? What is a CV? What is tax? How do I control my money as an associate? Things that aren’t taught at dental school.

Sorab: Yeah, I think just to add on to that, we want people that are in line with our vision and our ethos. I completely agree. If someone’s got six practises and stuff, and they get put off because of the questions we’ve got on the group they’ll message one of the admin team or they’ll know about us through our Instagram because we’re a lot more open on Instagram. And they’ll start a dialogue, and it’s happened. We’ve had consultants. We’ve had specialists who have messaged us saying they want to get involved. And then one of the things we’ll ask them is, “Well, what do you bring to the table? What’s your ethos? Why do you want to help young dentists?” And then we sort of… It’s almost like an informal interview. And then they’ll come to us and say, “Oh, well, I can bring this, this, and this, and I want to do this” and then we’re like, “Oh, yeah, that sounds amazing. Put it together, and let’s get it out there.

Payman: I guess what I’m asking you dude here is it would be lovely if you… I’m sure you have. I bet this is what happens when Hassan calls you at 2:00 AM. But it’d be lovely if you told me there’s more to it or you’ve got more dreams, plans and dreams.

Sorab: There’s a few big projects.

Payman: Go on, give me… Go on. Or you’re going to keep it secret?

Hassan: Well, rule number one is you don’t always play [inaudible 00:58:25].

Sorab: We’re definitely thinking much bigger. So, I don’t think there’s any worry about that. But we’re trying to be different.

Hassan: We don’t want to just… Look, we’ve achieved amazing things by growing organically without having to promote and advertise. And the feedback and the responses from young dentists who have reached out for us it’s been remarkable. We created a mock series in a case of a week for dental schools. That’s never been done before, and we didn’t charge anyone because we genuinely just wanted to help.

Payman: I saw that, and I saw the feedback from it. It really looked like a lovely project what you did.

Hassan: Can you imagine, young fifth years, COVID and then they had finals. We were like, right, we need to help them. We’re going to do a CV workshop soon. What is a CV? What is a portfolio? How to do a CV, etc. Another thing we did, which has never been done before. You’ve got all these big organisations, etc. Deciduous did this, and we united foundation dentists who had just found out their schemes. So, by being part of this network it’s not just a case of where you post cases and get advice. It’s actually a way of networking with other young dentists. And it’s almost like a catalyst. And that’s our vision with it, and it is going to hopefully turn into a network not just on a Facebook forum.

Payman: You still haven’t told me anything, right?

Sorab: Well, put it this way, some of some of these bigger organisations that say they look out for young dentists. They kind of haven’t, and what we’ve done in the space of two months on our own with no financial backing whatsoever is phenomenal. If we had the backing to take it… Imagine if we had the budget that the BDA committee had or if we had the budget that some young dentist committee of whatever society there is out there, if we have that kind of budget, imagine what we could have done. And then me and Hass were thinking, why not? Let’s try and transition to even bigger plans.

Hassan: He still wants to know these plans, Sorab. That’s the thing.

Sorab: I don’t know if I can tell him. Oh, there’s one thing I want to say though.

Payman: What’s going to happen? Some other group’s going to learn your idea and rip it off?

Sorab: Bring it on, man. Bring it on with that competition.

Payman: Is that what you mean? Is that what you’re talking about?

Hassan: It does happen. No, it does happen, doesn’t it though? You’d know out of all individuals, but I guess competition is healthy competition because ultimately if we’re doing the right thing for young dentists-

Payman: No, listen guys. Guys listen. What happens this is how organisations of any sort happen. A couple of guys are really into it. They say, “Hey, why not?” And it all starts with a beautiful thing, and then six others join and it’s like, yeah. Let’s build a committee, and then it builds, builds, builds.

Hassan: And in the moment.

Payman: That’s where you’re at, you’re just there, yeah?

Hassan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Payman: But then, okay. What is your dream come true in three years time for this organisation? Listen, if you told me, “Oh, I know. We’re going to we’re going to build a little corporative of young dentists who are going to go buying group to get stuff cheap from a…” All right. Great. Are you worried that the young dentists committee of the BACD is going to copy that idea? Is that what you’re saying?

Hassan: No, no.

Payman: Come of it, man. Maybe it’s because that wasn’t a very good idea.

Hassan: Yeah, that was a terrible idea.

Sorab: I was like, well, I really don’t want that.

Hassan: No,

Payman: Come on, man. Tell me something. Throw a guy a bone.

Hassan: Oh, Sorab, should we just do it, your idea?

Sorab: Go for it, mate. Tell him.

Hassan: So, basically, I’d love there’d be a way to unite say, young dentists or associates with potential principals on a network where you can say… Think like a matching way of-

Payman: Speed dating.

Hassan: … speed dating jobs.

Sorab: Pretty much, yeah.

Hassan: We want to do conferences. We want to do courses. Look, when was the last time a young dentist in their 22, 23, 24 went to the BDA conference and bought a dental chair and came out with some CEREC machine. It doesn’t happen. 10% of that is applicable. I don’t know the number. But not all of that is applicable to young dentists. Why don’t we do a conference or something that’s smaller scale that’s directly to this age group, or not age group, but stage of their career. Why don’t we do something that’s going to tackle the struggles young dentists go through? Rather than just patch it up? Start it from the bottom up. Why don’t we look at what is it that causes stress for young dentist? The anxiety of the litigation. Let’s put systems in place to solve that.

Payman: Yeah. Absolutely. With a big party at the end, right?

Hassan: There’s always a party, but that’s the

Payman: See, that’s a good idea. By the way, it’s not a new idea. That’s a good idea, though. That is a good idea.

Hassan: No, it’s not new.

Payman: My point I’m trying to get to you, dude, is that the idea is nothing. It’s execution that’s the point. Literally the idea is nothing. Don’t worry about telling people about your ideas because you need to tell people. You needed to tell me this. Okay, maybe you didn’t want to tell me on air. But you needed to tell me this so that I could tell you about how to organise a conference and what to do about that and what my experience with that is, and so on, and so forth. If you keep all your ideas, these sort of ideas to yourself, you’ll miss out on a bunch of help.

Sorab: Absolutely.

Payman: That other organisation that you’re so worried is going to copy your idea. It’s just one little issue. It’s really not the big picture. The big picture is all those other people who will help you when you tell them what you’re going to do.

Hassan: Yeah, and to be honest with you, even that is good advice for us because we are still learning this whole thing-

Payman: Exactly.

Hassan: What we do have is we are genuine about it.

Payman: I can see that.

Hassan: That you can’t… No matter who comes out with any other idea, our drive and how genuine we are about what we want to do, that will take us further than anything. We might actually reach out to you.

Payman: Of course, guys.

Hassan: When we need that advice. How we do this conference? But look, I’m just going to put it out there. Me and Sorab spoke about this, and I don’t know if any dental core trained individual or any foundation person is listening. Some aspects of how you get into your foundation’s scheme are crap. You do a static… What’s it called, Sorab? Oh, SJT.

Payman: SJT.

Sorab: What does that stand for?

Payman: Situational Judgement Test.

Hassan: Situational Judgement Test, yeah, snap. That bases your next stage of your career and things like that. We want to go into the deeper aspects like what Sorab mentioned about the emotional, intelligence, the soft skills, these things need to be taught. If we can find a way to maybe-

Sorab: I mean, I’m just going to be very blunt and just say, I’d love to take over the DFT selection process. I’d love to take it away from COPDEND because I don’t think they’re doing a great job. And they’ve failed three, four years in a row, and they’ve causeda hell of a lot if issues.

Hassan: Especially this year.

Sorab: A hell of a lot of issues. And I’m just like, they’ve essentially just outsourced to a computer analytic company to come up with the SJT that’s not really relevant to anything to save cost, and I get that. I do. I get that from a business point of view. But it’s kind of doing a disservice. You spend five years learning all the little nuances of dentistry to do a test that has nothing to do with your clinical ability. And that’s how you’re meant to filter your candidates. It doesn’t make sense. So, I’d love to be able to try and make that process a lot more seamless and a bit more fairer going forward. And just try and make it better. If we can improve that, why not?

Sorab: If anyone from COPDEND is listening, if you want to work with us, reach out to us. We’re more than happy to give you advice, to help, to consult, and try and make it a better system. That’s what we want. We just want to make things better for young dentists and ultimately for the profession as a whole. And we’ve got the ideas, we’ve got the reach, we’ve got the manpower. We can come up with things that these guys don’t think of because most of these people, if you look at COPDEND, they’re what? 50 plus. They’re quite old. They’ve been around for ages and dentistry is completely different now to what it used to be. You get someone new and they’ve got a tonne of ideas and a brand new perspective, there you go.

Payman: I think COVID’s been a wonderful time for this because… All right. I’m not practising , so I haven’t got this problem, and most dentists are spending 80, 90% of their lives in the restoration, in the mouth.

Sorab: Oh, wow, that got deep, yeah.

Payman: And so, you’ve got that 10% that you can do… In a practise situation, it will be work on the practise rather than in the practise, that idea. Or some people are like as you go on a bit further, somebody will take a whole day off to work on the practise not in the practise. But in COVID we’ve all had time to think. And the amount of… You must have seen the stuff that [inaudible] has been putting out about the PPE and all that and aerosols.

Sorab: Yeah.

Payman: And just there’s so much talent, and by the way, I’m not saying all of you stop practising dentistry. There’s so much talent outside of the mouth, outside of doing that treatment, that’s now kind of be unleashed a little bit during this COVID period because people have had time to just think. Some people have done amazing webinars. I’m very interested in what you’re saying. So, I can expect from what… So, deciphering what you’re saying we can expect a Deciduous conference?

Sorab: Absolutely.

Hassan: Yeah, I mean, absolutely.

Payman: Are you going to ask your members to pay at one point or is it [inaudible] going to pay for conferences?

Hassan: It’s always a sensitive one this, isn’t it? But to be honest with you, if we feel like whatever we put on is going to add value. And we have resources that are limited and time then yeah, we will. But we’ll do it in a way that’s fair. And I’ve done courses, and Sorab has done courses, and if we feel like that particular things is going to add value to us we’ll be happy to pay.

Payman: Absolutely.

Hassan: At the end of the day, look, our time is also valuable. We’ve put so much effort into this, as is our teams. We’d love to be able to do everything for free. But unfortunately, the real world doesn’t let you do that. We don’t live in that state. We’re not blinded by that, don’t worry, but our main purpose is to add value and be true to what we stand for. So we’re not going to start ripping people off and then turn it into some profit making capitalist adventure or whatnot.

Payman: Sounds great, guys. Sounds great. Hopefully you keep those… It’s really important you keep those basic principles of the organisation running as it evolves. So, it sounds like you’ve got those very clear right now. That sort of ethical, helping each other, being positive angle. It’s really important as it evolves, as it gets bigger, as it gets more successful and more people come into it, that you keep those basic principles going throughout. And listen, every single organisation starts out wanting that to be true, but not everyone manages it. So, really important that you do, but speaking to-

Hassan: We’re not naive. We know we face a lot of obstacles.

Payman: But it looks like you’ve got your good head on your shoulders, both of you. And so, if there are more like you the future’s bright. The future is bright. How much work do you guys put into it every day?

Sorab: It kind of doesn’t feel like work. It varies man. It varies. It might be a couple of hours a day to I think the most other that I spend on Deciduous was probably-

Payman: Doing what, man?

Sorab: Just putting stuff together like the graphic design, the workshops, the timetables, replying to messages. I’ve had over… Gosh, it’s like at least over 200 messages in my inbox alone replying back to individual students.

Hassan: You’re all right, mate. Everyone’s sliding into your DMS now.

Sorab: Just people that we help now. Just people we’d help. Nothing more nothing less. That is it. Hass has been on a bit of a sneaky one, but that’s a different story. But yeah, it varies. I mean, it might be putting together a poster. It might be working out logistics with a clinician. It might be posting this thing-

Hassan: Where we’re doing a live webinar or discussing with a specialist about their pathway, and we’ve a great series of those. I mean, when we did the video, we did a small trailer for Deciduous. I spent all night. I was up all night trying to do that. And do you know what? Credit to anyone that does video editing.

Sorab: Yeah, that’s amazing.

Hassan: Because it’s bloody so difficult.

Payman: It’s hard work.

Sorab: But it’s also putting systems in place so that when we do go back to work, our team has the freedom to focus on all the bigger projects, and what we’ve got in place will just run itself. So trying to have systems in place where it works.

Payman: All right, man. I mean, I wish Prav was here because he could ask all of his wonderful questions that he asks, but it’s been a real education talking to you guys. I’m really pleased about the way that you guys are looking at it. And if we can help anyway along the line then make sure you let us know. Very good.

Sorab: Yeah, we’ll do.

Hassan: Yeah.

Sorab: Thank you so much for having us on.

Hassan: We really do appreciate it. Thank you very much for having us on.

Payman: Of course, guys, well done. You do a really good job. I would have a look at that little page at the beginning that puts people off, man. Because if I was just a regular dentist and I saw that and I just wouldn’t see it and then wouldn’t go on. And it’s been such a positive experience reading all this stuff these last few days that you’ve given me access so graciously.

Sorab: If we put a little sentence in there saying, yeah, if you’re an older dentists and you feel as if you can add value, email us.

Payman: Yeah. Something like that.

Sorab: Something like that?

Payman: Something like that.

Sorab: Yeah.

Hassan: Well, we’ll work on something.

Sorab: Well, we’ll put that in place.

Payman: All right, guys. Well, really, really well done-

Hassan: Thank you very much for having us.

Payman: Well done, Hassan. Good job, Sorab, mate.

Sorab: Thank you so much, man. Give [inaudible] a chat-

Hassan: Cheers.

Sorab: I hope he’s doing all right.

Payman: Yeah. And hopefully, we see each other in real life at one point.

Sorab: I hope so too.

Hassan: Yeah.

Payman: Thanks a lot, guys.

Hassan: Thank you guys, cheers.

Sorab: Thank you, Payman. Bye-bye.

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 guests 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.

The energy is palpable this week as Prav and Payman welcome one of dentistry’s most recognisable voices.

Milad Shadrooh is perhaps better known as the Singing Dentist. In this episode he recounts his incredible journey from posting a single Facebook video to live TV appearances and worldwide fame.

Milad sheds some light on his study years and balancing his love of urban music with dentistry, and lets us in on his plans for the future.



“Probably the biggest mistake was choosing dentistry in 1999 when I should have just stuck with the music, my friend! How did I overcome it? 15 years later, start singing about teeth.” – Milad Shadrooh


In This Episode


00.42 – Early years and dental school

05.30 – DJ-ing, MC-ing, music and study

16.30 – Into work and into business

23.00 – Mentoring and ortho

30.39 – On making mistakes

35.32 – Fame

55.29 – Family life

58.27 – Being an influencer

01.10.05 – Entrepreneurship and other projects

01.14.15 – Dealing with dark days

01.25.45 – Legacy

01.26.29 – Trolls and haters

01.32.56 – Last day on earth


About Milad Shadrooh


Dr Milad Shadrooh graduated from London and St Barts in 2004.

He went on to practice at Chequers Dental Studio, which he later purchased. 

Milad is perhaps best known as the Singing Dentist, whose viral pop parodies are enjoyed by millions of online viewers across the globe.

Milad Shadrooh: I wrote out the logo and then I went to my dad. I was like, “Dad, I’m going to do this thing with the music and dentistry and I’ve got this idea, rapping dentists, what’d you think?” And I showed him the logo. Genuinely, he looked at me and went, “Raping dentists, what is this?” I was like, “Dad, it’s rapping!”

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: So, Milad, great to have you. Thanks for coming.

Milad Shadrooh: Thanks guys. Thanks for having me.

Payman: I know you’re busy as hell right now.

Milad Shadrooh: It’s all good, bruv.

Payman: So the thing that’s been going on with you, we’ll get to how you became the singing dentist. But just give us a quick 30 second sort of summary of where did you grow up? What were you like as a kid? When did you decide to become a dentist?

Milad Shadrooh: Oh wow. Okay. So I was born in Iran, in Tehran, and we did this thing as kids, you put your baby on the floor and put loads of stuff in front of them and then see what the baby plays with. And then the thing the baby plays with the most is what they’re destined to become. And I basically played with a syringe. It didn’t have a needle on it, I just want to highlight that. But yeah, basically I kept blowing the air out the syringe. I thought that was pretty cool. So mom and dad, “Boy, he’s a doctor.” So, they basically inspired me to go into medicine or dentistry or whatever. And then when it was time to make a choice, I did work experience. Didn’t think medicine was for me, so that’s why dentistry happened. But yeah, I was born in Iran. We came to the UK when I was five, 1986, during the war with Iraq. And then yeah, just raised in London.

Payman: Do you remember when you arrived in Britain?

Milad Shadrooh: Bits, I do. Yeah, I do. So my uncle and my aunt were already here. My mom and dad were educated here as well. So a pre-revolution in Iran, it was very common for people to come to the UK, go abroad and be educated. So we had an affinity to the UK already, and my uncle and aunt were already here. So yeah, we came here. I remember it.

Payman: What do you remember the most?

Milad Shadrooh: Initially, not speaking English and finding it hard to communicate. But very quickly, as kids, you pick up the language so quickly, right? And I remember very well, my mom and dad constantly telling me, “Speak English, speak English.” And then when my English became too good, they were like, “Speak Farsi, speak Farsi.” So they didn’t want me to forget the heritage, right? So yeah, it was good, man. I had a great childhood. I’m an only child. So no brothers or sisters.

Payman: Where did you move to when you came here?

Milad Shadrooh: So we first came to the North, so Hendon, which is where my aunt was established. And then from Hendon, we got set up in South Kensington. So the other end of the world. And I went to school in Kensington, Earl’s Court. Went around there, and then my secondary school was in Battersea. So always been South, Southwest, basically. And then for uni, I went to Royal London. So then I moved to East, and that was eyeopening, blimey. Whitechapel was interesting part of town.

Payman: The first day when you see Whitechapel Market. It’s a bit of a surprise, really.

Milad Shadrooh: I mean, I remember going for the interview, or the open day or whatever. And you walk out the station, you’re like, “Blimey. This is where I’ve got to come for the next five years.”

Payman: Prav, do you know?

Prav: No.

Payman: It’s like, I don’t know, the first time you go to Bradford or something. It’s not even that. It’s just a very busy market, selling spices, and-

Milad Shadrooh: Cloth.

Prav: Oh, right, like that, is it?

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, literally. Yeah you can get anything pretty much down at Whitechapel.

Payman: You could be anywhere. It’s a funny thing. I had exactly the same experience. Went for my interview, and I thought, “What’s going on here?” But then I used to visit there a lot and it’s actually very cool area.

Milad Shadrooh: I like it, man. And you know what? All of that area’s changed so much. Like the East of London has changed so much. But Whitechapel high street, still the same, bruv. From the minute you go to the high street until you leave, literally the same. The shops either side might have changed, but the market is still the same. It’s still, so it’s nice. It’s kind of retained that thing. So yeah. That’s it.

Payman: How were you in dental school?

Milad Shadrooh: How was I in dental school? I was cool, man. I did my work, did well. I was always busy, active, kind of outside of that. So I was still doing the music stuff, which I guess we’ll talk about. But yeah, I’d be performing, I’d be MCing, I’d be going back to South and doing what I was doing and then coming back to East and yeah, it was good man. Had couple of good friends. I would knuckle down proper when it was time to study. So I would purposefully not shave so that I wouldn’t be tempted to step out. So I’d make myself look hideous. So I wouldn’t … I’d just be like, “Oh, should I go out tonight?” And look myself in the mirror and think, “Nah, bruv. You’re not leaving.”

Prav: And so, were you a clever student. Were you one of these people who were at school, were you super-gifted, super-talented in that sense? Or were you grafter?

Milad Shadrooh: I would say I was intelligent, but I’d have to apply myself as well. But anything I applied myself to I’d smash it. I was probably one of them annoying kids, I think, for other people. Like if any sports, I was good at any sport, not excellent at one, I was just sick at everything. So if it was tennis day-to-day, I’d be sick at tennis. If it was football, I’d be good at football. So, and studying-wise, I was kind of good at sciences, maths. I did all right in English. Like my GCSEs, I pretty much got all A’s and a couple of A stars.

Payman: obsessive personality?

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. Massively. I’ve realised that now.

Payman: Did you get into things really big?

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, yeah. Big time, but then I’ll get into it crazy. I’ll buy everything that I need. I’ll do it full blown and then just kind of stop. And I forget about it for like a year and then go back into it again. I’ve been like that with everything. With martial arts, I’ve been like that. With football, I’ve been like that. With music. Music is the only thing that’s been constant though. It comes in peaks and troughs, but it never goes away.

Payman: So when did you first DJ, was that during school or university or…?

Milad Shadrooh: So, yeah. So the rapping probably started first. I used to basically sing along, right? Rap records would be on and I’d kind of just rap along and learn the words and I was always really good at it. And I remember, so growing up, Michael Jackson was the massive influence, right? Because we’re talking about eighties. So the Bad album was the first album I properly remember listening to learning all the lyrics to. And then Thriller, but Thriller prior to that is what I used to kind of watch and dance through and all the rest of it. So Michael Jackson was a big black influence with the musical aspect of performing and kind of being that superstar kind of icon level. And then rap, I just started listening to randomly and just kind of got into that. And I’d just rap along.

Prav: Gangster Rap or…?

Payman: Eminem?

Milad Shadrooh: No, oh, this was years before Eminem.

Prav: Public Enemy?

Milad Shadrooh: NWA.

Prav: NWA.

Milad Shadrooh: NWA was the first kind of thing. Snoop Dogg Doggystyle was the first album I actually bought with my own money on tape, cassette tape kids.

Payman: What was yours? Mine was Prince 1984, well, Purple Rain.

Prav: I think mine was-

Milad Shadrooh: Purple Rain, great album.

Prav: Ice-T. O.G.

