Arthif Daniel spends his nine-to-five looking after teeth and his weekends knocking ‘em out.

Arthief’s double life as a well-regarded super-welterweight boxer and dentist has earned him the nickname Dr Hitman.

He chats to Prav and Payman about success in the ring and in practice – highlighting some of the surprising parallels between the gentleman’s sport and dentistry.

Arthif lets us in on his highs and lows and talks about the mental preparation and mindset it takes to live life in the ring. 


“Fighters are like sharks. We smell fear. So, just like sharks, when they smell blood in the ocean, they’re on you. It’s the same thing. You show a glitch. It’s in your eyes. It’s in the body language. It’s anything of that sort. And we will feed on it.” – Arthif ‘Dr Hitman’ Daniel 


In This Episode

00.40 – The boxing dentist
08.59 – Training regime
15.31 – Psychology
26.27 – Physical chess
31.28 – Nutrition
37.44 – Prime time
43.04 – Parallels
49.29 – Being competitive
51.24 – Faith and mindset
56.33 – Highs and lows
59.22 – Hanging with heroes
01.07.04 – Travel
01.09.45 – Last day and legacy


About Arthif Daniel

Dr Arthif Daniel graduated from King’s College London in 2008 and went on to practice in Birmingham and Manchester.

He spent time as a senior house officer in restorative and oral surgery at Guys and St Thomas and has taught primary dental care at King’s College.

Arthif is also a professional welterweight boxer whose dental background has earned him the nickname Dr Hitmann.


Arthif: Muhammad Ali said famously, he said, “If I was going to be a binman, I would be been the world’s greatest binman ever.” That’s the attitude which I had in general in life. And that’s something that wherever I want to do, I want to do the best I can, and be the best I can at it.

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: It gives me great pleasure to introduce and welcome Arthif Daniel, or otherwise known in the boxing world as Dr. Hitman. And he’s one of the top 20 boxers in the UK, a dentist as well. And today, we’re going to dig into his story, and learn a little bit more about his world of boxing and dentistry, and how he combines all of that. Arthif, do you want to just kick off by telling us about how you grew up, where you grew up, and just your background… and how he got into boxing?

Arthif: Yeah, sure. Well firstly, thank you to Prav and Payman for inviting me on. It gives me great pleasure to join onto your podcast. You guys have been doing a great job. And yeah, boxing wise… I was born and raised in Harrow in London Northwest. That’s where I did all my sort of primary, secondary school education. And thankfully, I stayed in London. I made that decision to take my dental studies at King’s College London. And so yes, I schooled there, and then around about 2013 it was.. I moved up to Manchester. And yes, now I’ve always maintained my link with Harrow, and I’m a very proud Londoner. And so obviously I’ve still got my family, friends, and also I still do a lot of my boxing and dentistry here in London too.

Prav: And so how did you first get into boxing? Were you inspired by one of the greats or what was it growing up that sort of made you get into boxing?

Arthif: Well, I was very fortunate, I think I grew up in a boxing household. My grandfather first, he was a big Muhammad Ali fan. And, you know, my father’s was the born and under, so he used to tune in to watch the Muhammad Ali fights. And then the great fights after.. In the era of the 80s, with Mike Tyson. I was a huge fan of his, Tommy Hitman Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler, were all that great.

Arthif: So I grew up, you know. In that time, My father was my first boxing coach, he used to, box as a hobby. He did some amateur boxing as well, He was very good. So, I was always physically active, and I used to really love martial arts, Bruce Lee was one of my sort of first icons as well and then sort of Jackie Chan, Ying Bai, Sammo Hung. So it was me and my two elder brothers. So we should always be training together, sparring each other. They were older than me, they used to beat me up. But I’m not too sure about now, though.

Arthif: So yes, it was it was… But yeah, I think, I mean, Muhammad Ali was probably my first boxing idol. Then followed by Mike Tyson. I was a diehard hardcore Mike Tyson fan. And then I was really fortunate to have a proper one to one meeting with him back in 1999-2000, One of my uncles was friends with someone in his entourage. So when he came over to London first, for his fight against Julius Francis, back in January 2000. It was like a dream come true. You know, I was with him, I was with my two brothers and then he invited us back again to watch him train, so I had probably like one to one with him, which was fantastic.

Arthif: And actually, something funny happened, actually. So what happened was, in that time I was also doing GSC Art. So one of my art pieces, I drew on Mike Tyson boxing Lennox Lewis on the moon in space, So I was doing that and then while I was midway through this project, I’m like “Oh wow, I’m going to go see the man himself.” So I went to.. you know, what I need to do? I need to go into school and grab my painting, take it to him to get it signed. So I was like “how am I going to go to school, just by not being there?”

Arthif: So ironically, my grandmother had been in the hospital that time, she wasn’t well. So I would go in, obviously go a couple of times I had to miss school to go and see her, spend some time with her at the hospital. So I came in, and I wasn’t to sure what to say, and she was like, “Oh, are you going to see your grandma again?” I was so put on the spot, and I was so put on the spot so Yeah, she not want to ask that’s it. So what I’ll probably do is that, whilst I’m sort of waiting in the hospital, I’ll probably do a bit of my artwork.

Arthif: So here,”Take it, take it, don’t worry.” So I was like, “Great, great.” So what would happen when am all suit and booted as well. So I went there, and I took it, I showed it to Mike Tyson, and he really liked it. And he was like, “Oh, this is amazing.” And he’d done a massive autograph right across it and I still got that.

Prav: Amazing.

Arthif: And now, ironically, last few years, I’ve become good friends with Lennox Lewis. So I’m planning to take that Lennox one day and get that signed as well, it’ll be nice. I’ll keep that with me.

Prav: Brilliant, brilliant. And so boxing didn’t really enter into as a, should we say a profession, or as a professional, until after dentistry, right? Until you’d qualified. So what was that like growing up, although obviously, you were inspired, and all the rest of it, were you go into boxing gyms, and training at gyms, and things like that? Or was it just your dad training you? And how big a part did that play in your life, compared to let’s say your studies, as you were studying for your GSC, and then moving towards dentistry?

Arthif: Yeah. no I used to actually always sort of box. I used to be part of an amateur boxing gym in Harrow. And then later on in North, which is local as well. So I used to box, I used to train, I used to spar. I used to spa often, but my parents weren’t too keen on me competing.

Prav: Okay.

Arthif: Just for somethings and academia was big in my household. And to be fair, I mean, most parents, especially mothers, they’re not big fans of their children boxing. Even if you can get the champions of today, it’s the same story. Their moms are kind of two types, some of them will still kind of go and support, and watch them in the arenas, but most of them, they won’t want to watch. So it’s one of those things. So I just continued with my training, hand in hand with my studies. And in fact, at one point, when I was at Kings, I also taught… there was a student union club, ironically called Fight Club. So I taught… so I was teaching boxing as well to fellow medical, dental, biomedical undergraduates, which was a great experience. And I also got Danny Williams to come down as a guest one day, and he also took the class, which was phenomenal.

Arthif: And he was also at the peak of his career at that stage as well. So that’s something everyone appreciates. So I just carried on. And then, again I was obviously allowed to compete. And then once I graduated, I kind of became my own man. And I kind of thought, “Okay, it’s my decision now, I guess.” So it’s nice.

Arthif: Then I just carried on. Well, just to sort of do some bouts, but there was nothing set in stone to be a professional as such. I was just carrying on, and then I had some great people around here, always been like an elder brother to me. He famously beat Mike Tyson back in 2004. It was the British and Commonwealth Champion Challenge, with world title Vitali Klitschko in Las Vegas. So he’s had a great career, and I was very fortunate to have him as a mentor early on. And then he was like… so him and a few others are like, “Look you got something here.” And then I was… I used to spar with professionals and amateurs, and hold my own and do well. So then I realised that there was something here, and that there was an opportunity that I had, especially with some great people around me. So I just always said to myself, I don’t want to look back when I’m 60 years old, in my rocking chair, and think what if. So I wanted to give it a go, and give it all. I’m, so happy with what’s happened, I have no regrets. If I went back in time, I’d still do the same thing.

Prav: What if… if you’ve got a big fight coming up, how long before do you have to start the preparation for that? And what is the preparation? I mean, is it possible to be a full on dentist, and prepare for a big fight? Or do you stop and start? Or what do you do?

Arthif: Yeah, so I mean, it depends. Generally, I’ll always train, I’ll always be taking over. So I might have some days off as such, but I’ll always still be sort of active around the gym. So that’s why I’m always, my weight is generally low, and I’m around my fighting weight. So I’m always disciplined and maintain myself in that respect. Generally speaking, if I was to have obviously… so because of that, I’m just constantly in training. And also my diet is monitored. So it’s very… for myself anyway, it’s something I can do. I do manage to juggle and balance well, thankfully. [crosstalk]

Prav: What’s the process?

Arthif: There are professionals out there with day jobs as well. So it can be done. And it just depends, but sometimes generally, if you’re going to be in like a big fight, type of fight… generally, you looking at sort of an eight to 10 week training camp. So if I was to have one of those, I’d probably, in terms of myself, just want to stop, put my dentistry on hold for those 10 weeks, 10 week camp, and just be solid. And that’s the plan that when I’m looking to have my big US fight, hopefully, God willing later this year, and that’s what I’m going to do. Just stop everything else, and go have a 10 week training camp.

Prav: And what’s involved in a typical day of that camp? what time are you getting up, How many hours in the gym, How many fights? [crosstalk]

Arthif: Yeah, it all depends really, but generally… You see the thing is, there’s this little bit of a false notion, but it’s there, people do this, where people burn themselves out. See with boxing, generally in life really, with anything. Even if you take dentistry for example. Dentistry famously, we do the… and especially when we’re talking to the newer graduates.

Arthif: We always remind them that we say that “dentistry, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” So generally, obviously, that’s how we look at things in life. And the same thing with boxing, you’ve got to be careful of not over-training. I was having a chat with someone recently, a boxing manager recently about this. Sometimes boxers themselves will just get swamped up, engulfed, and go into a zone, and just burn themselves out, and leave everything in the gym. When it comes to the fight week and fight day, they’re drained. They’ve peaked too early. That’s why you got to be smart. And that’s why the legends and likes of Floyd Mayweather achieved so much, because they were very smart in how they did things.

Arthif: One of the great advices I got, for example, from Danny Williams. He said “always listen to your body.” Because sometimes if you’re not feeling to train that day, your body’s not up to it, just listen to your body. Especially with sparring, sparring is really important, you’ve got to be 100% to go sparring. If you’re going to be 50%, don’t do it. Because boxing, there’s a lot of mental aspect involved with boxing. There’s a lot of psychology involved, you can have a bad day in the gym, or a sparring session. And if you’re mentally weak, it can eat away, and you start getting doubts. But sometimes, you’ve got to be strong and say, “Look, everyone has a bad day in all walks of life, and boxing is no stranger to that.” So you may have bad day in sparring, So okay, You just rest up, recover, Look over what you’ve done wrong, where you need to make improvements. And the next day, you’ll have a great day of sparring. But then again, you’ve got to check yourself because if you’ve had a good day, you don’t want to get over ahead of yourself, and get overconfident. You just got to take everything just right, you got to be balanced.

Arthif: So either if you have a bad day, don’t kill yourself. If you’ve had a good day, if you’ve had a great day, okay don’t don’t get overconfident, you’ve got to stay humble. But just generally, yeah. So coming back to the point. So obviously, it also varies of how far you are out from the fight. Because the further out you are, the more harder work you’re going to put in. And you want to taper, so we can give an example of an endo, the coronal plane. Start up high, and then you taper when you get to your peak.

Arthif: So it’s a similar thing, so you spend a lot, obviously the cardiovascular stamina work that… the hard work you can do. The hill sprints, mountain runs, all of that sort of work you do early on. And then gradually start to taper, so towards fight week, you start just doing the lights sharp stuff. You’re just maintaining your weight, you’re just staying sharp, explosive. And then when it comes to fight week, you stop all your hard work, you’re just doing light work, nothing… you’re just doing sort of shadow boxing, some pad work, nothing strenuous. You’re trying to conserve all your energy, physical, mental, for fight night.

Arthif: And then obviously, generally with boxing, obviously you’ll have your weigh-ins the day before your fight. So the day before the weigh in, you might just want to do a few things just to keep your weight, you’re on top of your weight. And that’s that. But really yeah… but generally, you’ll train twice a day. And then you vary it. So you may do some running, so that your cardiovascular will increase with the running stuff, or swimming alternatively. But then obviously not every boxer, for example, can swim, or it might not be a strength, or they may not sort of enjoy it, sort of thing. So it depends what they [inaudible]. So running and swimming, that that works by sort of cardiovascular. So I’ll do sort of mixed days, alternating between those two exercises. This is your strength and conditioning work. And then obviously there’s the boxing aspect itself. And that’s sort of shadow boxing, working with the trainer doing sort of back work, pad work, and sparring itself.

Prav: You spoke about the sort of the mental side of it, yeah. And being mentally on top of it. Go through some of that for me. Because, I mean, obviously, I don’t even think I’ve ever had a fight [crosstalk], let alone a competitive fight. But I imagine there’s an element of fear before a fight. And fear must be.. You must feed on fear a bit as well, right? I mean, it’s good to have life changing consequences if you get the wrong punch, right?

Arthif: Yeah, sure. I mean you don’t think of it like that. I mean fighters don’t. I mean, we’re just different. And I think one of my good friends Pauli Malignaggi, he’s a former world champion, two time world champion. He was talking about one thing. I said… he heard one of my interviews, and I think I said, “Dentists are normal people.” And I said sometimes people when they hear that I’m a fighter as well, they think okay look, we’re normal people. He actually laughed, because Daniel actually, as far as don’t fear, we’re not normal people.

Arthif: And I started laughing, and we had a chat, and in the end of it I said, “You’re right actually.” Because which same person wants to train vigorously, get into the ring, to aim of hitting someone, and he knows he’s going to get hit. And there’s like… it’s true. There’s things about fighters, that it’s true. It’s normal, and it’s very difficult to explain. And sometimes you see on social media. Social media, I mean, there’s things that’s great about social media. And we all know there’s some terrible things about social media. Social media is one of those platforms, everyone’s got an opinion.

Arthif: Once upon a time, you had to be someone to voice an opinion, to have something worthy to say. Nowadays, you just need a Twitter account, or a Facebook account, or whatnot, you can just voice your opinions, and whatever it may be, to everyone. And not that it matters. And that’s why professional people in professional boxing, they’ll see things on social media from casual fans, people who’ve never even stepped three minutes in the ring. And there’ll be saying all sorts of sensationalist things. And so it just doesn’t really add up. And it’s difficult for us boxers, because like to say things that will only make sense to people in boxing, because we’re fighters, and we’re in the ring. But really to explain that to a logical person, logically, it really doesn’t make sense, really.

Arthif: But coming back to your question about psychology, it’s huge. Psychology is such a huge part of boxing, mental strength. I mean, there’s so many examples I can give you, but one example is that you have to have a bloody good poker face to go into the ring. You can’t show anything. So in the dressing room, you’re warming up, you’re ready. And then they say, “Right, you’re ready? Daniel times up, we’re going to the ring, walk into the ring now.” So it’s the same thing. It’s difficult to explain. You’re not nervous, because nervous, this implies negative energy. But you’re anxious. There’s anxiety, because the adrenaline is flowing through your body, your heart is pounding, and you’re literally, as we were taught in physiology, fight or flight mode. And that’s exactly it in boxing, it’s fight or flight.

Prav: Okay.

Arthif: Because when you get into the ring, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. And Mike Tyson very famously said, “Everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the face.” And that’s true. Because even with professional boxing, with whatever level you’re at, that’s always the thing, we always look at. Even when you look at elite fighters, what’s going to happen when that person lands the punch? And that is always the big thing. How is that person going to respond? Or even, how does a person respond when they go down? Because there’s been great champions have been knocked down. It’s about how you respond when you get knocked down. Are you going to get up straightaway and strong? Or you’re going to be… you’re going to be [crosstalk] doubts, exactly.

Arthif: So it’s about all those things. I mean, a very recent example from few months back, I’m not sure how much you guys watch boxing, or how much you guys know any boxers, but. So there was Alexander Povetkin and Dillian Whyte, fought a few months back. Whyte was supposed to win the fight, and he was winning. He knocked the guy down twice. Povetkin is a very… he’s got solid amateur pedigrees, he’s a former world champion, and he’s been at the very top level. And actually, it’s funny enough, because literally a few days ago, someone was involved his camp, and they were telling me. And they said actually what happened was Dillian Whyte, he overly trained in that fight. So when he came, he just wasn’t sort of fresh and strong. And whereas Povetkin obviously is experienced. So what happened was, Povetkin got knocked down twice. But you can see in his reaction, the way went down, but he got strong. Eventually Povetkin knocked Dillian Whyte out.

Arthif: They’re scheduled not for a rematch in a few weeks time. But it just goes to show, just because someone goes down, it doesn’t mean anything. It shows… what’s the conditioned been like? and also what’s their mental strength like. But that’s really important. So if you’re hurt, you can’t show the fighter you’re hurt. Fighters are like, we’re like sharks. We smell fear. So just like sharks, when they smell blood in the ocean, they’re on you. It’s the same thing. You show a glitch. It’s in your eyes. It’s in the body language, it’s anything of that sort. And we will feed on it.

Arthif: It’s like, I mean, my last fight, because of COVID… when was that? But yeah, it was November 2019. It was in Mexico against a Mexican. And he thought he’s fighting a British guy, and the British guy is going to be bit nervous and so forth. And so he was trying to me out and stuff. But I ended up stopping him, knocking him out in the first round. But what happened was, I knocked him down. And I’m looking at him. I’m analysing him, I’m studying him. What’s his response like? So I’m looking at him. And he took the full eight second count on the floor, and he got up. And I’m looking at him, I’m looking in his eyes, I’m looking at body language, I could see who still hurt. So this is the first round… so you got to be smart, because if a boxer over commits, then you can get countered, you can get hit and get knocked down.

Arthif: If you guys look on YouTube, there’s a fight, Victor Ortiz and Marcos Maidana. Both of them with huge punches, both them had overnight tips, and knockout ratio. So everyone knew this is going to be fireworks, this is not going 12 rounds. In the first round, Ortiz put Maidana on the floor. Maidana got back up, and Ortiz thought, “I got him now. I’m going to go and stop him.” As he came in, Maidana suddenly exploded, bang! right hand on the chin, and he put Ortiz down, immediately, straightaway.

Arthif: So these are the sort of things that happen I boxing, you’ve got to be smart, you can’t get over confident and commit your self, there’s been many times where the boxer would be winning and he’s got the guy against the ropes and suddenly one shot, as a counter shot bang! And the guy is hurt and the fight goes… you know, it just turns right on his head. So I’m looking at this guy am seeing his hurt. Right okay, this is a chance for me to finish, but I’m not going to be stupid at the same time I’m going to be watchful as well.

Arthif: So I unloaded against him and also just watching myself, how many counters and as the referee stepped in, they threw the count in, But you have to look at that, you have to look at how the fighter responds and it sometimes, you know the thing is sometimes people ask “If you get punched, do you get hurt, does it hurt?”

Arthif: So generally you just get buzzed. You know, you will get ringing sounds, it depends how hard the shot is, am sort of exaggerating in the top end of the scale basically. if you get hit…banged hard is that, You know, you can hear a ringing sounds you get dazed or so. But generally, you get hit in the head just like you know, You just push on. The ones that really hurt, is if someone times a good body shot. You get hit in the body, in the right place, the timing with a breath in. you know, you will paralysis someone not literally. but you know, they are completely wounded and those shots can hurt, and you just struggling to breath and that’s why you see many great knock outs when you get hit in the body, hit someone in the right place.

Arthif: I will send you one actually, from one of my fights where I did that. But the thing is they can hurt. So sometimes if your fighting, if your sparring you re.. You get hit with a shot and you’re like, “Ooh” you’re holding your self with breathing and you can’t show your hurt, you have to have a good poker face and be like “what you just shake it of, man what come on.” so the mental side, I think that’s another aspect there: You know, if your hurt you don’t show it, if there’s any fear or anything like that you can’t show it. And that’s where you got a whole as well… another big side of things is mind games. you know, There’s some boxers in history that have just gone down as expects in that, they will wind people up, they’ll say the right things and they’ll just really get under that person skin, irritate them and that’s happened to many great champions.

Arthif: And unfortunately happened to me once, I got the worse of it and it ended up… I lost that fight, because I got so angry and I boxed on emotion, that’s one thing your taught from first day at the gym, you cannot box on emotion, you can’t box if your angry. You got to go in there with a clear mind, focused, you got to be analytical, you got to stick to your game plan and than.

Arthif: You know, if that game plan doesn’t work than you adapt. Floyd Mayweather famously said “A true champion can adapt to anything.” And that’s another great thing, a quote that you can apply for any aspect of life including dentistry. Sometimes in dentistry, we are doing treatment planning things don’t go to plan and you got to know how to adapt or I a clinical scenario. You know, something happens its okay don’t panic. You know, just work around, see what you can do to solve it the issue. You can’t be angry, so in a Tyson furry famously his recently done that to Deontay Wilder. You know, he got under his skin, he got him angry. and you know. his an expect, his a wind up merchant, he is…. so some of this guys are great at it, you know mind games, boxing.. you know, being psychologically strong and mentally strong is crucial in boxing. So It goes actually… its so important with your physical training, you can’t. You know, I can’t emphasis it enough. Boxing actually… most expects will say, its mostly mental.. its more mental than physical

Prav: How much do you size up your opponent, of course you’ve sized up your opponent yet, but how much does that affect, what your training at? Do you have like, this particula guy I’m going to be fighting with has a particular style of fighter, so my training is going to be different and my thinking is going to be different and your game plan for one opponent, compared to a different one. how accurate is that, how much of it, is chess?

Arthif: Massively [crosstalk] I famously said, “boxing is a physical chess match” that’s something I’ve always said. And that’s something that’s very true. With regards to your physical training, not so much because you want to be in the best physical shape for any fight regardless of their style. So you will always do your strength and conditioning, your cardiovascular and stuff. What will change, as we said is “the game plan” and how you going to box. And often you going to have sparring partners who will mirror that style. You know, so if your fighting a a guy who is five ten, you going to try and get sparring partners around five, ten. And if you going to have a guy your fighting is six three, you going to try and get a taller opponents with longer reach, to try to mimic that style. And than you want to go through, you know, with your team, with your coach game plans.

Arthif: So that’s really crucial, you know, Very-very important and you know, its.. and I will give you another example famous example of recent times, I tried to put out as lot analogies as I can to explain my points. So everyone knew in 2019 when Anthony Joshua lost to Andy Ruiz. you know it was all over the headlines. People who don’t even watch boxing knew about that so that would be a good example.

Arthif: What actually happened was Anthony Joshua was supposed to fight another boxer called Jarrell Miller, big baby miller his nickname is. Now that guy, he was twenty stones his fat. Okay that’s what he is, it’s not a nice thing to say but that what he is because he is very athletic in his build, but his huge. Okay, his just not really…he is just over weight, he is over weight. And his slow he plots forward obviously his got power, his strong, but he is not very fast his got slow feet and that who Anthony Joshua was going to fight for his US debut. Anthony Joshua is in training camp for several weeks for this guy, suddenly last minute, was it? I think two weeks before was, the guy failed his drug test and when I mean he failed his drug test I don’t mean something that was just a burned substance in his body, he had…its almost like a pharmaceutical factory that was injected in him, he had every drug you could think of under the heavens and he was even found to have that stuff.

Arthif: So he is not a very nice guy and not many people in boxing speak well of him for obvious reasons. So anyway, back to the story what actually happened was that the fight was obviously counselled. Now they are looking for a replacement for Antony Joshua’s opponent now, for Anthony Joshua had to fight.

Arthif: Now you got to remember his been training for eight weeks. You know, eight weeks for some training camp, for up to that point, and obviously before that as well, he would have know that he was going to fighting him. So he would be thinking about game plans, thinking about things. Suddenly last minute, I believe it was two weeks before the fight, they get Andy Ruiz. Now Andy Ruiz was a very bad opponent to choose for Anthony Joshua obviously we can say that now because he lost, but the point being is that he was a short guy, but he had.. he was very quick on his feet and he had very quick hands, so not really was he like a difficult heavy weight you can hit hard, he was very fast, very explosive and he is quick on his feet, he could move like a middle weight.

Arthif: So his been training to fight big Jeremy miller who is over twenty stones or something and now his suddenly got a completely different opponent, different speed and Anthony Joshua he also trained his whole camp to this fight and his also coming in heavy, because he is thinking, I want to become a bit heavier so I can lend my shots and hurt the guy. Sadly a complete change and that was… either those are the factors for, you know. Anthony Joshua is going to explain on record over some medical reasons of what happened, as to why he lost, which one would be true, which ever the excuse is. But another huge reason, is the fact that the fighter was completely different, he’d been training, his physical weight was different and his gain was completely different too, which is why on the re-march he came down, he came in very light. And his game plan was to box and move around. So you know, that’s the sort of contemporary example to illustrate that point

Prav: But Daniel, how do the nutrition play in this whole game? You mentioned your self earlier “your not like an off season on season boxer, but you on season year round” and than maybe you tailor in, a few weeks before to make your weight or even making that weight in the morning. It’s a science right? It’s not a case of making the weight and you going to fight in that weight, your making that weight for your way in. What is it, in the matter of hours or.

Arthif: Yeah. Let me give you an example, if I give you some of the elite welterweights in the world. The welterweight 147 pound, that’s 10 stones seven. They will work around 12 and half 13 stones. Yeah.

Prav: Wow

Arthif: And than they will fight at 10 stones seven, so am glad I can throw this numbers to illustrate, you know to all the listeners out there, this is the difference we are talking about.

Prav: Yes

Arthif: So yeah, its… what it turns happens, they have obvious a 10 week training camp and in that they will… the thing is with our diets, we still have carbohydrates yes that’s still important to us because we need tat energy, we need to. You know, We are going to be training hard, we are going to be sparing, so we need those molecules. Right, yeah is just about eating the right things, you know I just said “it’s a science” so its, you know, tape or anything done and really you generally, lets say for example, maybe a week, two weeks before the fight, they will probably be.. Depending of where. you know, where their right. But they will be comfortably at least 20 pounds over, you know even on the week of the fight or so. And than they will start taping down.

Arthif: And lets say the fight is Saturday the weigh in would be a Friday. So Thursday they will start slowly the dehydration process, Friday morning than dehydrate and than Friday afternoon obviously would be the weigh in and you got 30 odd hours to rehydrate and to refuel. So that’s how things turn to happen, and you’ve got a… one of the very important things in boxing, is got to be… you got to know your correct weight for fighting, so we all have our walking weight and we have a fighting weight, so that’s really crucial.

Prav: Talk us through the dehydration process, what does that involve? You know in terms of fluid intake, electro lights and things like that. And typically when you go from hydrating to dehydrating, what sort of weight difference are we looking at?

Arthif: So, some boxers are crazy they’ll even loose 20 pound in 24 hour. Okay, that’s typical. You know literally. But yeah, but there’s different ways that will sort of dehydrate that will sweat it out. The thing is that sometimes the obviously the is scientist.. there is a bit of secrecy as well sometimes, with athletes and stuff. so you know, I’ve been taught some good techniques for some… from elite fighters. But yeah, which i probably wouldn’t say publicly at this stage. But you know, I can’t give all my secretes away. But you know, yeah but obviously there’s a smart process, you going to be smart, but sometime people would do…. will go into sonar or they will do different things to dehydrate the day before the weight In or even the morning of the weight in.

Arthif: But once you have dehydrated your self in a certain way, once the weight in than they have to rehydrate the self’s with electro lights obviously. We obviously want to drink, you know hydrate your self properly and adequately, which is why, especially in the US, and the US it relives in that stuff in that regard. But you see the top athletes after the weight in they’ll start drinking Pidilite. So Pidilite is like our cooked up.. you know Diaralyte?

Prav: Yeah

Arthif: The electro lights full of minerals of. see that sort of thing? They get these bottles and its… yeah so, I don’t know why for some reason we don’t have them in the UK. The UK is so behind with so many things when It comes to food and beverages. But so yeah that’s one thing.. yeah. I have that when I’m training out in the US, I’ll have that when I’m training out in the US, I will have some Dioralyte just to restore the electro lights after dehydrating in training and stuff. But yeah that’s something important to replenish, and that’s one of the danger aspects in where people won’t make weight correctly that’s always a danger, So they will dehydrate incorrectly, they won’t hydrate properly and than that will affect obviously the brain, the brain will shrink with dehydration and there for your this greater space. You know the Aracnoides space I believe between the scull and the brain, and than the is more room for vibration and movement, and that’s where you get the real danger. So its all about being smart and how you dehydrate, and how you rehydrate.

Arthif: And this is one of the reasons why the WBC (the world boxing counsel) revolutionised boxing for health and safety for the fighters. You know, sometime in the late 80’s, I can’t remember exactly when, but It was sometime in the late 80’s believe where they introduced the weight in’s the day before the fight, rather than on the day.

