Milad Shadrooh gives young dentists his top tips on how to be successful in dentistry.

Charlotte Lloyd (CL): What got you into dentistry?

Milad Shadrooh (MS): Ever since I was young, my mum and dad nudged me towards a medical career. I was always very good at science at school and building stuff and good with people, and dentistry incorporates all of these skills. With dentistry you get to use the science knowledge, you’re working with your hands and with people, and you can still shut up shop at 5 o’clock and have a family life.

CL: Talk to me about how you got into orthodontics?

MS: I’m a general dentist, but the bulk of my work is with clear aligners and clear orthodontics. I’ve been doing that for about nine years now and working with Smilelign since 2012. It’s because of my experience and learning as I went along that Smilelign later approached me to lecture on their alignment system.

CL: What attracted you to orthodontics?

MS: Just because I enjoy it! I understand the mechanics of orthodontics, I can visualise what I’m trying to do with it and more and more patients were asking about it. The landscape of dentistry has changed a lot since I qualified in 2004 – when I first qualified it was all about veneers and smile makeovers but that’s just not what we do now.

The whole system of moving the teeth to a better position, whitening them and doing a bit of composite here and there are the protocols that work. More and more of my patients were coming in wanting orthodontic appliances, so all I needed to do was make sure I was good at it.

I invested some time into learning how to do it properly, learning all of the whitening techniques, the extra courses in composites and I knew that’s what I liked doing and what I was good at so I pursued it. The Smilelign guys are fantastic. Everything is UK based so it’s all made, manufactured, designed and dispatched from Sheffield. The lab behind Smilelign is S4S, who I met three or four years after I qualified.

When they developed Smilelign they approached me and said they were bringing out this new system, so I moved over to Smilelign and started using their system. It was really good, very straight forward, did exactly what it said it was going to do. They then invited me to teach the courses and the rest is history.

The feedback after every course is so good that it spurs me on to continue and I really, really really enjoy doing it. And that has now lead to loads of other teaching and lecturing opportunities. Smilelign was my first break for sure.

CL: What are your three top tips for young dentists?

MS: 1. Take your time in your career. Dentistry is something you will hopefully be doing for many years; so I would say don’t be in a rush to learn everything in the first year after qualifying. Invest in your skills. One of the most important skills to develop is communication skills. You could be the best dentist in the world, but if you can’t communicate with the patients and change the way you are to make that patient comfortable for that 15/20/30 minutes, you’re not going to succeed in this game. Invest in your clinical skills but don’t neglect communication skills. Learn how to be a better communicator. Learn skills that you can use to put your patients at ease with you.

2. Don’t chase the money. Again, if in your mind you are planning how much money you’re going to make, that is just a recipe for disaster. That’s a quick way to get yourself in trouble. Ultimately you need to make money, but you don’t need to chase the money. Practice good, ethical dentistry investing in yourself and building up your skills and goodwill to patients. Be good to people and it will come back to you and you will make the money.

3.Learn to detach yourself from your work. Have an outlet, have a hobby, have a life outside of dentistry. Work to live, don’t live to work. It’s a stressful job – we are working with people, we’re working in such a narrow surgical field and we’re staring into that five or six days a week – that’s hardcore. Add to that much higher patient expectations, the stresses of working within the health service and the constant threat of possible litigation!

If you don’t have something that you can detach yourself with whether it’s your family, working out, hobbies, sports, cars, watches, singing silly parody songs, whatever it is that you enjoy doing you have to make time to do that. Otherwise you will burn out, your career itself will be very short lived and that itself is a skill. You have to learn this very quickly as it is a stressful job that we do.

CL: Have you had any unusual experiences in dentistry?

MS: I find it weird that I am recognised as ‘The Singing Dentist’. The power of social media has taken this character that I’ve created and made it this thing where people know who I am now. I’m using that energy, positivity and momentum to do loads of good things. I’m doing a lot of charity things now too and I seem to be changing perceptions! I’m getting loads of messages daily saying ‘you have done so much for my kids, they are brushing their teeth now’ and those are the reasons why I continue doing these songs.