Milad Shadrooh: Okay. Nice.

Prav: That was the first one I bought. Yeah. I remember sticking them in my car and playing them, turning up the bass tube.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, yeah. And we’ve all been there. So yeah. And I’ll just rap along. And actually the first proper performance I did was at a talent show in the first year of secondary school. So we’re talking ’91, I guess. I was 10 and I performed Informer. Do you remember the song?

Payman: Yeah.

Prav: Yeah.

Milad Shadrooh: Informer , you know say Daddy me Snow me, I go blame A licky boom-boom down. I’d have no idea what I was saying, but I just mimicked the words, right? And I had a friend of mine doing a beatbox, so we were on stage. He was beatboxing and I was doing that and we smashed it and I fought, you know what, and the whole school in front of a whole school. And I was like, this is what I want to do, man. This is awesome.

Payman: Were you the class clown as well.

Milad Shadrooh: Always. Yeah. Always. But, but here’s the thing, teachers used to love me. I was like teacher’s pet/clown. It was great.

Payman: I can see that.

Prav: Taking yourself back to that first performance. Were you nervous? Were you anxious? Were you super-confident, I’m going to go out there and just deliver a hell of a performance?

Milad Shadrooh: Always that. Yeah. Yeah. So my dad’s a musician and I’m so in Iranian music, he’s done a lot of stuff and produce stuff for other people. Then he used to play keyboards basically. So any Iranian concert, did you used to go to Iranian concerts back in the day?

Payman: I have been.

Milad Shadrooh: So like, Hammersmith palais, all them things. And my dad would have been Blinkies with all the biggest stars. So we’ve always had a studio in the house and I used to watch him doing and I’d go and kind of copy and learn how to make music and learn the structure of music and stuff just from my dad. So I’d always be at all the concerts. I’d always be at the cabarets, every dinner party, there’d be music, I’d be playing dombak, which is like Iranian drums or something, or I’d be dancing. And so, being on stage and watching that was always kind of normal. So I wouldn’t get nervous. I get excited to get out there and perform and things. So that’s where it kind of started. And I just carried on doing it. And then at that time, jungle music then started becoming popular, right? And MCing to jungle is incredibly fast, but I could always spit really fast. So I started doing that. And I start doing under-18 club nights, which would like start at 3:00 in the afternoon. I finish at 7:00 PM, in clubs, essentially.

Milad Shadrooh: So I’d be MCing in under-18 raves, and you would have to be sort of under-18 to go. House parties, I’d always be the guy on the mic, spitting bars.

Prav: So when you’re spitting or MCing or whatever that terminology is, are you just making stuff up on the spot or are you prep?

Milad Shadrooh: So two ways. Yeah. So there’s kind of, there’s like different aspects. So there’s the hosting side where all you’re doing is just, “Who’s having a good time, the ladies looking good,” or whatever stuff. So just trying to hype people up and get them ready. And that’s the hosting side doing shout outs and bigging people up. Then there’s like free-styling where you just make stuff up on the spot. And you kind of, you talk about the girl in the red dress or you talk about guys to my side or whatever, right? Then there’s bars, which you’ve written you’ve pre-written.

Prav: Got ya.

Milad Shadrooh: So, you’ve kind of got to be able to do a bit of all three of them to be a really good MC. So, majority of is written though. So, and then you just choose what to do and you got to know the music. So, you know when the beats about to drop, so you come in at the right time, you got to know when the vocals and the music starts, so you stop rapping, because it’s horrible, if you’re spitting over someone else’s rapping already, right? It’s just terrible. So you to have a good understanding of music and the actual songs themselves. So yeah, it was yeah man, I still love doing it. It was something I’ve… I just write lyrics all the time. I’ve still got all my old lyrics books, all of them.

Prav: What’s the first thing that you wrote?

Milad Shadrooh: My first lyric I wrote?

Prav: Yeah.

Milad Shadrooh: It was probably some really like profane horrible thing that I was listening to Snoop Dogg at a time. And so, it was probably just-

Prav: Rude.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, probably. Probably about girls and something rude, because I would have been about 12, right?

Prav: And all the influence from those lyrics as well, right?

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, but I never used to swear. I’ve never been a swearer, because I just felt like it’s good for everyone to be able to appreciate your music and kind of, I just never really swore in any songs really.

Payman: So you get to dental school. You’re this cool rapper MC guy. How did you fit in with the…?

Milad Shadrooh: I feel all right? Because I was a Londoner as well, right? So, going to school in London, there was a lot of people also from London, but also from North and everywhere else, right? So, it was all right, man. I kind of, I still, I didn’t do the halls thing. I think if you come to uni and you go halls, you establish a really close network of friends, right? Because you’re living in the same place. But because I was from London, I didn’t get halls.

Payman: You stayed at home.

Milad Shadrooh: Well, my home was Putney at the time, right? So Putney to Whitechapel is like an hour and a half, two hours. It’s a long one. But had a friend of mine from secondary school, he got into the same uni. So he went to Queen Mary’s, he was doing maths and he was living in Oxford at the time. So he got halls. But the only halls left was like a married couple room.

Payman: With a double bed.

Milad Shadrooh: He was like, “Mil, do you want to come with me?” I was like, “Brother I’m there 100%.” So, it was like a house, right? So we went in the halls, but it was a house, the married couple room upstairs. So me and him had a double bed. So basically, for year one, yeah, in freshers, it was jokes. It was so much fun though, I had that year, it was, we bought decks. So he was a DJ. So we had decks in our room. We used to throw parties in our room all the time. And it was literally on the same road as the nightclub at a uni. So after parties were always happening in our… It was just, it was a great year man.

Payman: Amazing.

Milad Shadrooh: It was good times. Yeah, I got halls that first year and then year two, three, four, I lived in Redbridge, which is kind of on the way to Ilford, like even more Essex. And then I discovered Essex life, because at the time I was MCing, so I’d do clubs in Basildon and Romford than Ilford and Gants Hill and mad places I’d never knew existed.

Prav: How’d you go about getting those gigs? So you said I was MCing here, there and everywhere. Did people pick you up or…?

Milad Shadrooh: So my first ever proper garage MCing, so then garage music came in. That was like, when I kind of re-honed my skill and really became a proper MC. So that was in 1998, December ’98. I had some friends that were just at that time you could literally do club nights, right? It was easy, you’d go to the main club, you’d hire out the club on a night, you’d paid them some money or whatever, and you just booked the DJs. So DJ EZ, he’s probably the best, I think, pound for pound DJ ever, top five world-class he was the guy in garage. But you could book him for like 300 quid for an hour, 400 quid at the time. You’d just call him up and say, “I want to book you, are all right?” So, I’ve MC-ed with the biggest people in garage, because at the time my friends were putting on nights. So the first ever night was a Gass Club, which was very famous, like garage club in Leicester Square, December, 1998. Yeah, that was my first gig.

Payman: So would you run that club night or would you be MC-ing at the…?

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, I was booked. Yeah, so it was my friends doing it and I got 100 pounds for an hour, which is awesome, man. I was 18 at the time. I was just 17 actually, just turning 18. So it was awesome. And then from there you just kind of start getting a name for yourself and people hear about you and there were booking agents and stuff. But I got onto radio. So pirate radio was a big thing in the garage scene and there was a massive station in South London called Delight FM. That was the one. Every, so North, South, East, West, they all had their big stations and Delight was the biggest probably in South. So Solid Crew, are you familiar with their work?

Payman: Yeah, yeah.

Milad Shadrooh: So Delight was their station. So it was started by a couple of their members and they all kind of grew out from that. It was done in like Battersea, Clapham, all in kind of estates essentially, and you just creep in there and kind of, because it was illegal, right? Doing pirate radio, so you just kind of creep in and hope though, people don’t come and take your aerial that night and then, yeah, you’d pay your subs, you’d pay five pounds and you’d have a show. So, I had a DJ friend at the time, so we had our own show. And then, because I was on radio a lot, I started to get more bookings and you just get people calling you up, “Oh, I want you for my night.” And all right, 50 pound, 100 pound-

Payman: But you stayed focused, did A-levels.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah man. Yeah, Did A-levels got into dental school obviously and during dental school, but I remember so I’d have a booking to finish at two in the morning, go back home, shower, clean up, have breakfast and go into clinic.

Payman: Love that.

Prav: And you never did, did you ever skip class-

Milad Shadrooh: Never.

Prav: All that sort of stuff.

Milad Shadrooh: Honesty, if you speak to any of my uni friends, I was always there. I’m not saying I didn’t nod off in pharmacology or dental materials.

Payman: I think we all do. We love it.

Milad Shadrooh: But even if you weren’t out, you’ll probably nodded off in those two. But I was always present, always there, always signed in. And in clinics I did all my patients all the time. I didn’t miss out on my numbers. I hit all the targets, we had to hit, exams. But that’s what I’m saying. I would knuckle down. So when it was time for studying, when it was time for whatever, I studied well with people. So I’d have a friend of mine, John, who lives in Malta, he’s Maltese now. So I’d go to his house, we’d literally lock off for like two weeks. I live with him for two weeks, we would study 10 hours a day.

Prav: And you stop the music at that point.

Milad Shadrooh: All of that would stop. Yeah. When it was time to get serious, it would, it would stop, because I knew it’s not easy to get into dental school. Getting into dental school in my opinion starts around 13 years of age, 14 years of age, because you got to smash your GCSEs in order to do the A levels in order to get into dental school. So it starts from then.

Payman: The system here. It always does start earlier then.

Milad Shadrooh: You can’t get D’s and E’s in science at GCSE and then expect to get into dental school, because they won’t let you do maths, physics, chemistry, biology, at A-level, if you’ve got D’s and E’s. So you’ve got to get A’s and B’s in that at GCSE level to then go on to do that at any level. And then you’ve got to get straight A’s nowadays to even be considered.

Payman: It sounds like you handled dental school okay. How about, so when you first became a dentist, what was your first job? Who was your first mentor, your first boss and all that?

Milad Shadrooh: So, the same guy that I’ve been with ever. So my first job is the practise I now own.

Payman: Oh really?

Milad Shadrooh: I’ve worked in one place.

Payman: Really like Tif Qureshi is similar.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. So it’s in Basingstoke.

Payman: And you were VT there? And now you owned them.

Milad Shadrooh: And now I’m there, yeah. So I remember very well, we were on oral surgery clinic and we’re all talking about what we’re doing next, what’s our plans are for our life and all the rest of it. And I was like, “Yeah, my life plan is to move to California.” Because we had loads of family there and friends and stuff. And I always wanted to live in LA. I was like, “Yeah, I want to move out there.” And at the time there was a board exam you could sit to get a conversion. The year I qualified 2004, they got rid of the board exam and it became university. You had to go and join their third years or whatever. It’s like $50,000 a year tuition plus living expense. I was like, “Blimey!” But at the time I didn’t know that. So the whole plan was to do that.

Milad Shadrooh: So we’re in the last year and I had also to chew on it at the time, was like, “Okay, well while you’re studying for your board exams, why don’t you just work as an assistant?” I was like, “What’s an assistant?” He was like, “Well, it’s like a associate, but you work under someone else’s contract, but they just pay you for the work you do.” And I was like, “Okay, that sounds interesting. I might as well while I’m studying.” “Yeah, I’ve got a friend of mine has got clinic in Basingstoke. He used to be a trainer. He can help you do all that stuff, but you can just work there while you’re studying.” I was, “All right. What is this Basingstoke you’re talking of? I know not of this village?”

Milad Shadrooh: He was like, “Yeah, just go meet him.” So I literally went and met him, we got on really, really well. And he literally gave me the job there. We had a meeting in a restaurant for lunch and he gave me the job there and then. He was like, “Look, it’s yours if you want it.”

Payman: So who was that?

Milad Shadrooh: Oscar, his name is, and he was like, “Mate, you can, yeah. Just come and work here when you qualify.” And this was three months before anyone even had to apply for a job, right? So then when we did all the CV writing and pitching for jobs and VT and all that, I was like, “Gassed it bruv.” You lot do that, man. I got a job. So I qualified and literally we qualified in July. I was there in 19th of August. My first day, walked in didn’t know what I was doing. Because Oscar had experienced, he gave me full clinical freedom. He was look, “Take an hour for a checkup. Do whatever you want, you just work at your own pace.” And he paid me as like an assistant, even though I wasn’t generating that kind of money, because he knew then longterm, it would pay off. And within about a year or two, he said, “You know what? One day this business is yours if you want it.” Oh, wow. So I owe him a lot, man. And he still works there now two days a week.

Payman: What’s his surname?

Milad Shadrooh: He’s Irish. So basically it was Joe. So I became kind of an honorary Irishman and he loves golf. Right, Oscar was sick, he played off scratch, when he was 18 and he pays off two and four, he’s really good and I’ve never held a golf club in my life. But like I said, I’m one of those guys, right? Give me a sport and I’ll be decent at it. So I remember him taking me along, he like, “Look, you’re playing, you’re a dentist now, you have to learn how to play golf. This is just something we do.” I was like, “All right, let me learn this sport.” So he took me along and I just picked up a stick and hit it. And it went quite far and straight. But then I had lessons and I started playing golf quite a lot with him. And he was great, man. He literally taught me the ropes. Every Wednesday. We’d have a meeting after work and we’d hang around.

Milad Shadrooh: And he showed me his tips for surgical extractions, how to do endos properly. And you know how to prep things, how to really kind of work within the world of dentistry. Then he started teaching me the business side. After about three or four years, he offered me a partnership. So I bought into the practise as a partner. And then a couple of years after that, he was like, “Look mate, I’m out if you want it, it’s yours.” And that’s when everything was changing, the new contract was in, HTM O1-05 was coming in. He was like, “Look, I just want to turn up in dentistry. I don’t want to worry about his business stuff, but you’re young. You’ve got energy, you’ve got enthusiasm. You understand business, take it.”

Prav: What was the most challenging part of that transition? So often when you, especially in that situation, you’ve, you’ve been working with him. He trusts you, you trust him. And then up comes the conversation of buy my practise, getting valued, agree a price. Was there ever any difficulty at that point?

Milad Shadrooh: Never, but I think that’s a lot down to him being so kind of accepting and cool. And he got a valuation. I got a valuation. They were very similar. I think the issue comes when it’s miles apart and you’re arguing with your former mentor or whatever, they were very similar. And we were both super-fair. So I bought the freehold as well. That was valued, it was what it was. So I bought the freehold for what the value was. The Goodwill was valued. That’s such an arbitrary, weird figure, right? But it was what it was. So we both were happy with the figure. So, I got the funding and I bought it. But what was key for me was for the patients, there was never any kind of, “Oh, this is so different now.” We kept it the same. We did it as a partnership. His name was still on the wall above mine. We didn’t change, because it was his practise for 20 years. So I didn’t suddenly come in and go right now, let’s rub my hands, I’m rebranding, I’m changing this, I’m changing that.

Payman: A common mistake, I see it all the time. Yeah, because it’s exciting to own your own practise. And as all the works, all the paperwork’s going through, you’re getting excited and you have this weird idea of people will realise something’s… And it’s actually a big mistake.

Milad Shadrooh: I agree man.

Payman: Because the patients and the staff want to know that everything’s the same.

Milad Shadrooh: Business as usual.

Payman: And then evolution rather than revolution.

Milad Shadrooh: I love that. Exactly, right. And then slowly that’s what’s happened so slowly. Because we were purely NHS, right? So slowly I brought in the private side of it.

Payman: And it was purely NHS.

Milad Shadrooh: Purely NHS, yeah. So then I converted my list to private after a couple of years. So I bought it. I didn’t go private next day. I still stayed exactly the same, because I didn’t want to rock the boat, man. I’ve taken over, we need to try to change somethings. We need to start establishing certain things.

Payman: What was the thing that you wanted to change definitely? What was he doing wrong in your eyes?

Milad Shadrooh: He wasn’t doing anything wrong at all. What he was doing, which I think everybody was doing was the clinical governance aspect, the compliance on so many things. It wasn’t as strict when he was doing it, yeah? You could have sterilisers in your room. You could have, it was just a different, you didn’t need a million folders with a million policies in it. You just took for granted that you did that. You took it for granted that you didn’t discriminate against a disabled person, right? But you didn’t need a folder telling you that that’s what you do. You just did it. Yeah. So it was all of those things. So, and when he was suddenly faced with the task of having to do all this stuff, he was like, “Dude, I just want to turn up and do my dentistry man.” So I was like, “Well, look, this is, I’m happy to do this.”

Milad Shadrooh: The practise management side of it I enjoyed. So it was having to set these things up and those things happen in the background, and patients again, they don’t see those things. Yeah, so it wasn’t like we need to change all the chairs. Patients don’t care about chairs, right? As long as it’s comfy and they go up and down, they care more about your waiting room. They care more about have you got a TV on the ceiling? They don’t care that you’ve got a 50 grand chair or a five grand chair with reupholstered seats that we don’t care. So we had some Belmont 1980s things, bruv, never broke weighed like five tonnes, but they never broke. There was nothing to go wrong. It just went up and down.

Payman: But then before you became the singing dentist, you were lecturing in clear aligners. So how did you go from doing this NHS cat to being this private cat? Who’s now a teacher in orthodontics? Were you actively trying to get better at ortho?

Milad Shadrooh: Oh. So again, that happened, that happened quite kind of organically and sort of randomly. So at the time when I started going private, I realised that the kind of… Because when I qualified, so veneering was really the big thing, everyone was doing veneers and doing small makeovers with veneers. And this thing came out called Lumineers from [inaudible] dead, thin veneers. And I was, “Oh, this is it.” So, I’ll put booked a weekend off, paid an astronomical amount of money to go on the Lumineers course. And I did it and I was like, “Wow, this, this sounds terrible.” But I don’t know if this is going to work. So tried a case and it was just so fiddly. And so, like there were supposed to be thin and it’s just as thick as anything else. It came out and I was like, “I’m not sure this is really the one for me.”

Milad Shadrooh: And then there was more and more stuff coming out with the heavy preps and people getting in trouble. And I thought, “Oh God, there’s surely a better way of doing this.” And that’s when Tif was really talking about the aligning bleaching bonding, right? That’s what that sounds awesome. So let me kind of look into it. I tried to book an Invisalign course and I couldn’t, because they weren’t doing it in my area or whatever. So Clear Step was a company that was around. Yes. So I thought, “Oh, let me learn about Clear Step.” So they came into my surgery, he did an hour lunch and learn training with me. And off you go.

Payman: Fully fledged orthodontist.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, “Start the ortho my friend.” I was like, “This is sweet.” So start taking impressions sending it in. They send back aligners, you start putting a patient’s mouth doing an IPR, just like winging it.

Payman: One hour man.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah man, mad. So, but then as I was doing the cases, I was like, “Hold on, there’s got to be a better way than this. This can’t be normal.” So I had some orthodontic friends. So I was basically mentored through my kind of orthodontic journey, I suppose, as being formal education, I was just mentored by people, because I learned like that. I learned by watching others and listening to them and absorbing what they’re doing as opposed to sitting there and reading books.

Payman: You can’t get that out of a two day course either, right?

Milad Shadrooh: No, I think you need mentoring me to stuff. You need people to tell you their tips and tricks of what they’ve learned based on their experience.

Milad Shadrooh: … they need people to tell you their tips and tricks of what they’ve learnt based on their experience.

Payman: Then I guess when you get stuck they can help you get unstuck and stuff like that.

Milad Shadrooh: Exactly right. It’s so important. Your mentorship, I think, is the key when you try and learn anything, or having a coach or having someone there, right?

Payman: Mm-hmm.

Milad Shadrooh: So I just started doing cases and learning while I was on the job. Learning, okay, so that kind of movement only works well if you do X, Y and Z. No one told me that, I just kind of learnt it. So I was just doing so many cases of it, and then Clearstep kind of decided to disappear. Didn’t they?

Payman: Mm-hmm. I remember having a conversation with you at the time you’d paid for a bunch of cases and paid the-

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, and they disappeared and I had loads of cases ongoing. I was like, “This is maddening.”

Payman: Ongoing as well.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, I had about eight cases to finish.

Payman: So how did you handle that?

Milad Shadrooh: Thankfully, I got my money back just before they disappeared. So money-wise, I was okay.

Payman: Did you get wind of it, somehow?

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. Yeah.

Payman: Yeah. Patients?

Milad Shadrooh: The patients that were ongoing, they were like suddenly stuck, need more aligners to finish and no one’s there, but I knew the guys at S4S already because I used to do their snoring devices, Sleepwell. I made quite a few of those. They were kind of telling me, “Look, we might have an aligner thing coming.” I was like, “Okay, what is it?” “Smart Line.” ‘All right, let me come and have a look at it.”

Milad Shadrooh: So one of the patients that was ongoing, I sent them the impressions and they were like, ‘Yeah, we can finish this quite quickly and quite simply.” I was like, “All right, this is awesome.” So they sent me some aligners. I put it in, it was much easier than what Clearstep was doing. I thought, “Okay this is pretty cool.” So I finished all of my cases to my own expense. Obviously, I had to pay for them and I finished them. But then I thought, “Okay, these guys are kind of, it’s more digital,” because Clearstep was literally analogue, right? They’d get models, break the teeth off, move them, recast them.

Payman: Yeah.

Milad Shadrooh: Whereas these guys were doing it digitally. I was like, “This has got to be the way it’s going.” So I kind of spoke with them and I moved all my patients over to that, started doing loads of aligner cases. Then the more I did them, they were like, “Okay.” I worked quite closely with the guys at S4S and learning things, you need to kind of change this, change that. They were tweaking a lot of stuff. They were doing loads of R&D into it.

Milad Shadrooh: Then when they finally felt ready to really push this out there and start running courses on it, they approached me and they’re like, “Look, Mil, you’re quite a confident speaker. You’ve done loads of cases now. I’m sure you’ve learnt a lot. You were mentored well. Do you want to run the courses?” I was like, “Okay, but I’m not like an orthodontist, dude.” He goes, “Yeah, but our target audience, our market is not orthodontists. This is dentists who have an interest in ortho, who if you pick the right cases and do proper diagnostics, you can do this stuff.” I was, “All right.”