Arthif: Traditional they used to have the weight in’s on the day of the fight. And there’s some people . you know, with all due respect, they don’t really understand boxing “Oh, we should introduce same day weight in’s again and because people are killing them selves making that weight the day before and than they have a day.” Hang on a second neutrally you don’t know fighters because, if your going to put weigh in’s on the same day as a fight. Fighters are going to do exactly the same thing they going to do. They going to do anything they can to make that weight and they will compromise them self’s even more and put them self in harms ways even more significantly because on the day they will dehydrate themselves dangerously on the day just to make weight in’, they won’t hydrate them selves properly within the few hours and they going to be…. cause more problems. So that was something WBC champion fantastically and they were successful in archiving to have the weigh in done on the day before

Prav: Is there a prime or age to reach? You know peak in boxing. You know in a lot of sports, you know, you hit your peak or your prime age at lasts say 30 mid thirty or whatever. Am assuming you came into it a little bit late in terms of the pro side of things. Correct me If I’m wrong, and how does that plan out fou you in terms of how much time you’ve got left, [crosstalk] with professional boxing?

Arthif: That’s a really good question. With boxing and sports in general really the modern day understanding of sports science and nutrition, has been a key for longevity. Which is why you’ve got, you know look at Christiano Ronaldo, he’s 36, he’s still an absolutely unbelievable player. You know a few years back, you know if you looked at some of those great stars, if you looked at Brazilian Ronaldo back in the day, Diego Maradona, Pele or other modern greats. They always retired earlier. It wasn’t the same. The understanding of sports science wasn’t not the same. Same as boxing as well sort of thing. But with modern understanding of sports science and nutrition, there’s greater longevity and not just in boxing, but in sports in general. And that’s why the likes of Floyd Mayweather have shown that he’s been boxing past 40 years of age. So he’s shown that looking after yourself, looking after your body, you pay dividends in that regard. Floyd Mayweather is a living definition of an athlete. Never smokes, never drinks. Okay. He’ll always be around his fighting weight.

Arthif: I’ll just give an example on the other end of the spectrum, a modern boxing British great, Ricky Hatton. Fantastically talented, very hardworking, but the problem he had and why his career didn’t last as long as it could have was because he wasn’t disciplined in between fights, in between camps. He would famously balloon up, that’s why he had the nick name Ricky Fatton. He’d say it himself as a joke because obviously, he’s a very humorous guy. Ricky’s a great guy and he’s helped me in my boxing too. But yeah, he wasn’t very disciplined in between camps and if he was, his career would’ve gone a lot longer.

Arthif: Floyd Mayweather, he’s a definition of a athlete. Famously if he used to go to a party where ‘he’s just have a good time, he wouldn’t smoke or drink. He’d just have a good time and just relax. He’d go to parties, his driver would drive him down, have a good time. When he finished, he’d go to the car, change his shoes, put his trainers on, put those shoes in a car, tell the driver, “I’ll meet you home.” And he used to run back home. That’s the things that Floyd Mayweather did. With that, so looking after yourself, that’s how you get longevity. But on Hopkins, in recent times, he became world champion at 50 years of age. The boundaries, the perimeters have sort of moved further.

Arthif: Another big thing about boxing is the amount of punishment that you have and that’s what we call the mileage on the clock. So you can have a 25 year old who has a rocky style of taking three punches and giving three back and you’re going to put miles on your clock with that style, with that way of boxing. The more you get hit, the more it’s going to affect your career, your longevity. So although the age might be 25, biologically they’ll be 45 really. That’s why the likes of Floyd Mayweather and others, they’ve sort of shown different in that regard. So that’s even myself I obviously it started of late but I’m really fortunate I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, you know, I generally sort of live and eat clean, I’m always in the gym, taking over and I don’t have that mileage on my clock with the punishment and stuff.

Arthif: So I’m happy and lucky in that regard, but obviously boxing has a shelf life, you can’t do it forever. So I’ll probably give this another two years or so, see what happens. Obviously with Covid, it’s obviously impaired things and has affected many people’s careers. And it’s affected my own boxing career. September to December. September, October, November … That’s 4 months. I’ve had six fights cancelled just in the last four months, let alone the rest of 2020. So obviously it’s been a difficult year for everyone.

Prav: Everyone. Yeah.

Arthif: But for sports athletes, it certainly has and I can definitely speak on my own. I was supposed to have my U.S. debut in September 2020. Have a big U.S. Holloways fight in the West Coast, which obviously didn’t happen. So now is almost back to quare one. You know, we will have to with my team, My team are looking to keep me active. I want to try and make up for lost time and have as many fights as I can have between now and August, September, when I have my U.S. debut then. Going to see how it goes. So yeah, maybe another one or two years, see how it goes.

Payman: It takes a degree of obsession to want to be the champ, to want to be the best at something like boxing. You’ve got to completely be laser-focused on it. Right. Does that rub off on dentistry? Has that helped you in dentistry, or for now you’re so focused on boxing? Because we had Robbie Hughes on this show and he was a world class kick boxer at one point, but he actually gave up kickboxing to really focus on dentistry. But he says, “If I could be the best in the world at kickboxing, I can definitely be the best dentist.” He’s just got his ambitions of opening 100 practises all other the world and all of this sort of thing. Are there parallels? I mean for instance, when you keep talking about Floyd Mayweather said this or Lennox this, in a way you think of mentors in dentistry. Right. You’ve really been pushed forward by these conversations and the experience of the greats. If you were exposed to great dentists left, right and centre, that would definitely help. Right.

Arthif: Yeah. No, for sure.

Payman: Tell me about the parallels.

Arthif: Yeah. You know what it is? I think generally in life, I’m one of those people where if I do something, I want to give it a 100%. I don’t believe in putting 50% in something. Just since I was a kid, I’ve just never believed in doing something and being average at it. I want to be the best, whatever I did. And it was crazy because … Actually when I went for my BT interview I actually got the job as well, actually. This one liner I did … Generally I’m just nice, they were impressed with me, but they really liked this line actually. It was actually a quote from Mohammed Ali. Mohammed Ali said famously, he said, “If I was going to be a binman, I would’ve been the world’s greatest binman ever.”

Arthif: And do you know what it is? That’s the attitude which I had in general, in life. And that’s something that, whatever I want to do, I want to do the best I can and be the best I can at it. So when I was in my studies, a B was never good enough. I wanted that A. I wanted to flourish in my academics. Not many people know this, as of now, I used to be a massive cricket player. I used to play cricket, I used to play for St Mary’s. I actually got called for Middlesex trials back when I just started university but then it was too much, so i said it’s not going to happen so I didn’t pursue with that. But almost every season I used to be the highest wicket taker in my bowling.

Arthif: When I used to play I always I wanted to envisage myself playing for Middlesex and playing for England. That’s what I wanted to do. For me it wasn’t just, “I’m just going to be a club cricketer and just play on Sundays.” I’d be thinking, “No. I want to do this. I want to be the best at it.”

Arthif: So the same actually with boxing. Obviously, I didn’t envisage myself being a professional at that stage at all but then when I did begin to excel and I had obviously great people around me, that’s an obviously one “Hang on a second, I can do this here.” Dentistry, same thing. It’s like, I’ve been doing sort of stool … I love general practise. I do love dentistry. I’ll be honest, I like every aspect of dentistry, every faculty of dentistry, except one. I’m going to get you guys to guess, which one bit of dentistry don’t I like? And I’m not even ashamed to tell people.

Payman: Aesthetics dentist.

Arthif: Dentures is your guess? All right. What about you Prav, what do you think?

Prav: What you dislike?

Arthif: Yeah.

Prav: The GDC.

Arthif: I don’t think anyone loves them. In clinical dentistry.

Speaker 2: Root canal.

Arthif: Oh my days, Prav got it. I don’t like endo and it’s just something I just don’t enjoy really, especially with [crosstalk].

Payman: It’s very difficult with boxing gloves, isn’t it?

Arthif: Maybe incisors and premolars, maybe. But molar endo? Yeah, no. But yeah, no I really enjoy all aspects of dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, restorative dentistry, all surgery, and also tooth widening.

Payman: Are you a principled?

Arthif: No, I don’t have time to be principled. How can I? There’s no way. So I’ve always been an associate and proud and happy with that. There’s no way I could juggle to be a principle. No, I could not do professional boxing if I was a principle, no way. But all surgery, implants. I love implants. So it’s something that I’m always trying to do courses to further excel myself. I really want to be the best that I can in that field.

Arthif: I’ve been also, at the same time, sort of been doing things like … and to do my masters at the same time. So now I’ve done sort of my post graduate certificate, sort of paying that. So know I just have to set back my cases and do my dissertations in order to get my masters and implants too. So its something that, you know, obviously has slow down my dentistry in terms of the academic side of things. But I definitely do plan in making up for that loss time once I call boxing a day. But obviously I love boxing, and I was very-very fortunate to have been given opportunities already from several people and bodies, when I retire from boxing. I’ve been given some great job opportunities in the boxing field, in the boxing world.

Arthif: Which is wonderful, which is something I always wanted to do And a long side my dentistry, you know, you’ve got plans you want to excel in that, as you said as well. I’ not someone who is just happy to be a boxer and a general dentist and just stay there, just doing the same old thing, no you know. I want to excel, I want to be the best that I can at everything that I do

Payman: You basically said “your quite competitive” right?[crosstalk 00:49:31] did you sometimes get the

Arthif: Of my self I would say. I compete against my self. So [crosstalk]am not

Payman: The down side of being competitive. You don’t get that down side.

Arthif: You know, the thing is obviously, I wouldn’t say its a down side or such because I always want to improve, I don’t want to be the best at something and something adequate or decent for me is not good enough. If I say for someone else, you know, I would be very encouraging and positive “has that’s really good, well done” you know, I believe in being positive with other in order and those around you, that’s really important. With my self something decent or average isn’t good enough, I will strive to improve and get that excellent result.

Payman: Have you ever got any patience coming to you because your Dr hitman?

Arthif: Yeah, all the time.

Payman: Do you get more patience, Do you?

Arthif: All the time. Yeah am blessed, its nice I appreciate that. Those people who know me I’ve never let my success get to my head I’m always grateful and appreciate, I thank god for everything his given me and just believe to be arrogant and hort. You know, god will take my success and just give it to someone else. Its just… I’m grateful thankful to god for everything he has given me and I’m just happy, am blessed and able to motivate people or make someone happy by doing something simple for me because I’ve been I that position and still am where, you know, I have mentors and role models and people who give me their time to do things, so seemly why can’t I do that for someone else.


New Speaker: Anyway how much does faith feature in boxing for you, in believe, in thanking for having the opportunity before you go out there and after you win and the gratitude. Just talking about your mind set and believes around.

Arthif: Yeah, you know, definitely I always believed in being grateful thanks to oh my god and , you know, that’s where I get a lot of my strength, patience and you’ve got to be strong, but not just in boxing only, but in life in general, we all have our ups and downs. So, yo know, I get a lot of my strength through my faith and anytime, if we go through difficulties and boxing has been.. one things even for example my record is seventeen and three losses all three of my losses were under very controversial circumstances. Its boxing it’s one of those things, but you got to be strong and rise above it. You know, you’ve got two choices when you get hit with something, you know with that veracity, is all about how you respond.

Arthif: You know, if your going to be weak and let that overcome you. You know, that’s going to be your choice, than you not going to be able to propel any further, If you going to just take it on the chin and be like “you know what? Okay I’ve been knocked down, am going to dust my self up and push on.” And that what makes champions, that’s what makes people great.

Arthif: People will always remember Thomas Edison when inventing the light bulb, how many times did Thomas Edison fail? Countless times, you know, you won’t remember that. You know when you look up an iceberg, you know, the structure underneath the sea is huge, its almost like the tip of what you see on the top, you know there’s all that underneath, you know, there’s all that hard work, dedication, the difficult which people don’t see.

Arthif: For it maybe there’s earning all of those millions, all his millions, he grew up in a room…he grew up in a place where its like just a small room and there’s about ten people in there, you know, he didn’t grow up with a silver spoon, you know he worked his way hard in order to obtain this success and earn all that success and wealth that is earned. And

Arthif: I’ve been very fortunate where we used to do late night sessions with Floyd Mayweather so another thing I sort of picked up from him and Danny Williams where during my fight times… close to my fight, I would train at night so mirror the time of my fight, for circadian rhythms to develop your time in boxing and that’s something something also I’ve picked up with my sports science BSc as well. So in that time Floyd Mayweather he’d be training at night and there would be times were he would just sit and talk with us until sunrise. You know just giving us pearls of wisdom.

Arthif: So its about how you respond and faith has given me that ability to look and analyse things, not just, and just think, you know, look at things for beyond what they are. And its like when I had my last controversial loss I was six and three. Six wins, three losses, you know suddenly you know, and I remember people looking and thinking maybe are you going to stop or are you going to carry on, how are you going to carry on.

Arthif: And yeah of cause I’m going to carry on. You know, and all thanks to god today I’m seventeen to three, you know, I didn’t look back. So I get a lot of that through my faith and I get a lot of that through my strength through god and I always pray, I’m not a perfect person I have my mistakes, but always ill do my prayers I do my 5 prayers a day you know it just take 5 minutes I have my schedule to just thank my creator remember him and it just give me that moment of coming out of this quick.. you know, life is so fast, its so dynamic and you just get like 5-10 min out you just stand before your creator its just you and him and you just talk to him, you know, and it gives you that that tranquillity that’s serenity and its, you know, that’s why in one of the advantages I’ve had beautifully with my boxing, I’ve been able to travel.

Arthif: You know, I love travelling I love seeing the world, I love nature, you know, again you just look at these things and just remember god the creator the his removals creation, you just think of, wow what you there. Space sta… I love, you know, I love astronomy and I look at these and it just allows you to have a moment of time and it just gives you that strength and it gives you that mental strengths that we talk about in boxing which you rally need. So it plays a really big factor in my life and my career for sure.

Payman: Give me two moments like a real… its very obvious right, if I say give me your high moment you’ll say, yeah ” when I won that fight” but I don’t mean that. I mean you have travelled around, yeah you have seen thing that you wouldn’t have seen you have met people you would never dreamt about meeting. Give me one moment, which is high moment and than give me a low moment as well

Arthif: Oh damn, okay, well no one has ever asked me that before. Okay I will I’ve you the low moment first I suppose right, probably the easiest was that, I think the low…yeah there’s been definitely lods in my boxing career, to easily pick out will be all three of my contravention losses, but, yeah, I think its probably the boxer as a fighter there’s not worse feeling than losing its a horrible feeling, you know, but[crosstalk 00:57:28]

Payman: Physical and mental right? I mean you have been [crosstalk] beaten up

Arthif: No, not physical, no I’ve never…its not like I was beaten up or anything like that no. That wasn’t physical hurt at all, I wasn’t physically… for example, one of the fights was just a, you know, robbery for example, two of them was just politics and rubbish and gains hours before I went to the ring, you know, one guy he ended up being a stone heavier than was supposed to be, you know, all sort of rubbish and mind game and rubbish, so no, not physically just mentally, you just down and you just disappointed in your self and just disappointed of the situations, since I was young somebody did this, so I was saying I suppose yeah, you know if I was to say in a nut shell that’s probably been a disappointing[crosstalk 00:58:19] thing and stuff like that for sure.

Arthif: And yeah I’ve been very fortunate to have seen so many high’s. What can I say in the ring obviously the is no nicer feeling than sort of obviously wining, but outside of boxing definitely I’ve hade some great meeting and great contraventions. I’ve just really been fortunate I guess to have had sort of very high profile people who’ve excepted me their circles as friends and trusted me with things and information and I’ve always been very coactions of that and not wanting to revel thing In public. There’s literally…theirs many things I’ve hade very personal moments. Id probably say, I’ve had some really-really amazing personal moments with Floyd Mayweather, that’s why I love and respect him a lot because his done a lot for me and there’s thing that I wouldn’t say on camera or in public that is just between me and Floyd, you know.

Payman: What’s it like hanging out with your idol?

Arthif: Yeah. I just feel I’m blessed, am thankful, you know, it really is amazing. I just myself, you know, I won’t be “oh” be like am just being frozen. I think one of the reasons where I have been fortunate and blessed to have this…be friend with this legends or hall of famous, I just carried myself I’m just being myself, you know, with me what you see is what you get and I just…I’m not perfect, I have many mistakes, okay, but one thing is that what you see is what you get with me and I’ve just carried my self as aim.

Payman: Because a lot [crosstalk] of people stake advantage of those relationships

Arthif: Like for example [e] some people would be like “where ever my use may be, what ever I “if am talking with anyone I voice my views or if its like. For example I pray, am not going to hide and be ashamed of my faith and say “oh am not going to pray for them.” You know what is like with Floyd Mayweather he respects me as so much praying in fact, he gives me a place to pray. There’s time I will be praying and he goes like “hitman” he calls me hitman. Hitman don’t [inaudible] he goes in to another room and he goes and be like “yo get hitman another room give him a place to pray” you know, so I’m just myself, you know, if prayer times come in, so I will step out for five minutes and pray somewhere quietly and discretely.

Arthif: I remember once we were having a chat about something. It was myself, Floyd and a few others in the room. I disagree, I wouldn’t really do this.” I basically disagreed with him and he goes, “Okay, why? Why would you say that? What’s your reasoning for this?” And I just said my reasoning, I just said that and stuff. Basically, my point being was I wasn’t being a yes man and just agreeing with him. I’m very sort of open and just am myself so obvious then respectfully articulated my views and my opinion to him on that regard of the subject about life. And sort of that was the end. So it’s humbling and great to be in those circles and I’ve just sort of been myself really.

Payman: When you go back to your childhood, do feel like there’s a defining feature of your childhood that makes you that guy? On one aspect of it, the competitiveness, the ambition, on the other side of it, what you’re saying now.

Arthif: It’s difficult. No I couldn’t pinpoint to one point, but generally, coming back to it, faith was a integral part of obviously growing up. And secondly was my upbringing with my parents. My mother and father, they were instrumental in my upbringing, especially my mother. I’m a proud mommy’s boy, if you know. My mom is my best friend, so I’m really really close to my mom and I speak to her everyday. She’s my best friend and she was amazing, instilling so many things in me and having that positivity, having no fear. She’s a really intelligent woman, educated. And she would tell me stories, true stories or legends and just tell me aspects of life. She’s still my life coach and my mentor.

Arthif: A lot of that, sort of, no fear approach or just going out there, not being afraid to get something and stuff. Definitely, there’s a big thanks to her for that part, for sure.

Payman: Does she watch your fights? Or she doesn’t?

Arthif: That’s a really interesting question. Basically, she was really upset when I was boxing at first and she wouldn’t want to know. She’d be really scared, she’d be really nervous. And she didn’t approve as well. She didn’t approve, she’d be telling to me to stop and stuff like that. But then as time went she realised, “This guy’s going to do it anyways regardless, so he may as well have my blessings and support and prayers.” I always had her prayers, I guess. Which was great, it was a great feeling for me. So now she’s not scared as such anymore, I suppose. I suppose she knows I can look after myself and I’m pretty good. Obviously she’d still be nervous and she’d still be praying on my fights. And asking, “What’s happened to your fight? Have you finished? Have you won? What happened?” Stuff like that. But she’s very positive so that’s great.

Payman: You talked about your mom worrying about injury, right? And you’re kind of medically trained and all that. How does head injury feature in your thinking or as a fighter is doesn’t?

Arthif: It doesn’t. Because that’s one part of the thing, we’re fighters, we’re not logical. We’re a different breed. So no. All thanks to God, nothing’s happened. No sort of injuries. Obviously you go into a shower, you’ll get wet. So you’re going to get into the ring, of course you’re going to get hit. So you might get some bruising or scuffing or whatever, that’s normal. But it’s like, you’re a fighter, that’s what you expect. There’s been times, for example, I’ve had some busing or a little bit of cut or whatever. And then I’ll have some female members of my family, they’ll be like “Oh no, what’s happened? What happened?” You stretch your arm and like, “Look. Look. It’s fine.” You don’t want to talk about it, you’re a fighter.

Arthif: I don’t want any sympathies for a scuffle mark or anything like that. It’s like, “Come on, I’m not a …” I’m not going to use a certain word. I’m sure you can imagine what word I’m saying. I’m not peep. I’m not one of those. I’m a warrior. I’m a fighter. What’s that. No, so you don’t think about that. No. You go into this fight and you go in there to win. You don’t think about anything else. Are you guys movie guys?

Payman: Yeah.

Prav: Sure.

Arthif: Have you seen the movie Troy?

Payman: Troy? No.

Prav: No.

Arthif: No, you have to. You’ve not seen Troy? Really?

Prav: I like good movies dude. Troy is [fantastic] movie. I’m joking.

Arthif: No, no, no. I was going to drop a quote from Troy but it’s fine, it’s all right. You just go in there, you back yourself, you believe in yourself. You’re there to fight. And obviously, you want to be smart, but there’s a lot of courage. There’s been many boxers who’ve been very talented in the gyms but the moment they step out into the lights, in front of a large audience, they’ll freeze. They’ll have doubts or they won’t perform and it’s sad to see. You’ve got to be strong and you don’t have any doubts. You’re not worried about XYZ or nay injuries or whatever, you’re just there to fight and to win.

Payman: What’s been your favourite country you’ve visited on? All these countries you’ve been to.

Arthif: Oh wow. I haven’t been to any place where I was like, “Wow, what they hell have I come to. I don’t want to come back here again.” So that’s a good thing. That’s a good thing. So I can definitely say that. So I’ve always had positive experiences and it’s nice. I’ve [crosstalk] …

Payman: Maybe as far as with boxing culture.

Arthif: Again, and Payman already asked me, I’ve never been subject to any racism as well. Wherever I’ve travelled, it’s been great. But then some people say, “Don’t forget because you’re boxing, you’ll be in the cameras, media. So people they always come and they want to have some selfies with you or they want to get your signature or whatever. Autograph and stuff. So it’s …” I’ve always had a positive experience wherever I’ve gone. But I really enjoy the U.S. I love travelling to the U.S. And it’s weird because I love New York, New York is amazing.

Arthif: And it’s funny because if you go to the U.S., especially in the West Coast, generally people don’t like New York because it’s very hustly and bustly. There’s a lot of hustle and bustle and people relate it to London. Obviously there’s a difference between London and Manchester. Famously London is sort of on their own mission. No smiles, you go in the tube, no one want to talk to you. But if you go up to Manchester or Yorkshire, or anywhere like that, everyone will talk to everyone. Everyone will smile, “Good morning. How are you doing.” Whatever. And I’ll equate that New York, with London, but New York’s a lot more friendly than London.

Arthif: I love New York, I love all parts of the U.S. where I’ve travelled to. There wasn’t any place in the U.S. where I didn’t enjoy. Obviously, Vegas is cool as well but I really enjoy the West Coast in sort of the California. I think California is a great place. It’s a great place. The weather, the people, everything about it. It’s brilliant. I really enjoy it. I love going to California for sure.

Payman: Love that, man. Well, we’re way past our allocated time.

Arthif: Hey, but I noticed the bridge at the back. You got the …

Payman: San Francisco.

Arthif: San Francisco bridge. Yeah.

Payman: Golden gate.

Arthif: I can see Alcatraz. I’ve been on that bridge loads of times by the way.

Payman: Me too there. Went to Marion County. Right. That’s where all the big houses are, right? Prav always ends this podcast with the same question. Or actually, it’s a set of questions.

Prav: Yeah. It’s a few hypotheticals, right? But, imagine it was your last day on the planet and you had your loved ones around you and you had to leave them with three pieces of life advice, what would they be?

Arthif: Right. Yeah, so that’s a tough one. This one is a profound question. I love profound questions and thoughts. First and foremost, I’d say it’s to be thankful and grateful to God. He’s given me everything. You can easily sort of get in and dragged into that whole spiral of looking at others who’ve been throughout more than you, who’ve been given, whether physical abstract ways or any other way really. But there’s always people who are far less fortunate than you. So it’s really easy to be engulfed in that. So first and foremost is to always be thankful, always be grateful to God for what you’ve been blessed with.

Arthif: Secondly, to do good to others because that good will always come back to you. So treating others how you’d wish to be treated. What you sow in life is what you reap. And always do good wherever you can. And don’t belittle any goodness.

Arthif: So lastly, I’d say it’s to believe in yourself. Go out there, get it. Never let anyone tell you, you can’t do something. There’s always going to be naysayers, there’s always going to be negative people. Everyone has an opinion. People are often focused on other people’s lives and less on their own. So you always get people saying something about what you’re doing. And if it’s negative, take it with a pinch of salt and you just carry on believing in yourself and go out there and get what you want.

Prav: And then, I’ve got two more questions. So the next question is a little bit easier. How would you like to be remembered? So either artist, Daniel or Dr. Hitman was … finish the sentence.

Arthif: A genuine person who gave it their all in whatever they did.

Prav: Good. Beautiful. And finally, a bit of a hypothetical. I’m going to put a little bit of a twist on this. Imagine you’ve got a month left to live. You know you’ve got a month from now. Right. You’ve got 30 days, okay?

Arthif: Right.

Prav: So in this particular case, I’m going to give you all your health. Right. So you’ve to a 100% of your health until the 30th day. What are you going to do?

Arthif: I would maximise my efforts in helping many certain people and society. Just in my ever good I could, whether that be … not just in terms of charitable aspects and doing things financially or giving whatever and just talking to orphans, whatever. Just wanting to help people any way I possibly could. And that’s where also my faith will come in as well because obviously, I believe in a afterlife, I believe in a reckoning. I believe in accountability where our creator will ask about ourselves and or time spent on this Earth.

Arthif: I believe in that where as a Muslim there’s two aspects. One is that, there’s rights of God, between you and God. And then there’s rights of people around you. If you look at a Psalm, most of it is all about being mindful of those around you. Don’t do no harm. It’s always about everyone around you, whether it’s your family, whether it’s your immediate or parents, your spouse, your siblings, your children. Or even you neighbours, talks about the 40 houses around you, are your neighbours. You should be mindful of your neighbours, not causing harm and not causing distress to anyone around you.

Arthif: And it goes on to humanity, then it goes into animals and saying there’s reward in treating every good thing. There’s famous narrations of the… There was a prostitute who obviously, he had a immoral life. One day she went to drink some water, she saw a thirsty dog just licking the mud, it was so thirsty. So she went, filled up her boot from the well and gave it water. On account of just that action, she was forgive by God and given paradise. There was a woman, equally, who neglected a kitten. Tortured it, didn’t give it any food, Treated it inhumanely and she went to hell for it. I cannot preffare abuse to an animal. So that’s just that animals will always [inaudible] with us. So there’s all those aspects there.

Arthif: So just doing good really, it’s like … And there’s another narration which the book of Mohammed said that, “If I were to come upon you, the day of resurrection, the day of judgement , then do any good, even if it is if you have a seed in your hand and you plant that seed, do that.” Which is amazing because some of the scholars when they’ve discussed this and they look at the one example, the parable that Mohammed gave is that, if you were to plant a seed and that would grow to be tree and people would benefit from that tree, whether it be the shade or the fruit of that tree. You’re benefiting the planet with oxygen and carbon dioxide in that respect. So Islam is a lot about benefiting others and treating things around you in a good way, or regardless of what factors.

Arthif: So that’s something that’s a cornerstone of my faith, something I believe in. And at the end days, the problem is that you reap what you sow. When you do that, you’d get goodness in this life and in the hereafter for acting in such a way.

Payman: What an answer, man.

Prav: Beautiful.

Arthif: Thank you.

Prav: I think I’ve [crosstalk].

Payman: What an answer.

Prav: I think I should have a whole nother hour long conversation just to look at that. Take it a bit further. Yeah. Really, really interesting. Thank you so much for your time.

Arthif: Thank you.

Prav: It’s been inspiring.

Payman: It’s been a real pleasure to meet you buddy. Real, real pleasure.

Arthif: It’s been a pleasure being in your show. I’ve heard great things about your show, so it’s been great to have finally been on.

Outro Voice: This is dental leaders. The podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts, Payman Langoudi and Prav Solanki.

Prav: Thanks for listening guys. If you got this far, you must’ve listened to whole thing. And just a huge thank you from me and Pay for actually sticking through and listening to what we had to say and what our guest 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 much for listening. Thanks.

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

This week’s guest is the youngest member to achieve British Association of Cosmetic Dentistry (BACD) accreditation.

And he is just getting started.

Multi-award-winning Dr Richard Field talks about his early training with the great Christopher Orr and discusses his laser-sharp focus.

He also lets us in on high-profile associate work at Elleven Dental on Harley Street, his recent move to the southwest and much more.



“I get very tunnel-vision when I’m working. Nothing else exists. Just the teeth.” – Richard Field


In This Episode

01.54 – Backstory
09.06 – BACD and VT
17.37 – On courses
21.29 – Management
27.52 – Large sums of money
33.58 – Aesthetics vs functional
36.27 – Drive
38.05 – Social media
44.18 – Elleven Dental
46.37 – Bristol
52.24 – Blackbox thinking
55.19 – Last day and legacy

About Richard Field

Dr Richard Field graduated from the University of Glasgow with honours in 2011. He completed his foundational year in Surrey and gained a postgraduate certificate in primary care dentistry from the University of Kent.

He is the youngest member to have been accredited by the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and winner of several awards including Best Young Dentist 2014 and Most Influential Dentist 2015.

