What made you decide to get into dentistry as a career?
I wish I could say that I had aspirations to be a dentist from an early age, or that I had a passion for it. The truth was that I'd finished high school in Malaysia, and won a scholarship to study abroad in Melbourne, Australia. After finishing high school, I really had no idea what to do or where to go. I applied for a range of courses that held some interest, and was surprised that I got accepted into all the courses I applied for, including Dentistry at the University of Melbourne; before I could start there a change of circumstances saw my family move to NZ, and I decided to enrol at Otago University and pursued entry into Dental School there.
How long have you been practising dentistry?
I graduated in Dec of 1994 and started practicing a week after graduation. That makes it nearly 23 years today.
Tell us about your career background.
My first job was with the White Cross Group, after 4 years stopped full time dentistry and worked only on a part time basis. From 1998-2001 I worked with Telecom New Zealand, on their web portal XTRA, hot desking at their offices in Kingdon St, and working on their health portal; I then had a stint with Sony Pictures from 2003-2005 working on a number of projects with them as line producer. During this time, I worked part time as a dentist with White Cross maintaining my registration. I returned to full time dentistry in 2006, as I found clinical work more to my liking - it was a 9 to 5 job, and I didn't have to take work home, unlike my other non-dental roles. No regrets though, as I have my own www.imdb.com entry for my work in the film industry.
What is your most memorable case to date?
A young boy came in to see me having fallen off his bike - well, what actually happened was his front wheels fell off and he face planted onto the handle bars, fracturing all his front teeth. What ensued was 6-12 months of a surgery, endodontics and restorative work. It was very satisfying to help someone in this way. This happened 20 years ago, and I still see that boy and his family (he has kids now!). I had the opportunity to rehabilitate his mother's dentition by completing All-on-4 treatment for her 10 years ago.
What do you love most about your job?
I like interacting with patients and staff. I also like not ever knowing what sort of complex case I would get the opportunity to complete next. I enjoy planning complex cases, which need not just hands-on-tools, but need careful planning for the short and long term.
What are your special interests in dentistry?
Minor oral surgery, implants and full arch rehabilitation.
What is the main piece of advice you give your patients?
Implants should be the last resort, do everything you can to keep your teeth for as long as possible.
Where would we find you outside of the practice?
I spent a fair bit of time during University and for a short time after university teaching and playing music, I'm classically trained completing my Royal Schools qualifications, and went on to do further study in Melbourne. I went on to do jazz piano in Otago with Calder Prescott, and I still play, but mostly for myself.