Payman: Did you put the curriculum together for that course?

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah.

Payman: Yeah.

Milad Shadrooh: With S4S, we sat down. I looked at it purely from a dentist point of view, right.

Payman: Uh-huh.

Milad Shadrooh: Because the majority of the time, I mean, on the courses, we still get orthodontists turning up and I’m looking at them. I like to do an intro at the start, “So what’s your name? What you do and why are you here?”

Payman: Are you still doing those courses?

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. We still run them. Yeah. Then I’d get occasionally, “Yeah, I’m a specialist orthodontist. Qualified 10 years ago.” I’m thinking, “What am I going to teach this guy?” But the point is he’s like, “But you know, I’ve never done aligners,” because their work is bracket work. They’re doing proper ones. They’re doing pulling canines out of noses and what have you. But then when it comes to just some simple alignment before an aesthetic case, they don’t want to have to bracket it up for 12 months. They just want to use some aligners and fix it.

Payman: Are you just teaching or are you doing the support side as well?

Milad Shadrooh: I do most of the teaching on the day, but I give everyone my direct contact details and, “Listen to anything you need just holler at me.” Yeah, I don’t mind them. I’m available all the time, but with S4S they’ve got proper orthodontic therapists, not therapists, orthodontic technicians, sorry, there. They plan the cases. They’re doing stuff. So they’re not just a bunch of like kids that have been taught how to use the software. They have technicians there. So there’s not a lot that they don’t know on a support level when it comes to aligners. The key with aligners is there’s three aspects in my opinion, that lead to your success. Number one is correct case selection, right?

Payman: Yeah.

Milad Shadrooh: You’ve got to choose the right cases. That doesn’t mean don’t do complex stuff. Just do it if it’s right for you and you know what you’re doing, but don’t do that as your first crazy case. It’s like that with anything, the minute you learn implants, you suddenly going through All-on-4, you learn how to do a single tooth implant in a nice molar area. So you’ve got your endo where if you suddenly go rotary, don’t just pick like the worst upper molar to do, just do bloody central. So it’s like that with anything, if you’re doing aligners, don’t pick the most complex, horrible case. So first thing is case selection.

Milad Shadrooh: Second thing is patient education and motivation because if your patient’s not on board from day one and they don’t know their responsibilities, you’re screwed. Your whole treatment for nine months a year, whatever, is just going to be fighting against someone who doesn’t want to be on that journey.

Milad Shadrooh: I call orthodontics a trip. You start at one place and you want to finish somewhere else. The method by which you go is up to you. It could be a bus. It could be a train. It could be a motorbike. You’re driving. Your lab is your sat nav, but the patient’s your passenger. If they want to jump off constantly it’s going to be a horrible journey. So you’ve got to educate them. You got to motivate them. You’ve got to keep them in the car with you. Happy that they’re going on this journey. The very end is once you get to the destination, retention is so key with aligner treatments, right?

Payman: Yeah.

Milad Shadrooh: If you don’t have a good retention protocol and you haven’t explained this from day one, you’re going to have a nightmare. They’ll come back constantly, “Oh, this is too smooth.” “This is not as straight.” “What, I’ve got to wear retainers for the rest of my life? You never told me that. What? This wire’s got be stuck on my teeth forever? Are you mad? I can’t floss. I’ll get lettuce getting stuck in there all the time. What’s wrong with you? Take it off.” “No, you got to keep on.” Well, if you don’t explain that day one, you have a horrible time. So those are the three keys. Once you establish that and you’re good at communicating you can do aligner treatments very successfully.

Payman: What’s the biggest nightmare patient you’ve had or the biggest clinical mistake you’ve ever made where you’ve just thought, “Oh, my God, I can’t believe I’ve just done this”? Then how did you recover from that?

Milad Shadrooh: Probably the biggest mistake was choosing dentistry in 1999 when I should have just stuck with the music, my friend. How did I overcome it? 15 years later, start singing about teeth. That’s it? No, no, I’m joking.

Payman: Pulled the wrong tooth out ever?

Milad Shadrooh: No, touch wood. No, no, no, never done the wrong tooth. You know what? To be fair, I haven’t had any of those like crazy disasters, genuinely. There’s patients that I think because I’ve always been a good communicator, I think if you can communicate well and patients genuinely like you, you avoid so many issues.

Payman: Totally.

Milad Shadrooh: Stuff goes wrong all the time. It’s not necessarily mistakes. It’s things that I felt, “Oh, that’s a shame.” There’s been teeth that I’ve properly thought, “You know what? This is shot. There’s no way I can save this.” But patients are really like, “Doc, is there nothing else you can do? Please do it?. Then you’re endo-ing something that you know you can’t restore very well and you kind of endo. You save it for like one year, two years, three years.

Payman: I think being in the same practise for a long time, Tiff always talks about seeing your own failures.

Milad Shadrooh: Yes.

Payman: So that initial Lumineer’s case, how did that look 10 years or … You know what I mean? That kind of work I mean.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, I know exactly. It’s that? So the Lumineer case was … to be fair, still looked all right, but it just needed maintenance. It needed one replaced here and one became a crown and then it doesn’t look as good as everything else because there’s different porcelain and different times. It just becomes a management thing.

Payman: The point I’m making is a mistake, there’s the mistake that you make and there and then, and terrible sinking feeling and perforated a root canal type mistake. Then there’s the other type of mistake which is a whole treatment modality of something you did to a patient 10 years ago, and 10 years later thinking, “I could have done that better,” you know?

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, yeah. Again, because I’ve been at the same practise a long time, I haven’t seen too many of those if I’m totally honest.

Payman: I like that.

Milad Shadrooh: Touch wood, I haven’t seen too many. But again, it’s because I’ve always been really good at knowing my limits. I think that’s another key issue for people, you want to do a lot because the majority of the time you’re driven by your desire to do the best thing for your patient. You really want to do well for your patient. So you take on something that’s a little bit outside of your skillset at that time. Then you’re constantly trying to recover from that initial commitment you’ve made to that treatment plan. I’ve always been quite good at just not doing that. I learnt very early on doing stuff.

Milad Shadrooh: I mean probably the worst stuff is … Oh, actually I remember some. So I remember the first time I gave a patient a facial palsy from an IV block. That was pretty terrifying. Obviously, I went a bit too high and I kind of gave in, and was like, “Yeah, yeah.” I started drilling, they were numb, it was working, and then suddenly one eye stopped blinking. I was kind of looking at him thinking, “This isn’t right.” So they were like, yeah, blinking like that. I thought, “Okay, are you all right there?” Yeah, I’m all right. My eye just feels a bit funny.” I was like, “Wow, that’s a bit of a problem.” But I managed it. You tape their eye shut and explain to them that it’ll wear off. Then I finished the treatment, sat them in the waiting room until it wore off, and they were absolutely fine.

Payman: Communication.

Milad Shadrooh: It was communication. It was terrifying at the time. I was like, “Oh, my God, what have I done?” Then I realised what I’ve done and you fix it. I remember taking out a retained root, upper, and I pushed it into the-

Payman: The sinus.

Milad Shadrooh: … the sinus. Crapped myself. But I was like, “Okay, okay, think, relax.” Touch wood, communication. I’d explained to them, that’s a risk. I told them an OAF may happen. I’m going to do my best to make sure it doesn’t.” But dude, it popped up so quick, I was like, “Oh, my God. Wow.” You crap yourself, obviously, but then you just think, you relax, you take a deep breath and go, “Okay, what do I do? Okay, let’s manage it. Call the hospital, say, ‘Look this is what’s happened. Can you see them now?’ ‘Yes, we can.'” Tell them not to sneeze. Give them a nose inhaler thing and say, “Off you go to the hospital.” They recovered it. Job’s done. So mistakes happen, but it’s how you deal with them.

Payman: Yeah.

Milad Shadrooh: I remember my first file break in an endo. Again, I’d warned the patient this thing can happen and it broke. I was like, “Oh, okay, unfortunately, the separation has occurred. Let’s take an X-ray.” But again, luckily it broke right at the tip of the apex. So you actually have … By this one, I’d done quite a bit of irrigation and I was, “Okay, hopefully, this will be all right.”

Payman: Yeah.

Milad Shadrooh: It’s an expensive root canal filling but hopefully it can work and touch wood, the patient kept the tooth for a foreseeable. So I think it’s minimising risk. Of course, knowing what you’re doing, but communicating. Hiding stuff, as you know, you hear them stories where a file breaking, don’t tell the patient, or you know something, they’re the worst. They’re the worst.

Milad Shadrooh: Look, mistakes happen. You should hold up your hand, say, “Look, unfortunately, this has happened. It’s something that can happen. I explained to you beforehand that there is a risk that is going to happen. Unfortunately, it has. Here’s a statistic in how many cases it does happen. Let’s now fix it.” That’s it.

Payman: Moving forward. When was the point that you realised that you were famous?

Milad Shadrooh: Good question.

Payman: Yeah. Talk us through it step by step, what happened?

Milad Shadrooh: So how this thing happened and I’ll explain that. So basically, obviously I had a music background in rapping and MCing, and freestyle and making lyrics up and all that kind of stuff.

Payman: You do believe you’re famous, right?

Milad Shadrooh: No.

Payman: You don’t?

Milad Shadrooh: No. People say this to me and I get DMs all the time.

Payman: Let’s start with that. How famous are you? If you go to Sainsbury’s do you get noticed?

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. Yes.

Payman: How many times, like several times?

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, several times.

Payman: So can you go anywhere? The cost of that. Tell us about that. I mean, I wouldn’t like that at all.

Milad Shadrooh: I don’t mind it if I’m honest because if you grow up performing, if you grow up being on stage and kind of wanting-

Payman: That’s kind of your dream come true.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, that’s your thing for people to know you, people to recognise you, “Oh, my God. That’s that guy,” and like it. Yeah? If you’re recognised for something that people don’t like, that’s got to be horrible. You know?

Payman: Mm-hmm.

Milad Shadrooh: So people that get a lot of hate and a lot of animosity, that’s got to be not very nice. Touch wood, people genuinely … the people that come up to me anyway like what I do. There might be others that don’t like what I do then they’re not going to come up to me or they say, “Oh, there’s that, whatever.” But people that do come up they’re like, “Oh, mate, we love you. Oh, my kids watch you. You’re so funny. Oh, my kids are brushing because of you. It’s so jokes. We love what you do. You’re so creative. You’re so talented. Mate, those eyebrows.”

Payman: The anonymity is totally gone.

Milad Shadrooh: Gone.

Payman: Right? You can’t go and have a quiet coffee in Starbucks, or can you put it in the background, mate?

Milad Shadrooh: It’s not to that level. I can go and then I might not get noticed at all. But then sometimes I see it. It’s very easy. I see it and people kind of clock and they look away. Then they kind of look at you again. Then I see them turn to whoever they’re with, whisper something, that person immediately looks at you and then tries to style it out like they weren’t looking. Then they get their mobile phone out-

Payman: How do you feel about that?

Milad Shadrooh: … and then they start going through it. Then they’re looking at the phone, looking at me. Then all I do, I kind of look at them. I know this is going on, I look at them and I just raise one eyebrow. “Yeah, it is that guy.” Then they’re like, “Mate, we think you’re wicked. Oh, can we have a selfie?” “Yeah, man, course” Then I raise one eyebrow or raise the other, depending on what side I’m standing and it’s great. It’s great banter. So I really enjoy it. The times I find it difficult is actually at dental places because obviously then at a dental show, I’m going to get recognised the most because that’s the industry. That’s the times-

Payman: Yeah. I mean, walking around with you at one of those dental shows is a nightmare, right? You can’t get from point A to point B.

Milad Shadrooh: No, that becomes debilitating at times. Some people, again, they’re super nice about it. Some people in our industry are proper rude with it and it’s those times that I get a bit annoyed.

Payman: Go on.

Milad Shadrooh: Like I’m having a conversation. It’s quite obvious I’m talking to you, we’re catching up. We’re talking business. They’ll literally come from the side, like grab me, “Mate. Oh, it’s you. Let’s have a photo.” I’m like, “Dude, come on man I’m talking here. All right? But let’s do it anyway because I don’t want to be a dick-

Payman: Asked, yeah.

Milad Shadrooh: … excuse my language, to that one person because then they’ll go off and be like, “Oh, that Singing Dentist is right up himself. He’s such a knob,” but I’m not at all. But honestly, in the whole time, everything’s that changed and the fame thing that I find strange, I’m still genuinely exactly the same. I don’t see any difference in the way I behave.

Payman: Yeah, you haven’t changed at all.

Milad Shadrooh: I haven’t changed at all. So I want to show love and I’d hate for someone to go off and be like, “Oh, what a knob? Oh, that guy,” because I’m not like that at all. It would just be that at that specific time, I’m having a conversation and it’s about business and something. Then you come and grab me up. The people that wait there, I can see them waiting. “I’m like, bruv, give me one sec. Hi, are you guys all right?”

Milad Shadrooh: I’ll always smile. I’ll always engage and I love talking to people and getting that feedback that they like what I do, is awesome. It means a lot to me. So I always have time for the people but it’s the rude ones, man. It’s the ones that grab you up and they’re just abrasive with it, I find that just a bit annoying if I’m honest.

Payman: What about the kids and the family, how do they take it? How do they respond to it? Do they come back from school and say, “Hey, you know my dad’s the coolest”?

Milad Shadrooh: So my daughter’s five. She’ll be six next month. My son’s three, three and a half-

Payman: They’re just that little bit too young.

Milad Shadrooh: … they’re that little bit too young to kind of fully know, but they know that daddy does teeth and they know that daddy’s The Singing Dentist.

Payman: My nine-year-old daughter today when I told her that you were coming in, she had this look of pride on her face that I’ve never seen before.

Milad Shadrooh: Wow, that’s awesome. Yeah, so they know, my daughter, especially. Whenever I do a song, I play it to them because I know if you can keep the attention of like a five and a three-year-old for a minute and a half, you’ve done something well. I’ve seen it. If they kind of watch it for 10 seconds and then swipe or walk off, I’m like, “Maybe I need to rethink this one.” I won’t put it out because I know if it hits that demographic, we’re onto a winner.

Payman: I used to do that. I used to put logos in front of my kids. I agree with that-

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. Dude because if you’re honest

Payman: …because there’s a purity.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, they don’t have misconceptions of our preconceived ideas. They’re not corrupted yet by media and the world. They’ll tell you to your face, “Don’t like it.”

Payman: Talk us through that first video as it was trending. Why did you know it was or that it was happening?

Milad Shadrooh: Right. Here we go. So it was, I remember very well, there was Drake, Hotline Bling, was the song at a time? I had an endo booked in funnily enough, and it was like 45 minutes, the appointment, and the patient didn’t show. I was like, “This is annoying now. What can I do? I’ve got nothing.” My nurse was like, “Yeah, just go have a break.” I was kind of sitting there and Hotline Blink came on the radio and I was just doing something else, and I was literally like (singing) I was like, (singing) I was like, “This is quite funny,” (singing) I was like, “This is jokes.” I was just started freestyling and I wrote that whole thing in that five-minute break.

Payman: Awesome.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. I was like, “Oh, this is jokes.” I got my phone out. I brought up the song on YouTube, start playing it through the crappy computer speakers, got my phone, and recorded myself doing this freestyle basically to Hotline Bling.

Payman: What were you going to do with it?

Milad Shadrooh: Nothing. I recorded it. I thought, “This is funny.” I was in like a WhatsApp group with a couple of other dentists and I’ve got another friend of mine, Payman.

Payman: Sobhani.

Milad Shadrooh: Sobhani.

Payman: Yeah.

Milad Shadrooh: So I just sent it to everyone and it went into that WhatsApp group. They were like, “Oh, mate, this is so funny. This is jokes.” Payman was like, “Bro, you should put this online.” I like, “No, man. Forget it.” Because in that one as well, I mentioned the GDC. I kind of mentioned the DDU. Just like say, dentists always getting sued and all this headache for a ban too and all this kind of stuff.

Milad Shadrooh: So he was like, “Mate, you should put it on.” I was like, “No, this is silly, dentists don’t behave like this. We’re not supposed to be like that and dah, dah, dah.” He was like, Mate, I’m going to put it on.” I was like, “Don’t put it on brother, allow it. Don’t do it.” He posted it. I remember I went into the shower. It was like 7:00 PM at night, 7:30. I go into the shower. My phone was on the side. Then my phone just started popping off messages, messages, messages.

Payman: Posted it where, Facebook?

Milad Shadrooh: Dentist for Dentists? The Facebook group, the closed group. It started popping off. I was like, “What the hell is happening?” I’ve got out, it’s like comments, comments? He posted it in the group and people were like, “Oh, my God, this is so funny. This is jokes. Can I share it?” We can’t share it because no one could share because it was a closed group, right?

Payman: Right.

Milad Shadrooh: Then Mukesh, Sonny. He was like, “Mil.” He was in that the WhatsApp group, goes “Mil, I’m going to post this. All right?” He posted it in some like World Dental-

Payman: World Dental Federation.

Milad Shadrooh: … something, yeah, with like 10 million Asian dentists. Most of them like Indian dentists do this. It got to like 250,000 views in like two, three days.

Payman: Whoa, geez.

Milad Shadrooh: I was like, “I can’t believe this. This is going a bit mad here.” I was like, “Oh, my God, people seem to like this.” But the general public started seeing it. They were like, “What’s an endo?” I could see the comments, “What’s an endo? What’s the DDU? Because I used a lot of dental terminology. I thought, “Okay, maybe I should do one just for people. Maybe what can I do about oral hygiene advice? Okay, cool. What’s the biggest song right now in the world? Happy by Pharrell.”

Milad Shadrooh: I was like, “It’s globally everywhere. It’s in Despicable Me.” I was like, All right, perfect demographic. What can I say, “Happy, happier, like gappy? You might end up gapping. If you don’t brush your teeth or if you’d get gum disease. Cool.” (singing) boom. Then I started writing it.

Milad Shadrooh: Next day, went into surgery, recorded it. Then I thought, “Okay, I need to put this somewhere. Where should I put it? YouTube, obviously that’s the platform. I need a name. I need a brand, Rapping Dentist. That’d be awesome, let me call myself Rapping Dentist because I can’t really sing.” So I want it to be like a rap. I was a Rapping Dentist, cool.

Milad Shadrooh: I wrote out the logo and I went to my dad. I was like, “Dad, I’m going to do this thing with the music and dentistry. I’ve got this idea, Rapping Dentist, what do you think?” I showed him the logo, genuinely he looked at it and went, “Raping Dentist, what is this?” I was like, “Dad, he rapping, there’s two Ps in it.” He goes, “No, no, no. It looks bad. It looks like raping.”

Milad Shadrooh: I was like, “Yeah, yeah. Dad, you’re right actually, maybe it does.” What should I call myself?” “You call yourself, Singing Dentist. It’s nice.” I was like … I don’t know why he’s turned Arab, he don’t talk like that at all. And so I called myself The Singing Dentist and I made my own crappy logo. I literally took a picture of my eyebrows like this and kind of did like-

Payman: So on the one that it is? You [inaudible] that, right?

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. I did it now into a proper one, but I did it on an app on my phone, like cartoonized it, or whatever you do, right?

Payman: Yeah.

Milad Shadrooh: Then I made a YouTube channel called The Singing Dentist-

Payman: Are you aware there’s another Singing Dentist? Are you aware of this, Milad?

Milad Shadrooh: At that time, yeah. He was like a proper opera guy, he signed a million-pound deal.

Payman: Yeah, poor guy.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah.

Payman: Yeah. I was at some dental event and he broke out into song. He could sing.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, he could actually probably sing, which I would say, like that way you said it, “He could sing,” like I can’t. What’s that about, what you say about it?

Payman: Go on. Go on.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, so I called myself The Singing Dentist and made a YouTube channel. Put it on there and it started to get views, bruv. It started doing well. I was, “Oh, my God. So there’s an appetite for this.” People liked it. People find it funny. So then I waited a couple of months, but I very early realised or very quickly realised, “I can’t just do this every week. This is going to be like divisive so I can’t just keep putting these out.”

Milad Shadrooh: So I waited, waited till summer and then Cheerleader came out, (singing) I was like, “That’s a big record. What can I do? ‘Cheerleader, sweet eater.'” Boom. So I parodied that and put out a song about sweets and not eating too many sugar. That started doing well. I was like, “All right, what else can we do? Teeth whitening.” Something came on the news about teeth whitening. I was like, “All right, what can I do about teeth whitening? You want to do teeth whitening, Michael Jackson.” I said, (singing) I said, (singing) boom. Recorded it. It started doing well.

Payman: But which one really did well, which one?

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, No, it was at this stage my nurse was like, “You know what? He’s doing something legit. I’m going to call the local paper.” So she called the local paper, the Basingstoke Gazette and said, “Look, my boss has been doing these online parodies. He’s getting loads of traction and stuff.” The moment for me, let me go back to that. It was March 2016. The first one of them was November, ’15. I got a message on my Facebook page, this thing on this Facebook page.

Milad Shadrooh: “Hi,” it was the evening, “I just wanted to tell you that what you’re doing is amazing. My daughter who’s 11 and disabled has never wanted to brush her teeth or go to the dentist. But having watched your songs and listening to what you’re doing, off her own accord now she said, ‘Mummy, I want to brush my teeth and go to the dentist tomorrow.'”

Payman: Oh, my God.

Milad Shadrooh: And at this time I’d just had my daughter. My daughter was like a year and a half. I was sitting on the couch and I was like, “Oh, my God.” I kind of looked over to my wife and went, “Babe, read this. This is unbelievable. This is affected one family’s life in a really positive way. So maybe I’m onto something here. It’s obviously doing some good for some people.” So that’s why I carried on doing them.