Richard Field: So I think we shouldn’t get used to seeing that much money. We shouldn’t just take it for granted. We should respect it, because it’s money, and it’s often huge amounts of money, but you’re there providing a service and you are worth that money, but you should never take it for granted.

Speaker 2: This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts, Payman Langroudi and Prav Solanki.

Payman Langroud…: On the podcast today, one of the young dentists that I consider to be one of the most talented young dentists that I’ve come across, Richard Field, I’ve known since fourth year of dental school, Richard?

Richard Field: Yes. Something like that, yes. Long time.

Payman Langroud…: Yes, and-

Richard Field: [inaudible] dentist.

Payman Langroud…: I’ve been following his career from that time, since I think you were a student helper type at the BACD, and since then we’ve done quite a lot together. We’ve been on conferences together. Richard’s helped teaching on the Mini Smile Makeover course, but I think it’s going to be a very interesting interview, Rich, because you’ve had a bunch of very, if you like, high profile associate jobs, and now got the title of the youngest dentist ever to become accredited by the BACD. That’s quite an achievement in itself, but I think for someone who’s trying to make it out there, a young dentist, the blueprint of following what you’ve done in your career really will be helpful to a bunch of people. Good to have you, buddy. How are you?

Richard Field: Thanks for having me. All good. Had a nice weekend, it’s been good. This is a nice way to round it out.

Payman Langroud…: Yes, so your dad’s a dentist.

Richard Field: Yes, or he was. He retired last … No, a year and a half ago.

Payman Langroud…: Oh, really? And as a child, was there much pressure to become a dentist? Or how early on did you decide you wanted to be a dentist?

Richard Field: Dentistry was actually quite a late decision for me. I’d say, if anything, my dad tried to not put me off, but he certainly didn’t encourage it, because I don’t think he particularly enjoyed the business side of it. He enjoyed the practical side of it, but there was never any push at all, really. I actually only did work experience, so I could tell people to stop asking me do I want to be a dentist like my dad? So I really only did the work experience almost out of spite, to be like all right. I’ve done the work experience. I don’t like it. I’m not going to be a dentist, but I actually found that I did the work experience, I realised that I had no idea what a dentist did. Really, actually, quite enjoyed myself, and actually, from there, I’ve never looked back. Yes, it was-

Payman Langroud…: So you surprised yourself.

Richard Field: I surprised myself, yes, completely.

Payman Langroud…: What were you thinking of becoming?

Richard Field: Well, I originally wanted to be a vet, and I’m allergic to most animals, so that quickly ruled that out. And then, before I got my exam results in fifth year, which is the second last year of school in Scotland, I was all set to go to catering college, because three of my four grandparents, they were chefs. And I was actually all set to go to catering college, and then I ended up doing the dental work experience. I got better results in my exams than I was expecting and that just went from there.

Payman Langroud…: Ah, because I was going to come onto the foodie side of things. One of the few people who I will really trust with restaurant recommendations anywhere in the world. In fact, most of the time when we go on these conferences and things, Richard is the social secretary who plans out all the meals, so that’s interesting. I didn’t even know that then. I had no idea that there was that in your background. What does your brother do?

Richard Field: My brother’s just finished his PhD in, actually, not dental related, but he did it in Sheffield Dental School, and I think it really annoyed him when someone came up to him, and he thought he’d got away from me, and said, “Are you Richard Field’s little brother?”

Payman Langroud…: So what’s he done?

Richard Field: I might get this wrong. He has done his PhD in nerve regeneration, so I think a part of it actually was to do with ID nerve damage. He’s much smarter than me, so I don’t quite understand a lot when he talks, but it’s something to do with nerve regeneration, and I know a part of it was with Sheffield Dental School and the ID nerve.

Payman Langroud…: So, as a dental student, where did you study? In Edinburgh?

Richard Field: Actually, Edinburgh Dental School is now a vodka bar. I’ve had most … During dental school, but no, I was in Glasgow University. That was good fun. I did apply to London, and Cardiff actually was my second. It was either going to be Glasgow or Cardiff. If I’d gone to Cardiff, I think that’s where Tom went, so I could have met Tom a few years earlier, Tom Young.

Payman Langroud…: That’s where I went too, not that we would have met each other, but how much knowledge of dentistry did you have? Outside of the obvious. Had you decided then, once you decided to become a dentist, did you then start taking more of an interest? How much of an advantage is it to have a dad who’s a dentist? I know there’s quite of a lot of you guys, people like Simon Chard and Christian Coachman.

Richard Field: I think it depends. My dad, he is more into oral surgery. He didn’t really enjoy the restorative side of dentistry. We never talked about dentistry ever really, so from my side of things, it wasn’t really an advantage or a disadvantage. It wasn’t really anything from my experience, but I know with some people, if their parents have practises or they’re going to go into the family business, then that can make a difference, but from my side of things, it didn’t really play out. Other than the guy interviewing me at Glasgow was in my dad’s year and I didn’t know if they were friends or not, so that could have gone …

Payman Langroud…: What were you like as a dental student? How did you find the dental course? Were you a high flyer? Because when I met you in that fourth year, I did think you were quite ambitious, focused, at that point even.

Richard Field: Well, I do remember getting pulled off [Pete’s] for being difficult, because they wanted you to put [inaudible] and put it on a micro brush, and I felt that wasn’t accurate enough and I didn’t do that. I remember getting pulled aside for that and saying, “Just do what you’re told.”

Richard Field: I did have my own composite kit. I think it was Dentsply used to run a competition, I think it’s a Ceram.x competition, and when they gave a kit of composites to each dental school. And I found it in one of the tutor’s office and I was like, “Can I have this?” They were like, “Yes, okay.” So I was probably that guy.

Richard Field: Taking photographs at dental school was really, they made it into a big thing. You have to prebook. You can take your own photos. You had to prebook the photographer. He then made a big song and dance about how complicated photographs were to be taken.

Richard Field: He’d just go on to clinic with his cameras, or you’d have to go down to this massive photo studio, and there was a couple of cases that I was photographed, but they made it out as if it was this really complicated difficult thing, which I think was the wrong thing to do for a dental student. They should have been more open about how photography is, and not make it this mystical art.

Richard Field: I probably did annoy my tutors. I probably annoyed them a little bit, but it was like school. There’s ones who relish questions and there’s ones who want you just to shut up and listen, and I got on better with the ones who liked questions than the others. I had one particular, my class tutor, he was very, Dr. Watson. He was very encouraging, and then there was Andrew Carruthers, who was our restorative tutor.

Richard Field: He’s the one that gave me the composite kit, and he had a CEREC in his office again, that no one used, and we got to use that, which was great. There was a few that if you showed an interest they really enjoyed that, and there was a few that just were there to teach and didn’t really want your feedback or your input.

Payman Langroud…: As a fourth year turning up to a BACD conference, how does that feel? Because in my day BACD didn’t exist, let alone turning up to a conference at that age. Did it blow you away? Was that a major influence?

Richard Field: I had no idea what I was going to. There was an email saying, “Anyone want to help out at this conference?” And I was thinking, well, some time off uni. That’d be fun, so I actually had no idea what I was going to, but one of the tutors said he was disappointed in me for going to help all the cowboys at the conference, so there’s definitely the-

Payman Langroud…: Oh, because it was anti cosmetics.

Richard Field: Yes, so there’s definitely some positive feedback from the dental school, some negative feedback, but from my point of view it changed my life, that conference. I can say it without sounding too cheesy. That conference changed my life, because I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t gone, if I hadn’t met those people, if I hadn’t seen what you could actually do as a dentist, besides from fillings and removable dentures.

Richard Field: The key turning point was there was one lecture. It was a panel discussion between Chris Orr, Ken Harris and James Russell, and that was the defining moment. Going to that lecture and seeing these three guys present these three cases, doing things that I’d never seen nor thought were possible. That was really amazing.

Payman Langroud…: I would recommend it to any ambitious student who wants to understand what’s going on in the big wide world, to turn up to that thing. Everyone who did turn up ended up having a great career from where I could see. It’s one of those things that you have no idea about, until you have the idea about it, isn’t it? Okay. Then you qualified. Where did you do VT? Up in Scotland?

Richard Field: I did VT in Horley, which is a small town near Gatwick. I lived in Brighton for a year. I actually moved to London for a few months. London then terrified me. I wasn’t ready for that, so I moved to Brighton and I commuted from Brighton to Horley near Gatwick for VT, and then I was very close, actually, to going to Australia.

Richard Field: I did interviews with on Skype, lining them up, and then I just ended up getting an offer from a practise in Islington, because I’d made the decision if I was going to go to Australia I wasn’t going to come back, because it’s a long way to go for a year, go for two years. I know people do that, but I got the offer from the place in Islington and it was a massive, massive practise.

Richard Field: It had 54,000 UDA contracts I think. There was no, you couldn’t book an appointment. You just had to turn up, and when you were finished with your patient you went downstairs and you pulled the next file out from the waiting patient’s paper file. And you call the patient, and they stood up off the ground if there wasn’t a seat, and you take them up, get their treatment, and then their notes were thrown back in the pile, until the next time they wanted to turn up for a checkup. That was-

Payman Langroud…: Can’t imagine you stayed there very long.

Richard Field: I was there for six weeks, and I got fired-

Payman Langroud…: Six weeks.

Richard Field: Yes. I got fired. I don’t mind saying that.

Payman Langroud…: What happened?

Richard Field: I don’t really know, to be honest. I got accused of gaming and I didn’t really know what that was, and I think that I’d wanted to see this person again three months after, because they had an abnormal lesion and I wanted to put fluoride on them, and the boss was a bit, I don’t really know. He didn’t like me.

Richard Field: He said I was gaming the system. I couldn’t work there, and this is at lunch, and next Friday would be my last day. Then my next patient came in after lunch and said, “How are you doing?” I burst into tears. That was an interesting afternoon, but I don’t regret it.

Richard Field: Actually, after that, it was an interesting time. I was unemployed for about four months, and I was sleeping on a lie below on the floor of one of the other associates in the practice’s spare room, until he got drunk one night and was like, “Mate, when are you moving out?” I was like, “Oh, yes,” and then I moved in with a friend from school for a little bit, and Tif then offered my job, and again that was Tif Qureshi, and that was my stepping stone from VET into private practise. Was a bit-

Payman Langroud…: Amazing, so you went to Kent to do that job.

Richard Field: Yes. Kent, so I got two jobs at the same time almost. I got the job with Tif. The interview was terrifying. He got me in and is like, “This is my business partner. He needs a two year composite,” and I was like, “Sorry?” Is like, “Yes, go back to the store and do his filling.”

Payman Langroud…: Wow, really?

Richard Field: That was a baptism of fire, but Tif was a fantastic mentor. We were never on the same day, but you could email him any time of day. 3:00 in the morning or whatever, and he replies in five minutes. Obviously, got the experience within the liner, with the CEREC, with the ABB cases. I didn’t want for any material, anything, so that was a fantastic opportunity, and within a few months I cold called a bunch of practises with CVs, and one of them was quite far away. It was [inaudible] one of your previous guests, Andy Moore.

Payman Langroud…: Andy Moore. What a legend.

Richard Field: He is. Still, to the day, one of my favourite places I’ve ever worked. He knows how to run a practise and he knows how to keep his staff happy. He’s a good guy, really good guy.

Payman Langroud…: Yes, so Advanced Dental wasn’t the most beautiful practise I’ve ever been to. What were you doing there? Were you just a general dentist in that implant situation?

Richard Field: Funnily enough, I was there for about six months and I was like I’ve got a real sense of déjà vu of this place, and it turns out, I went back to my university lecture notes and we’d had a lecture on surgery design, and the example they used was the surgery that I was working in, in Andy’s practise, and so that was a funny-

Payman Langroud…: I see.

Richard Field: Funny roundabout, and I was there, I was a general dentist. Obviously, I got all the bonding cases, ABB stuff, in use. They had a CEREC machine and that was my … I say CEREC was an interesting one, because it really taught you how to prep well, because you saw your margins on screen, so I’m saying I don’t necessarily, I’m not a huge fan of CEREC in terms of aesthetics.

Richard Field: I know it can be beautiful. You’ve got to put a lot of the work into it, but the one thing I was very grateful for CEREC for was teaching me that you’ve got to prep well and see your margins, because if you can’t see them on a 15 inch blown up monitor your technician’s not going to see them in your little stone model, so that was-

Payman Langroud…: Did you take the opportunity to learn about implants while you were there?

Richard Field: Yes and no. It was obviously always there, and I could see if I wanted to. Implants has never really interested me, surgery side of it. The restorative side, absolutely, but I’ve placed some implants with my current boss, with Alfonso. 100% success rate, place two. Still there, but it’s not something that really interests me at all, surgery. It’s something I feel you’ve got to be doing day in day out, like anything, 10,000 hours to get good at.

Payman Langroud…: I’m the same. Scared of blood. So along the way you’re saying you’ve had the fortune of working for some of the best there, right? With Tif Qureshi and Andy Moore, but which courses were you attending?

Richard Field: The courses thing I actually started quite early. I started doing courses actually in the fifth year of dental school through the BACD, and one of them was with Ivoclar and it was a composite course. I think it was one of the regional study groups, and I’m really glad I did that course, because a month or so after I’d had a patient booked in the clinic. Was one of my good friend’s girlfriend, and she had a big old class four in her tooth, and I in my infinite wisdom had said, “I’ll replace that for you. We’ll do a crown.”

Richard Field: Obviously, having no idea that a single central crown is one of the hardest things you can do as a dentist, but actually after this composite course, that actually maybe I could do this another way, and I got speaking to the Ivoclar guy. It segues into one of my motto. If you don’t ask you don’t get, and I asked, I was like, “Can you send me some composite? I’ve got this young girl.”

Richard Field: And he sent me this composite kit, and we ended up booking out two, three hour clinics to do my first big class four, and my friends go, which is actually still there today. I did it in 2006. No, 2006. 2011, and it’s still there almost 10 years later. I actually got that, the Ivoclar guy in to do one of our VT study days. So the course thing is since before I was graduated, and the one that’s made the biggest impact for me was Chris Orr’s course. The yearlong one.

Richard Field: I did that straight out of ET, and if I hadn’t done that course, because I was obviously straight out of ET. It was the job at Tif’s and the job at Andy’s. It was sink or swim. If I hadn’t done that course I wouldn’t have had the beginnings of the skills to do, or have the confidence to do the cases that I needed to do, so of course it’s from as soon as you can would be my advice.

Payman Langroud…: It’s interesting, because Chris himself didn’t used to take people that early.

Richard Field: No, he didn’t. I was the first, actually.

Payman Langroud…: Were you?

Richard Field: I was the first that he allowed, because you used to have to have done at least one year in clinic, one year in general practise, before you could do his course, but I was the first that he let in and straight from BT. And I think now actually he does that routinely, because if you don’t have to unteach bad habits to people I suppose they’ve got a better starting point, a better foundation, but that course, I’d recommend it to everybody. I know there’s other courses out there that are similar, but he’s the man. He’s the original-

Payman Langroud…: It’s a great course. Somehow, he manages to combine depth and breadth really simply. It’s an interesting … I always think about courses as either depth or breadth, and somehow he manages to get both into the same course. Now, look, you’ve worked in some of the highest profile practises around. It’s just a list of who’s who of London really. You’ve worked at the Andy Moore’s, we said, Harley Street Smile Dental Studio. You’ve worked at Elleven Dental. Ten Dental as well.

Richard Field: Ten Dental as well. Not related. That was with Nick and Martin. I’m still at Elleven. Spend there two days every other week and the rest of the time with Alfonso in-

Payman Langroud…: Now, finally, with Alfonso, who’s one of my favourite people in the world, so tell me this. It’s quite a lot of … I’ve only worked in my whole career in, I gave up dentistry, but I worked only in three practises and each one taught me a bunch of stuff. By the way, some stuff, things not to do, but if you had to distil, you’ve worked at these places where they’re right at the top of the field. If you had to distil some nuggets on how to run a practise, I know you’ve always been on the associate side in these practises, but what are the key things you’ve learned about practise management, patient management, team management, products, whatever it is?

Richard Field: I think, if you take Andy for example, I was there, I think I was there 2012, 2015, and if you look at who is still working there in terms of staff, is everyone bar people who’ve retired. So I think the first thing is keep your staff happy, because you’re screwed without them, really.

Richard Field: Treat your staff well and keep them happy, and I know there’s probably people listening to this who’ve worked with me thinking what’s he talking about? I know I can be quite difficult. I know I’m difficult to work with, but I think in the last few years for sure it’s hammered home that definitely keep your staff happy.

Payman Langroud…: Why are you difficult to work with? Do you have very high standards, and someone does something wrong?

Richard Field: I have very high standards for myself, and I have very high standards I suppose for the people around me, but I think the big thing is I get very tunnel vision when I’m working. Nothing else exists. Just the teeth, and I think if you don’t know me I can potentially, I assume I come across as quite, I could come across as quite stern. Or I get very focused in, so I go very quiet, and a lot of our appointments are maybe three, four, five hours long. I suppose it can be quite intimidating sitting next to someone who doesn’t really speak for that much time.

Payman Langroud…: How do you stop that spilling over into the patient? You’ve got these high standards, but bedside manner is definitely part of that, isn’t it?

Richard Field: For sure. A lot of the time, before these big long appointments, I’ll have spent a lot of time with these patients building up trust, building up conversation, but the nurses that I work with are very good and they will talk to the patient. Obviously, I’m not going to be silent for that long, but there’ll be portions of time where I’m just looking and I’ll put my hand out for something, and most of the time I’ll-

Payman Langroud…: If that thing doesn’t fall into your hand, now you’re really pissed off.

Richard Field: I never, I’m not someone who throws things around, I’m not someone who shouts, I’m not someone who does any of that. I just think it’s because I’m silent, that it might come across as quite like I’m angry. I don’t get angry in the surgery. I don’t get … I know a lot of dentists, or not a lot. I know of dentists who throw things around. That’s not me. I’m just quite a focused person, and if you’re new to working with me I suppose it can come across as either rude or indifferent maybe, but certainly there’s no intention behind it. If I ever work with someone new I’ll always say to them when I work I can get quite tunnel vision. Nothing’s ever personal. I get quite quiet, but it’s just the way I work.

Payman Langroud…: Tell me other stuff you’ve learned from these practises. Okay, so treat your staff well.

Richard Field: Treat your staff well. I don’t know if it’s what I’ve learned from these practises, but it’s something that I’ll often talk about with UR qualified dentists. Is don’t make the patient’s problem your problem, and I think it takes a good few years to acknowledge that, because you haven’t given the patient the care. You haven’t given them parity, or you didn’t do the last bad crown.

Richard Field: Don’t internalise your patient’s problems. You’re there to help them. Don’t get stressed about that, and generally I think it takes three or four years to get around to that way of thinking, and that’s something that I think is very important. In terms of from these practises, it’s a difficult one to answer, because I don’t really know any different.

Payman Langroud…: How about the differences between them? Do some of them have morning huddles and some of them don’t?

Richard Field: I’ve only worked in one, it was a morning huddle, and actually that was very good. That was 52, so the morning huddle, it was what were the problems from yesterday? How did they get sorted? Who have we got in today? Do we have any VIPs? Do they need any special things? Have we got lab work going out? Who’s dealing with the lab work? Who’s going to the post office?

Richard Field: That was very useful, and I know that taking 15 minutes out of the morning of your day with getting all your staff together can be quite challenging. 52, I think the first patient was a half nine in the morning huddle. I think it was 9:00 to 9:15, so everyone was in, even the dentists, half an hour earlier.

Richard Field: That’s a weird way of, as a self employed dentist, having to be in half an hour before you work. It’s a different way of thinking, but actually so many problems were avoided from that morning huddle. It’s worth its weight in gold, for sure.

Payman Langroud…: As a young dentist, you’ve probably been exposed to more VIPs. Have to talk about bigger prices than you were comfortable with. These are expensive practises that you’ve worked at. Take us through that, for instance. Leave the VIPs out of it for a moment. When you go to a practise, I remember working in a place where I thought, listen, I definitely couldn’t afford to be a patient in this place, and getting used to those numbers was a challenge.

Richard Field: That’s something actually, that again, I learned on Chris’ course, because there was a day, I can’t remember which day it was, where the homework was go home, look at yourself in the mirror and practise saying large sums of money … About saying is that okay?

Richard Field: I think a lot of us are hoping, so your insurance is going to be £15,000. Is that okay? No. You just stop talking, and silence is again from, I think it was Chris’ course. It was don’t fill the gaps with extra speaking, so you’re going to make, I’m talking about making an investment in your teeth, so I’d never say I know this is a lot of money to pay for your teeth.

Richard Field: I’d say we’re going to be making an investment in your smile. This is, I know it’s a lot of money to invest in your teeth. It’s something you’re going to be having for a long time. It’s adding value, not apologising and knowing your worth, and again, I think that goes hand in hand with not making the patient’s problems your problems.

Richard Field: Don’t be apologetic for the fees that you’re charging, because you’ve done five years of dental school, you’ve done thousands upon thousands upon thousands of pounds worth of courses. You’ve got glasses around your neck, magnify. You’ve got loops around your neck that cost £4,000. You’re in a surgery that’s filled with tens of thousands of pounds worth of material.

Richard Field: You’re valuable and the patient’s there for your help. Don’t be sorry for charging it. It is difficult and it’s not something that you’ll get used to quickly, but for sure it’s just knowing your worth I would say.

Payman Langroud…: By the way, I’ve had the opposite situation as well. Once you get used to those high prices, then you go somewhere where the prices are lower, that feels strange as well.

Richard Field: Well, on that side, it’s also not good to get used to it, because I do find myself just looking at this as numbers and not this filling. And it’s just numbers, but you realise, actually, that’s a month’s wages for someone or that’s a holiday. That’s repairing the car that they might not …

Richard Field: We’re just looking at those. Well, my hourly rate isn’t, I should have charged more for that, because I’ve earned a little bit less on this, but you’re thinking do you know what? That filling is potentially someone’s week, that’s the food budget, so I think we shouldn’t get used to saying that much money. We shouldn’t just take it for granted.

Richard Field: We should respect it, because it’s money and it’s often huge amounts of money, but you’re there providing a service and you are worth that money, but you should never take it for granted.

Payman Langroud…: I like that. You’ve grown up in the era of GDC problems.

Richard Field: Yes.

Payman Langroud…: How much does that weigh on you? Again, when I was your age it was a thing, but it was nowhere near the biggest thing, and I think from the day you qualified until now it’s been maybe the biggest thing of all. How defensive are you? Expand on that.

Richard Field: I would say I’m very defensive, to the point where I’ve turned people away before we even started, because I don’t think that I can either meet their expectations or I just get a funny feeling from someone. I’ll almost, I don’t know if this is an actual sales tactic that people use, but I try …

Richard Field: It’s not a sales tactic, but I really want people to want the work. I’ll never sell anything to someone, and again, I know I keep mentioning Chris, but in every single consultation that I do I say, if you had a magic wand, would you change anything about your smile?

Richard Field: If they say no, then, even if I could see the world’s ugliest crown on their front tooth, I won’t mention it. I won’t dwell on it, because I don’t want someone to do something, because I want to do it. I want them to do something, I’ll say to them …

Richard Field: Well, someone says, “Is there anything that you’d do?” And I was like, “Well, there’s lots that we can do, but if it’s not the first thing you think of in the morning and the last thing you think of before you go to bed then you’ll never be happy, because you don’t want to make the change.”

Richard Field: If you come in one day and say, “Right, I want to do X,” then absolutely I’ll do that for you, but I would rather someone ask me to do something and really want it, than give someone a £20,000 treatment plan and they do it, because they think it’s the right thing.

Richard Field: I obviously ask your question, are you happy with the colour of your teeth? Because nine times out of 10 someone will come in and say they want whiter teeth, and tell you that. I think that’s a very soft, nice approach in dentistry, but if someone just comes in and says what would you do?

Richard Field: Well, aesthetics is a very subjective thing, so what I think would look nice isn’t necessarily what you think would look nice. Is there anything that you’d change? If they say no, then move the conversation on.

Payman Langroud…: How much of your work is aesthetics and how much of it is functional? I know they go together, but-

Richard Field: You mean how much is general and how much is aesthetic?

Payman Langroud…: Well, do you do any wear cases, that sort of thing?

Richard Field: I’d say nowadays I do more bigger, I do more wear cases than I do simple bonding.

Payman Langroud…: Really?

Richard Field: I don’t do as much bonding I think, as people think I do. I don’t do as much bonding as people think I do. I’m happy doing general dentistry and one new big case a month I can work on, because I plan things more than I think I probably should, which is something I got from Ian Buckle. Again, after Chris’ course, Ian Buckle, the inclusion programme is the best thing that I’ve done, because I was turning away a lot of cases that I didn’t know how to treat. And then I think it was about maybe four years ago, I did Ian’s course. Three, four years ago. 2020’s disappeared. I can’t remember it.

Richard Field: I think about four years going Ian’s course, and it taught me how to approach the bigger wear cases. It taught me how to plan things and now I do a lot of my own … I don’t do my aesthetic works up, so I make that very clear. I don’t [inaudible] and then I send that to my lab, for my lab. A lot of the time I’m using a guy in [inaudible] we do a lot of the big wear cases together. And how much of my work is cosmetic and how much is restorative?

Richard Field: I’d say about 50/50. We’ve got new people in the practise now, who are doing more of the day to day restorative work, so the plan is to move more single tooth dentistry onto the new sort of, and for me to free up time in my book to do more of the bigger cases, which is what I really enjoy doing. Working as part of a multidisciplinary team with orthodontists, with implantologist, with the [inaudible] because I think it’s the patient’s getting the best person for everything, the bigger multidisciplinary stuff.

Payman Langroud…: What aspect of it is what drives you? Some people love the planning part, some people love the-

Richard Field: I love the planning part, because it makes me feel safe, and like we say, I’m quite a defensive dentist. I want to make sure what we’re doing is right, and it’s explaining that to the patient. They might come in and say, “I want these two teeth fixed,” and we look at the planning and we can say, “We can fix these two teeth, but we need to fix these nine others as well,” or, “We need to move this here and move this there.” So again, maybe making things fit together, but I wouldn’t claim that I know inclusion.

Richard Field: I really find it satisfying to see things fit together. To see how this tooth will change this tooth, and how sometimes, even though we’re looking at this tooth, we need to involve other aspects of the mouth as well. I find that quite satisfying, when you put the needs together, and all the blue and red dots are in the right place. I find that quite satisfying.

Payman Langroud…: Would you say on the day of the fit you’ve done all that planning, that you know it’s all going to be fine, or is there stress? Listening to you now, sounds like you’re very stressed the day of the fit, right?

Richard Field: The day of the fit’s the worst day in the world. Fit days, go home and have a few gin and tonics after, and just be glad it’s over. I enjoy the planning, I enjoy the preparation, the impressions. I’m glad when fit day is over, but it is very satisfying. Fit day’s the worst day.

Payman Langroud…: Listen, bud, I remember back in the day, I don’t know how many years I’m talking about, maybe seven, eight years ago, maybe a bit after, but you were the original social media dentist that I remember. You were the first one to have your own logo, and I remember you getting quite a lot of chip for it. I remember you getting attacked quite a lot for it. Maybe because you were the first and it wasn’t a thing, right? Then you withdrew from social media quite a lot. Tell me about it, first of all.

Richard Field: I think social media is something that I think is really important to talk about, so I was the first one with a logo. My friend at uni, Ben, he made me a logo as part of his university course, so he used the same one today. Had a logo. I put stuff on Facebook, when Facebook was still a thing, and people commented, and not always for the best.

Richard Field: You’d have to build quite a thick skin quite early, and there was a couple of things that happened a few years later, that I don’t really want to massively get into, but it really left a sour taste in my mouth. I was like I don’t need that in my life, and maybe to my detriment and not by having fully embraced it again ever.

Richard Field: I know there are people that’ve built their businesses on Instagram who have filled their books up months in advance from Instagram, years in advance. There’s people that have no other marketing, other than Instagram, so I think it is fantastic, but it’s also quite dangerous. Not only for dentists, but potentially for patients as well, especially the younger ones wanting Instagram smiles.

Richard Field: To put that in perspective, I have a very secret, and I’m not going to tell you what it is, I have a secret pizza Instagram where I post all my pizzas that I make in my home oven, and I sent a picture of my smile from that Instagram to a dentist. I have a small gap in my upper right lateral [inaudible] and I said what do I need for a nice smile? The answer was 20 zirconia crowns, so-

Payman Langroud…: Was this dentist in Turkey?

Richard Field: It might have been, but the reply I got was 20 zirconia crowns, and I was like okay. Some dentists have asked me about bonding and he said no, that won’t work. Crowns is better. It’ll be £3,000. 20 units, you’ll have two appointments and it’s time to go to pictures, and it looked from a layperson’s really good, and that’s what we’re up against.

Richard Field: We’re up against dentists and the general public, who doesn’t know anything about dentistry. Sees the nice smile for a nice price and it’s very difficult to compete with, and on the flip side in the UK there’s a lot of, I have to be very careful what I say.

