I’ve been a dentist for more than 10 years now. I graduated from Birmingham in 2004 and practised in the West Midlands for five years before moving to Leicester at the very end of 2008.
I worked in NHS practices and also in independent practice which was great because it gave me the chance to work again in a fee-per-item system so I didn’t have to worry about UDAs!
I was always committed to providing quality dentistry but the practice wasn’t really geared up to provide the ultimate experience. For some time I had felt that I could do better and I was always taught to ‘step-up’ rather than to moan about how others are failing. That is why I decided that I would take the plunge so in 2014, I put my money where my mouth was and became a principal and bought Oakdale Dental.
When I chaired my first practice meeting I conveyed the vision of excellence that I had to the team and explained that I wanted Oakdale Dental to be the best practice in Leicester. Oakdale Dental is a large five-surgery private practice steeped in history: established in 1937, I was lucky enough to inherit a practice which had a great reputation and a wonderful patient base, but I do not think it’s unfair for me to say that there was a long way to go if I was to realise my vision and achieve my goal.
Defining the vision
One of the first challenges was to be able to define what makes a practice the best. Once we could ensure we understood what we, and also our patients expect from the best practice in Leicester, then we could start to work towards that. I have been blessed with the best business partner I could ever dream of in my wife. She has a fantastic business brain and she is not a dentist! I think is is a wonderful thing because it means that she can help me to see dentistry through the eyes of a patient, and she can help me to see the practice as a business through the eyes of leader.
We both take the leadership element of our respective roles very seriously and constantly revisit our vision and work on ways of better communicating that to our team and to our patients so that they have a better appreciation of where we want our practice to be.
When we started we had to make some changes to the staff, which was challenging, but we really feel that we now have a team that we are truly proud of. We converted our top floor into a training suite which has enabled Oakdale Dental to become a centre for education for both dentists and the rest of the team. We are the home of both the Dentinal Tubules Leicester study club and also the study club for the International Team for Implantology (ITI). Learning and teaching has always been a great passion of mine and I’m delighted to be able to realise that through our study clubs.
We have invested heavily in transforming the interior of our practice. We really want our patients to feel special at all points throughout their journey in our practice. We have reimagined our reception area and both of our patient lounges and we have completely changed two of our dental surgeries.
We wanted a grey and white colour scheme and to make full use of the big windows so that we have a light, airy and ambient space so that patients are put at ease. We also have televisions on the ceiling which act as a great distraction to patients especially if they are nervous.
I always wanted to have the best equipment so I have invested in Sirona treatment centres. I really wanted to have the best looking yet most functional dental chairs so I can provide my patients with the best treatment experience.
I have a Sirona Sinius chair in my surgery with an integrated digital imaging package and my hygiene surgery has a Sirona Intego.
I think it’s really important to be able to involve my patients in their treatment and part of this is being able to take photos of the parts of their mouth that I need to discuss with them so that they can see problems for themselves.
I find that if patients can see the problems they have, they are far more willing to undergo treatment and will see the value and the benefit of it. If you provide good work, it’s also massively satisfying to be able to show them the result, especially if your patients are delighted at how you’ve been able to transform their teeth or restorations, and improve the way that they smile or function.
It also goes without saying that if you are providing ‘wow’ dentistry, you need to be able to get the basics right and that is why I’ve been really happy with all the integrated functions that allow cross infection control to be far easier, more predictable and less time-consuming for the team.
The Sinius is also a massively impressive chair to look at and when patients step into the new surgery they are wowed by the way it looks, especially when they compare it to how the old treatment room appeared.
Oakdale Dental provides general dentistry but we are also delighted to be able to offer dental implants and Invisalign too. I have developed an interest in digital dentistry and was fascinated by Cerec and all of its applications. Being able to provide crowns to patients in a single visit is a massive step forward and something that patients really appreciate.
When I found out that the most current update for the software would allow Cerec to be used to make digital impressions for Invisalign and also allows us to restore implants with Cerec implant crowns I was impressed. But when I found out that you can also use Cerec and cone beam CT to plan the surgery and create stents in house that allow surgery to be guided and help to minimise the error in implant placement positioning, then I realised that I had to invest in this technology as it could really allow us to differentiate ourselves from other practices but more importantly allow us to provide the excellent treatment we set out to deliver when we imagined our vision.
It’s been a fantastic first year and we have come such a long way but there is a long way to go. I have loved being on this journey where we are able to write our own destiny and can’t wait to live the next chapter.
Dr Alif Moosajee BDS MFGDP (UK) MJDF (FGDP) (RCS Eng) is the principal dentist at Oakdale Dental and author of the book The Smiling Dentist. Alif is passionate about education and the standard of dentistry he provides for his patients. He is the director of both the Leicester Dentinal Tubules and the ITI study clubs and lectures on a wide array of topics. He has a special interest in CEREC and implant treatment and in particular wants to marry these interests to provide a fully digital workflow and guided implant surgery.