Milad Shadrooh: Then I’d start getting more and more of these messages. It constantly kept kind of affirming the reason why I was doing it was to get dental hygiene advice to people in a fun way and then at least make them think about their teeth to make them think about oral hygiene, or for the kids to not be so scared. So it was because of this, that my nurse then was like, “Look, I’m going to tell the papers.” She didn’t tell me she was going to do it.

Milad Shadrooh: The papers call back and were like, “We want to come and meet this guy today.” So they came in that afternoon. I was, “Oh, wow, this is awesome.” Did a little article. They said, “Yeah, we’re going to pitch this out to a couple of papers as well.” I was, “All right.” I remember it was a Tuesday. Wednesday I had a call from Southampton [Solum 00:47:07], which is basically like a big organisation that does a lot of papers. They said, “Yeah, we’re going to run your story in a couple of papers.” I was like, “All right. Cool. Whatever.” Thursday morning it was in the Metro. Now, the Metro in London is like a free paper that goes like-

Payman: Mental, yeah, yeah.

Milad Shadrooh: … half a million copies or whatever it is, for free. I was in the Metro, “Dentist doing good. Singing about teeth.” I was like, “Oh, wow.” That was Thursday morning, Thursday afternoon, the BBC came to my surgery and I was on BBC news-

Payman: Wow.

Milad Shadrooh: … Thursday afternoon, Friday, I went into London and did the ITV London news as their Feel Good Friday story.

Payman: Whoa.

Milad Shadrooh: That following Thursday, Dr. Hilary and Lorraine, because Dr. Haley was on Lorraine, like every other Thursday doing a health segment, they talked about The Singing Dentist, saying, “And there’s this guy online, he’s going viral and he’s done this stuff and wouldn’t it be great …” They showed a couple of clips and they loved it.

Milad Shadrooh: Dr. Hilary was like, “Oh, yeah, it’s so funny, dah, dah, dah, dah.” I got a phone call from Lorraine people saying, “So Dr. Hilary’s away next week, we’ve had such a good response. Would you like to come in and do a dental special on Lorraine’s health segment?” I was like, “Okay, this is live, right?” They’re like, “Yeah, live.” By this point, the BBC news was pre-record. ITV news was pre-record, but this was live.

Milad Shadrooh: So “Oh, my goodness. Okay, live telly.” Dude, they prepare you not at all. You literally turn up to ITV London Studios. You go in a green room and this person come in, “Hi, I’m your producer today. So this is the segment. This is what we’re going to do. We might have a call-in, some people might ask some questions. So yeah, do you want coffee?” “Okay.”

Milad Shadrooh: So I literally rocked up by myself, no one to … and I just turn up there in my blue tunic I’m like, “Do you want me in my tunic?” “Yeah, put that on. People know you do that.” So I’m wearing a tunic sitting in the green room. “Go on live. Yeah, so you’ll be on in five minutes, yeah.”

Milad Shadrooh: I’m just waiting in the wings and I go on and phone-ins from mums, “Hi, my kids don’t like brushing their teeth. What can I do? I’m like, “Yeah, make it exciting.” I’m just going into normal mode, forgetting there’s cameras there and then it did really well. Afterwards they all came up to me, “Oh, my God. You’re so natural. You’re so good. Is that your first time?” “Yeah.” “Oh, I didn’t even know, blah, blah, blah.”

Milad Shadrooh: Long story short, the following week, Good Morning Britain wanted me on. Then This Morning wanted me on. So I became like that ITV go-to guy whenever there was a story. It’s always reactionary, “Statistics show 40 million spent on children’s dental extractions on the GA. Why is this happening? Well here to discuss it is The Singing Dentist. So first of all, let’s have a look and see why you’re The Singing Dentist,” play a clip on YouTube. “So Dr. Milad, it’s great that you’re getting kids, but why are we actually have this problem?” I’d say the same things and then I’ll go home and do a little funny dance, and that was it. So that’s where it started to bloom. The virality came from LADbible and Unilab, those were big pages at the time, right?

Payman: Yeah.

Milad Shadrooh: They posted, (singing) It got like 15 million views.

Payman: Yeah.

Milad Shadrooh: They posted (singing) it got like 18 million views.

Payman: There was a moment. There was a moment, yeah, because I knew it was for real where someone like my brother, who’s not on Facebook, not on Instagram, he’s on WhatsApp, the thingy, Zuckerberg got him, but someone like my …

Payman: The thingie, Zuckerberg got him. But someone like my brother sent it to me. Of course, I’d seen it many times, but the fact that he sent it to me, and then it came to me from Brazil and from Lebanon.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. That was it.

Payman: Was that the uni lad moment, was that when that happened?

Milad Shadrooh: The one that happened, so brin, brin, going away, going away, going away, Ed Sheeran, Shape Of You. Because he went-

Payman: It’s a great song, isn’t it?

Milad Shadrooh: He went away for a year and he came back with Shape Of You. And it was globally doing bits. And within very early, I heard it once. And I was like, this is a banger. This is going to go off. And I was like, what can I do shape of you, shape of you? All I could think was shave your tooth. And I was like, that’s not very nice message, is it? Like all I want to do is shave your tooth. I was like, that’s not good.

Milad Shadrooh: And then my wife, from the other room, “What about save your tooth?” She don’t sound like that either. But I was like, okay, save your tooth. Yeah. My job is to save your tooth, so brush and floss like you need to do. Oh, boom. I wrote that genuinely in 30 seconds, 40 seconds.

Prav: And all of these parodies that you put together, long time, short time, multiple takes, what’s the process?

Milad Shadrooh: The recording of it is in my surgery, my phone on selfie mode, so I can watch my stupidity.

Prav: Microphone or, no?

Milad Shadrooh: Phone camera. Song playing out of a £2 speaker that I attach to the computer. So I can just about hear it underneath. And then afterwards in the edit, I put the instrumental a bit louder. But I record straight into my phone. Because I want to keep it as low fi as possible. I want it to feel, for the people at home, this is not over produced. It’s not over polished. I’m in the room with this guy. And he’s just busting jokes close up on the face.

Milad Shadrooh: I’ve seen so many other dental parodies. Where people go to town, they do a three minute song. They’ve got production. There’s loads of them. And it’s just not good, man. It’s boring. It doesn’t engage. This is, you literally just see my face as if I’m talking to you now and I’m performing for you live. On a low pro.

Prav: One take, two takes?

Milad Shadrooh: Always one take.

Prav: Always one take.

Milad Shadrooh: There’s never cuts. So if I don’t nail it in one, I start again.

Prav: Got you.

Milad Shadrooh: But I’ll normally get it within the first two, three, four takes. If I’m on my 10th take, I’m like, I need to rethink this because something’s not right. It’s not flowing. But I perform them always one time. The eyebrows do their own thing. I don’t know what happens there. They just come out of nowhere, and start doing their thing. And yeah.

Prav: Do you have someone review them. Who’s your.

Milad Shadrooh: My kids.

Prav: Your kids?

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, my kids. I go home. I show them to my wife and my kids. And if they like it, and my kids don’t swipe away from it, I know I’m onto a winner.

Prav: Rock and roll.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. So it was the Ed Sheeran, that’s the one, bruv. When the Ed Sheeran landed, we’re talking, on Lad Bible it did 38 million. On Viral Thread it did 30 million. On Uni Lad, it was just, it got, I think, collectively, I’ve counted, over 150 million views on all platforms. On my own YouTube channel, that’s on about 3.8 million views. The Ed Sheeran.

Payman: Bloody hell.

Prav: What’s the impact of you when something like that happens? Obviously your phone must blow up.

Milad Shadrooh: Yep.

Prav: Do you read all the messages?

Milad Shadrooh: All of them.

Prav: Do you respond to them?

Milad Shadrooh: Pretty much all of them. It’s much harder now. But I take time. I respond to … On Facebook, I don’t like the platform for responding. It’s a difficult thing to navigate. On Insta, it’s much easier. So I reply to pretty much all the DMs. It takes me ages. I’ve got loads built up now because I just haven’t been able to-

Prav: You don’t have somebody managing that for you?

Milad Shadrooh: No, never.

Prav: It’s all done by you.

Milad Shadrooh: I’ve never had anyone to do it, it’s always been me. Because I don’t think it’s authentic if someone else replies as me. But I get asked dental stuff all the time. But then with dental stuff, it’s really difficult. Oh, I just saw my dentist and he told me I need two root canals. What do you think? I’ve got no idea. Here’s an x-ray. Sent me an x-ray. And I’m like, listen, this is not the platform for me to diagnose your disease. If you really are worried about it, just go back and have another conversation with them. But sometimes they’ll be like, oh, I’m in a lot of pain and this and this has happened. I’m like, okay, what, what is it? Oh, it’s coming right at the back. Okay, is it your wisdom tooth? Possibly. Okay, have you got a flap of skin over the top? Yeah. Okay, Google pericoronitis, you’ve probably got that. Oh yeah, that’s exactly what I had.

Payman: What’s it done to your dental practise?

Milad Shadrooh: It’s made me much more kind of busy with a different demographic of people. So as in, from all over. I’ve got patients that travel two and a half hours now just to come for a check up, because they were dental phobic. They see me as an approachable type of person. So they want to come and see me. I’m like, okay, awesome. I will 100% see you. I’m mad busy.

Milad Shadrooh: I do one clinical day a week now because … And this was actually nothing to do with … So, I’ve been one day a week for about two and a half years, three years almost. It was for my kids. So we used to do always a half day on a Friday. I used to work four and a half days a week. Always. That’s what I’ve always done. When I took over the business, I kind of dropped that half day because you need time to manage the place. So I was doing four days a week.

Milad Shadrooh: When my daughter was born, I dropped another day. Because I was like, I want to be around. I need to be around. And I want to enjoy my daughter’s childhood. When my son was born, I dropped another day. So now I’m on to two days a week. And I just thought, when the Singing Dentist started getting busy, I was like, look, I need to dedicate time to other stuff.

Milad Shadrooh: Because I’ve got an amazing opportunity now to do something cool. I never know exactly where we’re going with it, but there’s always a direction. There’s always five things happening at once. And this opportunity will eventually die out. May eventually die out. Who knows. But I don’t want to regret in five years, 10 years and go, you know what, I didn’t give it my all.

Milad Shadrooh: Because dentistry is a career. It’s a lot … As long as I don’t do anything stupid and get struck off, I will be able to go back to dentistry. I own the business. I’m not going to sell my business. So I can go back to five days a week when my kids are older and they don’t like me anymore. And the Singing Dentist, no one wants to hear my songs. I can go back and do teeth five days a week. But right now I want to use this opportunity to really give it a push, put my energy behind it. I’m a super creative guy. I want to put the creative energies into this and see where we can take it.

Prav: Just take us back to … Something that resonated with me there is that you took … you decided to drop a day when your daughter was born, is that right? Just talk us through the … take us back in time. The day she was born. How you felt? Instantly, was it instantly fell in love and-

Milad Shadrooh: Terror.

Prav: Or was it like, oh my God, what-

Milad Shadrooh: Terror.

Prav: Terror.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. Because you’re waiting for that day to happen. And the delivery wasn’t particularly awesome. It ended up being like an emergency caesarian and stuff. Relief first, the baby’s here, wife’s good, baby’s good. Then like, oh my goodness, life has changed completely. The selfishness of life goes, that’s the only difference in my opinion. You’re still the same person. You can still have fun. It’s just you can’t be selfish. You can’t just wake up and go, you know what, today I’m just going to do what the hell I want. Because that’s not how it works. You’ve got to factor in what your kids are going to do, what your wife’s going to do. Leaving the house is impossible unless you planned it. And you’ve got everything they need for the day. You packed the two suitcases to leave the house. So, you’ve just got to plan a bit more.

Milad Shadrooh: So life isn’t … It’s different. It’s not bad. It’s not worse. I don’t … It’s better to a certain extent. But it’s different. So it was terror. Because you don’t really know what you’re doing with a child. You just kind of come home … I knew I had time off. So, that was good.

Milad Shadrooh: But then when it was time to go back to work, I was like, I don’t really want to go back to work. I just want to be here every day. I want to experience this every day. So I was like, well, I’m going to reduce a day.

Milad Shadrooh: So I contacted all my patients, because by this point I’m private, and I’ve got a lot of plan patients. We’ve got direct debits. I said, “Look guys, my baby’s just been born. And I really want to be around. So I’m just going to drop a day. The service, you guys will still be exactly same. If you have emergencies on a day I’m not here, I’ve got four other associates in the building that can look after you. And then they’ll get you out of pain. And when I’m back, come and see me. But I’m going to do it.” And no one said, you horrible man, I’m leaving.

Payman: Not many dentists do that though.

Milad Shadrooh: No. But why not?

Payman: Yeah, no, I agree with you.

Milad Shadrooh: Your patients-

Payman: You’re one of the only professions where you can turn it on and off, two days a week, one day a week, three days a week. I mean, I’ve always thought was very good for ladies in that sense, because they can be a mother three days a week and dentist two days a week.

Milad Shadrooh: Absolutely. Yeah. And I think, communicating with your patients, ultimately your patients are human. They forget that you’re human as well. And when you remind them, you’ve got the same issues that they have. You’ve got the same kind of stuff going on, and you just want to give some time to your family, they’re AOK with it. They’re like, yeah, man, cool. Actually good on you. Come back when you’re ready. They appreciate that.

Milad Shadrooh: So again, I think it’s easier for me because I’ve been in the place for so long. Dude, it’s so crazy. I’ve been there 15 years now. I’m seeing kids now coming in, they’re 18, 19. And I’m like, I remember when you were three, I did your first ever check up. You’ve only ever had my fingers in your mouth. It’s crazy. And they’re massive now, six foot two. These kids, I don’t know what they’re eating. All this genetically modified food, it’s definitely changing. They’re coming ducking under the door.

Milad Shadrooh: And I’m like, “Blimey, look at you. What you doing now?” “I’m going to uni.” I’m like, “That’s awesome.” No cavities in their mouth. And I think, yeah. That’s an achievement there, bro. We looked after you.

Payman: You’re obviously doing quite a lot of influencer type work now.

Milad Shadrooh: That’s interesting, isn’t it? Yeah.

Payman: Yeah. I mean, I was thinking about this last night when you were going to come in, you’re probably the most famous dentist in the world, right?

Milad Shadrooh: Wow. I don’t know.

Prav: Without question, without question.

Milad Shadrooh: Do you reckon?

Payman: Well, who is?

Prav: Name one dentist, Dr. Apa.

Milad Shadrooh: Nah.

Payman: No.

Prav: He just plays around with his ears all day.

Payman: Yeah. Listen, even in LA, yeah, if Dr. Apa, well, he’s from New York. Even in New York, if Dr. Apa was walking down the road, and you’re walking down the road, I think it’s more likely that you’re going to get recognised than him.

Prav: Stopped.

Milad Shadrooh: I guess, I guess. Yeah. In that kind of thing. Yeah. So it’s crazy. I’m definitely top five. I put myself in the top five. I don’t know if I’m number one. But I definitely put myself … I’m happy with top five.

Payman: We’re going to have to get Mike in and ask him. But no, so there is an opportunity. Let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about … And I think one thing that’s been really admirable about you is you have taken this fame and used it for good, for oral hygiene, for public education. Not everyone might have even thought of doing that. And doing it as much as you did. Who knows the countless lives that you’ve touched by doing that. That’s a beautiful thing.

Milad Shadrooh: Awesome, thanks.

Payman: But on the other side of it, it takes a lot of time, you’ve lowered your clinical days, monetizing this opportunity? What’s it been like? Are you getting people contacting you all the time saying, will you be the face of-

Milad Shadrooh: Yes.

Payman: I saw you on Colgate India.

Milad Shadrooh: Yes. That was fun. So, here’s the thing. So, with the influencer world now, if you talk about it. For those of you that obviously can’t see this, I just did speech fingers. Influencer. Because I don’t really know kind of what that means. What you’re influencing people to do what? To buy your products.

Payman: To buy, yeah.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. So, it’s a strange concept. But social media is undeniably there. Everyone’s on it. And you’re looking at it. And a lot of companies are looking at that. And they use it as a tool to sell. So, when you have a reach and you’ve got eyeballs watching you. Creating content isn’t free. It takes time and time costs money. It takes skills of people who are behind the camera, behind editing, your sound engineers, you as an artist making the content. So, that money has got to come from somewhere.

Milad Shadrooh: And when you bankroll it yourself, then you have to look at an ROI. Now, are you doing it for fun? Luckily I’m in a position where I don’t have to worry so much about money because we’re successful. I’ve got a practise and it’s doing well. And I’m still working. So I can put some money into stuff myself. Because I enjoy doing it. I don’t have many vices. I don’t drink. I don’t do any kind of drugs. People probably think I do, but I definitely don’t. I’m not really into fast cars. I’m not into kind of doing … I stay healthy. And I like some nice stuff in life. I’ve got a trainer addiction actually. Let me just, I’ve got 45 pairs of trainers and growing. So I do have problems with trainers. And watches. But let’s move on from that. Anyway.

Milad Shadrooh: But yeah, I can bankroll a lot of stuff myself. But then I am away from the clinic. There has to be a flip side from me doing all this amazing content for people, there has to be a way that I can monetize it in order to just keep doing it. Not monetize it so I can buy more crappy staff, no. Monetize it so I can just keep doing it. Because I really enjoy doing it. And I think I’m onto something good here.

Milad Shadrooh: So then you’re looking at brand deals. There’s brand deals, there’s ambassador kind of roles. There’s loads of different things that start coming your way. I’ve had so much stuff, bro, honestly, that I’ve said no to. Because I didn’t agree with it. I didn’t think it was a good brand. I didn’t think it was a good product. All this charcoal powder business. Loads of them. Coconut oil stuff. Loads of them. These mad toothbrushes that brush your top and bottom teeth inside and out in 30 seconds. All of them. They’ve all come to me. And I’ve all been like … It’s just, yeah, I wish you all the best, but it’s not for me.

Milad Shadrooh: Because as a dentist, I can’t back this. Because I lose all integrity. So you’ve got to look at it. It’s the long game for me. I don’t want to take a quick bit of cash to spew out some nonsense about something I don’t like. So the brand deals I have done is always with people that I kind of liked their stuff anyway. So I probably would have posted regardless. Because I quite like it and I enjoy it. So it’s always been organic. It’s been something I think has been useful and beneficial to other people. So I tell them about it.

Milad Shadrooh: The Colgate stuff was funny. I mean, they wanted to do a Bollywood-esque thing. So they flew me out to India. And I did it with some other big Bollywood acts. And that was an experience filming in India. Jesus, that was so much fun. I’ve never seen this many people on set to do a one minute video. There was literally 85 people on set. I had one person whose whole job was to pick up the tube of toothpaste and give it back to me when I dropped it. Genuinely. And one time I picked it up, he got upset. It was like, put it back on the floor and let him pick up, bruv. It was great. It was a great experience.

Milad Shadrooh: I’m working with a mouthwash company now. So I’m doing some stuff with them. Done some content with them and some advert type stuff with them. Boohoo randomly, the clothing guys. Yes. I kind of got invited to a couple of Boohoo parties. And I got to speak to them. And they sponsored a couple of stuff for me. So yeah, it’s-

Payman: And do you get paid based on the number of views on YouTube as well?

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, so you can. But I don’t monetize any of the parodies. Because they’re parodies. So original copyright gets all the money. So every time I put a song out, some of them within hours, some of them within days, I get a copyright claim. It’ll come up and say, hi, Sony BMG has made a claim against this record. Don’t worry, you haven’t done anything wrong, but basically they’re going to get all the money. If you disagree, press this appeal button. And I never press it because it’s their track. And I could be entitled to something. So it comes under fair usage law. So that would then be my lawyer speaking to Sony BMG’s lawyer and saying, look, my artist deserves 10%. Bro, I don’t want to pay lawyers to have that conversation for me. It will cost me more than that 10% income. For me, that’s free marketing, I look at it. Because I do those things and people know about me then. And I’m doing the-

Payman: But what are the numbers, I mean, if 50 million people watch a video, how much money could someone make?

Milad Shadrooh: It depends. It’s not per view.

Payman: Oh, is it not?

Milad Shadrooh: It’s depending on how many people watched the advert before those 50 million views.

Payman: Oh, I see.

Milad Shadrooh: Because that’s how you generate the revenue. It’s the adverts. So, if you skip ad the artist doesn’t get paid. Now, there’s some ads, when your video is smashing it, you can’t skip. Those are the people that make the money, bruv. They’re the ones that are earning a living off YouTube. And they’re getting 10 million views a video on ads you can’t skip. And they’re gamers.

Payman: Gamers.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. They’re the 15 year olds that play-

Payman: E-sports.

Milad Shadrooh: Fortnite-

Payman: Yeah, Fortnite.

Milad Shadrooh: And 300 million people watch them playing it. And then they’re driving an R8 that they can’t get insurance for.

Prav: So I’m seeing you pop up all over my feed with CB12, squashing bubbles and diving into the floor.

Milad Shadrooh: Jokes. Yes.

Prav: Really, really creative. Really cool. Talk me through that. So, how you got the deal?

Milad Shadrooh: So, with CB12 it started with them wanting me to just do a talk at the dental conference about CB12. And first of all, they were like, look, what’d you think of it? And I said, “Well, send me some and Let me try it.” Because I’d heard of it. Because in the world of mouth washes, I don’t recommend mouth washes routinely for stuff, because people just use it as a replacement. They just rinse with mouthwash and don’t brush or floss.

Milad Shadrooh: So I like niche mouthwashes. So if a patient’s got gum disease, I recommend something specifically for gum disease. If someone needs more caries prevention, I’ll give them a higher fluoride content something or other. So for breath, I thought, okay, there’s only two games in town. It’s either CB12 or Ultradex. They’re the only two that specifically target it. And I didn’t have much experience with either. But what I knew about CB12 was it was really expensive. And Ultradex is really expensive.