Richard Field: It’s a lot of makeovers with composite, and I love composite. I think it’s fantastic, but I don’t think what these patients are being told is the maintenance longterm, so you’re seeing a lot of people with big composite smiles on virgin teeth. Very young. Not knowing the maintenance for the future, and I’ve already had a couple in.

Richard Field: You’ve had these full mouth composite veneers done for a very small amount of money. They’ve already started to fail and can’t afford to fix it, and I’m not saying this is every dentist. There are dentists out there doing phenomenal work with composite that will last years and years, and years and years, but there’s also a lot there that aren’t. And I think we’ll be in a very interesting position in three or four year’s time, when all these influencers or young people who want influencer teeth need it all redone, and I wonder who’s going to do it.

Payman Langroud…: It’s definitely an issue, although I don’t know how you knew that people aren’t telling people. You’ve spoken to these patients, but you can’t always trust patients about that. I understand where you’re coming from. Sometimes a trend picks up and it has its own legs, and then I had Shaadi Manouchehri on the podcast, and she was talking about TikTok. She’s massive on TikTok, and-

Richard Field: I know nothing.

Payman Langroud…: Well, yes. So just to think, on TikTok, the things that trend are they have juicy headlines and something really, like the Turkey thing’s trended on TikTok. People going to Turkey and having their teeth done, and it is problematic with composite, because it can go very wrong very quick if it’s not done very well. The problem’s amplified, don’t they? It’s a tiny little scratch in the composite ends up as a big stain later on, so I do agree with you on that.

Richard Field: I think what Instagram’s done is they’ve taken the medical aspect away from dentistry, and it’s more of a beauty treatment. Say people have their hair done, have their nails done, have their teeth done, and I think it is important that the patients understand that what they’re having done, it might be a little it invasive, but it’s not reversible. I think that’s the side of it, which broadcast or understood.

Payman Langroud…: Yes, especially the no drilling, no injection, that thing, makes it sound like it’s just nothing, and that’s something that a lot of people use for their marketing, don’t they? Tell me about Elleven Dental. One of the most beautiful practises I’ve ever been to, but you’ve worked in all the most beautiful practises. One of the most beautiful practises I’ve ever been to.

Richard Field: I have worked in a room once, with no windows. That was-

Payman Langroud…: What was that, Tif’s place?

Richard Field: [inaudible]

Payman Langroud…: Tell me about the patients you get in Elleven Dental, for instance. Who are they? What’s the patient profile?

Richard Field: To be honest, I think that’s a really interesting question. I find the patients that I treated at Harley Street Smile Dental Studio and Elleven easier to treat than, for example, the patients I treated in Clapham when I was at Ten Dental.

Richard Field: I think the difference is the patients in Harley Street and the patients at Elleven, they are from a better off background, so they’re not saving up to come and see you. And I think when the patient saves up to come and see you there’s a feeling of ownership from the patient. They own you. They’ve paid for your house, they’ve paid for your car.

Richard Field: They’re giving you all of their money and investing everything. They’ve taken out loans and they’ve done this, and I think that’s a very unnerving position to work in, whereas the patients in Elleven Dental or in Harley Street, they’re coming to you, because they want the best or what they perceive is the best.

Richard Field: They’re not going to be financially broken from paying for it, and it’s a lot, it’s a more … I find it actually a more relaxed way of working, because, although, of course, they’re paying a lot of money and you want to do the best job for them possible, but treating the patients that have saved up or taken out loans. I find that really stressful, because their expectations of you are, it’s like they’ve put everything on you, everything on that.

Payman Langroud…: That’s interesting. How about Bristol? How does Bristol … You made the move to Bristol, when was it? A couple of years ago.

Richard Field: End of 2016.

Payman Langroud…: I bet the Bristol patients are easier than all of these.

Richard Field: It’s a real mix, actually.

Payman Langroud…: Is it?

Richard Field: I would say it’s a mix between 11 and 10, Clapham and Harley Street. You’ve got your general dentistry, and then you’ve got your people who’ve moved out of London for whatever reason, or retire to the country, so it’s a complete mix. You can’t judge anyone. Well, you can’t judge anyone at any practise really, so you have no idea who’s going to walk through the door, and especially, because everyone sounds like a pirate in Bristol. It’s very difficult to judge, but it’s a real mix, and we get people who travel. A lot of London patients aren’t London patients. A lot of London patients don’t live in London, a lot of Bristol patients don’t live in Bristol, so it’s a real mixed bag.

Payman Langroud…: Alfonso has several practises, right? So-

Richard Field: I can’t keep up, really.

Payman Langroud…: Yes, so as far as your autonomy in that practise, is he there enough for you to have to talk to him about what you do, or does he just leave you to it?

Richard Field: Well, we do a lot of cases together. He was, up until a few months ago, in the room above me three days a week, but he’s just opened a clinic in the building directly opposite our practise. He’s now there, so it’s a bit more difficult to pin him down, but-

Payman Langroud…: Is he as much fun to work for as it looks? It just looks like every minute is fun with him.

Richard Field: Always, it’s better if the patients don’t go to get the water from the fridge, because there’s always bottles of beer or Prosecco [inaudible] after work or to a party, so no, he’s really good. He’s a lot of fun, for sure. It’s one of the more you feel part of the decisions, rather than an employee, which is nice. He’s very into the team aspect and he’s very into the dentistry, which is rare from someone who owns multiple practises. His main thing is the dentistry. It was one of my attractions to going to work there.

Payman Langroud…: Why did you move to Bristol? Was it [Mena]?

Richard Field: Actually, it was quality of … I’d only been to Bristol once, actually. I met Alfonso at the BAAD, and he just said in passing, “You’re Richard. I’ve seen your stuff. Come work for me in Bristol,” and I was drunk, and I took his card and I said do you know what? This guy seems nice. I’ll give him a call, and I gave him a call and we spoke, and I ended up doing some work experience, some shadowing for a couple of days, and then Mena came through and we stayed over in Bristol.

Richard Field: She went to university here, and I saw Bristol, and then there was a time when I was only really working two and a half days a week, so I had a lot of free time. And I ended up having a deal with Alfonso where for six months I’d go through on a Thursday and a Friday and I’d work there, and if after six months I didn’t like it then we shook hands and I walked away, or if I liked it then I’d have to do more days, which were moving through, so I did the six months.

Richard Field: Loved it, moved through and reversed my commute to Elleven, so instead of commuting from London to Bristol I just reversed the move and commuted to London when I needed to. I remember the first night I got home from work in Bristol, and it was half past six and we had dinner, and it was eight o’clock and we’re like what do we now?

Richard Field: In London, you get home, you have dinner. It’s half past nine, ten o’clock you go to bed, so we got home and we’re like, well, what do we now? We didn’t have a TV at this point, because we just moved in. We ended up going to Asda and doing our shopping at 11 o’clock at night. If I want to walk to work. Takes me 20 minutes. On days where I’m feeling especially lazy, the Italian practise has got Vespas. Vespa to work takes me six minutes, so very different quality of life. It’s much easier to have a work life balance.

Payman Langroud…: Yes, it’s a fantastic town.

Richard Field: I love London. I wouldn’t do anything differently. I’d still do everything the same, but I think there comes to a point where, unless you love the London lifestyle, it’s time to leave, and I was getting to that point.

Payman Langroud…: Now, when you come to London, you stay in an Airbnb.

Richard Field: Pre COVID, yes. I did, and I loved it, because I got to meet friends for dinner, I got a good night’s sleep. Yes, it was great. Now, at the moment, I’m going there and back each day, which is hard, but it’s not an issue, but I’m hoping that once, if COVID dies down, I can get back to staying over, but yes I was Airbnb-ing. It was nice, catching up with people in the evenings and going for a Chinese, and ordering by sections of menu with you.

Payman Langroud…: I’m a massive, massive customer of that Chinese. I went through a phase of ordering it every day for delivery in my office, because my office is actually very close to that. I was looking on Deliveroo and it was 1.3 miles. I was like wow. I was going through the menu, because one of my buddies who I go with, he’s Muslim, so I could never order pork. As you know, the Chinese are huge on pork, so I was just going through the whole pork part, but you are my food don, buddy. I want to get a question regarding the stakes. Have you read Black Box Thinking?

Richard Field: No.

Payman Langroud…: It’s about plane crashes. A plane crashes, they don’t look at who’s at fault. They look at the black box, and the whole point of it is how do we stop this ever happening again? He actually does switch it into medical and says, “In medicine we’re always looking for blame, and for that reason everyone’s hiding their mistakes,” so on this podcast, the idea of trying to learn from each other’s mistakes. What have been some of yours?

Richard Field: I got my big mistake out the way in I think third or fourth year. I think it was third year of dental school. It was one of my first posterior composites, and I tried to use a Sof-Lex disc on the back molar and I got it stuck inside the cheek of the patient, so you imagine putting the disc, and then imagine that getting wrapped up in-

Payman Langroud…: Mustn’t laugh.

Richard Field: Calling the tutor over to-

Payman Langroud…: What do you mean you couldn’t get it out?

Richard Field: No, it was completely wrapped up inside the person’s cheek-

Payman Langroud…: Oh, wrapped.

Richard Field: Yes. I had to detach them on drill. I had to unwind it. Patient needed-

Payman Langroud…: Oh my goodness.

Richard Field: You only do that once, for sure.

Payman Langroud…: That’s a goodie. I love that one.

Richard Field: That was a good one. The only, this is one for the rubber dam uses, if you sandblast make sure you wipe your rubber dam completely clean of the powder, because once you’ve got bond in that tooth, if you knock the rubber dam and the powder goes in the bond, you’re not getting that back out.

Payman Langroud…: Very good point.

Richard Field: You only do that once, and you only glue veneers together. Only do that once-

Payman Langroud…: What do you mean? You mean you didn’t clear in between the teeth?

Richard Field: Yes. When you cemented a case and your teeth are stuck together, or if you’re stuck. You only do that once. A lot of things you only do once.

Payman Langroud…: That’s a good one too.

Richard Field: Normal stuff.

Payman Langroud…: I like that, so Prav isn’t here, but Prav always ends it with the same question, unless you aren’t a listener to this podcast. The question is you’re sitting on your deathbed. You’ve got the five or 10 people who are closest to you, around you, hopefully some kids. I should have asked you about kids, but hopefully some kids and all that by that time. What are three pieces of advice that you’d leave the world with, or your closest people with?

Richard Field: I’d say set yourself goals, no matter how outlandish you think they are, because you might be surprised yourself. It gives you something to work towards.

Payman Langroud…: Did you set yourself the goal of becoming the youngest ever person to be accredited by the BACD?

Richard Field: Goal thing’s quite funny for me, because I set myself youngest, I wanted to be accredited before 30. I wanted to work in private practise full-time, and it was weird, because I hit all of my goals really soon, really early. I think it’s something Tom said, and it leaves you in this really weird limbo, where you don’t really know what to do.

Richard Field: I was in private practise within a year of graduating, and I got my accreditation a month before, on my 30th birthday. And then 30 was really weird for me, because I was in private practise, I had a flat, I was accredited. I didn’t really know what else to do, so then I was just like, well, my goal is for the next few years I’m not going to have any goals. Like you didn’t set an alarm clock for a year I think-

Payman Langroud…: Yes.

Richard Field: It was just nice to just focus on the dentistry, and I didn’t do any courses and I didn’t really go to any conferences, and I just focused on the work and life, which was what was going to be my last bit of advice. There’s more to life than teeth. There’s more to life than whatever job you are, and I think lockdown or COVID’s definitely helped with that. We’ve all had to wait, three, four months where we weren’t working, so set of goals. There’s more to life than teeth or work.

Payman Langroud…: You became a cook extraordinaire, you told me.

Richard Field: Yes. Do you know what? It was terrible, but it did have its good things.

Payman Langroud…: Definitely.

Richard Field: I’ve always loved cooking and it gave me a chance to experiment, which was good fun. My last bit right now I suppose would be don’t compare yourself to others, because you never know the full story, and don’t care too much about what other people think of you.

Payman Langroud…: Definitely. I like that. What are you plans for the future buddy?

Richard Field: Spend more time with my god. I think it goes back to the goal thing. I’m quite content at the moment. I don’t want to want to practise ever.

Payman Langroud…: Really?

Richard Field: Ever, no. Never ever. I can’t think of anything worse.

Payman Langroud…: I would have thought, the kind of control freak that you are, that-

Richard Field: On the dentistry, so I couldn’t deal with everything else. I’m in my surgery. It’s my safe space. I know where everything is, I know where everything’s going, I know I can do good work and I don’t want to have to think about the admin, I don’t want to think about the politics. I don’t want to have to think about anything. I just want to do the work. Want to go home and I want to spend time with my dog, and make pizza.

Payman Langroud…: Yes, so I’m still yet to taste this pizza, and I will be getting the name of that account from you after the podcast. Well, it’s been a pleasure to have you buddy. It’s been a pleasure to have you, and hopefully, when COVID gets a bit better, we can get back to dinners and all the things that we used to do, but it’s been lovely. Thanks a lot for taking the time to do this.

Richard Field: Thanks for having me.

Payman Langroud…: Of course.

Speaker 2: This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts, Payman Langroudi and Prav Solanki.

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

Payman Langroud…: 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 Solanki: And don’t forget our six star rating.

This week we welcome one of the most prominent names in restorative dentistry and prosthetic dentistry, Dr Basil Mizrahi.

Basil talks about the differences between dentistry in the UK, US and native South Africa, and tells us how building extraordinary interpersonal relationships with patients has helped him maintain a reputation as one of the profession’s most thorough and exacting practitioners.

Basil also lets us in on his lecturing with the Eastman Institute and namedrops some the inspirational teachers and mentors who have helped shape his stellar career.    



“You’re going to hate me halfway through treatment, you’re going to be cursing…You’re going to wish you’d never come here. I’m going to get you out at the end, and you’re going to love it.” – Basil Mizrahi

In This Episode

00.48 – A day in the life
02.27 – Early years and backstory
12.18 – On Gerry Chiche
13.22 – US Vs UK and SA
19.07 – Day-to-day
24.37 – Black box thinking
26.41 – Patient journey
45.39 – Early adoption Vs traditional WoW
50.45 – Perfectionism
58.57 – Training and mentors
01.14.45 – What most dentists don’t know
01.18.43 – Best bits
01.20.09 – Last day and legacy

About Basil Mizrahi

Dr Basil Mizrahi is a specialist in restorative dentistry and prosthodontics and widely recognised as one of the field’s most eminent practitioners.

Basil is an honorary clinical lecturer with the Eastman Dental Institute and one of only a few UK dentists to become a Diplomate of the American Board of Prosthodontics. 


Basil: Because in the beginning, when you’re starting out, you have a big room of patients and you’re doing everything, just to get patients and to start earning money. Gradually, when I look back now or look at my practise now, you ask me, it’s I would say 99% referral, 99% for me, crown, and bridge, and implants, which is what I like. So you just end up honing your practise, being able to spend more time on less patients, doing the kind of work you want to do.

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: One of the nicest things about my job is that I sometimes get to meet some of the top people in our profession. And today we’ve got one of the top prosthodontists in the world, Dr. Basil Mizrahi on the show. Basil is in private practise in the West End in London. He has a teaching facility there also. They do many courses, which we’ll get to. And also teaches at the Eastman Hospital as well. Basil, the point of this podcast is to try and get to the person behind sort of the persona. So really first thing is, it’s a Friday, what’s your normal Friday like? What time do you wake up? What do you do?

Basil: Well firstly, thanks for inviting me onto the podcast. Thanks for the kind words, very kind indeed. Fridays generally, I tend to take off. If I’m not teaching, it tends to be my day off. So that’s the day I like to get up at about 7:30, do some gym. This morning, I’ve just been for a run, always like to do a little bit of exercise first and then relax. Inevitably I’ll do a little bit of work. I’ll meet some friends at the coffee shop across the road, we’ve got like a traditional hangout there we go. These days we can’t do it, so we end up grabbing a takeaway and going for a walk. But in the better times, I used to go across the road, just have a coffee, do a little bit of computer work. Can’t really remember, I guess in the last year now it’s been sort of just [crosstalk] put there going for walks. Yeah, so Fridays would be my day off. Although, I say that, but often, well I haven’t been doing teaching for a while. But that’s generally when I’ll do my courses.

Payman: Mm-hmm (affirmative), mm-hmm (affirmative) and take me back to, you grew up in South Africa. Take me back to what it was like growing up in South Africa, and your decision to move, what was it based on?

Basil: So I was fortunate to have a very nice upbringing. It’s myself and my sister, who’s also a dentist, and my father is an orthodontist, and my uncle is a periodontist. So I guess it’s in the genes. But yeah, I grew up in South Africa, we had a lovely upbringing, and a privileged upbringing. At the time, you do live in a little bit of a bubble, not an excuse, but you sort of don’t really know what’s going on around you. And you just enjoy the upbringing, so the climate was amazing. We lived in a lovely house, with a nice big garden. We’d wake up every morning not to weather like this where it’s dull and grey. If it was dull and grey in South Africa, that was a surprise. The sun was out every day, that was normal. But dull and grey, you got a surprise.

Basil: Here it’s the opposite. Dull and grey and if you see the sun is out. So it was a lovely place to grow up. I did all my schooling there. I was actually born in Manchester. So I’m actually, I was born here when my father came over in 1965 to specialise, to do orthodontics in Manchester, I was born. He did his, I think it was a year or two years in those days, and then I was born. And then he went back to South Africa. So I don’t remember anything, but I was actually born in Manchester. I went back and grew up in South Africa. Did my schooling, my dentistry there at University of Witwatersrand. We had a great education at dental school. I didn’t really excel at dental school. I would say I was probably in the middle half, definitely not the top half, definitely not the bottom half. So let’s call it the middle third.

Basil: And even at school, my results, I mean in those days was a different grading system, but it definitely wasn’t near the top of the class, I’d probably say again, middle third. So I never really excelled. I would say I excelled after the formal education part, which is often the case. I see it in many of my classmates now, who’ve done well all over the world. And I remember them from dental school. You would never have thought they were going to be sort of leaders in their fields. But it just shows, obviously the guys that did well at dental school and have been successful. But there were just as many who didn’t excel at dental school, but seemed to find their little niche afterwards. So I did my dentistry in South Africa, then I worked actually, almost like in an NHS kind of practise for a year.

Basil: And then I joined a prosthodontist in a nice private practise and he took me under his wing. That’s where I think I got switched on. And actually, in the Army, we had compulsory conscription, so I did 18 months in the Army. And I hate to say it, but that was probably my best learning experience because we had cart blanche to do whatever we wanted. So there were times, I’d read an article in a dental journal, I can still remember, about sort of periodontal surgery to raise a gummy smile. And I thought, “Oh, this looks good.” And then I’d be in the Army the next week and the next guy that came in, he had a little bit of a gummy smile, I had the article behind him, and I was sort of reading it as we were going along. So we got really amazing experience because money wasn’t an issue and you could take your time. And that’s probably where I got switched on and working in the practise with the prosthodontist.

Payman: What about the apartheid situation? As a kid, would you say that you just accepted it because that’s what it was, you didn’t understand anything else, or when did you wake up to that, or did you always understand what was going on?

Basil: No, if I’m honest, I don’t think I always understood as a youngster. I think I woke up to probably the latter years of school, when you get to 14, 15, and definitely university. Universities are hotbeds for politics. So that’s where you really sort of get switched on and you see the heated debate and you start realising. I mean, I can’t say I was a political activist, so I was probably pretty passive or sort of closed myself off to it. So I mean, I had friends who were really active, and took a much more active role in the sort of anti-apartheid. I probably wasn’t one of those. I’ve never really been an activist in any, whether it’s dentistry or anything. I’m more of a sort of just sit back on the sidelines kind of a guy.

Basil: But I’d say I got switched on, yeah, in latter years of school and university. And then as you get older, and especially when you come out of the system, when I left South Africa. When I left South Africa, I was probably 26. I was pretty mature and 27. But you leave it and then you start mixing with people who look at South Africa and say, “Well, Basil, how could you have been part of this? Didn’t you realise what was going on at the time?” And then you start sort of looking back and you look at the TV documentaries and you realise what you were involved in. But at the time, it’s not an excuse, but to be honest, I wasn’t really involved with it. And I actually say, I left I still think relatively young, but probably security, longterm security was an issue. But I can’t say I left for conscientious objection reasons, I had-

Payman: What was your primary motivator for leaving the country? I mean, you grew up in this beautiful place, you have these established family connections and so forth. Why not just stay in South Africa as a place to live?

Basil: I would say my primary reason was education. I worked for this prosthodontist, who was America trained. He’d trained at Boston University, which in the ’70s was sort of the golden temple for prosthodontics. And I just saw the way he practised and so it was for educational reasons. I just wanted to go to America and do prosthodontics. And that’s probably where I saw. So that was the primary issue, and probably to get out of South Africa, just because of the-

Payman: See the big wide world?

Basil: Yeah, see the big wide world and yeah. It was a way to get out, but I think the primary objective was education. But saying that, I knew I wasn’t going to come back to South Africa. So even going to The States. I didn’t know whether I’d stay in The States, or where I’d end up. But I knew I wasn’t going to come back to South Africa. So there was the sort of just wanting to get out of South Africa for the security and that.

Payman: And do you visit now?

Basil: Yeah, go back probably, my wife’s family is all still in South Africa. So not lately, but we probably go back every year, December. Yeah, so they live amazing lives. It’s a lovely country and I-

Payman: It’s an amazing place.

Basil: My kids are there. It’s a lovely place.

Payman: So then the decision to go to, you went LSU?

Basil: Yeah, New Orleans.

Payman: Yeah, so you targeted LSU because Gerard Chiche was there. Who told you to go there?

Basil: To be honest, not really. I didn’t know anything about Gerard Chiche and I often say to young guys asking me, they say, “Well, Basil, where should we go in America? What’s the best dental school?” Because New Orleans was in the middle of nowhere. I mean, it’s a fun place and I’d recommend visiting for a weekend, and I spent three years there. And to be honest, it was the place I got in. There was a South African guy in charge, and in this world it’s often not what you know, it’s who you know. So he was a sort of connection, I went for an interview, and I got in. I would say the same to anybody looking to specialise. It’s not so much the place you go. So just go where you can get in, go where you kind of… That was the other thing, it wasn’t a private school.

Basil: I could have gone to Penn, or UCLA, but there you’re paying like, I don’t know what it is now, it was like $40,000 a year. So New Orleans was what they call state school, so the cost was low. It’s a cheap place to live, so I just went where I could get in. And then when I was there, I heard about this Gerard Chiche guy. I mean, I was a dentist from South Africa. So I didn’t know about him and then I realised how fortunate I was to be with him. But even today, I would say go where you can get in and we’re going to get out what you put in. So whether it’s Guy’s, Eastman, Kings, Manchester, or whatever, decide where you want to go and you’ll get out, it’s like a driving licence. You get that piece of paper and then afterwards you do what, that’s just stuff. So I didn’t go there because it was the top place. It happened-

Payman: Interesting. And the experience, that three year experience, did it involve some research, as well as just traditional teaching?

Basil: You had to do a little bit of research. My research, I did a master’s in education, instead of an actual dental research project. I’ve done my master’s in dentistry in South Africa, did some bonding study when I was in South Africa as part of a sort of a master’s in perio. So I’d done my dental research. So in America they gave us the opportunity to do a sort of, a master’s, but in education. So we tagged onto sort of the New Orleans non dental school and I did a master’s in education, which actually turned out to help. Does it help me? I don’t know, it’s a nice degree to have. Practically, I learned about America history. But it’s one of those things, we had to do it pretty much, didn’t have the choice. I did it and it’s stood me in good stead.

Payman: What was the great man like? What is he like? I’ve never met him.

Basil: Gerry Chiche, amazing guy. So humble, amazing clinician, good educator, and you can relate to him on a one-to-one basis. He’s friendly. Yeah, I would say he’s definitely one of sort of main influencing factors in my life. He’s a lovely human being, he doesn’t have a huge ego. Yeah, so yeah-

Payman: Excellent because I remember when I disqualified, I was a little bit sort of, I don’t know, disillusioned with VT practise and my boss, Nick Mahindra. He said to me, “Look, go to the BVA library and pick up some books on something you enjoy.” And I said, “Oh, I want to be a cosmetic dentist.” And I happened to pick up his book, and it changed the way I looked at everything. So he’s been a massive influence on my career, but I’ve never met him. The red one, what’s it called? Aesthetics of the Anterior Fixed-

Basil: Fixed Prosthodontics.

Payman: There you go. There you go.

Basil: Yeah, it’s a great book.

Payman: So now you’ve been exposed to the system in South Africa, the US, and now the UK, and you lecture all over the world I’m sure. How would you say we rank here, from the quality of dentists that the country produces, number one, and then the quality of dentist that the dentists become within the system? Because definitely before, I think we didn’t rank anywhere near the top. But for me, I see sort of green shoots of excellence coming through. But I see people who’ve qualified at WITS for instance. I mean, maybe they’re just the ones who come here. But all of them are just superb. So how would you rank us? Where are we?

Basil: Difficult to rank. I can see the results, I haven’t been involved in UK education system. I know we had a great education at WITS, it was very practical in those days, I’m talking what’s it? 25 years ago. I don’t know what it’s like these days. All I know is the South African guys have done very well all over the world. We had an amazing… I think because also, we had so many patients. We had a huge pool of patients to get practical experience on. I mean, we used to come and do extractions and surgery. I remember, we’d arrive Monday morning and there was a queue of about 20, 30 patients we each had to get through in three hours, extracting teeth. And then when you wanted to do perio surgery, you had old cohorts.

Basil: And dentistry, I’ve always said, is a practical profession, so you have to get your hands wet. So from a practical point of view, we had a very strong course because of the patients. Dentistry as a whole, would I say it’s better in the UK, or the USA, or South Africa? I’m fortunate that I think I’ve got both sides of the pond as they say. So America I would say is pretty aggressive. I mean, I came back from my pros programme and you’re looking to cut, you didn’t blink twice. Okay, you’ve been in a prosthodontics programme, so they push you to be a little bit proactive. They call it MRB, maximum resident benefit because if you were prepping teeth for something that you knew may not, they’d say, “Well, don’t worry, Basil, it’s MRB, maximum.”

Basil: So you will get guys coming in, full mouth rehabs. So I would say you come back from The States pretty aggressive, that most things become crowns. When I came over to the UK, then you pick up the European and the UK perspective, which is probably a lot more conservative, more biomechanical approach, more almost thinking. And that took me back a little bit. I think I’ve got a nice balance in the middle. I would say for aesthetics, The States, obviously they got their specific kind of aesthetics.

Basil: But they’re very aesthetically conscious, for better or worse. So they’ll do a lot more veneers and crowns there than we would here. For probably thinking man’s reconstructions, probably the European approach, adhesive bridges they use here. So it’s a lot more I think thought based here. I say here, I’m talking about Europe as well. UK, I find a little bit, I’m not sure why, maybe the NHS system. But there’s a lot of, look, there’s amazing dentistry, but you just see a lot… And I think it’s the system, that NHS just produces a lot of not great dentistry. I mean, I teach dentists all the time and the frustration is, how do we get to do good dentistry on the NHS. And it’s a hard balance to do.

Payman: Yeah. It’s funny because there’s a big portion of the workforce, who’s made it their job to understand the NHS regulations rather than anything else. And you have to because you’re in it. You have to understand what you can and can’t do. But it’s sad. But on the other side of it, I do see, I mean, you’re perfectly positioned to see this. I do see some hope in terms of, we do get some people coming out of here, who are actually nearing the top of the pile. We never had that before. I remember, the top teachers were always Italians, or it was one of those things. Now, I’m sure as a whole, Italy’s got its own problems as well. But I don’t know, the system here is, I’d agree with you. I’d say it probably is the NHS that’s caused that problem. So all right, going forward, how much of your time is spent actually practising being a dentist, and how much of your time is teaching?

Basil: Probably on a percentage basis, 75% practise and about 30% teaching. And I like that balance at the moment. I think probably as I get older the balance will gradually do less practise, more teaching. But at the moment, still my primary focus is the practise. And I think the two feed each other pretty well, which is good.

Payman: Sure, sure. And in the practise, how much of the work if by referral, and how much of it is by word of mouth referral

Basil: Referral, I’m not sure I think, I’m fortunate and pretty unique. I think it’s probably about 98, all referral pretty much, 99% referral, which is quite unique, I think for prosthodontic practise. Yeah, and even in The States. So I count myself very fortunate. Look, I’ve worked hard to do it. But it is pretty much I’d say 99% referral. I get the odd patient who gets referred by a friend. But most of it is by other dentists or other specialists, which is a nice way to practise.

Payman: Definitely, definitely. And then how far ahead are you booked for instance? What are day-to-day situations in a practise like yours? Do you get booked up way ahead, or no?

Basil: No. I don’t look to book up, as long as my week is pretty busy. And even if it’s not, I’ve never chased appointments or been worried about a book that’s quite empty because there’s always other stuff going on, whether it’s the teaching. So if you ask me, if you look at my book, you will get an appointment next week with me, as a new patient. I always try and get new patients in within a week or two. My appointments, a lot of them are very long, three, four hours, sometimes all day. Those take a little bit longer, but you wouldn’t have to wait. It’s not as I would say you got to wait three months to see me. I can start another big case in two, three weeks’ time. So I’m not chock-a-block. Sometimes you go through phases, but I feel a little bit uncomfortable, I always want a little bit of manoeuvring time. So about on average, two, three weeks.

