When I moved to Pakistan, I was told that in order to establish my dental practice here, I must get involved with a dental educational institute. I needed a well-renowned name to back me up. My mission of bringing “recare and comprehensive treatment plans” was decreed to stand no chance in Pakistan. Additionally, it was highlighted that the quality of lab work and support is below par. When I shared my plan of hiring fresh graduates to train, I was discouraged and advised not to do that.
It has been almost two years and I have defied all odds. I proved that these “stereotypes” exist only in the mind and not in reality. At Ideal Smile, we have 70% case acceptance of the total treatment presented. We give out comprehensive treatment plans to every patient who walks-in and 78% of the patients schedule themselves for dental work. These are better numbers than my 2 Practices in California, which means that if we create a proper environment for the patients anywhere, they will respond. The only people working for me are “fresh graduates”. Each one of them has sold cases worth millions in dentistry, on their own. They are doing crown preps of international school standard. This goes on to prove the potential of the fresh grads here, when given the right guidance.
Secondly, if you see the smile makeover cases we do at Ideal Smile, they are of international standard and quality. It is being done here in Pakistan and by Pakistanis. Two years back it was declared that such things are impossible here. I had to be innovative and work hard. It took proper planning and enduring execution but in 18 months we have victoriously accomplished which was “claimed” to be impossible. I knew what I was capable of, and I did not let anyone tell me otherwise. I believe that nothing is impossible.
We spend our lives being ordinary; we settle for a lot less than what we truly deserve. We live with a “fear of loss” and our “self-imposed constraints” hold us back. Fresh graduates are told that dentistry does not have a good future in Pakistan; it’s saturated and the only progressive thing is to go abroad. I want to tell you that there are unlimited possibilities, only our imagination is limited. We are all blessed with a lot of potential but only few of us live up to it. We are always told to aim for the stars, and when we do that, our filters scare us into thinking that the stars are beyond our reach. We live in a shell and forget about the world that exists beyond it.
I want to acknowledge all the hard work of wonderful people who have brought dentistry in Pakistan this far. But we must also realize times have changed and we must adapt to new times and realities. There is still so much void and deficit in dentistry here. The type, quality and standard of dentistry is dearly compromised. Majority of the population has decayed/missing teeth and gum disease.
Most practices here run on pain management. Pain management in California constituted to less than 5% of my revenue and the same is generated here. Recare is the back bone of any healthy dental practice in the west; basic restorative procedures are the most revenue generating. We generate 17% of our total revenue from PREVENTIVE dentistry and 60% of it is from RESTORATIVE dentistry. Just by changing the way we practice, handle our customers, and by creating value through health awareness, we can be a lot more productive. If we wait for the day our patients attitude will change and they will be more accepting of their treatment plans, that day might never come. Difference between ordinary and extra ordinary people is that extra ordinary people make things happen because they believe anything is possible. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates started their careers with very limited resources and made an empire out of nothing.
We are far behind in dentistry and that is exactly why we have so much room to grow and enjoy the true potential that dentistry in Pakistan has to offer. So much is being invested in cosmetic procedures like laser treatments, liposuctions, hair transplants, etc. Nowadays a multitude of people, especially women are turning to fitness industry. Who would have thought of all this 10 years back? On the other hand, we still practice the same way we did 20 to 30 years back. That is why dentistry has not grown to its full potential here.
First step is always acknowledgement. If we don’t realize what is broken, we can never fix it. The biggest hurdle in the growth of dentistry here is our lack of integrity. Some people feel they will become HBC/HCV positive and stay away from dentists. Generally, the standard of care is compromised. It’s not just about sterilizing instruments; it’s about cross infection control too. 79.4% of the crowns that presented to Ideal Smile had either open margins or over hangs, which leads to tooth loss. 74% root canals were under filled. I have personally lost 2 teeth due to malpractice and faulty dental restorations. How is it okay for us as a dental community to accept that? Why would any patient want to work with us with these alarming numbers? Imagine if a surgeon thought it was ok to do surgeries with a failure rate of 75%!
Our consumers have changed while we have not. They no longer want to wait for hours in waiting rooms. Now the public has become more health conscious and aware. They Google procedures and follow international dentists on Facebook and Instagram. New opportunities await us and we just have to reset ourselves, our minds and thinking. The most monumental thing is to improve our skills. We must invest to enhance our basic clinical skills, raising them to the international standard of care before taking complex-dentistry courses!
I came here to change the way dentistry is being practiced and viewed by the public. I bring unlimited possibilities with me and want to grow dentistry to its true potential here in Pakistan. I want patients to have better quality of service in dentistry and that will encourage them to do more work which means we grow as dental community, and if you guys grow only then will I win. If you want to have a better outcome then we must start with changing our thinking. Let us all work together to improve quality of dentistry and create a conducive environment for patients. Only then will patients want to do dentistry that is more than just pain management. We will all benefit from that.