Milad Shadrooh: So I always felt like, look, it’s hard for me to recommend this to an end user. If they have to spend 15 quid on a bottle. Because I just don’t know if anyone would do that. But when I spoke to them, they said, they’re reducing their fee and they’re going to make it more like £5 a bottle. I thought, okay, well that could be a good recommendation if it works. So, I started using it and I thought, oh, this is quite cool. I looked into the science of it. They sent me all their research and all their stuff. And I thought, okay, the materials they’ve got in there actually do neutralise the volatile sulphur compounds. So I thought, all right, this could be cool.

Payman: It is chlorine dioxide?

Milad Shadrooh: No, theirs is-

Payman: Ultradex’s.

Milad Shadrooh: Zinc, yeah, theirs is a zinc based stuff. So, I did the lecture for them. And it went really, really well. They smashed it. They were really happy. So then I said, “Look, if you want to get this out there and you want to increase the over the counter side of your business, you’ve got to do online marketing. Just the way it is.” So we just kind of talked it, hashed out with my management, got involved-

Prav: So, you’ve got someone managing the commercial aspects of your business now?

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, I’ve got a manager full stop. Yeah, they manage everything, media, tv.

Payman: Oh, is that how it works? So, let’s say, I don’t know, whatever, Philips, let’s not talk about Philips.

Prav: Sunlighten.

Payman: Oral B. Oral B wants you to be their brand ambassador. What do they do, call your manager, is that how it works?

Milad Shadrooh: The way we kind of have our relationship is, I look at the deal first. Because I want to see if it’s something I want to do. If it’s something that I feel fits with … Because no one knows the brand better than me. I’ve created it. And the brand is me. So I look at the project first. Have a chat with them. See where their spiel is. See what they’re kind of thinking, what they want to do. And then I’ll have a chat with my management and say, look, this is the situation. What do you guys think? For me, I think X, Y, and Z. And they’re like, yeah, okay, cool. What do you want as a fee? And I’m like, well, I don’t know. What do you think? And yeah, we’ll do this. And they go back and they negotiate the deal. They negotiate what’s required of me. How long the term is, blah, blah, blah. They do all the nitty gritty bits.

Milad Shadrooh: And then if it’s a goer, it’s a goer. And then it all depends. So there’s brand ambassador roles, which are much longer term. There’s brand deals, which is a one off. Post this. You have certain things you’ve got to do. It has to go on Instagram for a day. You can’t post something else after, for 24 hours. You’ve got to do two swipe ups, one the following week, blah blah. You have those deliverables. As long as you tick all the boxes, you get paid.

Milad Shadrooh: But an ambassador thing, you work very much with the brand. So with the CB12 thing, I worked very much with them on the creatives, trying to come up with the concepts, what they wanted to do, what I felt would work. So it was a joint effort. And it’s been so much fun to do it. Again, we shot that in India. So again, I flew out to India for three days to do that. So yes, it was really good fun. It was really good fun.

Prav: Is it more lucrative than dentistry? Or has the potential to be?

Milad Shadrooh: Do you know what it is, it’s unstable. So you could get a brand deal and then not get another deal for weeks. So you’ve got to live off that one. So I think it depends. Short game, long game. It’s always the way. Dentistry will always provide you with a living. It’s a hard living. People underestimate how difficult it is, nowadays especially. But you use your skills, you graft and you’ll have a comfortable life. You’ll be able to look after your kids.

Milad Shadrooh: It’s more difficult now than it used to be. I know dentists from 30, 40 years ago, basic routine amalgams and extractions were putting their kids through private school, living in million plus pound houses and driving Porsches. It’s not like that now. Your average associate is not doing that now. No way. So it’s much harder. But it’s still a good life. But you pay your dues to have that life.

Milad Shadrooh: So with influencing, pound for pound, yes. Off one deal you can make what someone makes in a year.

Prav: Roughly?

Milad Shadrooh: Really depends, man. Depends what you’re doing for who. I mean, deals can start from £250 to do a story post, to five grand to do a story post. It’s crazy. Proper influencers, when I say proper influencers, it’s mad, I don’t consider myself one. But you come out of Love Island. You go into Love Island with 10,000 followers. You come out with 1.2 million, 1.5 million followers. You’re suddenly worth a load of money. You’ll get a brand for half a million pounds, for a year, for clothing. And that just means you post once a week. So you do basically 52 posts for half a million pounds. That’s not bad going.

Payman: That’s just Love Island. What about where you’ve done businesses yourself.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. So that’s been the other thing, launching stuff. Using the platform to launch stuff. I’m super excited by that. I love … I am entrepreneurial very much. And that’s one of the things that I think coming away from the dental practise has always been something that’s been inside me to do. Because being in one place nine to five is just not my kind of makeup, man. I like meeting, greeting, networking, thinking, designing, creating, starting something from zero and watching it grow. I love that process. I love it.

Milad Shadrooh: It’s like making music. When you make music, you don’t have a beat. You start with nothing. You start with this empty screen. You add your elements, your kick, your snares, your hats, you build up. And you add your baseline, you add your top end. You add your whatever you’re doing. I like that in business. I like to create something from the start.

Milad Shadrooh: So I thought I’ve got a platform. What can we do? But I’ve always been based on trying to help do certain things. So one of the things we did was Smile Wise. Which started out as, I was getting so many patients just messaging me saying, dude, we want to come and see you. I’m like, all right, perfect, where are you? Down in Manchester. I’m like, bro, I’m like three hours away, four hours away. You’re not going to come here every six months. But I know someone sick in Manchester you should see. Oh who? This guy. He’s just like me. He’s not scary. He’s cool. And does a great job.

Milad Shadrooh: And I was like, why don’t I turn that into a business? But at the same time, there’s probably not enough patients doing that. So we can help market patients. And just link people to good clinicians. So that’s what the thought process of Smile Wise was. And we wanted to do it nationally and get the right people.

Milad Shadrooh: But the trouble with that is, if you don’t get the right people or you generate … it became lead generation. Which is a horrible game. And that was never what I wanted it to be. Because lead generation, once you know what you’re doing is cool. It’s what you do with the leads. And if dentists or their team or their receptionist or their whatever is not equipped and ready. If they’ve had no training to handle leads. The leads turn to nothing.

Payman: This is Prav’s day to day.

Milad Shadrooh: Exactly. You know exactly what I’m talking about.

Prav: It’s just follow up.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. The follow up is so key. So then we thought, you know what, we need to teach people this, before we do lead generation. Because there’s no point getting leads if you don’t know what to do with them. So Smile Wise has evolved now into something else, so we’ve taken a step back because we’re developing something pretty big. So it’s coming back. It’s in beta testing now. But that was one thing.

Milad Shadrooh: Toothy Box has been the bane of my existence for so long. I thought of this idea three years ago. Subscription oral care. Now there’s 12 of them in the world flying around. Everyone’s trying to do it. And everyone is … But show me one that’;s battering it in the UK, none. America-

Payman: In America, couple in America doing well.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, but America, dude-

Payman: Big market.

Milad Shadrooh: Colorado is bigger than the whole of the UK. You know what I mean. It’s just a massive market. So it’s cool. Burst and Quip and them lot are going to kill it.

Milad Shadrooh: So the issue I’ve got with Toothy Box is unless I … I want to go big or go home, bro. And unless it becomes the sickest thing ever, I’m worried to launch it without then having the logistics in place to smash it. Products are done. The marketing is all in my head. It needs capital, bro. If you’re going to … Your commodity is £2/£3 thing, unless you’re selling a hundred thousand units a month, there’s no business there.

Payman: Yeah, tell me about it, man.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. So I need to make sure that’s right. But coming with dental products has to happen for me. It’s like Jamie Oliver not coming out with cookery stuff. It makes no sense. So, the Singing Dentist has to have some dental products. But it’s got to be right. They’ve got to be the right products. And it’s got to be a massive business. Otherwise I just don’t want to start it and flop.

Payman: I think the kiddies Sonicare that makes the kids brush through the app.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. Yeah. That’s cool.

Payman: You should have an app, or you probably do have an app-

Milad Shadrooh: No, I don’t. I’ve looked at it, but it’s just money. Making apps costs a bomb.

Payman: Yeah. But an app where you make the kids brush his teeth and then products stuck to that. Sounds like fun. But listen, dude, this stuff takes time. This stuff takes time.

Milad Shadrooh: It takes time. It takes time for development.

Payman: Dentists, I’m a dentist, dentists don’t realise. Yeah. Because just because you can buy a dental practise, and six months later you’re in profit. Don’t realise, products and services, they take time. They take time.

Milad Shadrooh: Absolutely. And graft and a negative living for a while. Which if you’re risk averse, that’s scary, man. When you look at how much money you owe. And money ain’t coming in. And you’re a bit like, eh, have I done the right thing.

Payman: And I think some of the Jamie Oliver chef stuff, they’re licencing the name of the talent.

Milad Shadrooh: Exactly.

Payman: So it’s not Jamie, all of his own business.

Milad Shadrooh: No, and even then-

Payman: It’s more an influencer ambassador kind of role.

Milad Shadrooh: Exactly. But even on that level, things go wrong-

Payman: Yeah, of course, of course.

Milad Shadrooh: Jamie’s Kitchen, you know what I mean, whatever. So things, it’s difficult. It’s not easy. It’s not easy.

Payman: No. Nothing’s easy, man.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, exactly. Anything that’s good, you’ve got to work for it, man.

Prav: So, on the outside, I’ve not met you before properly.

Payman: Have you not?

Prav: No, it’s our first time.

Payman: What the hell.

Prav: No. We’ve conversed. But the one thing I see straight away and feel is the energy in the room. And the moment you walk in, he’s like the happiest guy I’ve ever met. Seriously.

Payman: Yeah, yeah, because-

Prav: Bursting with energy, super happy, super …

Prav: Seriously…

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. Yeah, Because-

Prav: Bursting with energy. Super happy. Haven’t met anyone like you before, right?

Milad Shadrooh: Awe, sweet. Thanks, man.

Prav: Just amongst all that, the real you. And this is probably the real you. You’ve got so many things that you’re playing with, advertising, practise, management, patients, DMs-

Milad Shadrooh: Family.

Prav: … deals, family, being a dad, being a husband, A, how do you manage that? And B, what are your low points in this journey, because it can’t all be-

Milad Shadrooh: No, not as rosy as it looks on the outside.

Payman: What are the darkest days? So take us back to some of the dark days.

Milad Shadrooh: I mean, so firstly, how do I manage it? I manage it, because I’ve got good people around me. They’re super important. My wife. I wouldn’t be able to do any of it, if it wasn’t for her, 100%.

Prav: She get involved in all of people?

Milad Shadrooh: She gets involved in none of it-

Payman: Okay.

Milad Shadrooh: … which is why it’s so beautiful. But not because of the way it sounds. She does the stuff that allows me to be off doing the crazy stuff, right? She holds the fort together. If she wasn’t like that, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing. There’s time where I have to be away for three days, four days, she handles stuff, looks after the kids, does the bits in the background, so that I can do what I’m doing. When I need to be creative, and I think, “Babe, can you come and have a look at this? What do you think?” She puts time, and she’ll come and look in all of that. So She’s an artist by career and stuff, so she understands graphics, she understands the visuals very well. So she’ll kind of look at it and go, “Oh” and coming up with ideas. She’s super creative. So she helps me massively, and we’re so polar different in personality.

Payman: which is why it works.

Prav: Where did you meet? How old were you?

Payman: The ying and the yang is beautiful.

Milad Shadrooh: We met… I was 20, she was 19. So she’s been with me before any of this, before I was in first year dental school, and she was doing her art and design degree. Theatre design she did. So yeah.

Prav: good people-

Milad Shadrooh: That’s the first thing, my mom and dad, because I’m an only child, right? So my mom and dad live seven minutes away. They see the kids a lot. But my dad, he’s a serial entrepreneur, businessman, so I always consult with him with any kind of business stuff. My mom’s super creative. So they help me out a lot. My aunt, she’s always been around. My uncle is in America. They’re super around. I’ve got very good friends. Being an only child, you develop brother ship style friends. I’ve got a friend who I’ve known since we were five. Went to same primary school. We’re still friends now. Saw him just Saturday. So he gives me a lot of good sound advice, in dentistry Nilesh Power he’s my best friend. We qualified together, so I’ve known him since we were 18.

Payman: Oh, you’re in the same year?

Milad Shadrooh: Yes, same year. Qualified together. So 20 years now we’ve been friends. Nilesh is one of the most phenomenal people that I know, for what he’s done and what he continues to do. He’s just a sick guy. So when I have some stuff, I sit down and chat to him, because he knows business. He knows what’s what, and I chat to him. So I’ve got good people. I’ve got another couple of friends who, they’re just solid guys, man. They’re good, and I trust them. So if I told them something, I trust them to not be yes-man, and I trust them so [inaudible] that’s a terrible idea, Don’t do it. So having good people around you is key. Next thing, is your gut. Do not underestimate your gut. I know, if someone tells me something, and I get that feeling like “Bro, that ain’t the one,” I won’t do it.

Prav: Have you ever gone against your gut and it’s proved you wrong or anything?

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. And that’s why I know I have to trust it. Very earlier on I had a brand deal, and they wanted me to do some off-key stuff, and I was already in. I had no management then. I had nothing. I kind of did it, and it wasn’t even great money. And mate, I had to do some dodgy stuff, not dodgy stuff, but they were just cheesy dudes, man, and they were getting me to do some bits, and I just wasn’t comfortable doing it. I didn’t like doing it.

Payman: It was uncool?

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. They wanted me to do some cheesy stuff, and I just felt bad, and the final product that came out, the final finished content, was so terrible. And I was like “Guys, you can’t post this.” And, “Well we’ve done it now. We’ve paid you, so we’re doing what we want.” And it just made me feel horrible. And at the time as we were recording it, my gut was just going all over the place, and it wasn’t because I had spicy food. It was just not happy. So after then I was, “Never again. Never again am I going to allow myself to feel that, ever.” So I haven’t ever since.

Prav: So going back to your darkest moments. Yeah. During all of this And certainly for me, I run around doing a lot of things too, and as much as you, but there are times when I’m away from home two, three days at a time. And I come home third, fourth day and my daughter says, “daddy I want you to stay here, I don’t want you to go anywhere, is it the weekend”? Breaks my heart. Does that resonate with you? Do you get similar conversations with your kids?

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, there’d be times where I’m going and my daughters be like “daddy, don’t go”. That makes you feel horrendous immediately. But it’s very transient with kids, right? The minute they start watching TV, they forget it. Okay. So I know I’m around way more than other people are for their kids, but that’s just because of the circumstances. So I know that overall longterm, when my kids look back on their childhood they’ll know daddy was around. I’m around way more than I think is expected. These days of what that kind of do or whatever. So I’m not so worried about that. The dark times come when it’s random stuff for me, as long as there’s something happening, as long as there’s direction, I’m happy. I’m least happy when I’m stood still. I like to unwind. Don’t get me wrong. I can be lazy as hell. I could spend a whole day doing nothing. But I do that happy knowledge that tomorrow I’ve got five things I got to do. And that’s cool.

Prav: How’d you do with the overwhelm? Or do you get it? Do You experience it like that. You’ve got so many things to do?

Milad Shadrooh: I did at one point and I was like, you know what? If I continue with all of this stuff, none of it’s going to be successful. So I had to drop a couple of things and then concentrate more on the other stuff. But having said that I’ve still got like five things happening anywhere at any one time. But I had like eight and I was like, this is probably possible. I’m never going to be able to give a hundred percent to all of them.

Payman: What would be your dream true for the next five years?

Milad Shadrooh: Well, so dream wise, first and foremost, I know this sounds really cheesy and stupid, but staying healthy genuinely because the more I’m getting older, I’m 38, I’ll be 39 next month January and things are starting to hurt for no reason. I got a bed with a new pain. So this is not normal. I’ve always been such an athletic guy and I’ve just been in good. And I’m like, “Right, that don’t feel right” you Sleep fine, and you wake up needing the hospital, right?

Prav: It’s me this morning. I just woke up with a bad neck.

Milad Shadrooh: I mean, so staying healthy because I see for the kids, and I’ll always want to be active. And you know, there’ll be times where you just have a blood test nowadays and I’m just praying about the results and “what if they find something Jesus” but I never used to worry about that kind of stuff. So number one, stay healthy for sure. Eat well, stay healthy. So that’s key, but work-wise, I would love to take this thing in dentist to another level. Cause dude listen, in my genetics media is being out there and I’m comfortable in that zone. I think I do well in that zone and people like it. People enjoy what I do, I’d like to do that more. I’d like to have my own TV show, talking about teeth and having a kid’s TV show on CBeebies, we’ve got where we had a great concept, but they just weren’t accepting any kind of shows at the time. So doing that kind of stuff being-

Payman: So literally the Jamie Oliver?

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. A hundred percent, I’ve wanted to work with the government on brush club campaigns, getting toothbrushing into schools as a national legislation thing, but there’s just no money, no appetite, public housing they’ve got their own problems. NHS has got no money at ever, even though they spend money on the problems that I want to spend money on the prevention necessarily. So it’s hard work, man. But those things take time, for the amount that you guys might think I’m famous or whatever, I’m nowhere near famous enough to make noise like that. Even reality TV shows like being in the jungle, I’m a celebrity but I watched it every year for the past seven, eight years. I loved the show. I think it’s an awesome show. I’m not famous enough for it. So that’s what we were told by the management.

Prav: To get into the jungle.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. I would do Strictly in a heartbeat. I’m not famous enough for it. These type of things are like “celebrity come dine with me”. I’d love to do that [inaudible] I’d love to do that but It’s getting those types of positions but having more of that established celebrity positioning, so that I can then make those changes. People don’t want to listen. You know DR Ranch. DR Ranch is Asian doctor. He started with a kid’s TV show, singing songs about kind of gutter problems and you know, whatever. And then he became the “this morning kind of one of the good doctors on this morning”. He ended up being on Strictly. He now has a decent profile where he can actually make some change and do some stuff. So I want to come out of being known as just that social media, funny viral eyebrow guy to being that established, figured I can do stuff, and I try and show people my personality. I think if you hang around me-

Payman: There is a lot more to you than the singing.

Milad Shadrooh: Absolutely.

Payman: Or the parodies even in the end of the entertainment space-

Milad Shadrooh: Absolutely. And I want to show that I want to showcase that. I want people to see what my friends see. I want people to see that when you kick it with me, it’s just, jokes and it’s fun.

Payman: It’s fun all the way.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. And I want people to see that.

Prav: What’s the weirdest DM that you’ve received?

Milad Shadrooh: I mean, I get marriage proposals all the time for a while on Snapchat. You know why people use Snapchat? Because things disappear. So I used to get all sorts of photos on Snapchat, I would always know how it’s going to happen as well. So I’d get a DM “hey, do you have Snapchat”? And then I’ll be like “yeah, let’s Snapchat”. And I’ll immediately go to my wife and I’ll be like “Babe check what’s about to come through”. Because I’m super transparent. when you’re doing this kind of stuff, you cannot be like it’s just, and there’s no reason for me not to be right. I find that hilarious. So I’d literally hold Snapchat, open up and I’m like “baby ready”. Because if you screenshot it they know. So I was just literally about “are you ready? Open” Boom! And it’d be something Interesting.

Milad Shadrooh: Alright. So given that kind of stuff, I get a lot of the kind of serious stuff. The stuff we talked about before, which is nice to get.

Prav: The life changing stuff.

Milad Shadrooh: The life changing stuff that is always amazing and i asked some people, if I can share, I’m going to listen. That’s such an amazing message. “Would you mind if I kind of share that”? And they’re like, “Oh my God, that’d be great”. If you help someone else weekly a hundred percent. yeah. I could look for my DMS now and I’ll be able to show you something it’s crazy. And from all over, Globally in all countries.

Prav: So what’s the legacy you want to leave?

Milad Shadrooh: That’s the thing. So when you say it again, what do you want to do in five years? I Want to do in five years, I want to have left behind a legacy. I want it to be so that in 10 years we look back and think, “Oh yeah that was the singing dentist guy, man. He done well. He smashed it”, and I want my kids to be like “Oh yeah, my dad was the singing dentist”. Oh, what your dad was singing? That’s sick”. I want to have done something so that people know, make a change for sure, help dentistry. There’s so many different aspects on a consumer level, there’s stuff I want to do. I want to really help reduce the problems we have in the UK, but on a dentistry level, dentists are my peers are my colleagues, they’re my friends. There’s so many negative things are happening. There’s so many unhappy people and it just shouldn’t be like that, man. But as dentists, we shouldn’t be in this space.

Prav: Do you get hate from Dentists?

Milad Shadrooh: Never to my face, ever. I wish I did, not because I would confront them with beef.

Prav: you can to deal with it?

Milad Shadrooh: I’d love to see what it is. And then take that on board and see what is it he don’t like, you think I’m bringing a profession into disrepute in which case? Okay. Let’s talk about it, why? What is? Was it the brand new stuff? Was it the fact that I’m giving oral health advice by singing songs? What is it that you don’t like? You just find my face irritating? That’s fine. Everyone’s entitled to have an opinion. Right? Dude. The amount of bad trolling I’ve had from non-dentists, there’s nothing that a dentist could tell me, because I’ve had “Oh, he’s that guy. I want to shoot him in the face”. I mean, anyone else think this is the most annoying person in the world. Let’s find him and kill him. You get that kind of stuff online.

Prav: Which Platform is the worst?

Milad Shadrooh: Every platform. YouTube less. Facebook is the worst I think for that. But yeah, you get that kind of stuff

Payman: On the subject of dental trolling-

Milad Shadrooh: I’ve never had it. I’ve never seen it.

Payman: You mentioned Nilesh. He gets a lot of it?