Payman: And what’s the set up in the practise? You’ve got yourself, and associates?

Basil: Associates, so at the moment, I have two small practises, just got two surgeries. I’m there, I have an associate, Jurgita Sybaite, who’s lovely and an excellent dentist. I’m sure you’ve heard of her. She’s going to be one of the stars of the future that you talked about. She’s rising fast. So I love working with her. I have an orthodontist, Nazan Adali, who comes in once a week. And I have two hygienists, who do about two and a half days a week.

Payman: And so you take care of perio yourself?

Basil: No, I mean I’ve done a master’s in perio, I’m not a periodontist. But I like the elective perio and the surgery, but not disease. Disease I send to the periodontist. And if I’ve got a tricky crown lengthening, or some kind of connected tissue graft, I’ll use a periodontist as well. I do some myself, but not all. Perio disease, I don’t get involved. So it’s more the elective perio.

Payman: And endo?

Basil: No endo. Endo I refer out. Also, no endo.

Payman: And what about the, I know you do a lot of implants, but do you do the hardcore grafting part yourself?

Basil: No, I’ll do a sinus lift, but no. If there’s big, major like I don’t do the teeth in a day kind of thing. I don’t advanced lateral window sinus lifts. I keep it within what I know and what I’ve sort of honed my skills at. Every now and again I may dabble, but I know my limitations. I think that’s important, to know your limitations and use the people out there who are better than you for those specific things.

Payman: But kind of in a way, you’re kind of the end of the line, as far as the prosthetics referral goes, right? I mean-

Basil: Yeah.

Payman: Do you feel the weight of that sometimes, or is that not the case? I mean, you’ve got nowhere to send someone, right?

Basil: Yeah. It’s funny, I use that expression. I just say to the patients when they come in, “Well be glad you got here because somehow you got here because I pretty much am the last stop saloon.” So I’ve created that niche for me. So it comes with a weight of responsibility. But it’s just different stresses than other dentists. We all got our own kind of stress, so I enjoy that.

Basil: I like to think, and I’ll often say it, if I can’t do this, I don’t think, unless it’s something specific like a sinus graft, but if it’s broken down dentation, then I sort of like to think if I can’t do it here, I often say to the patients, “I think this is the best place you’ll get it done, I don’t think you’ll get it better. You’ll get it a lot cheaper anywhere else, but not necessarily better. So yeah, I build my practise on being the last stop saloon and maybe that’s why the referrals, I don’t need that many referrals. I mean, I’m always grateful for them, so keep sending them. But a complex case can keep me busy for a long time.

Payman: How often do you hit a situation where you just don’t know what to do next? I mean…

Basil: I suppose my limit, if they’ve got teeth I’m pretty comfortable, most of their teeth and some spaces. Dentures, I’m not a huge expert in removal, so that would be sort of a-

Payman: But I mean within your own scope, how often hit a situation? I mean look, you must be being referred quite some complex situations. Am I seeing it in the wrong way. I mean, explain it to me.

Basil: Yeah, I mean, unless there’s sort of major surgery or after a trauma or something, then I’m not the right person, maxillofacial. But don’t forget working in the private environments, not the hospital realm, so I am seeing relatively, I’m not seeing anything that’s crazy out there, or trauma. They would end up probably in a hospital, in a multidisciplinary environment, that kind of thing. So I mean I’m not saying I can handle it all, I work with a lot of specialists, so they’ll often look at a case and go this is beyond me doing it myself and I will get in a orthodontist, a periodontist, oral surgeon. But I think as the conductor…

Payman: You got it down.

Basil: Yeah. Yeah and I have to think-

Payman: Maybe this is a good time to segue into our portion of the show where we ask about errors. So we ask everyone this and it’s kind of like a black box thinking idea. Have you read that book, Black Box Thinking?

Basil: No.

Payman: It’s about plane crashes. When a plane crashes they don’t say, “Whose fault was it?” They say, “All right, how do we make sure this never happens again?” And they bring out all the facts and try and figure out what it was. And then he actually segues into medical. And he says, “In medical, it’s the exact opposite, where they hide the facts, and everyone’s worried about the blame part of it. And the system’s looking for blame.” So just to counteract that culture, we’re asking everyone and it would be nice to hear Basil Mizrahi’s made a few mistakes.

Basil: Well, there’s always mistakes and there’s always room for improvement, some gross ones. A while back I was pretty much cementing, this is after two years of a case, we’re getting right to the end, my technician’s flown over, we’ve got a full arch going in with individual crowns, probably doing two at a time the cement mix. And I cement the damn, and I mix the two premolars up, so upper right, and upper left somehow. You’d think, well how did it even seep? I don’t know if I was rushing or panicking, there was a lot going on, seated.

Basil: By the time I clicked, or I saw it hadn’t gone down properly, we were working with Fuji PLUS or something, so it was pretty quick. I was pulling it, pulled off and the tooth fractured with the tooth. So then we had to do endo, post and core, new crown. So, that one will stick in my mind. And then recently, implants and then extraction, upper six, close to the sinus, you know what I’m going to say. Dropped it in the sinus. Thank God, oral surgeon colleague, thank Jonathan Collier. And I referred, and he managed to get it out, no problem and put another implant in.

Payman: That works. That works for me. Tell me about the patient journey, Basil. I’m a patient, I get referred by, I guess, what’s the model? A call’s delegate is a referee, the guy who refers. I get referred by this guy, and what’s the first thing that happens? I want to hear about the patient journey. Your examination, how long does it take?

Basil: Yeah, so the examination, you come in, the first appointment’s normally an hour. And a lot of that is talking and getting to know the patient. So I’ll sit down with a notepad for about 10 minutes, just talking to the patient. And then often what I’ll do, and this was told to me by Michael Weiss, another mentor of mine. I’ll take out my Dictaphone once I’ve listened to the patient and I’ll actually record in front of the patient for my secretary, the patient’s complaints, their history. So the patient’s nodding like you’re doing, no, and saying to me yes. And stopping and saying no, it wasn’t. I actually had that for three years. So the patient’s listening to what I’ve heard.

Basil: And then I look, I do an examination. First visit I don’t too much. I get an idea of what’s going on in the mouth. I always take photographs, I think a picture’s worth a thousand words. So I’ll take some photographs and my nurse will get them up on the screen at the appointment. I may take a couple of x-rays just for myself, [inaudible] of that. I generally don’t take models, but the photographs for me. And then I’ll sit with a patient, looking at the photographs. They’ll stand up with me and come over to the screen and we’ll talk. And I’ll show them on the photograph, my thoughts, my initial thoughts. If it’s a relatively complex case, I need to get across to them, that it is quite complex.

Basil: I have to change their perception that it’s what they’re used to, when they go to the dentist, they have a few appointments and their problem’s solved. And often they’ll come to me like that, even though they’re referred, they don’t understand, or they haven’t seen the way I work and sort of want to look at the whole mouth if there’s an underlying cause. So I may need to get across, well, we do have to open up your bite, I can’t just fix that one tooth because you see how you’re smashing. So there’s a lot of trying to get into their mind and just change the way that they’re seeing it one little problem, if there is a bigger, underlying cause.

Basil: And that I do with photographs, maybe some models, and trying to relate to them. Most patients I can get through to, other patients, you sort of realise they’re just not the right fit or they’re not taking it on board. And that may be a patient that’s not suitable for me because I also try and get to the patient across that they’re asking me for the treatment. They need to be wanting it from me. It’s the opposite of me trying to sell it to them. And I stress that back to, I said, “You’re going to hate me halfway through treatment, you’re going to be cursing. But you’re going to start a treatment.

Basil: You’re going to wish you’d never come here. I’m going to get you out at the end, and you’re going to love it. But I just know from experience, you really have to be up for this. It’s a huge commitment to time, to effort, to money.” So I almost try and talk them out of it and if they’re understanding and they see the problems. And I say, “But if you don’t do it, these are some issues.” And I say, “Have a second opinion. You’re going to get a lot easier, you’re going to get it a lot cheaper anywhere else than here, okay. I don’t think you’ll get it better.” So I want them to almost be begging, not begging, but wanting the opposite of selling it to them.

Payman: To understand the value of it. I mean, it must be a big problem for you, Basil, yeah, in that dentists think you’re some top of the pile king of prosthodontics, but you have to, every time you see a new patient, have to convey that over. I mean, from a patient perspective, of course the dentist would have said something to the patient before they refer them. But from the patient perspective, I’ve come to the see the dentist. They don’t know they’re coming to see Basil Mizrahi, right?

Basil: Yeah, I know and sometimes also, when I teach I say to dentists, you don’t always have to come across with everything on day to the patient. Sometimes I’ll see a problem, but the patient is not buying into me on the first day, they don’t know me from Adam. I’m telling you treatment could take a year and costs tens of thousands of pounds, they’re going to run out the room. So sometimes I’ll ease, in major treatment, yes, we can deal with that problem. Let’s put a temporary on there because I always say, it’s one thing talking the talk, so I can talk the hind leg off a patient, and talk, and tell them how good I am, and show them, look at this picture.

Basil: But at times, you got to walk the walk, and that’s when the patient buys into, when I make a first temporary, when I do that temporary on the back tooth. Something relatively simple, then they start seeing, okay, he’s not just telling us [inaudible] easy, this was nice. It was painless, he’s made a lovely temporary. And then they become almost more putty in your hands. And then they’re sometimes more open, that’s why I put a big emphasis, you know me, on temporaries because then they become more open. And before you close off treatment and finish the one tooth, it’s in a nice, stable temporary. Now maybe we can start talking about we may have to open your bite.

Basil: Obviously you want to know that if the patient does say no you can still finish the one tooth. But so it’s either some patients are willing to jump in on day one and they know what to expect, or other patients need to be sort of drawn along, got more comfortable. And I’ll say to the patient, “I’m not ready to do all this yet, I need to get to know you. I need to get to know your mouth. So let’s not worry about all this big stuff. It’s not urgent at the moment. Yes, you’re wearing your teeth down, but I don’t know you well enough to know what I want to do. Do I want to go in full mouth rear, or can I manage this with a bite split?” So that’s-

Payman: So, that first appointment’s one hour. How much do you charge for that one?

Basil: I think at the moment it’s 280.

Payman: Oh, okay. And then so what happens next? Patient goes off, do you send them a report from this?

Basil: No. No, no, no. I never-

Payman: That’s just the initial?

Basil: Yeah, that’s the initial. They get to know me, they get an idea of what treatment may involve. It’s either going to be a simple crown, or it’s going to be big complex treatment. If it’s treatments then I want them to come back for detailed investigations. So that’s another hour, and that’s when I’ll take my study models, that’s when I’ll do full mouth x-rays, that’s when I may send them for a CT scan. I may take a bite registration. There’s a cost for that, they need to understand that. But again, that first, initial consultation, they have to know what they’re sort of in for before they start saying-

Payman: Yeah. Yeah.

Basil: I don’t want them to come for investigations and then I’ll tell them, “Okay, now it’s going to be 30 grand.” So they’re pretty much on board if they’re coming for an investigation. If a patient’s hemming and hawing, I may do the investigations for no cost. For me, for my benefit because I can’t explain in detail, and I don’t know what they need until I’ve had my mounted models. So a patient-

Payman: Do you charge a lot more for that second visit because you got to spend the time?

Basil: Yeah, that’s a more expensive visit for most patients. But again, I sometimes will judge the patient, if that’s going to [crosstalk].

Payman: Yeah.

Basil: Yeah, if that’s going to scare them off, I may not charge that much, and I may build it into the fee because I know if they give me, if I have time, another hour with the patient, I’ll be able to explain, and then they will have the treatment. And that’s when I make up the fee.

Payman: Yeah, I get that. So let’s say you’ve done that second visit and they’ve paid whatever the fee is for the investigations and all that, when do you actually start working on that case? Not during that appointment, right? Is that outside of the-

Basil: Still even one more discussion appointment, after the investigations, I say I need three or four weeks to do my homework because I don’t know, the investigations, I’m not telling them what I need. I don’t even know what they need. So then I say, “Then you have to come back three or four weeks later for a follow-up appointment. So that’s just a relaxed one. Me and you are going to sit down.”

Payman: You’re going to present?

Basil: Yeah, and we’re going to sit with a coffee and just chat through your models, and that’s when I present my thoughts and I hear back from them, their thoughts. And after that, I say at that I’ll present everything, costs, potential costs. They’ll feedback to me and we’ll have a little bit of discussion. And here, all this time I’ve always built my practise on communicating with the patient, building that rapport because I think that’s what’s missing. And I’m fortunate, well I built it that way, but I want the patient to get to know me and me to know them. And very personal interaction because I think with modern medicine, you go see a doctor, it’s 15 minutes in, 15 minutes out. So I don’t write them a report after their investigations.

Basil: I get them back for a discussion. So that’s now three visits where I’ve just been talking, maybe taking some models, no work’s been done yet. But now, I’ve already got to know them pretty well when they come in for the first visit it’s, “Hi, Basil, how you doing? How is this?” And after that, then they get their written report. And that report is pretty concise because I’ve already talked to them. I don’t have to put six pages together with five different treatment options. I’ve spoken to them, they’ve said they don’t want a partial denture, they’ve said they don’t a Maryland bridge, they’ve said they prefer the implants. So my letter is two pages, boom, implant. They know the fee, it’s in there. But there’s no surprises in the letter. So that’s sort of the patient’s-

Payman: Okay, now I’ve had almost three hours with you as a patient and the letter’s arrived. And you’ve already kind of said, “Look, this is going to cost you 100 grand, or 50 grand, whatever it was.” And now I’m seeing, I’ve got a thing in my hand, 50 grand to get this done. Is there a follow-up now? What’s happens next? You make another appointment?

Basil: No. No, not another appointment. Most times we know by that sort of discussion appointment, the patient said, “Yeah, okay, I’ll probably do, just put it down in writing for me and then I’ll have a look because I’ll put the appointments and I’ll call your secretary and make an appointment.” So by that stage we know we’re going to have pretty high acceptance rates. I wouldn’t have done investigations and spent all the time. But there are patients, you’re right, who get the letter and they just don’t get back to me. I’ll get my secretary or I may call them as well, or drop them a quick email, “Dr. Mizrahi Centre, we’re just wondering have you had any more thoughts. Do you want to come back in and have another discussion?” Sometimes I’ll try and get them back in and see another discussion, is there something you’re unsure of?

Basil: But most times, by the time they get to that letter, because that letter will be tailored for them, if they’re not a 50 grand patient, I would have picked that up at the discussion. And they’ve said, “Listen, Basil, I want to do this. But I can’t do it this year, I can’t do it next year. I can’t do it at the moment. What else can we do?” So I would have swung around and said, “If you can, okay, well let’s just do that lower left tooth for now. It’s not ideal, but that’s all we can work with.” And the letter will just be focusing on the lower left because I’ve picked up that they don’t have, they just can’t do a full mouth. Even if they need it, I will tailor it for them. So they get that letter that’s tailored to, we’ve already discussed what they can go ahead with.

Payman: Okay, so let’s say they decide to go ahead and let’s say it’s, I don’t know, two years of work that they’re going to need. Now, outside of the clinical, do you guys do anything above and beyond to sort of… From my perspective you’re doing things above and beyond in the mouth every time they see you. But do you translate that to the patient journey somehow? Do you call them after every appointment? Do you send them presents? What do you do?

Basil: No, but I build, personally, a very personal relationship, every patient, every single patient has my mobile, my personal mobile. The same mobile you have, every patient of mine has it. So I’m texting patients often, they’re texting me. I mean, they don’t abuse it, so otherwise I mean, I’ve been practising now 23 years. But that’s what I was saying, I build a very personal kind of practise. And I get that across to the patient. You will have me at your side, you will feel like you’re the only patient in the practise. So if a patient’s worried, if there’s a big procedure, I will call them.

Basil: But often a patient, I’ll text a patient, “How’s your mouth feeling?” They’ll text me back. We’re on WhatsApp and they all have my phone number, personal. So often they’ll call me to make the appointment. “Basil, I can’t do this appointment.” So I get very involved with my diary, with the patients. And I micromanage which may or… But that’s why my small practise with three or four patients a day works for me, with three days a week, I can micromanage that. That’s my personality. So asking what do you get? They get me, they get 100% of me outside the clinic.

Payman: Yeah. Yeah.

Basil: Okay, they phone me, they want to go in on a Saturday, because they’ve got a tooth, I’ll drive them to Harley Street from Mill Hill and see them, okay?

Payman: Yeah. And what about on price. I mean, your prices are, you just said higher than everyone else’s prices, do you get people saying, “Oh, I can get this cheaper somewhere…” I mean, do you get that discussion?

Basil: Yeah, and I’ll tell the patients, you need to realise you’re at the highest level of cost here. Sometimes even with referrals, they come in and they just don’t realise. So I will say that.

Payman: So what can it run to? What’s your biggest case?

Basil: That being 180, 200K. I mean, that’s few and far between. That’s one case I’m thinking of, but that probably went for about two or three years.

Payman: What about if I ended up needing one crown from you? From the first three visits, how much does that end up costing, 1,000 pounds maybe? I don’t know, you tell me. How much does it cost, the first three visits, before I’ve started?

Basil: Oh, if you need a single crown, you won’t have such a comprehensive first three visits. So I don’t have a recipe. So if you came in and there were single central, a lot depends on the patients. I always say when I’m teaching again, I don’t have a fee per item. So I can’t tell you what a single crown is, because it’s going to depend on how demanding you are from me. What you’re going to put me through, okay? So if I can pick up from you, and that’s why it’s important to discuss, that’s a single central. I will go back and do my treatment planning, and it depends which lab I’m going to use. And I may say to the patient, it depends which lab. And I will gauge from the patient.

Basil: If I come back and say, “If you really want to hit, it may cost 7,000 pounds.” And that may be two tries, it may be a lab in Italy flying over. But I know I can go right back down to 1,500 pounds or 1,000 pounds, whatever. I always have an associate I work with, so that gives me another tier system, which works well. So Jurgita is an excellent dentist. And very often I will say like that kind of scenario, it’s a single crown, I often say to the patient, “Listen…” And I’m fortunate to have Jurgita working with me because I’ll say to the patient, honestly, there’s really not much more I can do than my associate can do, and her fees are literally half my fees because I see all the new patients myself.

Basil: But I’m very honest for myself, because I prefer getting my hands wet on the big meaty cases. And for my conscience, I can’t sit there doing a single crown, my fee per hour would make a single crown, I don’t know, five grand. I can’t justify that. I can justify easily paying 150 grand for a full mouth rehab because I know how hard I sweat and what the patient gets out of me. And that nobody else would probably do it at that level. But when it comes to a single crown or three in a bridge, or nice composites, I’ll often, I will refer the patient to my associate, because I say, “I can’t do anything more than my associate, who’s excellent. She will do the same job as me, but half the price.” And the patients appreciate that. And that’s how we work it within the practise.

Payman: And what about longterm follow-up? I mean, you’ve done so many big cases. Do you end up following them up over the years or do they go back to their own dentist?

Basil: No, I need to follow them up. And I make it clear to the dentists. I do say, “I would want full responsibility for this patient, seeing my hygienist and me following it up.” Because I take responsibility, and the patient also understands that when they come in on day one, often I’ll say to them if it’s going to be a complex case, I’d say, “You do realise, I would need to take control of your treatment? I can’t work with your dentist on this.” Because they’ll up and say, and it may sound quite harsh, but they’ll often say, “Well, can’t my dentist do this part, and you do that part, and then you’ll do this?” And then I’d rather say, “No, rather stick with your dentist.”

Basil: But just too many cooks, you need one person you can come back to for responsibility. And so I will say, and often to the dentist, I’ll call the dentist and just be honest and say, “I know you’ve sent me for this and you… But this is going to affect this. So either I need to do all that, or better you handle it, or refer it elsewhere.” But if I’m going to take responsibility, and yes, it is longterm. So I say to the patient, this is a longterm relationship. So besides trusting me with your work, we have to build up a report. And that’s why again, I do those discussions, three, four visits before I start because I say, there has to be a mutual respect, there has to be a mutual trust because we’re going to spend so much time together.

Basil: You have to get on with me as a person, nevermind how good I am because that will get us through one or two appointments. And I have to be able to accept you as a patient and see that you’re not going to drive me crazy. And so I express that to the patient because it’s a longterm and I said, “Going forward, I’m hopefully going to be around for the next 15, 20 years, practising . I’m the one that you’re going to be looking after. If something goes wrong, you’re going to come back to me, not your old dentist, not the periodontist, not the orthodontist. I’m responsible. So I’m your port of call.” So they have that reassurance, that I’m there for them.

Payman: Basil, what drives you in the clinical practise part of it? I mean, you’ve got this reputation for being very accurate, sort of perfectionist. Is it playing against yourself? Or-

Basil: Yeah.

Payman: Is it?

Basil: It’s probably a little bit of OCD, just getting into the zone, and just wanting to know that I can go to sleep at night knowing I couldn’t get it better. And you’re never going to get to that level, I mean, it’s an elusive target because there’s always somebody who can do it better. But I always draw, I don’t know, you’ve probably seen my lectures, but that picture of the staircase and that’s my logo at the practise. That life is a staircase, also the clinical cases are staircases. So I’m always just wanting to get that next level, which you never get to. That staircase never ends. I don’t know if it’s a good way to live or a bad way, just I’ve had sort of [crosstalk].

Payman: It suits you, right?

Basil: Yeah, it suits me.

Payman: And so as far as being who you are, what’s the tension between brand new stuff that comes out and it sounds like a good idea and people like me, companies are pushing it as a new idea? You’ve seen a lot come and go I’m sure, so you’ve got experience in understanding that. But what’s the tension between wanting to be an early adopter and understanding all the latest stuff, and also not wanting to be an early adopter, and only doing things that are well used and understood? I mean, what do you think about scanners and the whole digital workflow and all that, for instance?

Basil: Yeah, okay, so it’s a good question because you’re constantly being taught, and the longer you’re in practise, the more you realise you’re starting to become a little bit of a dinosaur now. And I never thought I’d hear myself saying that because I remember being a little junior in the room, looking at this guy talking. And so I know I’m probably at the latter end of the career, but it’s a combination, I think experience is huge, you can’t discount experience. So there’s the balance. Yes, you do want to embrace the newer technology and I did buy a scanner last year, we do have a scanner.

Payman: Which one did you get?

Basil: [crosstalk] scanner. To be honest, I use it, I haven’t scanned preps yet. I use it for making retainers because it’s nice and-

Payman: Okay.

Basil: … and expensive. No, but you get to use it a lot and I see what people get out of it. But it’s a crest, where you sort of probably feel you’ve got what’s working for me. Have I missed the wave? Is it too late for me to get into DSD? I see some things that I know my works for me, I haven’t got into the DSD because I think I can do… It has to be quite something to show me how much better it can be. I know people come and say, “Why don’t you mill your temporaries? Why don’t you plan your case using DSBs?” And then I look at my temporaries and say, “Because milling is not as accurate as my temporaries because DSB doesn’t…” So it’s a combination of me probably not embracing it because I haven’t got fully into it. So I’m sure the guys that do DSD will look at me and say, “Well, Basil, you’re not doing it properly.”

Basil: So to get good at something, you really, you have to embrace it. And before you critique it, try it. But there’s a limit to what you can try. Can’t try everything. So yes, you do end up scanning, I’m dabbling in scanning, doesn’t mean that scanning’s bad. No, just means I haven’t spent the hours that the other guys have spent scanning and milling at a margin. Will I get there? Maybe, or maybe I’ll just stick with my analogue impressions because that’s what I have spent hours. You have to also, well for me, focus on what I’m good at. So I do that, I’m glad, that’s why I get on so well with Jurgita, because I’d see her as the young, enthusiastic blood, and showing me all the DSD, she’s amazing at this kind of stuff. So there is constantly that battle.

Payman: I mean, in the last, call it 15 years, how’s your practise changed? I mean, not your practise, your clinical. What do you do differently now than you did 15 years ago? Because of changes and…

Basil: Clinical technique I would probably say it hasn’t changed, still using the same hand pieces, the same acrylics, the same articulators, the same bite registrations. What has changed-

Payman: Adhesive dentistry’s got more reliable, right?

Basil: Yeah, okay. Sorry, yeah. That’s a good… Yes, we’re doing more adhesive dentistry. I suppose implants, I’m doing more adhesive dentistry, doing more implants. Yeah, what else? Yeah-

Payman: On that question of new technology and new technology doesn’t necessarily have to be a computer, I mean, it could be a new porcelain that someone comes out with. I mean, I’m sure you remember, Emax wasn’t always Emax, we didn’t know that Emax was going to be a reliable thing until it became a reliable thing. I mean, how do you asses something? Do you call up your buddies around the world and say, “Hey, Pascal, what do you reckon about this?”? It’s difficult, isn’t it? It’s a difficult situation to be in because you’re-

Basil: Yeah. And again, that’s why in practise, I don’t want to be the first to try something and I don’t want to be the last to adopt it. So I think the world’s a smaller place now, thanks to social media and internet, you can read articles. And we get an idea that things are working. Some things you do push the boat a little bit, but yes, I’ve adopted. I haven’t been the biggest adopter of adhesive dentistry. I’m gradually coming along now. I still think sometimes the pendulum swung too much. I try and keep a balance between mechanical. I do that lecture on mechanical versus adhesive.

Payman: Yeah, I’ve seen that, very good.

Basil: But we all have our biases. So yeah, the materials are evolving. It’s beautiful now we can use things like Emax. We don’t have to prep, cut teeth down to do crowns. So yeah, adhesive dentistry is a big advantage I’d say. Probably the biggest-

Payman: Now, you’re a perfectionist, right? So some people they’re such perfectionists that for instance, I was on your Instagram yesterday. I never thought I’d be saying this. I was on your Instagram yesterday. There are some people who are perfectionists to the point that they can’t even post because they’re worried about what people think about them. That sort of thing. Now, in your case, it might be in the mouth. You don’t stop, right? There’s a point where you have to say all right, you were leading to it before, where we’re going to take impressions now, yeah. But we’re not going to make any more changes. As a perfectionist, there must be a downside to being a perfectionist is what I’m saying. Where does it hurt?

Basil: It hurts, it probably takes some of the enjoyment away, or some of the happiness. I’m quite an intense, I think it spills over into your personality. So I think in the mouth almost, you can handle it because myself that’s why I like doing it, because there’s nobody stopping me, I’m not interacting, I’m interacting with a tooth. I can just bury myself, I don’t have to react to people. So I think for me, sometimes stifles your, just your enjoyment of things or people because you’re trying to keep ducks in a row, if that’s making sense, so.

Payman: Yeah, it does. So for instance, do you have unreasonable demands of your people?

Basil: Yeah, I think if there is a weak area I’d like to work on, it would be a personal area, just my interrelationship. I know I’m not the easiest guy to work with. I think outside the dental environment, I’m pretty relaxed, I’m probably very shy, and unassuming, and probably like I said, the passive one, who you won’t notice at the dinner table. But then something changes when I get into the practise, that’s my little kingdom and I’m the king.

Basil: And I always say to the nurse, when I hire a new nurse, it’s again, I try and talk them out of working for me because I say to them, “I’m going to drive you crazy. It’s hard.” And so that’s where I don’t think I’m the easiest to work with. I’d like to be a little bit better interaction with staff. But saying that, my staff went a little bit over rough patch recently, but my staff generally stay with me many, many-

Payman: I see a problem with perfectionists sometimes where they… Look, in the profession, we see perfectionism as a plus point, right? In a way. So when I see some dentists, they’ll fit a case let’s say, and they’ll be talking out loud in their head to the patient. And they’ll say something that in our world, would make sense. Like you say, “It’s all good, but if only that little thing was a bit better, then that would make it much better for me.” And in our world, I’d see, “Oh my God, Basil’s just put that case up and he’s still saying it could be improved. He’s amazing,” right? But from the patient’s perspective, if you speak in that way, the patient’s thinking, “Oh, there’s something wrong with it now.” And I see young dentists make that mistake quite a lot. When we speak between ourselves, that kind of way of talking makes a lot of sense. But with patients, I’m not sure it makes a lot of sense. Have you been guilty of that one?

Basil: Yeah, I don’t know if I talk out loud. But what I do say is we are our own worst enemies because I’ll take a patient that comes in, that’s not so fussy. By the time I finished making a temporary saying this, they suddenly get switched on and then the site comes back to bite you because they become so demanding, we switch them on. So I see that and I think going back to your point, I think perfectionism’s acceptable in the kind of work I do. I think it creates a better product, but it’s not a good trait to say is it good or bad. So yes, that may be good, but it’s not bad, I think not a great trait to have in life, out of the dental surgery because it stifles you. So could be good and bad like anything. I’m glad I’m like that in the mouth, but I’m not glad I’m like that in life.

Payman: I get it, I get it. You must sometimes get referred a patient because the dentist relationship has broken down with that patient. So a patient who’s a difficult patient as opposed to a difficult mouth and the way the dentist gets out of it is by referring to you. That sort of psychological issues, you must get that.