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah. He gets it.

Payman: But having Nilesh at some point we can ask him, but-

Milad Shadrooh: There is one thing first and foremost, 100%. If you do nothing in life, you keep your head down and you just fly through life. Like a leaf in the wind. You’re not going to get, hey.

Prav: put your head above the parapet.

Milad Shadrooh: Guaranteed. The only time you get hit is when you’re smashing it. Because genuinely people don’t like it or they’re jealous of it or they’re envious of it. Or they think they should have had it. They feel entitled. Like why is he doing that? When I should have been doing that?

Payman: Well, I disagree. I mean you could get hate. Cause you’re an idiot.

Milad Shadrooh: Sure. But why would someone know you’re an idiot if you kept it to yourself?

Payman: I understand this whole jealousy thing. We’ve talked about this before on the podcast, but I think it’s dismissive to say “that’s what it is. It’s just jealousy”

Milad Shadrooh: No, I don’t think it’s just jealousy. But what I’m saying is unless you put your head out there, unless you open, no one would know. So that’s the thing. So the minute you’re smashing it, you’re going to get “haters”. it just exists. It’s just the way it is . But dental ones, I’ve never had any come my way. Look, there’s a couple of people in our industry that I think everybody in the world knows who they’re super negative people, they never like anything and blah, blah, blah, blah.

Milad Shadrooh: I’m sure they’ve said stuff like, and I’m sure behind my back enclosed circles in their little forums, they’ll chat about me or they’ll be negative, but I don’t know who they are. Someone’s never screenshot something and sent it to me and go “look what this bread said about you”. I would love it if they did, because I would meet that guy. I won’t do the internet rubbish. I’d like to meet him and just chat to them. And say ” bro, what is it that I did to upset you so much? And to what level are we going to take that upset?” Because if it’s something we could talk about, cool. If it’s something we can’t and you genuinely don’t like it, then let’s have it out and then we’ll deal with it. The South London way.

Payman: Have you ever had any trolling that’s actually bothered you like it’s been-

Prav: No anxiety or anything?

Milad Shadrooh: No. Never, ever. because again people around me, they keep me grounded enough that stuff like that don’t get to me. I find it fascinating. I kind of read some of it and then I think “Cool”. What happens to you that you feel that this kind of comment is a good thing for you to put out on the world to portray your personality? Some people say some horrible stuff, but not engaged with some of it. I normally ignore all of it. Sometimes for some giggles I’ll come in with like a Saki remark or I’ll come back with something and dude I’ve turned so many of them around like literally there’ll be like “you’re the most annoying person ever. I want to kill you” and then I’ll reply with, “thank you so much for your continued support. My new video will out tonight at 6:00 PM. Don’t forget to tune in” and then they’ll DM me, “mate, fair pay. That was funny” and I’ll be like “Alright bro” and then he goes “nah, I actually think you’re quite good, I just didn’t think you’d reply”. So they just do it to get a reaction.

Milad Shadrooh: They don’t genuinely hate you and want to kill you. They just do it because it’s online trolling. And some people think it’s funny, but I can see how it would definitely affect you. If you put a video out, you get a thousand comments and five bad ones. Fine, if you get a thousand bad comments and five good ones, maybe that’s when you should really rethink your content and think “maybe I should take this on board now”.

Payman: But it’s very natural. You’re a kind of person who doesn’t really care what people think about you.

Milad Shadrooh: But deep down, I do care if I’m honest and if I open up properly, of course everyone cares. Everyone wants to be liked. Everyone wants their work to be appreciated because you put your heart and soul into something. I don’t just do these parodies with zero thought process. A lot of thought goes into it. That is a lot of my personality. What you see as the singing dentist, like you said, a lot of the time, it’s me. I talk about the singing dentist as a third person, but it’s me. I’m jokes anyway. So I might turn it on a bit, but it is still part of me. So if someone really hates it, that is upsetting because you’re like “well, why did they hate that aspect of me?” But let’s talk about it. I don’t let it hurt me.

Milad Shadrooh: I kind of want to be “okay, well what can I do differently?” I like to be the very best person that can be for everybody. So I want to change to make someone else happy. If they think what I’m doing is making them unhappy, but positivity, I try to stay positive regardless. There’s going to be negative times, I once posted a video and it’s done badly and I’m like “what the hell happened there”, and you to kind of want to go a bit into yourself and you think “that was disappointing. I thought I was really good, but no one’s really liked it. And it’s getting some shit comments” that’s a bit of a shame.

Milad Shadrooh: So you get a bit down, that there’d be times where I’ll be stocked for contacting “God. I need to post today. I haven’t posted a couple of days”. Dude, you just feel a bit “Oh my God, this is a bit overwhelming” but then you just slap yourself out of it. I do a superhero pose. I go stand in front of the mirror, look at myself and think “you’re better than this. You can come up with some content”. And I end up filming myself, doing that and people love it. There’s content right there.

Milad Shadrooh: So I just stay positive man, and I really do believe in thinking about the good thing. There’s so much bad stuff and there’s so many people that are in such a worse position than you, when I wake up and I think ” why would I be unhappy?” I’m so blessed in so many ways, you just got to really put that into perspective because life genuinely is so short man, and can change in a heartbeat.

Prav: And on that note, it’s your last day on the planet. What three messages do you want to leave the world with?

Milad Shadrooh: Three messages on my last day, always make time for friends and family, regardless of what else is going on, try and do something that changes someone else’s life so that you will never be forgotten even by one person, and lastly, enjoy everything that you’re doing. Even if it’s something you don’t like to do, find some kind of enjoyment in that. Enjoy not liking it because life really is too short. I don’t know if you guys have got kids, but I’ve got kids. Have you seen Coco? The cartoon Coco?

Payman: Nope.

Prav: No.

Milad Shadrooh: Watch it. The Mexicans have this after life theory thing, right? So when you die, you go to a place. Every year they put the photos out of their loved ones who have passed on and then they get to come back. And as long as the photo is up, your spirit never dies, right?

Milad Shadrooh: Because someone always remembers you and you always have that adoration to come back, but in the spirit world someone dies and they go to spirit world, right? So in the spirit world, you can die in the spirit world and you die in the spirit world, the minute, no one in the real world remembers you, the minute no one puts your photo out. Right? When I was watching that, that really hit home for me. I think that’s just terrifying, to think that if there is an after life, when nobody remembers you you’re gone, forever. I don’t want that to happen. I want to be remembered by someone somewhere.

Payman: What is your Belief system? Is it that-

Prav: is there an afterlife (silence) reincarnation?

Payman: Or is it just coma or is it-

Milad Shadrooh: I genuinely don’t have a belief because I’m not very religious. I don’t follow a religion. I believe in something I pray to God. I ask God for stuff. When I say pray, I don’t pray three times a day, get down and pray or I don’t go to church or I don’t go to any kind of religious places, but I believe there is some

Payman: So she’s an atheist in a bomb shelter.

Milad Shadrooh: Yeah, exactly. I speak to somebody and ask for certain things. I get strength from that whether it’s the universe or whether it’s a spiritual thing. I think I like the spirituality side. I know people say, “I’m not religious I’m just spiritual” but I do believe in some other stuff that we will never comprehend. I like to think that maybe when you pass on, you start to really comprehend these other things. So I think there is another continuation of our existence, but not the way we know it now. I got to go a bit deep in it at the end.

Prav: I think that’s a wrap.

Payman: Yeah. Thank you so much for-

Milad Shadrooh: No, honestly no honestly it was cool. Thanks for inviting me down

Payman: I think the great thing that I got from this, is that you are who you sometimes you see a persona online from the moment you walked into now is you are who you portray. That’s awesome.

Milad Shadrooh: Thanks man.

Prav: That’s what you got to be. Being yourself is very easy.

Payman: Thanks a lot.

Milad Shadrooh: Thanks guys.

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. 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 really appreciate it if you would give us a six star rating.

Payman: That’s why I always leave my Uber driver.

Prav: Thanks a lot guys.

Payman: Bye.

This week Prav and Payman connect with dentist and dentolegal professional, Dr Victoria Holden.

Victoria lets us in on life as a moderator on one of the UK’s busiest online dental forums and shares some of her experience working as a senior advisor with Taylor Defence Services – a legal defence company representing the dental profession.

The trio also discusses life under lockdown, women in dentistry and a whole host more.



“What I tell my kids…Treat everybody equally…Don’t just take, take, take, be a giver as well as a taker. And the final thing, always brush your teeth.” – Vikki Holden

In This Episode

00.38 – Life and lockdown

08.52 – Women in dentistry

16.03 – Law

27.29 – Workflows and running a practice

42.49 – Darkest days and silver linings

50.27 – Back to the beginning

01.04 – Regulation and litigation

01.10.18 – Last day and legacy

About Victoria Holden

Victoria graduated from Sheffield University in 1999 and went on to work in general practice. She has been a partner at The Briars Dental Centre in Newbury since 2007.

Victoria holds the MFGDP(UK) Diploma in Implant Dentistry and Fellowship of the Faculty of General Dental Practitioners from the Royal College of Surgeons of England. 

She earned an LLM in medical law from Northumbria University and has acted as an expert witness in clinical negligence and fitness to practice cases.

Vikki Holden: What I tell my kids, I probably say to them, just to always make sure that they are fair to everybody. Treat everybody equally. They are very lucky, and I don’t want them to forget that ever. Don’t just take, take, take, be a giver as well as a taker. And the final thing, always brush your teeth.

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: It gives me great pleasure to have Vikki Holden on the podcast today. Vikki’s had a real varied career extending from general practise to legal. Well, we’ll get into it now, Vikki, but just tell me about lockdown, Vikki. What was lockdown like for someone like you?

Vikki Holden: Well, I really, really enjoyed lockdown actually. After the first bit of drama where we had to very quickly hibernate the practise, I actually really loved being at home with the kids. In a way, it was easier to have the practise shut. I did try quite hard initially to get systems in place so that we could have run an emergency service from here, but there was quite a few barriers put in place, quite a few obstacles, and it was difficult getting things like the PPE sorted out.

Vikki Holden: So when it just became apart that the kids were going to be at home for the foreseeable future, actually it was quite nice just to be able to leave the practise for a little while and spend a bit of time at home with the kids. And actually it’s the longest break from working on teeth that I’ve had since I’ve graduated.

Payman: Did you change something or are you going to change something going forward? Just imagine the virus disappears tomorrow, what will you do differently after lockdown?

Vikki Holden: Now I’m back at the practise, my working pattern is still the same, but the things that I probably would change are little things like the dog walker. She wasn’t able to come and walk the dogs through lockdown, so under the old ways… my husband works in London, so he’d be out most days in London and I’d be racing around between the practise and trying to do work for TDS and picking the kids up from school. So I’d never had really time to walk the dogs apart from [inaudible 00:02:42]. And now I’m out every day with the dogs, and just simple things like that actually. I think we’ll have to find a way that we can always do those things ourselves. Just simple stuff, really. Spending time with the kids, taking them down, out playing at the skate park, that kind of thing. I’ve really, really enjoyed that time.

Prav: And with your husband, saying he’s always away in London and stuff, and a lot of my friends and colleagues travel a lot for work, are things going to change for him? Is that going to change the dynamic in the home as well?

Vikki Holden: Yeah, it’s definitely. It’s been so much nicer having him around a lot more. Previously, he’d be out of the house at half past six in the morning. He wouldn’t get home till half past seven, and by that time the kids are getting ready for bed. He’s been working from home since maybe the beginning of March when I think his office closed. And I think his role is quite a global role, he doesn’t do a lot of travelling, but he does-

Payman: What does he do, Vikki?

Vikki Holden: … what does he do? He’s like a CRO for a company called Willis Towers Watson, and they’re based in London, but well, they’re an American company. They’re a global firm. They’re an actuarial company. Willis is an insurer, so it’s real corporate financial world really, and at the moment he’s heading up a project, overhaul their IT systems and the platform that they use for [inaudible 00:04:10]. So he’s not a fund manager, he’s not got a job like that, he’s really just an operations guy.

Payman: What’s your arrangement at home? You own a practise, you’re partnered in a practise, you’re doing all of this defence stuff with Taylor. You’re one of the moderators on the Dentist UK site, is that right?

Vikki Holden: Yeah.

Payman: You’re a busy person, and you’ve got two young kids. How old are the kids?

Vikki Holden: Well, one’s nearly 10 and the other one is eight.

Payman: So what are the arrangements? What’s your typical week like? How many days do you work?

Vikki Holden: So I’ll be at the practise four days a week, and the way that the hours are structured is that I’ll have a little bit of time doing the clinical stuff in the morning, have a big window in the middle of the day for dealing with work that I’ll be doing for Taylor Defence Services, see patients again in the afternoon, and then pick up the kids. So the kids, they’re quite lucky. They go to a nice school. It’s a private school. I can drop them off just down the road. They get a minibus to school at about half past seven, and then I pick them up at half past five. So the biggest issue, I think, when you’re a working mom, is childcare. So that system, I’m not particularly one of those people who go, oh, my children must go to private school to get the best education. It is really something that’s driven out of a need for childcare because it’s quite difficult actually getting wraparound care when you’re children are at school.

Vikki Holden: And I will say, wanted to be the person who drops the kids off at school, I wanted to pick them up from school. I don’t want to have to rely on nannies. So I live quite close to the practise, that’s great. I’ve also got the job working with Taylor Defence Services where I literally just need my computer and a phone to do that. So those things fit in quite nicely really. I limit the time that I spend on social media to about 15, 20 minutes a day. I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook for various reasons. So that part of it doesn’t take an awful lot of time really.

Payman: Can you moderate that forum in 15 minutes a day?

Vikki Holden: Well, people might say that it’s not maybe a very well moderated forum. That is one of the criticisms that comes up and that’s maybe the reason why. But I’ve done a lot of moderating since about 10 years ago. Tony Jacobs GDPUK forum. So I’ve been involved in that for quite a while actually and I think generally people behave okay on the forums. There’s not that much stuff that needs moderated. You might get a notification that pops up that somebody’s offended by a post or there’s something that’s inappropriate, somebody that’s self-promoting their own causes a bit too much, or whitening is being promoted and unfair to other companies, et cetera. And we tend to deal with those and then move on really. It doesn’t take a lot of time. I’m not really one for sitting on Facebook, scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, scrolling through the threads. I’ll go on, have a quick look, see if anything’s been flagged up on the forums, and then off.

Prav: Do you think that being a woman in dentistry is more difficult, being a mom?

Vikki Holden: No, I don’t think it does actually. I think dentistry is quite a good career choice if you want, because I think the main reason is that you get the option to work normal hours. It is a very nine to five job, and then you might be doing a bit of admin or treatment planning or courses outside of working hours. It’s not as difficult as say, if you were a barrister or something and you’ve got long hours in London or in court, or a doctor where you’re having to work shift patterns. I think those things could be really difficult. But I think dentistry, it does lend itself quite well actually to being a working mom, as long as you can get the childcare issues sorted out around school.

Vikki Holden: And obviously we’re quite lucky in the situation that we can pay to put our kids into a school that helps with that. That might be a bit of a challenge for some people, I’m sure. And there’s been times actually in the past where before I moved the children to that school and they were in the village school, because we didn’t have any childcare, I was literally having to condense my working days into nine till half past two so that I’d be the one that was having to pick them up. And that was where I just thought this is just ridiculous that I’m having to do this. My own staff managed to arrange the childcare, I’m struggling with it, but it’s just living in a little village out in the middle of nowhere. There’s not an awful lot of childcare around really.

Payman: This question of women in dentistry is coming up quite a lot recently. I’ve noticed when it comes up, you’re vocal on the opposite side of the argument, saying, look, I’ve never had any problems as a woman. What you just said, that you think that it’s a good career for women and all that. And why do you think it’s a thing that’s coming up now and where do you think there are the disparities? And certainly I can say myself there aren’t enough women lecturers. But do you think the way to handle that is to positively discriminate or are you one of those who says that’s definitely a no-no?

Vikki Holden: Do you know, I think this topic, it’s…

Prav: Hard.

Vikki Holden: It’s so complex. And I don’t profess to know enough about things, really, to maybe give the right view on this. But from my point of view, I want to be able to be in a position to see my kids grow up. I don’t want to give over my whole life to some of the things that happen in dentistry. I know you’re probably referring to the topic conversations to why are there no females on the executive board of the BAPD. That is something I know that they tried very hard, actually, to positively engage women into those roles, and I was asked. I just said, look, no, I haven’t got the time for this. I didn’t want to do it purely from putting the brakes on how many things I’ve got going on in my life. There has to be a line drawn somewhere. It’s the amount of time that you give up, and these things can be quite time consuming.

Vikki Holden: I personally have never felt discriminated against as a women. I’ve felt as though I’ve been able to everything that I wanted to do in terms of my career, but I do think women are underrepresented in a lot of ways in dentistry. And that’s the question, I think, that needs to be asked, is why aren’t more women putting themselves forward rather than looking at it from the point of view saying, well, these men, they’re pushy, they just take over all these roles. I don’t think that is the case. I think a lot of men do want women to be more engaged and we need to have a look at the reasons why they can’t.

Vikki Holden: And it might be, that same as me, just go, no, I don’t want to spend my whole evening working on committees or preparing lectures. It’s a lot of work that has to go into preparing lectures. I want to be able to work hard. I enjoy being a dentist. I really do enjoy the day job. So I’m not necessarily looking for ways to cut down my clinical time to be able to maybe do more lecturing. I’m pretty happy with the setup that I’ve got, and it might be that that’s the case for a lot of women, maybe feel the same. I don’t know. It’s something that we don’t really talk about very much and it often seems to descend into an argument, whereas there needs to be a bit more of constructive discussion about it.

Payman: I’d agree with that. I’d agree with that.

Prav: I do totally agree with what you say, and I think looking at the whole women in dentistry, and I guess we’ve all got to be careful about what we say, but I’ll just speak my mind anyway, ultimately I’ve never seen discrimination against females. You’ve organised some events, Payman, and you’ve asked lots of female lecturers to come on board and a lot of people said no. And you’ve had some female lecturers as well. And similar to what you just said about the BAPD, it’s not because they’ve not actively gone out there and asked women.

Payman: That’s not the case for me, Prav, actually. In the [inaudible 00:12:33], I approach more men than women. I did. I wasn’t onto this idea, to tell you the truth. I wasn’t. It’s not like I thought about it and decided not to ask women. I thought I want the best people, who are the best people. Started thinking who do I know and all of that, and organically went for the best people. And then it was pointed out to me later, by I think Bertie, someone like that, who said, look, you had nine speakers and eight of them were men. And I don’t know what the actual answer. It’s not that I asked lots of women and they said no. But I feel like there wasn’t the availability of high profile women to ask. That was the feeling I had.

Prav: Let’s say you look in the composite field of implant dentistry or whatever it is that you want somebody to lecture on, who have you got to select from?

Payman: Not from women [inaudible] composites. You know about implants, Vikki?

Vikki Holden: Yeah, I do, and there’s a number of women actually who I think I would love to see do lectures. Anna McDonagh, she would be somebody who’d be great. She did a lot of implant surgical work. Maria Hardman, who is very close to us in Oxford, massive implant dentist. Maybe people don’t think about it enough to maybe do a bit of research. I was having a chat with my husband about these sorts of issues actually over the weekend, and quality and diversity. All this row erupted on the Facebook group about the lack of women in the executive [inaudible 00:14:20]. And he said, these days it’s not just enough that people say, for example, I’m not racist. Nowadays we have to be anti-racist. We have to actually go out of our way, all of us, to stamp it out. And it’s maybe the same with the whole equality thing with women in dentistry. It’s not the same necessarily as positive discrimination, but it’s saying, look, we’ve got a board here, we’re actually just going to make it equal. So it’s going to be 50-50 and we won’t fill those seats until we’ve got enough women come forward to do it. And maybe that’s the same way that we need to be. I don’t know.

Vikki Holden: I don’t know that I know enough about the topic enough. It’s something that maybe I need to… you know, I think I probably will read some books on it and try and learn a bit more and.

Payman: In that particular debate that we were talking about, there wasn’t any technicians on that committee, there weren’t any nurses. And BAPD were saying we represent all these people. There probably weren’t any associates for all I know. It was rapidly put together. But I don’t think it was… I think you’re right, Vikki, that you can’t say that this is not a valid argument because if enough people are feeling it, I guess that turns it into a valid argument. The question is it lots of people, is it a few, minority, vocal minority? And does positive discrimination help women or not?

Vikki Holden: Pass. I don’t…

Payman: Such a difficult question.

Vikki Holden: It is. It’s all very complicated and lots of strings to it I think that…

Payman: Let’s move on.

Vikki Holden: find an easier topic.

Payman: So tell us about when you started looking at law and doing the law degree and all that. What made you start doing that?

Vikki Holden: So when I was thinking about what A levels I was going to do actually, I nearly chose law rather than dentistry. So I was quite interested in law anyway, but I decided to go down the dentistry route instead. I think I decided that I’d be better of doing something that was more science based than something that was more practical. I used to play a lot of instruments when I was younger, so quite liked the idea of doing something that involved that dexterity. But I promised myself that I would probably come back to law at a later date. And I did find that soon after qualifying I was quite interested in the dentolegal side of things. So I had in my head that I would at some point do an LLM. I had to wait until the time was right, I guess, which seemed to be after I had my second baby. So I’m not sure that the timing of that was that brilliant. But I did quite an interesting course actually. There’s quite a few LLMs out there and they’re not all the same. Some of them when I looked at the syllabus seemed to be more to do with medical legal law and those medical legal questions like the rights of the unborn foetus, end of life things, it’s quite topical. Should people have the ability to choose when they’re going to choose to die, et cetera.