Basil: Yeah, you do have a breakdown and sometimes it’s almost easier to be a fresh person. It’s easier to take on the case because you’ve got their previous experience to sort of relate to. And it’s always easy to say or show why you’re different. Yeah and again, you’d have to make sure that you can see what you can do differently, because again, the patients will see through you. So again, it’s one thing convincing or talking the talk, and saying, “Well, I’ll do it differently, and don’t worry, that’s not going to happen with me. I’ll treat you kind,” or whatever. But you need to really believe that you can do something different. So if it hasn’t been the optimal dentistry, you need to say, “Actually, I could do that.”

Basil: But if a patient comes in, and it’s happened to me, where I really can’t see that I can do something significant. They may have had a full mouth rehab and yes, the teeth are all white. But it’s not too bad and they’re going off that, “This dentist ruined my mouth.” And that kind of patient I will steer clear of. And I’ll say to them, “Honestly, I really don’t think I can do significantly better. Yes, I can cut all these crowns off.” The risk to benefit ratio, I can’t justify that. So no, I will just say, “I don’t think I can do this. You may want to go somewhere else.” So I need to really see that I can do, or change something, or relate to them better than the previous dentist.

Payman: I guess you got pretty good at spotting that kind of patient. It’s the ones that get through that’s the problem, isn’t it?

Basil: Yeah and again, that’s why I always say to the younger dentists, to spend that initial time. Time is our biggest enemy in dentistry and when you say how malpractice has evolved. I know earlier you asked what’s changed and you were focusing on clinical things, adhesive. But for me, I think in your practise, what changed is again that staircase. If you make your pool of patients just split yourself smaller and smaller, which is nice because in the beginning when you’re starting out, you have a big pool of patients and you’re doing everything, just to get patients and start earning money.

Basil: Gradually, when I look back now, or look at my practise now, you asked me if it’s, I would say 99% referral, 99% for me, crown, and bridge, and implants, which is what I like. So you just end up honing your practise, being able to spend more time on less patients, doing the kind of work you want to do. And then gradually evolving that way. So the spotting, going back to what I was saying, you just need to spend time with the patient. For me, that’s been my biggest practise builder, just that personal time, getting to know the patient. And then you spot the patients that are going to give you trouble.

Basil: And hopefully, obviously every now and again one creeps through. And also, when things go wrong, getting back to what you talked about earlier, because I make mistakes and my mistakes are big P mistakes. But the patient needs to see you as a human being and when you have that rapport, that’s better than any consent form because then they say, “Okay, he’s human. He’s made the mistake. He put the crown on the wrong tooth. Idiot. But he didn’t do it on purpose, whatever. He’s broken my…”

Basil: I dropped a implant in the sinus, the patient wasn’t at my neck, trying to sue me. I apologised, I explained what happened. And that comes from spending time. So when these mistakes happen on a patient, they’ve got to know me. They’ve seen how I break my back, working on them. And the level I’m going to. And they see that you’re a human, whereas if you haven’t got that time, they see you as a robot, in, out, in, out. “Oops, the color’s not right, I’m going to sue him or he better do it again for no fee.” So I don’t have that kind of aggression coming at my neck because of the time. And I’m not a big consent or a huge letter writer. I mean, we do it. But my letters are pretty short, consent is pretty concise.

Payman: So you’ve been teaching for a long time now, both in your Mizrahi Dental Teaching bit, and at the Eastman. How much do you do at the Eastman?

Basil: Eastman, now, probably about six, 10 days a year. Again, in the beginning [crosstalk], yeah, it’s not much any more. I used to do a lot more. But again, when I came back from The States, I did a lot of teaching because I didn’t have patients. So life, your balance is constantly swinging. So as I was doing a lot of teaching and lecturing to get my out there, when the practise starts building up, you cut down on the teaching. So now my practise is at a peak.

Basil: I’ve moved the teaching from a university environment to more my own teaching centre environment. I still go to Eastman, I enjoy the Eastman. And then gradually, that balance will swing, I’m sure in the next five, 10 years I’ll probably start doing more. As I get older I’ll do more teaching back again. So, that’s what’s nice about dentistry. There’s so many directions you can get into when you look out there because people are going all different ways. You’ve started your own company, people who have multiple practises. And that’s the beauty of dentistry, there’s a niche for everybody.

Payman: Yeah-

Basil: [crosstalk] enjoy it.

Payman: Sorry to interrupt you. In the teaching, there’s a view out there, I don’t know if you resonate with this or not. But there’s a view out there that coming on your course isn’t something you should do straight away because it’s like a higher level course. Is that true, or is that wrong? I mean, how many years do I have to practise before I come on your year course, or would you say the sooner the better?

Basil: I would actually say the sooner the better and people ask me this all the time because you want to get into good habits. And that overall perspective of you want a combination of inspiration. Yes, you’re not going to take everything I do. But you also want good basics and you want someone who’s been around, showing you and guiding you, how you can get into that at your level. So I always say to all the delegates that come on, you want to see where you can aspire to be. You don’t want to be a Basil Mizrahi, you don’t want to be another Basil Mizrahi. But you want to see what can be done because I just know when I first started out, I used to see these lectures and things, I would get inspiration.

Basil: So you want to get put on the right track and when you look at all these guys that are coming up now and doing, like you said, all the leaders coming through our profession. I’m sure if you ask them, they were exposed to good people early on. And that gets you on the right track. Yes, different people will take different things from my courses, depending what level you’re on. But even the person first year out of dentistry, yes, their preps may not be as good as the guy sitting next to them, who’s been doing it for five years and been on three courses. But they will still be shown, I will be over their shoulder, because the courses are kept very small and very personal, same as my practise, same philosophy, very small and personal.

Basil: And they will be guided at their level. So if their margins are all over the place, I’m not going to get onto their level and say, “Well, you need this microscopic margin, come under the microscope.” I will take them with their no loops approach, whereas the next guy, who’s on five and a half times loops and been doing crown preps. I’ll take him to the microscope and say, “Right, you want to do the next level, come sit under the microscope now and get your margins.” So everybody, we can take people from different levels and that’s a beauty of a personal feature. And then you get… Sorry. The sooner you get onto that right road and realise the correct approach, then it sets you on the right pathway, going into the future.

Payman: Yeah, so the reason I’m asking, I was in VT. I went into a Mike Weiss lecture. And I think what you just said actually is true. I didn’t really understand what the hell was going on, dude, to tell you the truth because he was trying in crowns. And the idea, no one had ever said that to me. But you’re right that I was definitely inspired. I was definitely inspired that someone was doing something like that. But if someone’s been, I don’t know, five years qualified, or 10 years qualified and they’ve done a bunch of work compared to someone who’s just qualified. You’re saying within the same course, you can talk to both those characters?

Basil: Yeah, because it’s relatively small, so people will bring their study models in, or some guy who’s been doing it for 10 years or so, Basil, how do I take a bite registration when the patient’s got no teeth or all preps, whereas the other delegate next to them has only been their single tooth dentistry and wants to know how you do a squash bite [inaudible] or something. So there is-

Payman: By the way, on our composite course, we feel the same. We feel it’s as good for a newbie as it is for someone who’s been there, doing it for a long time because we start from the beginning. And it’s one of those things, I think that. But there is that feeling out there though, Basil, yeah. I guess it’s one of the problems of being top dog, that, that’s what happens.

Basil: Yeah and again, you can’t be everything to everyone, even in practise. You have to be prepared to lose patients. And I know I’m not, my course is not conducive to everyone. So I speak to every delegate on the phone that applies to my course, they get called, same as my every patient, they have my mobile. And I’ll bounce off of there. So not just the application process on the web. I’ll bounce off of them on the phone, “What are you looking for?” “I’m looking just this.” “Okay, maybe do that course and maybe mine in a few years’ time.” So I’m not trying to be everything to everyone. I learned that in practise, you can’t.

Basil: So same way, I will develop that niche and it’s really developing like you say. The opinion is out there, that yes, Basil’s course is… And I wouldn’t want that to change because I wouldn’t say it’s an advanced course. But yes, you may get more out of it if you’ve been doing things for longer because then you can pick my brain at a higher level. You can take advantage of me, more than someone else doing another course, who hasn’t had as much experience in complex dentistry. You can’t pick their brain as much, so-

Payman: How much do you teach abroad, Basil? You must be invited to a lot of conferences and things.

Basil: Well now, definitely not any more.

Payman: Not now, yeah.

Basil: Yeah. But it’s more around the UK. A lot doing that, the lecture segment, there’s so many people out there that are better than you, or better than me. And that’s what I always say to young, just expose yourself, especially with social media, and YouTube, and everything we’ve got now. Go to conferences, because it’s very easy to get stuck, and I see that all the time, going on local courses, or thinking these are the good guys. The good guys are out there in the big world. I mean, you can go to the furthest part of South America and there’s some amazing lectures. So I don’t run around the world, lecturing.

Basil: I don’t see myself as top. I know when I go to these conferences there’s guys a lot, my niche I think I’m top. But there’s amazing guys out there. And I say, just expose yourself to these people. Go to these international conferences because again, I think the level of conference here in the UK is not great. I’m not talking about the dentistry, there I’m guarded. But conferences, if you go to a conference in Europe, in Italy, you get 1,500 people in an auditorium. You got a conference in England, you get 300 people.

Basil: So somewhere the enthusiasm, that’s what always strikes me. That doesn’t seem to be, there’s a much smaller pool of enthusiastic dentists here than there is in like sized countries, in Europe. I just keep remembering Italy. I went to a prosthodontic conference. I walked into this huge auditorium, 2,000 just in Italy. [crosstalk] I’ll go to a prosthodontic, prostho conference here, we get 200 people. We get boring lectures. So thank God we got people travelling around now. But I would say, can’t now, but when we can travel again, expose yourself. There’s some really top guys. What you see here, locally is not always… I mean, we got some good guys here, but there’s a lot-

Payman: Tell me then, Basil, a couple of questions. What are some lectures and some mentors that stick out in your head from back in the day when you were getting electrified by this? And also now, who do you see out there as great?

Basil: The first one that really stuck out back in South Africa, we had, I don’t know if you remember Garber and Goldstein?

Payman: Yeah.

Basil: Garber and Goldstein, Ronald Goldstein, David Garber, they came over to South Africa. That was the first time I think I was probably second year bent, maybe I just finished then. But I saw these guys lecturing, and making these temporaries, and doing veneers. And that sort of turned a light. Then there was a guy, Harold Charbel, you won’t have heard of him. But he’s retired now, he’s probably about 80. He came to South Africa as well, and he gave a course there. And I just saw the way he did morphology, and the way he worked with his hands, and the way he created temporaries, and knew his [inaudible] and he was just such a passionate guy.

Basil: And he practised only on one or two patients a day. And I said, “That’s the way I want to practise.” The guy, the prosthodontist I worked with in South Africa, Gerald Kaplan, he was an amazing mentor to me. I worked in his practise as an associate. He gave me a lot of time. Lecturers on the lecture circuit, Gerry Chiche, so many good guys, we all know the name Gerry Chiche. He’s good, I think he’s retired from lecturing now.

Basil: I’m going to keep saying because I’m sure I’ll leave someone out. There’s Markus Blatz, there’s [inaudible], Gambarini. And for me, I like to see guys doing what I do, because that’s what I want to learn and for now I’m still a bit in the traditional crossover phase. There’s not that many guys lecturing about that any more. The aesthetics is amazing stuff, and implants is amazing stuff. And there’s so many. There’s names that you’d never recognise, but you look at their work, like you go to these conferences, and you’re going to be blown away. So all out there.

Payman: I think a lot of the, I’ve seen it in your teaching as well, talking about failures and problems in cases. It’s where we’re kind of going. I think before it was all a lot more about showing off, and before and afters. But now we’re going, I think people, the audience wants to see failures more. And you really do learn from those. I remember long time ago, I read one of yours, I think, it was a crack, was propagated in a veneer in cementation, yeah? And I’d done that myself. It was one of those that, I could see it, but the patient couldn’t. And I wasn’t sure what to do next. And then I read yours many years after that and I think you said, “It’s all right.” Something like that. But you know what I mean? That little, it’s a nuance, it’s a small nuance in the work, but it’s something that went wrong. And stuff does go wrong. That’s something, as dentists we need to understand. And be open about, I think.

Basil: Yeah, and I think that comes also with age and experience. You’re not that scared any more. Like when you’re starting out a practise or trying to get your name out there, you’re not going to show failures, you would be scared to. Now, I have no qualms. I do my treatment planning webinars and I always say this is a decision I made at the time and I try and stress it. But then since there’s many decisions and they’re always going to be different, that you can make. Dentistry is not recipe. So we make a decision at that time, on that patient, in that environment, at that moment and you live with it.

Basil: When you come back, there may be another patient, same situation, different time and you’ll make a different decision. I just say be comfortable with the decisions you’re making at that time. But you will always look back and say, maybe now I would make another decision. But I think that’s where it’s good to lectures, to try understand the thought process that got you to making that decision, even though it’s going to be different to your colleague sitting next to you, to another lecturer, who says something different. You want to understand the thought process and decisions are always going to be different, in your own mind and colleagues.

Payman: On the teaching, is there a continuum about this all? I mean, if I do the year course, then I want to do more. So is there more I can do?

Basil: I haven’t affiliated to a university and given formal diplomas and certificates. I know that there’s a lot of that out there. Again, just it’s very time consuming. I want to focus on the practicalities. I don’t want to have to be looking at dentist research and giving them exams, so that they can get the certificate. So I make it very clear, you’re coming on my course, just to learn to be a better dentist, not to get a diploma or certificate. There’s other courses, if you want the master’s then you need to do. So my continuum is the course and then I have the study clubs three times a year, where I take these complex cases and just go through them. We spend a day and bounce questions that always, just from a case presentation you get so much out of it. Then they can start asking you cases.

Basil: I offer my services to people on the course, they can come and have one-to-one treatment plannings. Again, it’s not so formal as many more courses out there, more formal. But I just stick to my little niche and because at the moment, it’s a small ship, I can turn that ship very easily. So if I decide I’ve got a great case and I want to do it live, I’ll say to the patient, “Do you want to come in? Let me do this with 10 dentists standing around, you don’t have to pay.” And I’ll invite 10 dentists to come in. So that just may be one course. It’s not as structured as other courses, but that’s got pros and cons. Gives me the freedom to just turn my shop quickly. People are asking me a lot maybe this year on temporaries, so in three months time, I may put on the website, okay, we’ve got a course coming on temporaries. So that kind of-

Payman: I noticed during the lockdown, you were doing some webinars as well, on a Sunday or Sunday night, Sunday night webinars. How did that work out for you? Was that something you enjoyed doing?

Basil: Yeah, I enjoyed doing that. And I think again there, the little sort of focus I’ve gone through is because over the 20 years, I’ve got so many cases, so well documented. I just choose a case pretty casually. I’ve put it together and then I present that case on the Sunday and I take questions as the questions come through. And I just breakdown that case. We all see befores and afters, especially with Instagram. We all know you scroll down and you see before, look at this amazing veneer case. But nobody gets to see, I always say the endpoint, we all know where the endpoint is. You can see a patient and say, “Okay, you’re got to end up with six front crowns.”

Basil: The hard part is the journey. How do you get them to that endpoint without making them have too many emergencies, without disrupting your diary? And how many appointments do you need? How do you plan the fee? So those are the Sunday night webinars, and I still do them every six or eight weeks. I put out on social media and I’ll just take a case and show you behind the scenes because again, I think that’s where you learn a lot. Why did I make a decision? Why did you use fibre post there? Why didn’t you use a gold post? Well, I used gold post because of X. You could use a fibre post, but then this is the reasons you would use. So it’s a lot of thought. I like teaching that way. The thought processing, rather than saying, “Well this patient had 10 veneers, this is how I did it,” because that’s out there.

Payman: Basil, what would you say a few things that most dentists don’t know, or get wrong, that you wish that they got right and they thought more about? Was it that, what you just said, that zoomed out thought process thing? I mean, let me give you an example. So on our composite course, I wish more dentists paid more attention to primary anatomy, yeah. I mean, we try and put that into their heads when they get there, but they’ll come in talking about layering, and colour, and secondary anatomy.

Payman: But they haven’t focused enough on primary anatomy, simple thing or finishing and polishing for instance, yeah. Everyone’s got their head into colour for some reason, yeah and shape hasn’t. And bleaching, I wish people gave a damn about their impression as much as they keep pretending to know what they’re talking about when it comes to percentages of gels, yeah. Everyone goes into that. It’s always the first question, oh, percentage, gels are gels, that bit. But I wish more people took better impressions. What about in your world?

Basil: So I wish people paid more attention to the temporaries because-

Payman: Yeah, of course. Of course, yeah.

Basil: Because I think again, that allows you to go from single tooth dentistry to multiple tooth dentistry. So I think the temporaries are definitely the key to success when you want to start doing more complex cases. And I don’t think dentists realise that when they come out of dental school. And then they try, the limited knowledge of how to make temporaries, stable temporaries. And when you try and do a more complex case and it goes pear shaped.

Payman: Or even what temporaries are for, right?

Basil: Yeah.

Payman: I mean, your temporary’s a kind of functional thing, isn’t it? It’s not just there to protect the tooth.

Basil: Yeah, it’s not the stop gap. You can’t get to that endpoint unless you go with the temporary, it’s because again, it’s the journey that’s more important than the end result because the end result we can all do. But that end result will be compromised if you’ve had to cut corners going through the journey. And the thing that stops you cutting corners, going through the journey, are the temporaries. And the temporaries allow me to take the time. You see me putting those pictures up on Instagram. I didn’t do that prep in one visit, okay. I may have done that prep over three visits, driving myself crazy. But what allowed me take three visits to do the prep? The fact that I had a temporary and said to the patient, “Okay, come back in four weeks’ time, okay.”

Basil: I’m exaggerating [inaudible], but that’s kind of the only way for me, I can get that level is taking as much time as I need and that’s what the temporary gives. And then also, the hand skills. For me, I think dentistry, sometimes people are losing their hand skills, focusing on the aesthetics. And adhesive is good, but there still is a place for mechanical, and that’s where hand skills, teaching the hand skills are important. And also again, social media, I think a lot of people just focus on the front teeth. I mean, we see Instagram pictures just the cosmetic results. I would love to see, and you never see the gum margins, or we never see a close up picture or impression, what do the gums… That kind of thing. So I think it’s quite daunting, yeah.

Payman: Sorry. The thing with Instagram, a lot of it is aimed directly at patients. And patients don’t want to see the gum.

Basil: Yeah, you’re right, yeah.

Payman: But it’s dangerous, it’s dangerous in so much as if you’re only talking to patients, the way that you can present the thing is different, isn’t it? I mean, you don’t have to be so meticulous as far as what-

Basil: Yeah, and I guess that’s where sometimes the difference is. So my market would be pitching it at dentists, whereas average dentist’s market would be pitching at patients. So there is a slight different perspective.

Payman: So, we’ve got to end of our time. I’m sure you’re busy. But my cohost, Prav, who couldn’t be with us today always ends these conversations with the same question. Oh sorry, I did have one other thing there. What do you enjoy the most? I mean, what’s the bit of it? Is it the treatment parts, like the sort of zoomed into the tooth? Is it the planning part? Is it the social part of actually talking to the patient and getting into their head? Is it the teaching? Is it the light bulb moment, when the student suddenly gets what you’re saying? What’s the thing that you love the most out of all of the things that you do?

Basil: I like the end of a big case and we cement everything, that’s always, after a year and a half of working, when everything goes in and we get to the end. I like zoning out and making a nice temporary. Spending half an hour myself, chairside, just working with my hands, making the temporaries, I enjoy that. That’s probably why sometimes I go overboard because I just like, I don’t know, get into my own world, so I-

Payman: You’re meditating at that point.

Basil: Yeah. I’m meditating. I like the teaching and it probably fuels the ego a little bit. I like the adoration you get from the students when you’re showing them things and they look up and say, “Wow, that’s amazing.” That does make you feel good. So there definitely is that aspect.

Payman: Very honest there.

Basil: Yeah, I mean you like it. A lot of what we do is self fulfilling.

Payman: Yeah. So my final question, Prav’s final question. You’re sitting on your deathbed, you’ve got the five or 10 closest people in your life with you. And you’ve got to leave them with three pieces of advice. What would those three pieces of advice be?

Basil: I think you want to be able to sleep at night with your decisions that you’ve made in practise and in life. And I haven’t lived by that, far from that. I don’t think it’s something hard to aspire to. But if you want to try go to sleep every night just being comfortable with the thoughts and actions you’ve done that day, that’s something to aspire to. I think we may never get there, but that’s something I’d like to say to my to kids, just try to, yeah, try aspire to do that, just get into bed at night saying, whatever you’re doing, for me, that’s key. But also in life, whether I relate it to my kids, my staff. Doesn’t happen that often, but it’s something that’s worth trying to aspire to.

Payman: That’s one.

Basil: That two, or three, or is that only one?

Payman: That’s one.

Basil: I mean, enjoy your life as you… It sounds cliché. I mean, I haven’t thought about it much because I still think I’m quite far off from there. Try create the environment that you enjoy working in. You can tailor your own environment. And I think that comes again, with experience. And you start to see that actually, I can start doing this. Make the environment so it brings the best out of you rather than-

Payman: Make a change. If you’re not happy, make a change.

Basil: Yeah, exactly. Rather than trying to fit in all the time. And that’s yeah, that’s pretty much-

Payman: The third one.

Basil: Yeah.

Payman: What would you do, Basil, if you’ve got half a day to yourself? What’s Basil time? If you could do anything, you’ve got no responsibilities to anyone, half a day to yourself, how would you chill?

Basil: A bit of tennis. I like tennis, I’d go for a walk. Meet a friend, just go for a walk. Having a coffee and maybe just scroll through a little bit of social media, that kind of stuff. Yeah, just chill out. I’m not a huge TV fan. I watch a bit of TV. At the moment all I can relate to is, within the last year-

Payman: Yeah, the last year has just been-

Basil: It’s really different. Well, I haven’t actually got into, I need to do podcasts more. Everyone raves about podcasts, maybe after this.

Payman: It’s like radio on demand.

Basil: Yeah, I need to get into podcasts-

Payman: The nice thing about radio is you can do something else while you’re listening to it.

Basil: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I must start doing, everyone tells me about podcasts, all different topics. I’m going to put that on my list of things to investigate, look into.

Payman: Perfect. Well it’s been a real honour, real privilege to have you on, Basil. I know you’re a super busy guy. And I wasn’t even expecting you to say yes to this. So I’m really glad, thank you so so much and we’ll catch up soon. Thank you so much.

Basil: Yeah, thank you so much. Thanks for inviting me on and well, look after yourself. Thanks, man.

Payman: You’ve been wonderful. Thank you.

Basil: Thanks, 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’ve 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.

In less than a decade since graduating from dental school, Dev Patel has already achieved enough to fill several careers.

He lets us in on the entrepreneurial mindset that fueled the founding of diverse dentistry tech and social businesses. He talks us through what it takes to crack the US market and describes the pains of securing the funding needed to make it work.



“You’ve got to risk everything every day.”- Dev Patel


In This Episode

00.25 – Backstory
06.25 – The Dental Circle
09.12 – On partnerships
14.21 – The portfolio
18.21 – Funding
26.48 – Cracking the US
37.33 – In practice
49.41 – COVID
55.03 – The plan
57.06 – Black box thinking
01.01.34 – Last day and legacy


About Dev Patel

Dev Patel is founder and CEO of Dental Beauty Partners, one of the UK’s fastest-growing dental groups. 

He is also the founder of award-winning smart toothbrush tech company Brushlink and co-founder of the Dental Circle online networking platform.

Dev achieved 38th place on the list of most influential UK dentists and was named Best Young Dentist at the Dental Awards 2016.

Dev is a national lecturer and a mentor for NHS England’s Clinical Entrepreneur Scheme. He also sits on the editorial board of and Young Dentist magazine.

Payman Langroud…: But you’re a glutton for punishment, dude, yeah? Because you keep on doing it again and again.

Dev Patel: Well, that’s what… I think that is the definition of an entrepreneur, right?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Dev Patel: You’ve got to risk everything every day.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Dev Patel: If you don’t do it, you’re not an entrepreneur in any way. You’re just doing what’s easy. I think that’s why a lot of people just stay in their comfort zone. They stay in the zone with their comfort. They never want to leave it. They don’t want to take any risks, and that’s why they don’t have rewards.

Speaker 3: This is Dental Leaders. The podcast where you get to go one-on-one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts, Payman Langroudi and Prav Solanki.

Payman Langroud…: It gives me great pleasure to welcome Dr. Dev Patel onto the podcast. Dev can only be described as a serial entrepreneur, in my book. Ever since I’ve known him, he’s always been talking about some sort of venture that he’s doing. He has already done a bunch of ventures. The Dental Circle, that I’m sure many people know about, Brushlink, and lately, what are you calling it? The Dental Beauty Partners?

Dev Patel: Dental Beauty partners, yeah.

Payman Langroud…: Very nice. Very nice. Nice to have you, bud. Where did you grow up, buddy?

Dev Patel: I grew up in Bexley, in Kent, which is just on the border of London. Greater London, south east.

Payman Langroud…: What kind of kid were you?

Dev Patel: Good question. In my mind, I thought I was quite a fun kid, but I think everyone else thought I was a pain in the ass. Very hyper. Always running around trying to be mischievous and cheeky, I guess. That’s what everyone tells me. Yeah, I didn’t really kind of focus much when I was younger, for many years, until probably GCSEs. Yeah, I was a bit of a rebel.

Payman Langroud…: How did dentistry come into the mix? I mean, at what point did you realise or want… What was the first time you thought, “I want to be a dentist?” Are there dentists in the family or anything like that?

Dev Patel: Yeah, my older brother’s a dentist. He was at King’s University. He’s about three years older than me. To be honest with you, I always wanted to do finance, in the banking world, investment banking, up until probably the point of choosing the university, which was, I think, lower sixth, right? Yeah, at the age of 17. Then I think at that time, my brother and family had just said, “Look, go to something a bit more stable, and more of a guaranteed income,” which obviously was dentistry.

Dev Patel: Got a bit of business out of it, because obviously you’ve got the business side of the healthcare industry, but also, you can get that kind of guaranteed professional income, which as you know, most Indians and families like to have. Yeah, I kind of gave in eventually, but I always did say to myself, and all my friends knew, as well, at university, I was always going to do something businessy around dentistry. No matter whether it be owning a practise or doing something else, so yeah. Kind of got stuck into it, and then…

Payman Langroud…: Have you got that sort of classic wheeler dealer childhood, or no?

Dev Patel: Definitely.

Payman Langroud…: Really?

Dev Patel: One story which is quite funny is when I was in year three, which is seven years old, I think. Is that right? Yeah, seven years old. I got a detention, which means you get told off. You know what detention is, right? I got detention for selling 24 Capri Suns for, I think, £2 each. Obviously, you can get a box-

Payman Langroud…: The drinks?

Dev Patel: Yeah, the little Capri Sun drinks. You can get a box of 24 of those, I think, for three quid. It was good markup, but apparently that was not allowed in cash on the playground. Yeah, that was probably… Summarised my hustler/wheeler dealer spirit from a long time ago. Obviously since then, I’ve realised you can’t do that anymore. You can, but in a different way, I guess.

Payman Langroud…: When you qualified, how soon after was it that you set up your first practise?

Dev Patel: It was two years. I was looking, literally, the year after I kind of finished off… Well, since I finished my FD year… My BT year, should I say. I was looking, but before that, I was looking, actually, when I was in about fourth year of university with my brother to find a practise together. Obviously, he was already graduated, working in the U.K., so we were looking probably a couple of years before I actually finished university. I got quite used to looking at P&Ls, adjusted EBITDA, kind of looking at perhaps in terms of the pros and cons quite early on. Yeah, I think he ended up going to Australia, left me behind here, and then I had to kind of just venture out on my own about a year and a half after my FD year.

Payman Langroud…: When you open a practise two years after qualifying, you’re pretty clueless about all the things around that, right? The staff issues, the regulatory, and all that. Did you find it difficult to start with, or were you just one of these types who just knew what, knew how to do it, quickly did it?

Dev Patel: I don’t ever think, even now, I never think about practise management, to be honest with you. I know most of it, and I think more to do with clinical side of running the business, the revenue, patient journey, basics about what you need to have as a set up, but I’ve always believed, and I still do, that’s it better to have people around you knowing more than you do, because then you can rely on them, right? I was very fortunate I had a really good practise manager when I first did my first practise on. Had a really good team around me.

Dev Patel: Even working as a VT, and a year as associate, I learned a lot at that practise. Just kind of understanding, just visualising and seeing what other people do, how to do things right, how to do things wrong, listen to staff, what they like, what they don’t like, because I think it’s easy to always think, “Oh, that boss could do this better. That practise could be run better in this way.” You always think, “I could do this better,” right? As an associate, or working in a practise, but when you’re on the other side of it, and you realise the shit, essentially, you’ve got to deal with as an owner, it’s not as straightforward.

Dev Patel: I definitely saw the other side of being an owner compared to being an associate, where you kind of go into work, go home again. It’s easy. Listen to staff problems, but you’re not really listening to all the problems. But yeah, I feel… Not being arrogant, but I feel like I generally had a quite good gist of running a practise pretty quickly, but at the same time, I had a good team around me. That’s always been my number one advice. Make sure you’ve got a good team.

Payman Langroud…: How soon was it after you started… The Dental Circle, when did that start?

Dev Patel: That was the same year.

Payman Langroud…: Same year as you opened the practise?

Dev Patel: Well, let’s put dates in this. 2012, I graduated. 2014, Dental Circle essentially kind of really formed. I’m sure you remember our launch we had in London, at the Henry Schein venue. It was a very kind of a small startup. Me and Amit just literally just set up a website and said, “Let’s do this.” We had zero members, and it was basically a £0 startup, so yeah, it was from nothing. That was year before, 2014. Then 2015, I actually got the first practise keys at the beginning of the year, so yeah, it was just kind of a few months after. Six months after setting up Dental Circle, opened the practise.

Payman Langroud…: I thought you and Amit were like best buddies throughout university or whatever, but once I asked him, and he goes, “No, we just met that year.”

Dev Patel: Yeah. Really random. Really funny.

Payman Langroud…: How did that work out, man?

Dev Patel: We had mutual friends. He worked with one of my associates, in my first practise working in. We always, obviously… Our mutual friend talked about me to him, and vice versa, and said, “You guys would get on really well.” A year later, I was just at home reading Dentistry magazine, just flicking through, and I saw Amit write an article about his idea about setting up a website, a dental network website. Originally, I believe it was like a Yellow Page dentistry. It was like just a listing of all dentists in the country.

Dev Patel: I literally just picked the phone up and said, “Amit, I’m Dev. Nice to meet you.” We had a chat about what his plan was, and obviously, I was coming from more the, “How are you going to monetize this? How are you going to build a business plan out? What’s the long-term vision?” Da da da. He was like, “I haven’t really thought that far ahead. I’ve literally set a website up, and I just thought, ‘Let’s see what happens.'” Yeah. We started chatting, had some brainstorming ideas. Met up, and then next thing you know, we started the company. I think that was really interesting, because it was… I kind of felt like we should have known each other for longer, because we are like best mates now, obviously, but we just never actually met.

Dev Patel: I think I had that same scenario with some of our partners now in my group, where I don’t know what it is, but I think dentists who are on that entrepreneur mindset in dentistry, if they’re the same agree group in the U.K… I’m sure it’s the same as you and Sanj, right? Like, you just get on so well that you just think… I can think what he’s thinking without even saying it, almost. I think I just had that kind of relationship with some of my partners, now, as well, which is really nice to have. We’re all best mates, so it’s good.

Payman Langroud…: But you must have… Some people can get on with anyone.

Dev Patel: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: You must have that, right? Because now, along your journey, if I look at everything you’ve done, it’s always been with partners.

Dev Patel: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: By now, you must have a bunch of partners, because each one of these Dental Beautys is a partnership situation, right?

Dev Patel: Yeah. Yeah, yep.

Payman Langroud…: But for instance, me and Sanj, we studied together since the first year of university, so we know each other that way. It intrigues me, because Prav’s not with us today, but Prav, he can partner up with anybody. Anybody at all. He really can. He can make the business work, and he’s so cold and calculated, and everything is just done, whereas me, I feel like I’m the opposite way around. I’ve got to really, really, fully trust the person before I can go into business with them. You do seem like the kind of guy who gets on with everyone, but you must have had, along the way, partnership issues, right? Tell me about it. Expand a little bit.

Dev Patel: Yeah. I mean, it’s a good point, because I think one of the things that I have always had to do because of time, specifically, is I could never physically do anything on my own, because if I wanted to do a practise, and Dental Circle, Brushlink, any of these companies, really, there’s always been either time, financial backing required, or something that you need a partner for, right? But at the same time, it’s also more fun. Especially when you’re having a brand new venture, to do it with people that you like and you get on with, because then, it’s not work. It becomes more fun, right?

Dev Patel: I mean, I could genuinely do any of my businesses with these guys I’m in business with now, and if it failed, we wouldn’t care. We would just be like, “Eh. Tried it, didn’t work out. Oh, well. Let’s just have some more fun now,” right? I think that’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve never wanted to get into a business where I don’t know them well enough, initially, anyway, right at the beginning a baby entrepreneur startup, get in business with someone that you don’t really know at all, and then find out after a year that you’re just completely different people, different ways of working, different trust, all that kind of stuff. I think trust has always been my fundamental thing. At least at the beginning, right?

Dev Patel: Eventually, you’ll want to take on partners at a certain stage, when you grow, that you don’t know them as well, because you’ll get too big, right? But at least initially, it’s always been with people that I can get on with really well and I enjoy myself with, but I’m now realising how important it is. I have learned, obviously, from… I’m not saying it’s always been perfect, every single partnership, right? There’s been some things that haven’t worked out, and some things have worked out, but I think I’ve learned that you need to make sure that everything’s laid out at the beginning, legally, and everyone knows what their roles are, responsibilities, and time commitments, because I think it’s very easy to say, “Oh, yeah. We’ll do this, we’ll do this, we’ll do this. We’ll get this done.”

Dev Patel: Then actually, you might realise that someone’s doing 80% of the work, some people are doing 20% of the work, or what value are you bringing to the table? At the beginning, what kind of cash are you bringing to the table at the beginning? All that kind of thing. You need to really have that set out, and it’s not easy to do, because if you are mates with someone at the beginning, having that discussion is so awkward and kind of almost… You’re really getting deep very quickly. I generally find that even now, I still struggle to do that sometimes. I mean, obviously you’ve done it enough times now to kind of know that this is a normal thing, but even the last two ventures I did, I didn’t do that initially, to the point where I should have really sat down and thought about it beforehand.

Dev Patel: Kind of just went into it all guns blazing and after a year realised, “Mm, should have really done something a bit better in terms of this kind of layout,” right? Yeah, I think it’s very important if you are going to do partnerships, to make sure you lay these kind of fundamentals of who’s doing what, and really specify exactly what everyone’s roles are and commitments are, because you could otherwise get burned. Especially if you are a really hardworking entrepreneur and you do most of the work, you can end up realising that, “Well, this hasn’t worked out as planned, in terms of what the initial structure was,” right?

Payman Langroud…: What does your role tend to be in these companies?

Dev Patel: I think all three of them have been kind of CEO, kind of founder, entrepreneur, driver of the business, business side of things.

Payman Langroud…: You seem to have a real talent for finding cash. The sort of CFO, maybe.

Dev Patel: Yeah, I think… Do you know what it is, right? I think as a CEO, you have to be able to show your vision and your passion for the business, i.e. sell it to anyone, whether it be customers, to investors, or to your team. That’s basically what the role of a CEO is, isn’t it? If you have that, then you’re right. You technically are… I mean, look. As CEO, it’s also going to sell the brand and the whole business model, right? To anyone, whether it be investors or not.

Dev Patel: Typically, you would get a CFO [inaudible] but we haven’t. We’ve just recently got a CFO for the group, but you don’t typically have that for startups, so you have to do every role, right? You’re jack of all trades when you start up. Me and Amit were essentially head of everything for our company together, for Dental Circle, and same for the practises, and for Brushlink, too, initially. But then when you start bringing in specialists in each different field, then you start to divest back to doing a bit more what you do best, which is driving the team and strategy forward, and focusing on growth, right?

Payman Langroud…: Let’s go through the companies. Dental Circle. For those who don’t know, kind of like a social media for dentistry, is that right?

Dev Patel: Yep. Yeah. It’s an online networking platform, but social media, that’s what you can call it, as well.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah. What’s the business model on that one?

Dev Patel: We initially just wanted to… I mean, without sounding a bit simple, we wanted to essentially bring Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter in one platform, but make it professional, and LinkedIn, should I say, as well, but a professional and just dedicated to dentistry platform. That’s what it was, initially. Just kind of grow it, get members on there. We knew that if we had members, like Facebook did, eventually, you could monetize it. Obviously, there was always a strategy behind that, which was initially sponsors, then it was recruitment, and events, and courses, networking, as well.

Payman Langroud…: Parties. Don’t forget parties.

Dev Patel: Parties, as well, which never made us any money. We always made losses on those ones, because we spent too much money on alcohol, but it was good fun. But you know what?

Payman Langroud…: Some of the most legendary parties in dentistry, man.

Dev Patel: Yeah. Yeah. You know what? You know as well, right? Having a good party and getting just something positive in dentistry is worth… Well, it’s priceless, right? Because it doesn’t happen all the time, and just getting that kind of positivity and a really good night out is worth it. Even if you don’t make money from it, because it’s just good. It’s good, and I think that’s what we need in this industry. We have so much stress every day, especially with all the regulatory stuff going on all the time, now COVID, and all the other crap that we deal with, just having a good time and everyone getting together is worth it. That was always one of the highlights of the year. Unfortunately, we had to cancel the last one because of COVID, but hopefully we’ll do one next year. Let’s hope.

Payman Langroud…: Look forward to it.

Dev Patel: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: What about Brushlink? Tell us about Brushlink, because we had Nikunj on the podcast, and what a genius he is. But for someone who doesn’t know about Brushlink, talk us through. Explain that one.

Dev Patel: Brushlink was essentially just trying to do something positive for the actual dentistry as a whole, in terms of the actual fundamentals of what we do. We spend a lot of our time fixing teeth, literally every day, variants on prevention. I mean, unfortunately, even across the U.S. and around the world, prevention’s still not there yet, and we should be just saving teeth rather than cutting teeth down and fixing them all the time. The fundamental kind of business plan was let’s try to create affordable, scalable model which uses technology like apps and IoT, like a device you can attach onto any toothbrush that could link up to an app and show you how to brush in real time with accurate data, and then through that data, you could then incentivize patients to brush better with good health and behaviour.

Dev Patel: That was the kind of basic fundamental why we did it for, because you were selling toothbrushes from Sonicare and Oral B for like £100, £200. It was like, “Who could afford that?” Only the rich. The rich could afford it. Everyone who needs the help can’t afford that. They’re not going to be able to benefit from that data, which wasn’t even great data anyway. We just said, “Look, let’s kind of go in that £20, or £15 price point and make it affordable for everyone, and get that data going,” because we know that people can use Fitbits and other IoT for medicine and healthcare to improve their health. That’s obviously taken off massively, but in dentistry, no one really did anything about it, right?

Payman Langroud…: Did you come across the technology, or did you have the idea and then go and find someone to develop the technology? What was the story?

Dev Patel: Well, obviously there was, I think, Phillips, or maybe… Not, I think Oral B had their Genius toothbrush out at the time, which was a very basic kind of… It was a Bluetooth connection to the toothbrush. That’s what it was. That was the inspiration behind the thought behind it, but the actual building the technology itself was from scratch. Like, literally, we just built the whole thing from start to finish. U.K…

Payman Langroud…: No, but walk me through it, dude. You had the idea, was it?

Dev Patel: Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ll go through it.

Payman Langroud…: I have 100 ideas every day, right?

Dev Patel: Yeah, yeah.

Payman Langroud…: So then what? You said, “Right, I’m going to find someone to build this?”

Dev Patel: I had the idea first, then obviously spoke to a few of our partners initially who were mainly investors and said, “Look, guys. I think this has got some legs to it.” Raised the seed capital of 150K or whatever it was, and then-

Payman Langroud…: Go on. Where from? Where from? Tell me.

Dev Patel: Two of our friends, basically.

Payman Langroud…: Okay.

Dev Patel: [inaudible]. Essentially, that was for the SES scheme. It’s obviously quite a good investment scheme, anyway, for any investor, because you get half your money back off your rebate for your tax. Essentially, yeah, we decided to actually build the product in the U.K. first, just to get the prototype that could work, and make sure it actually was there. Spoke to a few firms. One engineering firm actually built the physical product. Another firm built the app for us. We literally just kind of built the prototype first, and after we realised it worked, ended up speaking to a couple of insurance companies in the U.K. Didn’t realise how small insurance in the U.K. was.

Dev Patel: We do, obviously, have research, and there was only one or two massive players, actually. Simplyhealth was one of them, and obviously Practise Plan’s kind of the second, kind of the biggest one out there. Spoke to both of them. Started to feel out for a bit if it could work in the U.K., the model. Started getting into the deep business plan behind how they make money, which was very small margins, and actually, there wasn’t much in it, really. We very quickly pivoted just to make the software first and the actual product, and go to the U.S. Pretty much after we laun.ched, about two months after, we went straight to the U.S. and didn’t look back, really.

Payman Langroud…: What rate did you burn through this 150 grand?

Dev Patel: Very quickly. Very quickly.

Payman Langroud…: That’s what I mean.

Dev Patel: I mean, I think probably within the first year.

Payman Langroud…: So in the first year, you’d spent the 150. You had your device. Did you have lots of them, or just like one?

Dev Patel: Literally like five or six.

Payman Langroud…: Okay. So then you have to raise more cash, right?

Dev Patel: Yep, yep, yep.

Payman Langroud…: Go on. Explain it.

Dev Patel: We did another fundraising round where we had to raise… I think we raised about 750K in the end, on the next round, but that was after the prototype was ready, after we had a couple of letter of intents from some of these insurance companies showing some interest, after we had some trials going on with some of these insurance companies. We kind of had a product, an app, that was working, and showed that the device actually could track the data and work. The software was still starting to be built, but not fully kind of developed. Very basic. Literally just tracking where you’ve brushed your mouth, for how long, at what angle. That was it. It was just very basic, and that was it. Yeah. We went to a couple of-

Payman Langroud…: Where did you find the 750 grand from?

Dev Patel: Literally every single person I know in the whole world. Called them all up and asked them to ask other people. It just completely…

Payman Langroud…: Just like that.

Dev Patel: No, no. It wasn’t easy. I’m not going to lie. It didn’t happen overnight. I mean, it took a good eight months to finish it off, but once you get the first two or three investors on boar.d, it does start to become easier, because then people are saying, “Oh, we’re not the first ones now,” and they’ve kind of weighed about half of it on. You then go to Seedrs to do the crowdfunding for the last 200K or whatever it was, but it’s such a weird world. I mean, it’s so difficult, because it’s literally cold selling, isn’t it?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Dev Patel: You’re cold calling people up and asking for money. The dentists… You don’t do that, normally. I mean, it’s not hard when a patient’s sitting there. They’ve got problems with their teeth, they’re coming to you already. You are literally going to people you don’t even know, never met them in your whole life, and asking them for money, and pitching your business plan to them. Most of these guys who are obviously high net worths are business people. They’ve already made their money from knowing what bullshit is, right? They can sniff through it very quickly, and they know when it’s a scam versus an actual model with some legs.

Dev Patel: Had to very, very quickly learn about forecasting, business plans, how to look at shareholder agreements, SPAs, articles, association, all these things are really important when you start to really talk to sophisticated investors. Especially when they’re grilling you, right? It’s literally an hour and a half of grilling. That’s all it is, and if they go, “We like you,” then they invest. It’s like Dragon’s Den, basically, every single time you’re talking to anyone. But it could be for 10,000, it could be for 100 grand, it could be for 50K. You’ve just got to talk to every person.

Payman Langroud…: Did you get knocked back a lot, then?

Dev Patel: Oh, yeah. I mean, it was like one in 100.

Payman Langroud…: Wow.

Dev Patel: If I had 30 investors in the end, 50 investors in the end, whatever it was, I must have spoken to 300 people.

Payman Langroud…: Wow. Did you know that that was the way it was going to pan out?

Dev Patel: No.

Payman Langroud…: It was just something in you, tells you to keep going.

Dev Patel: Look, I mean…

Payman Langroud…: The next man, if you’d seen 30 people and they all said no, would have thought, “Well, probably not a good idea,” but you kept going.

Dev Patel: Yeah. I think… The problem was, in my mind, if I think that something’s going to work, and I genuinely believe in it, and that’s why people invest in me when it comes to anything, I won’t stop until it’s done. I get the job done, no matter what. Now, there’s only some things that I can’t control, which is obviously whether the rest of the world then likes the product, right? It’s like when you had Enlighten. I’m sure you were like, “Are people going to buy this or not? Are they not going to buy it? Is it going to be a failure afterwards?” You always have that doubt, but you need to back yourself, and you need to back your idea, otherwise it’s pointless doing it at the beginning.

Dev Patel: That’s just number one. You have to have that as a minute. You just can’t stop. Then obviously after that, you need to find the right investors. Now, the problem with ventures, which is one of the biggest stumbling blocks, or should I say hold backs or challenges, with Brushlink that I’ve found, which was frustrating as hell for us, was that there was so much investment out there… I mean, talking about billions of dollars of investment around the world in healthcare, in startups, in tech, but nothing in dentistry. When you say the word dentistry, people are just like, “What? That market’s tiny. Who cares? The addressable market for dentistry is like a few hundred million. Who cares? That’s nothing.” But with most things, it’s a few hundred billion, right?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Dev Patel: No one cares. You’re literally trying to find people who might have the slightest tiny bit of interest in dentistry, which you can imagine is like one in a million, right? No one cares about teeth or dentistry, generally. You’ve got to find the right people who understand healthcare, understand the opportunity, and are willing to take the risk in that area. Most of the time, you would have thought dentists would be great people to go to, but actually, none of them want to invest anything, because they just want to invest in stuff they know, which is dentistry, right? As in their own stuff, normally, which is practises and easy-to-make money, straight away guaranteed income, because they don’t want to risk anything, right? They want to have like 80% guarantee, 20% risk. Startups are like 100% risk.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But I mean, you’re right. You’re absolutely right, because the kind of person, the angel investor that you were talking about, generally has made a lot more money than your average dentist. The other thing is investors want to hear billion dollar stories.

Dev Patel: Exactly.

Payman Langroud…: They want to hear that dream. In dental, it’s quite hard to. It’s hard to make a billion dollar story up from an industry that’s quite cottage.

Dev Patel: Yeah. Exactly.

Payman Langroud…: But you did it, right? You got your 750. Went to the U.S. to talk to the U.S. insurance companies.

Dev Patel: Yep.

Payman Langroud…: Is that right?

Dev Patel: Yep. Yeah. Yeah, that was really, really positive, because I think after the U.K., realising that there’s only two options for insurance in the U.K., no one really wants to… When I say invest, as in bring in a product that would basically save teeth and be focused on oral hygiene in the U.K. It wasn’t like… I mean, if you go to a practise right now, they’ve got 10 things on the list of things to sell, right?

Dev Patel: Number one is always going to be high-ticket items. Ortho implants. Then it’s going to go down, down, down. Whitening’s in the middle there. Right at the bottom is toothbrushes, and toothbrushes to sell. No one cares about that kind of stuff. If you start saying to dentists, “Oh, yeah. You can save people’s teeth. You can help them to brush better. You can [inaudible] oral health.” You only actually had one out of 100 people actually care, generally, and that’s just the way the U.K. is, right? We’ve got a very tough market to work, and that’s not because of anyone not caring, it’s just because the business model and the amount of things you’ve got to do in a practise.

Dev Patel: You have to make it like a turnkey solution where you don’t even think about selling Brushlink. It just becomes a part of a package of something that you give to patients just as a freebie, almost. But the data is where you make the money. You monetize it, and the insurance in the U.S., obviously, is like 200 million people have got U.S. insurance, right? Dental insurance. The big market there to go to. Insurance companies have obviously got lots to save, because if they can reduce the problems of teeth, they can save the payouts at the dentists, right? There was always a need for that, and it was a much bigger need than it was anywhere near the U.K. I mean, Simplyhealth’s got that.

Payman Langroud…: Where did you even start? Where did you even start getting in touch with U.S. insurance? Was there someone on your board that was experienced in that area? What did you do then?

Dev Patel: No. You know what?

Payman Langroud…: I would have just curled under my blanket, at that point.

Dev Patel: Our board was just like, “Don’t do it. Don’t go to the U.S.” Most of them were just saying, “No one’s cracked the U.S. before. Don’t try it.” Not in a negative way, but just a realistic way, right?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Dev Patel: You’ve only got X amount of money, in terms of cash to burn. If you try to burn all of it too quickly, you’re going to lose it, right? I didn’t have any real backing from our board of actually going to the U.S. and going big there. Initially, they were just like, “If you want to, you can try out a few cold calls, but don’t waste too much time there.” I literally did everything myself from scratch. LinkedIn, just messaging CEOs on LinkedIn. Every single insurance company in the U.S.

Payman Langroud…: You are kidding me.

Dev Patel: Surprisingly enough, most of them actually got back to me.

Payman Langroud…: I love that. I love that.

Dev Patel: I’m talking about some of the biggest insurance companies in the world, yeah? Like, $50 billion companies.

Payman Langroud…: I love that story, because when you told me before that you were looking at American insurance companies, I thought, “Wow. That Dev’s really connected, man. He’s got a friend in America,” whatever. You know?

Dev Patel: No. I wish it was that easy, man. I wish it was that easy. I literally just did that. Just cold emailing. February 2019, started emailing every single insurance company I could possibly think of. Literally got lists from online of every insurance company in the U.S. in dental. Emailed them all. Messaged them on LinkedIn, the LinkedIn message, whatever it’s called. Did that constantly, and I mean like…

Dev Patel: You know those annoying people on LinkedIn who love to send the same message four or five times to get your attention? It was like that. It was literally just proper cold messaging them. I would sometimes even wait until they were online, just to message them so they could see it. That’s how annoying it was. I got to the point where I had to do it, because that’s the only time you get those guys’ attention. These guys are pretty busy guys, anyway. They don’t have a lot of time to be wasting on other things.

Payman Langroud…: Dev, tell me this. Tell me this. Tell me this, dude, yeah? When you’re doing this, you’ve got, I don’t know. It’s probably not a piece of paper, right? You’ve got a list of names and you’re going through that. You must be quite an organised person to keep at that, number one.

Dev Patel: Yep.

Payman Langroud…: Number two, I’d like to know what’s the driving force when you’re doing that? Is it that sort of, “I’m going to succeed, come what may”? Is it, “I’m spending other people’s money, and I can’t let them down”? What is it? What is it that’s driving you?

Dev Patel: I think it’s a combination of three things. The first two things you said is definitely there, but the third thing I would say is that I genuinely believe, especially at that time, when you were like, got a product that can work, that they’ll be interested in it. Like, I knew in my mind, if I was in front of any of these guys who had these insurance companies, they would be almost… Not stupid-

Payman Langroud…: Stupid not to.

Dev Patel: … but it would be very difficult for them to say, “No,” shut your door in front of your face, because actually, this has got nothing to do with what I need in my life. As an insurance company, if I can save you hundreds of millions over the next 10, 20 years, why would you not even have one conversation with me? That’s what, in my mind, I was thinking, right? And luckily, that’s what [crosstalk].

Payman Langroud…: Was that your pitch? Was that your pitch, when you were contacting them? Were you saying, “I can save you millions?”

Dev Patel: No, no. Do you know what it was? I’ve got to be honest. A lot of these companies already were looking at innovative ways to promote oral health, becoming a bit more focused on value-based industry, so they were all looking into it. It wasn’t like we were the first ones who were doing it. I mean, a company called Beam, in America, they were already five years ahead of us. They already created a toothbrush that had linked to an app, and they had made their own insurance company after that. Once they made their own insurance company, they were valued like a billion dollars within five years, so they were already kind of a competitor to it. Other old school companies hadn’t changed their model for 30, 50 years. I think we already had a bit of a step forward.

Dev Patel: It wasn’t completely out of the blue, as this new thing that’s come out. It was new in terms of technology and what we were offering, attachable to any toothbrush, scalable for the whole U.S., but it wasn’t like the first time the concept was out there. I think I had already that kind of first step to get these guys’ attention, but I genuinely believe that if they had an hour with me, they would see that there’s some value, some need for this product for their company. Luckily, that worked out really well. Say if I had the top 15 companies. Out of all of them, maybe eight of them got back to me. Maybe 10 of them got back to me, should I say, actually, so three quarters of them got back to me, and then I would say I had meetings with six of them within a month.

Payman Langroud…: Wow.

Dev Patel: It was really, really positive. I mean, the U.K., I spent about a year and a half. I’m not saying anything bad about U.K. business, but you know what it’s like. U.K. people, they don’t take well to cold calling. They’re very conservative. They don’t like doing anything innovative if they don’t have to. It was just… Took me a year and a half just to get one meeting with someone in one of the insurance companies in the U.K., which was like two million people in the U.K. on this insurance company. I’m talking to people in the U.S. who’ve got like 50 million people on one insurance company, and I got a meeting with them within a month, with the CEO.

Payman Langroud…: Amazing.

Dev Patel: It’s like, why would you not do that in the U.K., after a year and a half? I didn’t get a meeting with someone in the top level, even. That’s why America does so well, right? They’re innovative. They’re more willing to listen to ideas, and to invest in bullish ideas.

Payman Langroud…: What was the upshot of that? Where are you at with that now?

Dev Patel: This was a good two years ago, now. That was 2018, wasn’t it? 2017, 2018. Yeah, I mean it was lots of trips back and forth to the U.S. Just typical kind of journeys. You meet them first, get the pitch going, and they like it, then the next meeting is, “All right. We like it, but let’s see what we can do in terms of a trial, meet the board and make sure that the rest of the team like it or not.” After that, it’s kind of spending three or four months developing the trial, and then after that, it’s actually rolling the trial out, which is very slow with these big companies. Took me another six months to get that even sorted out.

Dev Patel: Took about a year after the first meeting to actually get the trial rolled out. Had a pilot with United Healthcare, who is the biggest insurance company in the world for healthcare. Cigna, the second biggest insurance company in the U.S. for dental, and obviously one of the biggest in the world for healthcare, and DentaQuest, which is the biggest kind of NHS version in the U.S., which is Medicaid. Medicaid’s like the version of the NHS in the U.S. for children provided in the U.S. Had three pilots which were fully paid for within a year, which is really, really positive.

Dev Patel: Then we kept… I think it was another year after that, the pilots finished off. Had more discussions with them. Got some really big orders in from Cigna and United Healthcare, which was really positive, because it now showed that we not only have got a market product that can be marketed, but also that there’s commercialization now, so you can actually see that people have ordered your products, right? That was really positive. I think getting to that point in itself is like…

Payman Langroud…: It’s huge.

Dev Patel: I think the stats are like one in 10,000 or something crazy like that, right? That was really positive. I think we got to a certain point and then we kind of got to the point where we had to do a series A. I think end of 2019, or beginning of 2020.

Payman Langroud…: So you’d run out of money by this point?

Dev Patel: Yeah, we basically ran out of money, which I think any startup will do eventually.

Payman Langroud…: Yes.

Dev Patel: But also, it was kind of ran out of money, but we had a lot of positive commercial aspects to the business that would then take us to [crosstalk].

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, you’d made massive, massive progress. You’d made massive progress.

Dev Patel: Yeah, but there was like… For example, there was two insurance companies that we were working with, Cigna and another one, that are actually going to make an insurance code for Brushlink.

Payman Langroud…: Wow.

Dev Patel: Essentially, you could use that code to literally get paid for handing it out.

Payman Langroud…: Wow.

Dev Patel: You could imagine, the NHS giving Duraphat out. You just basically go and take it, right? We had to scale up, and the insurance companies wanted us to have a U.S. base properly now, not just having this U.K. team in the U.K. kind of going back and forth for one-off meetings. They want us to have a U.S. base, and you need to have millions to be able to do that. We were at a juncture where we either chewed the bullet and had to raise a lot of money, give a lot of equity away for that, and at that time, it wasn’t the best time to be raising money. This was the beginning of 2020, right?

Dev Patel: A, it was just before COVID. B, even without COVID, it would have been hard, because you’re asking a handful of maybe 10 VCs in the world who understand dentistry to invest in an idea that was still quite infant in terms of revenues and sales. It wasn’t doing millions and millions of revenue. Very difficult, and that’s one thing that I struggled, because it was like… At the time, I still had loads of practises to… Not loads. I had about five or six practises at the time that I was running in the U.K., Dental Circle, as well, and trying to raise this huge fund for a U.S. company that I wasn’t even in the U.S. for. It was getting to the point, and I’d just had a little baby, as well, which I’m not saying is a bad thing, but it definitely kind of made things a little difficult, right?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Dev Patel: Anyway, yeah, it was all going on at the same time, and then COVID hit. We were approached by a company in Silicon Valley who said, “We’ve got a portfolio of different products, dental technology. We want to add yours to it.” Then they acquired our U.S. business in July last year.

Payman Langroud…: Oh, really? Excellent.

Dev Patel: Yes. It took a bit. I mean, I’m not saying that we can retire now, we’ve made loads of money from it, but it was good enough that we actually… I think one of the biggest problems with having a startup is at any day, at any point, you can just fail.

Payman Langroud…: Of course.

Dev Patel: Close everything down, and that’s it. Done. You run out of money, your product doesn’t work, no one says yes to it, no one wants to buy in. You could always close up on day one. I’ve always wanted-

Payman Langroud…: How did you meet the buyer? How did that happen? Did they come to you?