Vikki Holden: That wasn’t really, as interesting as it is and important as it is, that wasn’t really what interested me. So the course I ended up doing was very much focused on topics that were quite useful to dentistry. So consent, confidentiality, clinical negligence, et cetera. And it was mainly a distance learning programme as well, which was quite helpful when you’ve got two young children. So I’d spend a lot of the evening reading up on that and had to do quite a few assignments. And it took me two or three years to do that. In the meantime I was also doing quite a bit of expert witness work as well, which was quite interesting, although I don’t do any expert witness work these days. But that was how I got round to it really. It was just one of those things that I had on my long term personal development plan.

Payman: Are you the person on Taylor Defence that’s get the call from a dentist who’s had a compliant or a GDC? Is that you?

Vikki Holden: Yeah, well there are a few advisors. The rest of them are all based up in Scotland. So there’s only me who is actually really down on my own down here. Really, all the calls and complaints will go into a central email system. So they can do a conflict check and see who will be the best person to deal with it. And then some of those complaints will obviously come out for me to deal with. Most of what I do now is helping people deal with complaints at a local resolution stage. If something is a litigation claim or a GDC claim, then typically would be instructed to deal with that, as you would with any organisation really. And then I will still assist those clients and offer support. But I’m there on the end of the phone or emails. A lot of the time just dealing with general queries and complaints.

Payman: Do you often find when people speak to you, or dentists when they’ve had a complaint, that you know what the outcome’s going to be with your experience. I’ve, as a non-legal entity, acted as almost a shoulder to lean on for a lot of my clients who just want to speak about a letter that’s arrived through the post. And what my experience as a previous dentist who’s had similar issues, and the advice is obviously don’t lose too much sleep over it, even though you can’t prevent that. And my experience of what other dentists have been through and what advice they’ve given. Do you often have an idea when someone comes through, something comes through, that the way they’re rationalising it in their mind in terms of how bad it really is in comparison to how bad it really is?

Vikki Holden: Yeah, there can be sometimes a bit of a tendency for people to catastrophize with complaints. So it is often it’s quite obvious when you’ve dealt with a lot of complaints the right ways to resolve it. And it’s not always the case that the patient wants their money back. Sometimes they just want to be given the chance to have remedial treatment, sometimes [inaudible] things being damaged [inaudible 00:20:28]. It’s about sorting out what’s the fair thing to do for both parties, really. And a lot of dentists, they do take your advice on what is going to be the best way out of it, but the majority of what we deal with is just local resolution really, and it can be dealt with at a local level. Not everything needs to escalate, and if you’ve got good complaint systems in place in your practise then most things you can handle without it needing to escalate to the GDC or to litigation.

Prav: I had a conversation with a client even just a couple of days ago late last week, and it revolved around this patient getting a 1,000 quid back. And that particular dentist said to me, well, it’s not fair. There’s nothing wrong with the crown. I don’t believe they should get it, blah, blah, blah. And my advice was listen, just give them the 1,000 quid and forget about it, because if this does escalate, the problems it’ll cause, you’ll have wished you paid that 10 times over. And there’s often this argument that they feel it’s just not fair, but doing the easiest thing is just to give them the 1,000 quid and just forget about it. What’s your thought on that?

Vikki Holden: Well, I don’t know necessarily that all patients are just looking for money back actually. It’s quite interesting. I did some research for a webinar that I did over the lockdown period on complaints. But if you go on the parliamentary [inaudible 00:22:00], so they deal with NHS complaints that haven’t been resolved locally, their research showed that actually most of the complaints that they received were people who didn’t want other people to have the same experience in terms of service. It was not to do with money. And there’s another organisation, ADMA, which is accidents or medical accidents, basically things that shouldn’t have happened. They’re a charity, and they were saying that their research showed that most people litigate because they want an answer as to what happened. Sometimes people just need to have an explanation as to why things have gone wrong because they haven’t understood necessarily what has gone on in the surgery. Sometimes just writing a check and saying, well, have your money back doesn’t always resolve the complaint for the patient because they still don’t really understand why what happened happened.

Payman: Vikki, would you characterise… I remember when I was [inaudible 00:22:56], if there’s something which to go to the GDC or whatever, it was what we would call an obvious situation had happened. Whether it was a fraudulent thing or whether it was an actual clinical mistake or something like that. Whereas nowadays it feels like everyone’s getting problems because of, I don’t know, [inaudible] or whatever. But when you get the calls coming in, how do they break down in terms of the percentages? What percentage are just on dentist issues, what percentage are dentist [inaudible] patient issues, and then what percentage are what we would call actual problems, and what percentage are the ones that we’re also worried about that I know they’re actual problems?

Vikki Holden: So I think the majority of the complaints that we get [and are 00:23:44] patients complaining for one reason or another about treatment that they’ve received. And I’d say the majority of that seems to be, I’d say maybe NHS treatment. That’s just you don’t get as much about private dentistry, but that might just be because we have got more clients who are NHS dentists than private dentists. I don’t think we audit that data yet. Sometimes the patient will come in with a complaint saying, I’ve been to a new dentist and this new dentist suggested this crown isn’t good enough, et cetera. But you haven’t got all the dentist notes to know whether that is the case or whether that’s just how the patient has interpreted the conversation that they’ve had. We did go through a spate where we seemed to get quite a few GDC complaints that were against clients that were anonymous. Not a lot. I’m talking about maybe a dozen or so where there seemed to be an undertone of the complaint had been drafted by another dentist, maybe, who’d left the practise or a disgruntled employee. And those complaints were often made anonymously, so the dentist probably has an idea who it was, but doesn’t necessarily know for sure who it was. And it’s not as many as you might think.

Vikki Holden: And hopefully since the article in the BDJ highlighting the issue with blue on blue complaints, and I’d submitted a [inaudible] request a while ago, actually, to get updated from the GDC to find out how many complaints were made in retaliation by dentists. It’s not loads, and hopefully those numbers will improve now that it’s been aired in public and people [have got 00:25:23] a bit of telling off by the BDJ article about using the GDC as a weapon for airing complaints.

Payman: What about treatment modalities? Which are the treatments that are getting the most attention [inaudible 00:25:33]?

Vikki Holden: I’d say it’s often pain related complaints is probably the big one. So patients who’ve had deep fillings put in and the tooth needed re-treatment or it’s not settled after it’s had a crown put on it, that sort of thing. That’s often a common complaint with patients.

Payman: [They’re] not also [inaudible 00:25:59]?

Vikki Holden: No, not really. I’d say I’ve worked for Taylor Defence Services for, it’ll be coming up to five years I think in February, and we haven’t had a lot of claims that have come in for litigation. The [inaudible 00:26:21].

Prav: A lot of what I hear, and it’s maybe just the practises I work with, tend to be revolving around the cosmetic outcomes and just dissatisfaction around that. Do you see much of that at all?

Vikki Holden: Bonding is one of the things that I’d say we get not a lot of complaints about, but that could be something that patients complain about. Patient expectations, I think, are getting higher, definitely. And these treatments, injection moulded composites, veneers, composite or edge bonding, actually can be quite tricky to do well. And one of the things that sometimes you see with snapshots of the treatment we see on Instagram is that a lot of the dentists who do this amazing work, they make it look really easy because they’re so good at it. And that can be something I think that actually needs quite a lot of training and a lot of practise to be able to do those treatments really, really well.

Vikki Holden: Sorry, somebody’s responding to that question.

Prav: I think you mentioned something about fixed braces or I think, [inaudible 00:27:32], you not wanting to do fixed ortho again. Is that related to this or is it something completely separate?

Vikki Holden: No, just from my own clinical preferences. So the past few years I’ve tried to generally learn a bit about everything through my career. So I learned how to implant. Spent a fortune on implant courses actually and I don’t do even like the number of implants that I should do. I did the FGDP diploma in implant dentistry, which was quite a feat because I had to do all these cases with block grafting in, which I did, and then I just never wanted to do anything that complicated since. So I’m very much just limit the implants that I do to very simple cases. Over the last five, six years, I’ve learned how to do Invisalign treatments, and that’s been quite good. And at some point [longer] on I thought do you know, probably should have a look at fixed braces because I keep hearing about Invisalign’s great but sometimes you just need to put the patient into fixed braces at the end, whatever. That’s not been my experience of it at all actually. And so fixed braces have been the, particularly through lockdown, just thought, God, I’ve got these patients, I can’t see them, I don’t know what’s going on, they’re complaining they’ve got brackets that have fallen off or the elastics are breaking down. So fixed braces, certainly for me, not for me. [crosstalk 00:28:57].

Prav: Is that just because of your lockdown experience or just in terms of you getting better results with removable appliances?

Vikki Holden: I think the way that we’re heading, particularly our practise as well, is very much down a digital workflow. We’ve got two [ICO] scanners that we’ve got in use all the time, and I just like the ability to be able to do the digital planning. And that for me, I think with fixed braces sort of thing, I’m just not sure how that you can visualise that end result in quite the same way as you can with the Invisalign planning or digital planning where you can do it all pre-planned. I just like that. I like that certainty that you get in being able to see what your outcome is that you’re working to before you’ve done anything. I guess it’s like having a [wax] [inaudible 00:29:45], isn’t it, beforehand. Because you can see [inaudible] dimensions, I just find it a bit easier to visualise.

Prav: So you talked about obviously going digital with your practise and stuff. Have you embraced any other changes during lockdown like video consultations or using remote monitoring? I think there’s-

Vikki Holden: I’m looking at remote monitoring. I’ve not got it set up yet, but that’s definitely something to look at. The other thing that we’ve done is we’ve pretty much gone paper free. So looking at ways that we could reduce touchpoints in the [surgery 00:30:19]. I guess like many practises are, waiting rooms are out of action at the moment, but when you start to look at some of the systems that you have in place, some of them are actually quite inefficient and quite expensive, probably, to run in terms of the amount of manpower that you need. So for example, patients arrive at the practise and give them a printed off medical history form and they sit in the waiting room and they fill it out and they hand it back to the receptionist and then somebody loads it onto the computer and gets scanned it and it gets shredded. Look at all the steps that are involved in that.

Vikki Holden: One of the things that we did initially was we made all the forms into digital forms so that people could fill them out using some sort of Adobe Acrobat. But we had problems with that as well, because a lot of our patients were saying, well, actually I can’t save this document and send it back and they were coming back blank and patients complaining they had four different forms to fill out for new medical history and photo form and COVID screening form, et cetera. So one of the things that we did was we just made a load of Google forms and the patients get sent a link, they fill out the form, we save their answers to it, download it, import it into the dental software, and it’s been really good actually. So that’s one of the things that we’ll definitely keep in place.

Vikki Holden: We’re just constantly, at the moment, looking for ways in which we can make things more efficient. We’ve lost two members of the staff naturally, which is good because it means that we’re not in a situation [wherein] potentially we overstaff. So that’s been quite nice that we’ve been able to plan the workforce around a team that’s naturally reduced in size, but obviously that means that we have lost two bodies that would have been able to do some of those jobs. So we’re just looking at a lot of ways that we can speed things up now because now we’ve got five surgeries running today. That’s the most that we’ve had since lockdown. So it’ll be interesting to see how that works with getting patients in and out of the building without them bumping into each other and have we got all the paperwork that we need sorted out beforehand, and taking more payments remotely, that kind of thing.

Payman: How do you manage with partners? Which role do you play? How many partners? Say that again.

Vikki Holden: So there’s four partners at the practise. We did have six initially, but just [with] retirement and people moving on, we’re down to four. I tend to look after most of the compliance side of things, which just seems to be actually where they would have me. And I don’t know, again, we’re coming back to this equality issue, because I’m the only female partner, I seem to be the person that a lot of the staff would naturally gravitate to if they’ve got an issue that needs resolving. And I’m probably just about a little bit more than everybody else [inaudible] practise. So I tend to maybe oversee most of the HR side of things.

Payman: Hiring and firing bit?

Vikki Holden: Well, I’m fortunate not to do much firing, but hiring, we delegate that to the practise manager. She’s much better at interviewing and recruiting, I’d say, than the partners have been in the past. So that’s one thing we don’t do, but looking at maybe the legal aspects if the employment contracts need updating or associate contracts need reviewing, then I would have a look at those sorts of things. We outsource quite a few bits. Like employment law we use FTA Law. So Sarah Buxton’s company. They look after our employment side of things, and that’s something that’s really worthwhile having in place actually.

Payman: What’s the decision-making structure? Is one of you responsible for marketing and you leave it up to him, or do you guys pass all these decisions through each other?

Vikki Holden: Well, in terms of how the practise runs, so two of the partners are actually specialists. So one’s an orthodontist and one’s an endodontist and they have quite solid referral basis, whereas myself and the other partner, Nick, are more general practise dentists. So really, in terms of those decisions with marketing, I’d say mainly it’s down to me and Nick to decide what we do, and that makes it quite easy because it’s just the two of us need to have a conversation with the practise manager. We do a bit of Facebook marketing. We don’t really do any Google marketing. But we just have a look at what sort of things we want to do. It’s mainly Invisalign or implants. Prior to lockdown, we were having Facebook marketing done with Derek. You know Derek?

Payman: Yeah.

Vikki Holden: So Derek was, imagine that, we’re just about to get that all up and running again. We tend to be a little bit conservative, I suppose, on marketing things that we can’t measure. So adverts in the paper, that kind of thing, we don’t really get involved in that sort of thing these days. But it’s quite easy in a way to make decisions like that because it’s just two of you, you have a conversation, go, do you think that’s a good idea, and they’ll go, yes or no, and then you move on. So I think the days of sitting around, having long meeting where everything has to be agreed by six people is gone because that can be a bit [inaudible] obviously to get everyone to agree to the same thing at the same time.

Payman: How do you, and obviously you don’t have to answer this question, but how do you figure out the financial split when you’ve got four partners? Just on a higher level, the dentistry you’re doing, the dentistry a specialist is doing, what goes into the central [partners] of business? Let’s say you buy a couple of iTero machines, how does that fit into the mix if, let’s say, a specialist isn’t using it? There must be a lot of complicated conversations when you’ve got numerous people in a partnership. Just curious to learn how that all mixes up.

Vikki Holden: So a lot of those systems, I’ve been here for 13 years, and the practise has always been, when it’s very busy financially, but it’s always been quite well structured financially because I think a lot of those difficult conversations about how things were split were done before I came. And over time, whenever we refine those systems or review some of them, but it’s quite simple actually, and we break it down. Each fee earner who’s a partner, we have our own [inaudible] big [inaudible] management accounts, and our income is our own. So the dentist software allows [to say 00:36:40] if I’ve done a crown, seen a patient for an exam, that payment is allocated to me. So my income is mine. And that’s the same for the other dentists. Where we’ve got associates that we share, that gets split out between those vendors who are looking after that associate.

Vikki Holden: In terms of the expenses, again, it’s quite simple. We either have expenses that we split equally because you need that thing whether you are there one day a week or five days a week, for example, CQC registration. If there was only one partner at the practise, they’d be paying that on their own, so we split that equally. And some things we split on what we call a sessional basis. So we work out how many, say my surgery is available for me 10 sessions a week, so I would pay the portion of those expenses that vary based on how much you’re here, like gloves, for example, local anaesthetics, cotton wool rolls, those things [inaudible] on a sessional basis. And it’s quite simple. We get the invoices in, we look at materials. Well, that went to that surgery, so it just gets all split out. We employ a full-time administrator to do the finances at the practise, as well as a practise manager. When we’re fully operational, we’ve got eight dentists working here, two hygienists, so I think you need that level. So it is recorded in quite a big level of detail, really, but overall it should be pretty fair.

Payman: What’s positioning of the practise? Are you [guys] the most expensive practise in town?

Vikki Holden: Do you know, I don’t know because I don’t really look too much at what other practises are charging. We’re in the same town as the [inaudible 00:38:23]. I’d say we’re probably not as expensive as they might be for things like implants or other specialist work that’s going on. We are a fully private practise. The practise has been going for over a 100 years, I think, but I we don’t set ourselves out necessarily to have a… we’re going to position ourselves as most expensive one, you’ve got to be very wealthy to come here. My upbringing and my view on life is that we should be inclusive of everybody, so I would probably be trying to position the fees to make it affordable for everybody actually.

Payman: Everybody except NHS patients, is that you mean?

Vikki Holden: Well, we don’t have an NHS contract. Actually, you say that, but yesterday I had a patient come in for a consultation because she wanted to find out about Invisalign and she wanted to find out about having an implant replacement but she didn’t want to come here as a general practise patient. And we’ve also, since we’ve reopened after lockdown, we have made quite [inaudible 00:39:20], saying, we are here, we can offer emergency care to everybody. And we’ve had quite a lot of patients who’ve come in just to have something sorted out because their own dentist either hasn’t been ready to do it or couldn’t see them quickly enough or wasn’t able to AGPs at the time. So I try and be inclusive of everybody.

Payman: And then, as somebody who’s involved in a partnership, are you all quite aligned in terms of what the end goal is or where you want to go, what direction you want to go, and whether it’s an exit, a planned exit in X number of years time? Are you all at different stages in your life and how does that all play out?

Vikki Holden: Yeah, so I think I don’t know. That probably is a conversation, at the moment, that we need to have actually, because I am the youngest of all the partners. One of the partners, Nick and I were about to buy him out actually at the start of lockdown, and that’s been thrown up into the air because nobody knows what’s going to happen there. So we were going to go down to three partners. Exit strategy, I don’t know. I’m 44 and I’ve always said I just don’t really fancy working for corporate. I just don’t think I’d be very good at being an associate actually. I don’t know whether the associates here would want to buy the practise. Nick is actually 10 years older than me, and I think he is still fairly young, but equally, I don’t know if he wants to keep going after 10 years time when he’ll be 64. Does he still want to be at the practise seeing patients? I don’t know. I’ll need to see. And I think with a partnership this big, where it probably gets difficult is as you reduce down partners, then the amount of money that you need to borrow to buy people out is getting quite significant. And then I’ll be getting on for 50 maybe when the next one’s wanting to retire.

Vikki Holden: So I don’t know is the answer. But I just feel as though this practise has been an independent practise for over a 100 years, and I just don’t know that I necessarily want to be the one that would hand it over to one of the corporates.

Payman: Corporate. And do you have some kind of rules in terms of deciding who gets to buy [it 00:41:32]? So let’s imagine you’ve got three, four partners, whatever it is, and then one of the partners wants out and goes, do you know what, I’ve found a buyer. I’m assuming you guys have got first refusal, right?

Vikki Holden: Yeah, so that would be something that if you’re going to be in a partnership you need to have a well-drafted partnership agreement. And we have had those agreements written and they do need to be reviewed every so often as well. So I think the clause would be that the sale of the business would be to the people who are within it, and if they didn’t want to exercise that right, then it should be free to go on the open market, really. I don’t know [crosstalk 00:42:08].

Payman: So just that partner share?

Vikki Holden: Yeah.

Payman: Interesting.

Vikki Holden: They’re a bit old fashioned, I think, aren’t they now, these partnership agreements or partnership rules. When I bought in 13, 14 years ago now, and I’d not worked for [them 00:42:25], I didn’t know any of the people who were buying in, really it was a bit of a risk at the time because they can be a little bit quite difficult to get out of if you decide that you didn’t want to be in the partnership anymore. Finding a buyer in the open market or getting everybody else to buy you out might be quite tricky. So I’d say it is a bit of a risk, I suppose, going into partnership, but we seem to be doing all right with the ones that we’ve got left.

Payman: So what would you say has been your darkest day from a professional perspective?

Vikki Holden: I think probably I would say that was… When I had children, I’d say that was a pretty stressful time actually, when they were actually born because [particularly] with my first child, I had him at 28 weeks. And I had these plans, I was having a baby and I had no NHS contract so I didn’t have any maternity pay at all. And I had this plan that I had an associate, he was going to come and look after my patients through November when the baby was going to be born and I was going to go off for maternity leave. And actually I went into labour suddenly one day after being in the clinic one day, and ended up the next morning I had a baby and the baby was in hospital.

Vikki Holden: And it was just massively stressful at the time because I felt like the rug had been pulled from under my feet a little bit. I had patients who were still midway through treatment. I didn’t know whether I was going to be able to finish them off or not. [inaudible] having to [trek] back and forth to the practise and financially it was really, really stressful. And I’d say that was probably the darkest day that I had, or darkest days, because it was all very uncertain. I just didn’t know if the baby was going to be all right. Just very difficult because ended up being signed off from work actually for three months, which was great in a way, because the insurance paid out then, but without that being in place, I literally went from earning normal income and I planned to wind down, and that didn’t happen. I had all these bills.

Vikki Holden: and I say that experience probably put me in a better frame of mind for when we suddenly had the Coronavirus and everybody had to stop working actually, because you could see when you looked on the Facebook forums, all this fear and anxiety over money. And I never really felt that at the time in March because I just thought, do you know what, these things sort themselves out. They work out and it was a great learning experience actually, that whole thing. These experiences that you can draw on, I suppose, from the past, where you think, that was awful. Wen I look back on it, it was the most stressful time of my life, and I suppose what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Payman: That little cliché is true.

Vikki Holden: It is a massive cliché, but it is true.

Prav: When you were just speaking about the experience you went through then, getting the rug pulled under and all the rest of it, the first thing that came into my mind before you went into was Coronavirus and how that just took everything. There was no plans, there was no nothing. There was uncertainty and all the rest of it. And obviously you’ve coped with it in a really easy way. What would you say have been the biggest highlights for you, the biggest wins that have come out of this time period?

Vikki Holden: So one big win, obviously, was getting to have all this time with the kids. I’d say it was the longest spell I’d really had off where I wasn’t doing any dentistry. And getting to spend that time with the kids was great, because when I had my kids they were in hospital for most of the time when I was, in theory, on maternity leave. So I didn’t have that nice maternity period at home with a baby.

Vikki Holden: The other big win is having time to just do a lot of life admin. We managed to do so much sorting out of things that we’ve never really had the chance to do at the practise. Getting things sorted out onto spreadsheets and making things efficient, but also at home as well. It’s been great. It has just given us back a few hours each day that we haven’t had.