Dev Patel: Yeah, because we made so much noise in the dental insurance industry in the U.S. Everyone was talking about us, right? It was like a hot thing. I mean, I went to an insurance conference, like the version of BBA in the U.S., and after a few companies realised that the two biggest companies in the U.S. were buying our product and rolling them out, everyone was like, “Oh, I want to hear about this now. What’s going on here?” Kind of thing. It started to get word, and actually, one of the companies that we had a pilot with, who did a clinical trial with us, as well, their results came out at the same time and the other company who ended up acquiring us was doing a pilot with them, as well.

Dev Patel: They were like, “You guys should really talk,” because we had a product that was really good for technology for any toothbrush. They had a smart toothbrush for kids, that was a game. They were like, “Well, it should make sense. You guys can work together.” Yeah, I think we took the decision that it was the best time to, and a good price, and kind of parted ways then. Yeah, that was pretty much it. And then with COVID, I was pretty much just focusing in the U.K., which was good for family and also for practises as well, right? Because [crosstalk].

Payman Langroud…: I take my hat off to you, man. I take my hat off to you. To be running practises while you did all of that, and a kid. I take my hat off to you. Tell me about the practises, then. And it’s quite an interesting unique kind of business model, isn’t it?

Dev Patel: Yes.

Payman Langroud…: You kind of partner up with… Go on, tell me. Tell us about it.

Dev Patel: I think it’s… I actually picked up from the U.S., to be fair, because obviously, I spent a good year and a half out there, pretty much, back and forth. What I realised was dentists shouldn’t actually be… When I say shouldn’t, it’s very rare to find dentists who are good at clinical and business. Typically, they’re good at clinical. That’s what they train for five years to do, and probably another five years of more training afterwards, right? That’s what they’re good at.

Dev Patel: When you start looking at practises and how they’re run, I’m sure you know this better than I, they’re really poorly run businesses, most of them. The majority of them. Like, 80% of practises in the U.K. are pretty badly run. If you look at a business and you think, “What are you guys doing?” That’s why I think people like Chris Barrett, [inaudible], when they talk to people, they’re life changing. I’m like, “Guys, this is not rocket science here. You’ve got a run a business in a normal way.” It’s pretty straightforward stuff, but you don’t get taught this stuff at university. You buy a practise because you’re a dentist. That’s it.

Dev Patel: I think what I realised was in the U.S., the DSO model is a back office who does all the business side of things. Marketing, compliance, HR, accounting, blah blah blah. Fundraising, all the accounting side of things. You’ve got the dentists who own a percentage of the practise, but they’re the clinical guys on the ground in the practise who actually know what clinical dentistry’s about, and then leaders in the practise in terms of team leaders, right? That’s the whole U.S. model. The whole U.S., which is like 100,000 practises.

Dev Patel: We have this completely different model which is obviously broken, because all the big groups have all failed over the last… Whether you see it or not, they’ve all failed financially. If you look at all the big groups, I’m not going to name any names, because I know all of them, but all the big, big groups have failed in some form. The main reason is because of reputation, culture, and you get this kind of negative connotation with a group being like a factory, right? You get told what materials to use, lack of clinical freedom. You don’t get the same level of kind of care and quality as an owner would be if you were there in the practise, on the ground.

Dev Patel: I’ve never once thought it was quality. I’ve always been like, BACC level kind of thinking, “I have to have the best quality at any practise we do,” because if you don’t have quality, you will lose patients, you’ll lose teams, you’ll lose all your talent. That’s the worst thing for any business. That’s why big groups have failed over many years, because you eventually get to the point where you have like 10 layers before the [inaudible] office can do anything. And in each layer, you’ve got non-dentists telling you what to do, from Sainsbury’s, saying, “Hey, you’re a dentist, but I know what I’m doing because I’ve worked at Sainsbury’s last 10 years. Use this implant tool. It’s cheaper. Do what I say.” You know? That’s the kind of factory.

Dev Patel: I just thought, “What is going on? This is not how healthcare should be run.” And if you look at [inaudible] and Optum, as well, right? They’ve both got this partnership model, as well, where it’s very much franchise, back office does the head office stuff, front office is the healthcare professionals. I just thought, “Why has no one done this yet?” Did a bit of research into it, and I thought, “Okay, let’s start doing it.” Also, at the same time, had a lot of dentists in my age group from network, as well, from Dentist Circle, asking me, “Hey, I want to buy a practise. How do you do it?”

Dev Patel: Bought my first practise in 2015, doubled the turnover within a year and a half, won a few awards, and I think as a result of that people are like, “You kind of understand the blueprint in this now,” and they wanted to know how to do it. I said, “Look, I can help you. I’ll help you as a friend, anyway, always will, but if you really want my kind of full-time attention, I need to do this was an investment with you, right?” I partnered up with a couple of close friends at that time who obviously wanted to buy a practise, and it’s expensive to own a practise on your own.

Dev Patel: Fortunately, I did quite well from a couple of my ventures, and the first couple of years of working, to have enough savings to invest with them, alongside them, so we could buy a practise together, which would normally be very difficult to do with only five years out of university, because you just don’t have the cash these days. I mean, you’re looking at paying eight times, whatever it is these days, for the market. You’re putting in hundreds of thousands initially, just to buy a practise, right? Around London, anyway. Not many have got that kind of cash. You’re going half and half with a partner, and the banks can back me in terms of knowing that I can do it once, and a few times over, you get a much better facility and lending. That was also a big reason why it would make sense for a partner initially.

Payman Langroud…: Are you going in 50/50 with them?

Dev Patel: Yeah. Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: 50/50?

Dev Patel: 51/49.

Payman Langroud…: 51/49. Okay.

Dev Patel: When I say 50/50, we have… I would say it’s the other way around, whereas I and my head office team work for our partners, because in the end of the day, if they’re happy, we will make money, because they’re the ones who will develop the practise and grow them, right?

Payman Langroud…: Of course.

Dev Patel: We always say, “Look, 51/49 is more for a structure for the group, and financial, and all that kind of stuff at banks, but actually, in real life, and actually on paperwork, too, it is 50/50. Like, we have complete half and half decisions on anything. It is a complete partnership, at the end of the day, which is what it should be, because that’s what you’re going into.

Payman Langroud…: Go through the stuff that you take care of from head office. Is marketing part of your responsibility?

Dev Patel: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m not going to lie, when we first did the first few practises, it was very much me, my partner Arjun, who’s my brother-in-law, and maybe one or two of our kind of really good PMs and managers who would help us run the whole group, and was really fortunate to get a few partners within the first kind of few months. We had, I think, eight practises by the end of the first year, and we only started buying them the beginning of 2019, so we literally had eight within a year. We bought pretty quickly, but I think once you had the blueprint and the backing financially, in terms of the bank lending, it wasn’t difficult to do that, because actually, just rolling out the same model each time we open a franchise, but initially, we did all of that. We would do business development, business planning, HR, recruitment, contracts, marketing, compliance, finance, payroll. Pretty much everything you could think of, that’s basically it.

Payman Langroud…: Bloody hell. What kind of team did you have to do all of that? Just the four people?

Dev Patel: Literally just four of us, yeah. It was a lot of work. Obviously, that’s where I suppose equity is involved initially, right? But we soon realised after the first eight that it was working, and that we could… We pretty much doubled the turnover of almost every practise within the first year, which was what we were planning to do anyway, because they were smallish practises that had a lot of growth potential. Weren’t run properly in the first place. 10,000 UDAs, roughly so not many UDAs, but I could add two or three chairs from day one.

Dev Patel: If you can get the right team in, which obviously Dentist Circle helps quite a lot, and you can get the right model, should I say, in terms of patient journey, quality, taking photographs for the teeth, giving them 45 minute practise appointments for new patient exams, on NHS, not even private, just anyone, give that same journey, offering them everything in-house, bringing specialists in-house, every single practise, bringing CEREC Omnicams, digital X-rays, and everything you possibly can to make it the best practise possible, it shouldn’t be difficult if you’re in a populous area, around the M25 belt, to grow, because the population is there.

Dev Patel: Patients are always calling up. I mean, every practise we buy, people are saying, “Yeah, we’ve never accepted new patients. We stopped accepting new patients 10 years ago.” I’m thinking, “Why would you not accept new patients? No matter how many days you do, accept them. Talk to them. Show them what you can do, at least. You’re saying no to new sales, and that’s why they don’t grow.” It’s not rocket science. All we’re doing is literally just kind of opening the doors up and letting people come in and give them the best service. Yeah. I mean, I think it was quite a [crosstalk] to roll it out.

Payman Langroud…: Sorry. Yeah. You say double turnover. Things like Invisalign, where it wasn’t there before.

Dev Patel: Yeah. They don’t normally have any of these cosmetic treatment options in-house. They don’t do much ortho in-house normally. Almost no implants. Aren’t offering much bonding, because they don’t know how to do it in the first place, let alone offer it. When you bring the right team in who can do that work, then you can start offering it, and obviously, our marketing is quite, I would say, cutting edge, so we would use this stuff.

Payman Langroud…: What’s in the marketing mix? Is it internal, mostly?

Dev Patel: Yeah, it’s fully internal. We don’t waste… I mean, not being rude to any of our marketing people out there. I’m sure there’s great companies, but I’ve never believed in marketing agencies, especially in dental. I feel that the amount of money I would get, just organic growth and just doing the right things in practises, and tracking things properly, and actually being there was 15 times better than spending thousands of pounds on marketing each month for other companies. I’m not saying that in a bad way, because I think I knew what they were doing anyway, so it was like I was paying someone to do something I knew, so I’d much rather just do it ourselves and save the money. But then tracking it [crosstalk].

Payman Langroud…: One thing’s for sure. one thing’s for sure, here. There’s so much unmet demand for work in your existing patient base.

Dev Patel: Exactly.

Payman Langroud…: It’s only once that’s been taken care of should you even look outside.

Dev Patel: Exactly. Exactly, yeah.

Payman Langroud…: You see this all the time. People tell me, “Oh, listen, I want to do adverts to get bleaching patients in.” I know they could quadruple the bleaching in their practise just with their own patients if they were saying the right things, and following up correctly. You’re absolutely right about that. Tell me this, dude. What happens when you come to sell this behemoth and half of it is owned by the dentist, and half is owned by you? I mean, do they just get the value of their bit goes up by however much it goes up? Is that the idea? I mean, who decides? If you’ve got eight different partners to deal with, because you’re 51%, can you sell it whenever you want then?

Dev Patel: In theory, we could. Yeah, legally, we can, but I think it’s always going to be a decision for all the partners to make together as a group, because it has to make sense financially, but I think from day one, it’s always been obvious that we’re in this to make good returns. No matter what happens, whenever an exit may happen or not happen, it will always be on a good return, so everyone makes good kind of money back. But the model will never be to sell the whole thing in one go and just leave, because otherwise it wouldn’t work, right? The whole model is based on the partners and the practises and that level of quality.

Dev Patel: There will always be a kind of a swap mechanism whereby eventually the partners will sell their shares to new partners who want to eventually come on board, as well. Same as America. In the U.S., a dentist might own 25%, 50% of a practise, or whatever it may be, but they just sell their shares in that business to another dentist. The back office just stays the back office. We wouldn’t typically sell our shares in the same was a partner would sell their shares, because actually, it’s different. Our shares aren’t really linked to anyone in particular. It could be anyone running the back office. It could be anyone, as long as they’ve got the right people leading it. It’s just financial backing, isn’t it, really? That’s all it kind of needs.

Dev Patel: The front office side of things, the dentist side of things, need to have a dentist there, because otherwise it wouldn’t work. They need to be able to make sure the model doesn’t just fall over, because there have been some partnership models in, I think, Europe, no names mentioned, where they’ve fallen over because they’ve sold the whole thing in one go. Everyone got a really good return, and everyone left the month after. Which is great, because obviously I made money, but then the people buying it are like, “Well, I paid X amount for the group, and now it’s not worth half that, even, because everyone’s left.” You’ve got to have a good kind of partnership model which is fair but also realistic that you can still pass on and transition on afterwards, which we’ve really worked hard in the last 12 months or so to make sure that there’s a very easy kind of turnkey operation.

Dev Patel: When somebody does want to eventually leave, they can just kind of swap in, swap out, and we can buy them out, or vice versa, or they sell to other dentists. There’s always a way out. It just depends on… Everyone’s different as well, right? Some of the partners want to work for the next 10 years, 20 years, in the model. They’re like, “What else am I going to do in my life? I can be a dentist, I get paid as an associate, I own the practise, I don’t have to do much work. There’s a head office. I enjoy the practise, I enjoy the team. I can see all new patients. It’s fun.” And then some of them want to be [inaudible] and do their own other stuff afterwards. It depends.

Payman Langroud…: How did COVID affect this group?

Dev Patel: You know what? I think COVID was the best thing that ever happened to us for a number of reasons. We were at that point where we just had the first eight practises, just over four or five months, the last few, and about a year for the first five. We had them for a decent amount of time to finish refurbishing it, kind of build up the new chairs, empty surgeries, grow into it, right? We had empty surgeries, which was great, because when COVID first came up, we were doing rotations, and we had space to do that without having to lose our capacity, which was great.

Dev Patel: Do you know the other thing that really helped during COVID, as well, was two things. One, it helped us take a step back, because I think, putting my hands up, we were running out of steam. Between four of us running the company, and we had like eight practises with probably 100-odd staff, we were kind of all over the place. Rather than being focused and systematic and saying, “We’re going to keep things organised in every single department,” we were running all the time, chasing our tails. We had a few months to take a step back, recapture, and work back, and say, “What did we miss out that we should have done last year?”

Dev Patel: We kind of got back and started organising our folders, organising our HR stuff. Organising everything you just don’t think is a priority at the time. Compliance, all those stuff. Kind of got that time to reset back and kind of get organised again. I think we were fortunate enough to be well-connected within, obviously, the dental industry around the world to know what we needed to do to get back to our feet again very quickly. We opened up pretty much fully on June the 8th. We were ready to go. We had PPE ready to go, all the masks fitting, everything. We were literally ready to go before that, even.

Payman Langroud…: I guess most of them had these NHS contracts, so you were being paid during the lockdown, too.

Dev Patel: Yeah. I mean, it wasn’t much. We only have 20% of income from NHS.

Payman Langroud…: Oh, is it?

Dev Patel: We were very small. We never have been a focus group on NHS anyway. It’s there, and it’s good to have it to treat patients, and we treat all our patients as if they’re private, anyway, but we weren’t making profits or anything during those two, three months of being closed, but actually, those months were amazing, because we got time to train teams properly. Talk to our dentists, talk to our teams about what was working, what was not working. How are we going to pivot and change our model to become more digital-focused? Which we were digital anyway, but more digital focus after COVID. Virtual consults, all that kind of stuff. We actually build our margins up, as well.

Payman Langroud…: Are they all branded?

Dev Patel: They’re all Dental Beauty branded, yeah, whichever location you’re in, but we also built out some marketing assets, marketing platform in Salesforce, all these things that really helped us just become best in class when it comes to getting out there and being the best out there, when it comes after COVID. Yeah, I mean, it was a slow start initially, but we’ve bounced back really, really well. Probably one of the best.

Payman Langroud…: I’m not qualified to tell you your business, but it sounds like you need to hire some more people here.

Dev Patel: Well, we did. That’s the other thing to do with costs. Yes.

Payman Langroud…: You need more than four people to run that.

Dev Patel: [inaudible]. You’re very much right. I mean, that’s what we did, literally, in COVID. We hired, I think, three more people in-house during that time, so we had probably a full-time team of eight people by then end of COVID, so it was good.

Payman Langroud…: That’s more like it.

Dev Patel: It was a much better team then. We still had another four more practises in the pipeline, so we knew we had to grow anyway, but you know what it is? It’s just when you’re growing that quickly, buying one a month and kind of taking over, you generally don’t have time to even take a step back and think, “What do I need now with the team?” I knew we had to hire people anyway, and obviously, luckily, the Brushlink think kind of helped me focus a bit more time on the group after when we exited the U.S. side of things, so I then had a bit more time to actually focus on the group, and spend more time. That actually helped a lot to then say, “What do we need to make this actually more scalable?”

Dev Patel: We hired more people on the team. Had a head office. We literally were the first people in London to hire a new office in London Bridge into June. I think we were the only people in London trying to get a new office. Everyone else was running out, and we were like the only ones trying to find an office. It was really good to get a good deal, at the time. It was good. But we were the only ones to buy an office, I think, at the same time in London, during June. That was quite interesting. Yeah, we just took it from there, and went kind of stride by stride upwards. Yeah, we’d identified another four more clinics within the few months after COVID, but yeah, it was good.

Dev Patel: I think because a lot of our practises, and I’m not saying anything bad about it, but a lot of them weren’t open for many months, and probably weren’t open until even the end of last year, because of whatever they were taking time for. Took them time to get their PPE sorted out or whatever reasons they did. It meant we had loads of new patients coming in. Loads, and we accepted every new patient. Every new patient. Treated them as if they were private and family patients. Same as normal. Didn’t worry about the whole NHS side of things.

Dev Patel: Just treated them normally, and they, as a result of that, had a really good experience, and now we’ve got all of us are really busy. We could bank up a double capacity in terms of actual patients coming in. Maximised that kind of offline side of things, in terms of new patient consults, new virtual consults, and doing something with online booking. Our marketing online in terms of having head office booking patients in on a call centre. All that stuff, to me, it’s been so much more efficient, so we weren’t having to do kind of the old school way of walk-in booking, and that kind of the stuff.

Payman Langroud…: That’s a lot for you, man. I mean, it’s hard to believe you’re only five years out of, or is it, what, seven years out of university, right?

Dev Patel: 2012, so eight years, now, yeah.

Payman Langroud…: Eight years out. You’ve done a lot in that time, you really have. There’s no doubt about that. What do you reckon is going to happen for you going forward? I mean, have you got goals on this group? Have you got numbers of practises you want to own before you exit? What do you think?

Dev Patel: I think this word exit is quite important. We’re not going to ever kind of fully exit, I don’t think, because all our partners are the age of 30, 32 years old. What are we going to do the rest of our lives otherwise, right? I think we’re hoping to be in it for a long time. Some people will be longer, some people will be shorter, obviously, depending on what they want to do, but I think we want to keep growing, because we’ve got such a good model that isn’t just about the money side of things, in terms of… We’re growing, even though, really well. We’re doubling turnover, which is great, yeah? That’s all pretty straightforward stuff.

Dev Patel: It’s a business. I think the good part of it, actually, is the fact that we’re modernising basic poorly-run, not great, dingy, edge-of practises into state-of-the-art modern practises that they should be, right? My vision is that if I can get 50, 100 practises to do that around the U.K., we’ve made a big difference in terms of actual healthcare. I mean, imagine the patients that can now be treated in the right way. I mean, our kind of minimum is every single patient, 12 photographs, SLR, 60 inch screen, show them what’s wrong, 45 minute appointment.

Dev Patel: That’s what they get. They get a proper service. Not a five minute in, out, quick kind of mouthing the thumb, kind of leave out the door kind of thing. We want to get that consumer service higher to really offer the best service possible. If we do that, then I’m happy. No matter how much we’ve got, whether it be 20, 30, 50, whatever, I don’t really care. As long as we get that service high, and the quality is there, and dentists can also progress in their career in our group, i.e. get mentored, get trained up, and have a couple of years of really good hands-on training from great dentist partners we’ve got, it’s a win/win, right? I’m helping profession, helping patients, everyone does well, as well. That’s kind of… I would be happy, basically.

Payman Langroud…: I like that, bud. I like that. Tell me about your darkest day, clinically. Not clinically, professionally.

Dev Patel: Professionally. I think it probably must have been when I placed an implant… Oh, no. I’m going to say it out loud now. Placed an implant… It was my third implant I’d placed in practise, and I placed it pretty much next to… It was the upper left one. Placed it right next to, I mean, literally, it was almost touching the upper left two.

Payman Langroud…: Oh.

Dev Patel: I mean, I’m not saying that’s kind of the worst thing in the world, but it was pretty bad, because I’ve always had very high expectations of myself clinically, and genuinely, I never did anything really bad, clinically, to a patient, because I was always restorative-focused. You can’t really mess with something like that too much, unless you’re really kind of heavy-handed. Didn’t have many problems with restorative, any major, major issues. That was like, “Crap. Really fucked up.” Yeah, that was probably kind of one of the worst gut feelings I’ve ever had. Otherwise, yeah, I don’t think I would say clinically I’ve had that many major issues, or major problems.

Payman Langroud…: What about professionally? Like, as a business person, your darkest time.

Dev Patel: As a business person…

Payman Langroud…: So many, right?

Dev Patel: Yeah. I mean, my darkest day would have been every day of Brushlink, you know? All those days, just looking for space. I think, look, if I look at all my companies, right? If you look at Dentist Circle, we were very fortunate. I mean, Amin and I knew it, as well. We know it now, even, right? We had just a one in a million jumpstart, lock-it of a company, right? We went from zero turnover to X, really, really well growth, and had no problems.

Dev Patel: Literally had no… We never had one issue of, “Oh, we’ve run out of money,” or, “We need to get the money,” or, “We need to do this,” or, “We’ve lost…” We didn’t care. We just had fun the whole time, and it worked. That’s one in a million. Who has a startup that works, that has the biggest U.K. platform after two or three years, and just happens to happen straight away? That’s very unlikely, right? Brushlink was the opposite, because of constantly having to just grind and push and just look into open space every morning. You’re thinking, “I’ve got no guaranteed next day of what’s happening.” It was always open.

Dev Patel: Practise stuff was always easy, because practise, you buy it, you know what you’re buying. You know what you need to do, and you just do it. It happens, because it’s like a business. It’s a bricks and mortar business. Well, that was really tough. I’m not going to lie. It was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life, which is every day of just trying to do that company, because especially the end, towards the end, where you kind of have to think, “I need to raise £4 million in the world, and I’ve got 10 investors to talk to, and none of them have got even the interest, the appetite for this right now. How am I going to take my team, the payroll for the team, the wages, the investors?” All that on your back. You just think, “What’s next?” You never knew what was next. I mean, exciting, but also very difficult.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah. I know how that feels. But you’re right, the thing about it could all suddenly end in a day is a massive stress, isn’t it?

Dev Patel: Yeah. It is.

Payman Langroud…: In dental practise, that’s just not going to happen.

Dev Patel: No.

Payman Langroud…: It doesn’t matter. Like, even in these massive groups that you’re saying have failed, it’s not going to overnight fail.

Dev Patel: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: It’s not the way it goes, but I mean…

Dev Patel: You know what it’s like. I mean, you set up Enlighten, right? It must have been the same thing.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But you’re a glutton for punishment, dude, yeah? Because you keep on doing it again and again.

Dev Patel: Well, that’s what… I think that is the definition of an entrepreneur, right?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Dev Patel: You’ve got to risk everything every day.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Dev Patel: If you don’t do it, you’re not an entrepreneur in any way. You’re just doing what’s easy. I think that’s why a lot of people just stay in their comfort zone. They stay in the zone with their comfort. They never want to leave it. They don’t want to take any risks, and that’s why they don’t have rewards.

Payman Langroud…: You’ve got that smile on your face, dude, yeah? You’ve always got that smile on your face. I hope it stays there, yeah? But for me, it’s that sort of optimism, isn’t it? That you’re going to make it work. It’s, “Why not?” That optimism goes a long way, because like you said, you’ve got those three different groups of people. Your investors, your customers, and your team you’re going to have to make happy. If you’re not optimistic, then it’s not going to work out. It’s not going to work out for anyone. Very impressive, buddy. Very, very, very impressive. I was very impressed with you anyway, but very impressive hearing the steps one by one.

Dev Patel: Oh, thanks.

Payman Langroud…: Prav’s not here to ask his final question, so I’m going to ask it for him.

Dev Patel: Sure.

Payman Langroud…: It’s a kind of a multilayered question. It’s your last day on the planet. You’ve got your family around you, your loved ones, the five or 10 people you’re closest to in the world, and you’ve got to leave them with three pieces of advice. What are those three pieces of advice?

Dev Patel: Live every day like its your last day.

Payman Langroud…: Okay.

Dev Patel: Don’t have any regrets. Literally, just anything you want to do in life, just do it, because time is short, and you never know how long you’re going to be here for, right?

Payman Langroud…: Yep.

Dev Patel: When I say that, I don’t just mean about business. I mean like…

Payman Langroud…: Everything.

Dev Patel: Any personal goals you’ve got. You should have goals at the beginning of the year about your whole life, whatever you want. Bucket lists, or places to go on holiday. I’ve done everything on that side of things as well as my business side of things, right? Which I’m quite happy about, because I know that if I ever died tomorrow… I’ll tell you what, I don’t, hopefully, touch wood, but I’ve done everything I possibly can, physically. Eight, 20 years of whatever, I’ve had my freedom doing it, right? When you’re working, and before university, right? You can’t have any choice. You’re going to do what you’ve got to do. After that, you’re free to make decisions in life. If you can do what you want to do, and you want to do it, do it. Don’t talk about it, just do it. That’s kind of just…

Payman Langroud…: Take action.

Dev Patel: Take action. Second thing is invest in yourself. I think a lot of people, especially… Not just dentists, but everyone I speak to are like, “Yeah, I’m going to do this investment. I’m going to make 4% a year. I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this. I want to do all these different things.” I’m just like, “Just put the money in yourself, because at a young age, the best investment is yourself. Whether it be courses, whether it be investing in your own business for yourself, whether it be investing in time with yourself. Anything. All those three things, it is invaluable.

Dev Patel: When you’re young, you have to do it now, because you won’t do that when you’ve got a family and kids, because you always put them first, and you’re afterwards. The only time to do it is before that. If you don’t do it now, you’ve already missed the boat, and then what happens, you get into the stagnant circle of, “Oh, leave it next year. I’ll do that maybe next year. I can’t do it now. I’ve got my kids, and school fees to pay for.” You never do it. Hit 50 years old, 60 years old, you think, “Oh, I should have done all this stuff, shouldn’t I?” You know?

Payman Langroud…: Nice one. That’s a nice one.

Dev Patel: That’s something that’s really key. I think the third thing would be enjoy life. I mean, I know it sounds like I literally have the most boring life in the world. I just work all the time. But everyone who knows me knows that I work hard, play hard, too. You know?

Payman Langroud…: No. Absolutely.

Dev Patel: You only live once. Just have a good time, because if you don’t have a good time, and have good business, and people that you work for, you enjoy working with, enjoy people, you can get up to work and go, “I’m going to have fun today. I’m not going to just be going to work with miserable people around me.” You enjoy it. That’s what it’s about.

Payman Langroud…: I think that’s the most important one of those three.

Dev Patel: Yep.

Payman Langroud…: His next question is how would you like to be remembered, legacy-wise? Dev Patel was…

Dev Patel: In family or business?

Payman Langroud…: Both.

Dev Patel: Hope I’m a great husband and a great dad, great son, great brother. All of the above, family-wise. In dentistry, I just want to make a difference. I just want to hopefully be able to make a big impact on hundreds of dentists’ careers, for mentoring, education, development, potentially business and making them money, too, and hopefully patients, too. Make a difference to patients, and hopefully change the culture of the U.K. of this kind of backward thinking, in and out dentistry, 10 minute appointments. Big groups, and just doing the same kind of factory dentistry. To make it a better quality. Improve the level of standards. I’d be happy with that.

Payman Langroud…: Dev Patel improved the standards of dentistry. I like that.

Dev Patel: Yeah, man.

Payman Langroud…: And his last one he’s kind of brought in is, God forbid, you go to the doctor. He says, “You’ve got one month to live.”

Dev Patel: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: What would you do with the month?

Dev Patel: Spend it with my little daughter and my wife.

Payman Langroud…: Where? How? What?

Dev Patel: Probably go somewhere that we haven’t been before that we really wanted to go, which is either safari or maybe tour India, even. I’ve never had a chance to tour India. I’m Indian myself. I’ve never had the time to properly tour India. I mean, we’ve done a lot of other holidays with myself, my wife, and my daughter, even. She’s been on like 10 holidays, and she’s only one year old, but yeah. I think we want to keep exploring the world. I love it. I literally am an adrenaline junkie. Climb Kilimanjaro with them. Climb Mount Everest one day, but I think it’s one of those things where I just need to spend more time with more family if I can. If I’ve got one more month left, I’d do that.

Payman Langroud…: I love that, buddy. Love that. It feels like we’ve only scratched the surface, bud, because you’ve done so many things with your time, but I’d like to check in with you in a year or two and see where you’ve got to. It’s been absolutely lovely having you on, man.

Dev Patel: No, thanks for your time.

Payman Langroud…: Hopefully when things are a bit better we could have another big party. Joint Dental Circle, Enlighten do.

Dev Patel: Oh, that would be dangerous. That would be very dangerous, don’t you think?

Payman Langroud…: Imagine.

Dev Patel: I’m just going to have paramedics outside, waiting.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah. Helicopter. Thanks so much, buddy.

Dev Patel: See you. Thanks for your time.

Payman Langroud…: Thanks so much for doing it, buddy.

Dev Patel: Take care. Bye.

Payman Langroud…: Take care, man.

Speaker 3: This is Dental Leaders. The podcast where you get to go one-on-one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts, Payman Langroudi and Prav Solanki.

Prav Solanki: 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 Langroud…: 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 Solanki: And don’t forget our six star rating.