Prav: And do you feel like you want to go… For me, at the moment, work has just picked up at an astronomical rate. So it went from zero work, panic, stress. So I did have the panic, I had the stress, I had the tears. And then, life became incredibly good. It was almost like getting a snippet of what retirement would be like in the future. And spending loads of great times with the kids, with the family, having those long lie ins in the morning. It’s like what the [fuck 00:47:08]. I’d say in bed-

Vikki Holden: [crosstalk 00:47:10].

Prav: … till half past six in the morning or something like that. And then-

Payman: He sent me a message today at 4:40. 4:40.

Vikki Holden: Oh, [inaudible 00:47:21].

Prav: … I had to get a shift in before the podcasts. So all of that came great, and now my world has imploded and work has gone crazy and it’s almost like I want to steal back that old life, do you know what I mean, and try and get it back. I think what I’m trying to do is design my life so I can lean more towards what the start of lockdown was, rather than reverting back to the old ways.

Payman: [crosstalk] it’s easier for me and you because we literally can work from home. Prav’s told his team he’s not going back till January to the office. And you probably won’t even fully go back at that point.

Prav: It’ll be hybrid.

Payman: Something that’s changed for me, Prav, [inaudible 00:48:06], my marketing manager said, [I want to 00:48:08] do a course, an online course. And it’s every Tuesday at 4:30. So once we go back to the office, every Tuesday at 4:30 to 5:30 I’m not going to be available. Would that be okay? And under normal circumstances before lockdown, we would have said, we’ll try and work it out or whatever. Really? We’ll try and work it out for her to do her course. Now, I said, well, if we ever go back, why don’t you just take the Tuesday afternoons as working from home? Amazing. To give someone an afternoon working from home before would have been a major decision.

Vikki Holden: I think everybody’s realised, haven’t they, that there’s a lot of things that people can do as productively from home-

Payman: More productively.

Vikki Holden: … as they can in the office.

Prav: More productively. I had the same conversation with my team, and Payman, what you’re saying there, we were on a Zoom call the other day and I said to them all, I said, in no uncertain terms, had all of you come to me and said, listen, we want to do half the week from home, I’d have told you which bus to get off. Not in a million years. But now, we’re all having the discussion of what does 2021 look like, and I see it as a hybrid structure where we have a couple of core days in the office, and then people can choose to do what they want. They can either come in and do a five day week in the office, they can do two days in the office, three days from home. And no hard and fast rules for any one individual, but just having the structure there so everyone can just deliver their best. And as long as the stuff gets done, I don’t really care.

Prav: There is no way my mindset would have been in that frame of mind pre COVID. And even that’s a blessing for everyone because everyone’s happier at the moment.

Vikki Holden: My brother works for Google and they’re quite a progressive employer anyway. They [crosstalk] where 20% of the employee’s time can be spent on developing their own projects anyway. And I think they’re still doing it for Google, because out of that have come a lot of things that they’ve developed. But he’s been told they’ll be able to work from home till mid 2021.

Prav: Wow.

Vikki Holden: That’s how [crosstalk 00:50:27].

Payman: Vikki, you talked about your upbringing, saying that because of your upbringing you want your practise to be accessible and inclusive. What do you mean? Tell us about that, your upbringing? Where did you grow up? What kind of family was it? When did you decide to become a dentist?

Vikki Holden: So I grew up in a really tiny village in Northumberland, which nobody will have ever heard of, called Ovington. It’s quite close to a [inaudible] called Hexham, which see, people know that because the racecourse if they’re into horse racing. So it’s not up near Scotland, it’s not in the middle of nowhere, but quite far down in the south of Northumberland. But it was really nice, the old country village, not much to do. Was two pubs in the village and a post office. Very, very rural area. My parents were both teachers. My mom was a deputy head of a primary school in the village, and my dad taught in a bit of a bigger school that was on the outskirts of Newcastle. And they always said to me, be whatever you want when you grow up. We’ve got no expectations as to what you have to do, but don’t be a teacher. So I always knew that I was never going to be a teacher because I see how hard teachers work. It was a really difficult and demanding job, and they were in that era where they started to bring in lead tables and a formal curriculum, et cetera, and that sort of thing.

Vikki Holden: I also had another big influence in my life, which was my aunt. And she was a dentist. And from being quite young, she would say to me, you’re going to come work for me when you’re older. And I think when I was about seven or eight, I thought, I’ll go and work as a receptionist for Auntie June, which probably wasn’t what she meant. She meant come and be a dentist. So when I was going through school and I seemed to have this affinity for science based subjects, I was interested in science, I was interested in medicine, but I always used to do a lot of sport. I was quite a sporty child. And I played three musical instruments, as well, at school. So I did a lot with my hands, and it just, like I say, went down this route thinking well, what am I going to do?

Vikki Holden: If I didn’t have that dental influence, I’d probably dare say I would have gone down the medicine route. It would have been medicine or law. But I think because at the time, a lot of the people I was at dental school with, they seemed to have some link with dentistry. I’m in that age group where it wasn’t necessarily a really popular choice of degree to do. The grades that I needed to get, they weren’t very high. I had quite a few [inaudible] offers, actually, to get into university, because there just wasn’t that level of competition, I don’t think. But that was why I…

Payman: Where did you study? Where did you study?

Vikki Holden: Sheffield.

Payman: How was that? What did that feel like going from rural Northumberland to the big spoke?

Vikki Holden: I know. I applied to universities that were in the north of England. The obvious one would have been to go to Newcastle, but Newcastle [would have been 00:53:27] about [15] minutes drive from home, so I thought I need to be a bit further away than that. I don’t know why I didn’t really… I didn’t fancy Leeds. I can’t remember why particularly. I went for an interview in Liverpool, but it was just the worst weather I’ve ever experienced. Walking back to the train station, I got literally soaked to the bone walking down from [inaudible] to [Broad Street 00:53:50] station. So I didn’t fancy going there either. And there was this train that took five hours to get home, so that would be a nightmare.

Vikki Holden: So Sheffield, it was two and a half hours drive away. It was a good distance, I suppose, from my parents. It was nice, it was a small dental school with quite a small year group, I think, that came out of there. They didn’t have a lot of students. It was a new dentist school as well when we went. I think we were one of the first years to go through the new dental hospital. And it was nice, it was a nice time. I didn’t want to stay in Sheffield after I finished. I moved back home. It was too obvious to not go back and work at my aunt’s practise after all the influence that I’d had from her.

Payman: You did that, did you?

Vikki Holden: I did, yeah. I did my [inaudible] back in the Northeast, and I worked at my aunt’s practise for four years or so. I liked working there, but I didn’t really like doing NHS dentistry, I think. I found that hard, and I found it was the old contract. And I found the fee pricing system, which was what it was at the time, we used to say it was [the real old 00:54:59] treadmill [this 00:55:00]. And I could see how it was a bit of tread mill and I just felt like I wanted to learn how to do implants and I wanted to learn how to do cosmetic dentistry. And a lot of those things, I just at the time, didn’t think I would necessarily maybe be able to do. I think that’s all changed now because I think there’s such a market for those things everywhere. So I headed off to the South and I learned how to do implants and learned how to do cosmetic dentistry.

Payman: So how did you end up being a Southerner then?

Vikki Holden: [Ended up being 00:55:31] a Southerner. Wow. I moved down. I got a job in the South, and when I landed down here I started to think, well, I’d quite like to buy a practise and I’d like to have my own practise. And actually, this is quite interesting, because one of the things that I did do about this time when I was moving to the South is I got in my head. I didn’t want to work as an NHS dentist, I wanted to develop all these other skills. So I ended up thinking I need to have some sort of coaching or counselling to help me decide what I want to do with this career actually.

Vikki Holden: And as I looked into it, one of the first post graduate courses that I ever did actually was a diploma in life coaching. So I am technically a qualified life coach, although I’ve never really done any coaching. But it was brilliant, that course, actually because part of it, it was you had to really coach yourself through to get the qualification. You had to go through a lot of coaching yourself, and it really did open my eyes to a lot of things. And it was a really good exercise in personal development actually. And it really sparked an interest that has followed me through. I don’t read a lot of books on fiction, I read a lot of books on productivity and self-awareness and personal development books. That’s really my thing. I’ll listen to podcasts on those things when I go out walking with the dogs.

Payman: Vikki, what would you say are a couple of books that have changed your life, changed your direction?

Vikki Holden: The Seven Habits book, I’d say. That was probably the best book I’ve ever read, and I still refer to it now. Those habits, those values, I think are the ones that I would definitely say I try and live my life by and get quite frustrated when I come across people in situations who don’t really live to those [ones 00:57:24]. That’s one. Second book, I don’t know.

Payman: What about podcasts? Which podcasts do you listen?

Vikki Holden: Well, I like your podcast. [crosstalk 00:57:34]. I really like [inaudible 00:57:35]. So the podcasts I like, actually the ones I’ve been listening to most of the summer, I love listening to your Podcast. It’s been brilliant for getting to know people who you feel as though you know them because you see them on social media or they do courses or whatever, but you don’t really know these people because you’ve never met them personally. I’ve never met you guys face-to-face. It’s been really good, actually, these chats that you’ve had with people, getting to know them and seeing what was their upbringing like and how did they end up in dentistry. That’s a good one. And I also like listening to Brad’s podcast. Have you listened to Brad’s podcast?

Payman: Yeah.

Vikki Holden: Business type of podcast. I quite like listening to that one.

Payman: Do you listen to anything outside of industry?

Vikki Holden: Yeah, I do, but I’d have to get on my phone, have a look, because I probably just [inaudible 00:58:22]. I’ll see these things, don’t know [if it’d be 00:58:24] a really good… Tim Ferriss, he’s another one. I quite like listening to that podcast.

Payman: So Vikki, you’ve got lots of different hats. You’re a mom, you’re an owner, you’ve got the dentolegal side. You’ve got the Facebook moderator, headmistress role. Which of these are the ones that you like that most? Is clinical dentistry your passion? It sounds like you’re up for volunteering for stuff.

Vikki Holden: I really like to help out with things. I definitely am happy to give up time and knowledge. I did the FGDP career progression. So I did the FFGDP fellowship exam, and one of the things that I said when I was doing the final [inaudible] for that was that I’d spent a lot of time focusing on my own post graduate education, really it’s time to maybe give some of that back. So I’m quite happy to volunteer and help to do things, obviously [inaudible 00:59:27]. I think it’s just a question of time management. I enjoy all the things that I do. I enjoy being a mom and I enjoy clinical dentistry and I enjoy the dentolegal thing. I think I’d be very, very upset if I had to ever give one thing up to focus on one thing alone.

Vikki Holden: But it’s that principle out of the Seven Habits book, isn’t it, putting first things first. At different times of your life you have to be able to do what’s needed. So through lockdown, the thing that needed to come first was sorting the kids out and supporting them through homeschooling. Hibernate the business. People were looked after in the sense that we have the furlough scheme in place. That was the thing that needed to be put first then. There’s been other times where there’s been a massive workload with TDS and that needs to be put first to sort those things out, and other periods of time where the business has needed a lot of attention, particularly when we were getting it back up and running. And I’d said to my husband, it’s nice that we’ve all been at home for the last two months together, but there’s going to come a time when I’m going to have to go back to the surgery and you’re going to have [field] the kids at home on your own. And by that time it was a bit easier because the kids were into the routine of the Teams lessons and Alexa alarms were set all through the house. So they were going off all the time to tell them when the next lesson was.

Vikki Holden: So a lot of it is just about being organised, I think, and making sure that you’ve got your calendars up to date and you’ve got your calendars synced and you know what you’re doing. And just working out what needs to be done when.

Payman: The question that’s been boggling me the most over lockdown has been can we address some of the issues that we’ve got as a profession? And I feel like we were let down left, right and centre. We don’t need to be [mystical 01:01:17], but the GDC reform, no one really knows fee reform. You’ve done a law degree now. Is there a debate in the legal profession that talks about the downsides of things like no win-no fee? I guess there’s an upside to it. People who can’t afford lawyers, are your lawyers working for you properly and all that. But is there a debate about that? That we have debates about polishing composite?

Vikki Holden: I think there’s a bit of a misconception about no win-no fee in that people think it means that solicitors will just take on any case. And the reality of no win-no fee is that the solicitor still has to do a lot of work on a case before they have any chance of getting paid for that case. So they won’t take on a case unless they think it’s got a realistic chance of success. I don’t know-

Payman: [crosstalk 01:02:13]… I guess what I’m alluding to is that claim culture. I have a little [inaudible] in my car, for the next six years I get called by some sort of ambulance chaser saying, haven’t you got whiplash and all of that? If someone has an accident at work there’s adverts on the TV saying, call us claims. And then we’ve got our version of it with the dental law partnership. Then there’s the downside. The downside of that ambulance chasing, maybe I called it no win-no fee, maybe that wasn’t [inaudible 01:02:42].

Vikki Holden: So I think a lot of patients, from the complaints that I see coming in, I think a lot of the general public are wise to the fact that actually sometimes getting a solicitor to sort a problem out doesn’t save them any time, in fact it just prolongs the process. So I think as a profession, that’s where maybe we need to look at accepting that sometimes things don’t go to plan. And there might be times where things go badly wrong. So you might have damaged a tooth beyond repair. I think it’s [inaudible] profession to be professional about it. And that’s the reason why you have indemnity arrangements in place so that you can call on them to sort out those problems if it needs some sort of financial settlement before the patient is necessarily given the opportunity to go to a solicitor. Because if you go to a solicitor everybody loses, really. The dentist or the [inaudible] loses because their costs go up massively because they’re now paying legal fees on often both sides. And the patient loses because they might not get the level of compensation that they would have got if it had just been sorted out amicably with no lawyers involved.

Vikki Holden: And the main reason for that is that part of the no win-no fee arrangement is that solicitors can charge the clients a success fee of up to 25% of the damages. So if say you had some sort of an issue and your dentist is going to compensate you 5,000 pounds, you might be initially 25% down on that at the end of a settlement, and it might have taken the best part of 18 months, two years, to actually get there. So I think taking those opportunities to solve those problems that might involve [inaudible] compensation in-house, that’s one thing that would help get rid of, what we call ambulance chasing solicitors.

Vikki Holden: I can only think of one case, I suppose, where I might have looked at it and gone, do you know what, that is really, really ridiculous. Where a patient was trying to claim for a toothbrush. They said I’ve got to buy a special toothbrush because of what you’ve done. It was like an electric toothbrush. One in five years I’ve seen. I don’t see it as being a bit of a problem or as big of a problem as people do because of the work that I’m doing. But the problem is you’ve got these echo chambers on Facebook, i.e, forums, where there has been a lot of scaremongering about these sorts of issues. And I think what you’ve got to remember when you read the Facebook forums and form an opinion about ambulance chasing solicitors and no win-no fee and GDC compliance, is that you’re only getting one side of the story there. You’re only getting one party’s side of the story. You’re not in a position where you’ve seen what was the complaint that came in from the patient and what really happened. And I think I’ve just learned to take a step back from those sorts of threads and again, I just [crosstalk 01:05:36].

Payman: You’re literally saying there’s no need for reform, it’s all good, everything’s fine?

Vikki Holden: I think we need to reform it by managing things better at a local level. If we’re talking about reforming the GDC by saying, oh, let’s go back to the burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt, it’s not ever going to happen. That’s never going to happen, so it’s a bit of a waste of time. The reform that would be going on at the GDC, right-touch regulation, that’s a really big thing that the regulators are looking at at the moment. And you can see in the communications that they’re sending, to me, I see that they are taking those things quite seriously. Where does the reform need to happen, people not taking screenshots off of social media and reported people to the GDC for making unprofessional comments. We need to look more at ourselves as to why these things are happening and reform it that way as well as just demanding that the regulators maybe don’t open up so many complaint cases. There’s just certain triggers that in place when the GDC get a complaint of such words that needs to be used that will open an investigation.

Vikki Holden: I just don’t buy into the scaremongering as much. I think that there have been some changes that have been at the GDC that are quite positive actually. We need to maybe keep on with the clinical advisor reports a little bit. They can be sometimes a bit irritating that they might not have picked up on or not read things that are blatantly in the notes and it’s triggered their case to go to the case examiner’s. But those cases do get dealt with when the letters are written and the case examiners have a look. So I…

Payman: It’s lovely to hear you say this.

Vikki Holden: [crosstalk] about those thing than…

Payman: It’s really good to hear you say this, it’s really good that you say this because you’re in it, so you’re getting much more information on this than we are. But I don’t-

Vikki Holden: I’m not saying it’s perfect. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but I think the expectations of the profession maybe needs to be managed a little bit. The GDC’s not going to go away. They are there to protect patients. They’re there to do a job to review complaints that come in. And the proof will be in the pudding of looking at the annual reports and seeing how many cases were stopped by the case examiners. The case examiners seem to be doing an amazing job, actually, of dealing with those GDC complaints at a much lower level and not triggering it onto a hearing. So I think from where I sit, things do seem to be moving in a positive direction.

Payman: I think there it was something that we were, in the UK, we had over the Americans, that I thought was that we weren’t so [meticulous 01:08:21], we weren’t so attacking each other. And [inaudible] that’s gone, now we are. I guess if a society’s based on law, it’s one of the side effects of that, isn’t it. Maybe that’s what it is.

Vikki Holden: Yeah, and when I did a webinar recently, again, looking at this issue of complaints, I think understanding the reasons why people complain actually will probably help us to stop a lot of complaints from escalating in the first place. And one of the facts that I’d uncovered was that in the UK, we’ve got a bit of an issue with literacy. So it’s something like one in five adults in the UK has got the literacy skills of an 11-year-old child. That’s actually quite a high proportion of adults who’ve actually got quite poor literacy skills. And are they really understanding the information that’s being imparted to them, and particularly where you might be in a rushed clinical environment.

Vikki Holden: [inaudible] one was something like half or nearly half of adults only have or didn’t have 300 pounds in savings for an unexpected emergency. Well, when you look at, what was it, cost to keep teeth under good repair, it’s quite expensive. And those sorts of factors. And you’ve got a patient who might have paid for a crown on a tooth and all of a sudden the crown needs a root canal treatment, and they’re looking at that tooth being extracted and implant. That’s quite a big deal actually to a lot of the general public. And I’m not saying that there aren’t complainants out there who are vexatious or who are aggressive in the way that they present their complaints, because of course there are. But I think we just need to be able to look at how do we understand things from that other point of view, and that would go a long way, I think, into helping resolve a lot of issues without needing to escalate in the first place.

Payman: Communication [crosstalk 01:10:10].

Vikki Holden: Yeah. Communication, and empathy is another one.

Prav: I’m sorry, you’ve heard this question probably God knows how many episodes you’ve listened to, but if it was your last day on the planet and you had your kids by your side, couple of things, what would be the three pieces of advice you’d leave them with and how would you like to be remembered?

Vikki Holden: Oh gosh. So I’d probably like to be remembered as somebody who was a fair person and somebody who was happy to speak up and say something that needed to be said, even if what needed to be said was unpopular or uncomfortable for other people to hear. What would I tell my kids? I’d probably say to them just to always make sure that they are fair to everybody. Treat everybody equally because they live very privileged lives, my kids, and they are very lucky and I don’t want them to forget that ever. They could have been unlucky to have been in born somewhere that’s [inaudible] war or where people are just not being very nice to them. There’s so many issues with child abuse and things that go on, are just horrible in the world. So I want them to always remember that they are very, very lucky. And pay it forwards. Don’t just take, take, take. Be a giver as well as a taker. And the final thing, always brush your teeth. The only thing I’m not great at actually, which is a bit disappointing as a dentist.

Payman: Vikki, before we go, before we finish it off, how do you keep it real for your kids? They’ve had a much more privileged upbringing than yours, let’s say for the sake of the argument, so how do keep it real? Do you actually try and keep it real for them somehow?

Vikki Holden: I try not to spoil them. At the moment, for example, because they are spending a bit more time than probably I’d like on the Xbox, but they are wanting to constantly buy V-Bucks or whatever they are so they can play on Fortnite. And I’m like, no, it’s a waste of money. I’m not into wasting money. Even though I think we’re quite fortunate, we’re probably a lot better off than my parents were. But they don’t get spoiled. They don’t get everything that they want. They’ll come to be saying, can I get this, and I’ll be like, no, you get it for your birthday.

Payman: Really good point.

Vikki Holden: [crosstalk 01:12:34].

Prav: Hard to say no though, right?

Vikki Holden: I don’t know. I’ve [inaudible 01:12:38].

Prav: I struggle with certain things. I don’t know. You want your kids to have the best, whether it’s education or maybe Fortnite credits and games and things are probably not at the top of the priority list. And in the same respect, deep down, I want them to know what it’s like to struggle as well.

Vikki Holden: Yeah, exactly. I think they just need to have a good perspective of life. And I think I’d also want them to know that we live in the house that we and they have the nice holidays that they have, although obviously nobody’s going on holiday at the moment, because me and their dad have worked really hard. We’ve not [inaudible] on a plate ourselves. And equally, I don’t think that I would be wanting to hand things to a plate on them either. They need to learn how to save up money if they want to buy something, and they need to understand that if they don’t get good school reports then they’re not just going to get rewarded with treats all the same. I think that’s probably a good lesson for them to have, that it doesn’t just all come from nowhere.

Payman: Thank you so much, Vikki.

Vikki Holden: Thank [crosstalk 01:13:49].

Prav: Thank you.

Payman: [crosstalk 01:13:51]. Hopefully we’ll meet up for a real meeting.

Vikki Holden: That would be [inaudible 01:13:56].

Payman: Thanks a lot.

Prav: Thank you so much.

Vikki Holden: No worries.

Prav: Take care.

Vikki Holden: Thanks. Bye.

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 file, you must have listened to the whole thing. And just a huge thank you, both from me and Pay for actually sticking through and actually 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.