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Taking Care of Your Teeth with the Singing Dentist

Dr. Milad Shadrooh, the Singing Dentist
Dr. Milad Shadrooh, the Singing Dentist
Photo: Courtesy of The CAN Group
Dr. Milad Shadrooh

Dr. Milad Shadrooh

Dentist, Chequers Dental Surgery

Dr. Milad Shadrooh, dentist and social media sensation, makes oral health fun. Mediaplanet chatted with him about the importance of oral health and how you can take better care of your teeth.

What inspired you to get into the field of dentistry?

I was always good at science growing up and good with my hands. Also, being good with people was one of my main attributes so going into a medical profession was always the best fit. Being Persian, my parents were keen for me to follow a vocational path and when the time came for me to decide on university options, I did work experience and decided dentistry was for me. It’s science-based, uses the manual dexterity skill I always had, works with people, and has regular office hours, which was perfect as I always knew I would want a family.

Why do they call you the Singing Dentist?

Music was a huge part of my life growing up. My father is a very accomplished musician and we had keyboards and studio equipment in the house so I used to watch him doing his thing and I just picked it up. Michael Jackson was the big megastar when I was growing up and watching him perform was what inspired me to start dancing and performing too. I started to rap and write songs and this continued all through my youth and into my teenage years. Even when I started dental school, I was performing in clubs and radio stations, MCing and DJing through the night, and then going in to clinics in the day. My passion for music never stopped and it culminated in a freestyle one day in my surgery when a patient didn’t show up for a root canal appointment. A song was playing on the radio and I just started rapping along but changing the lyrics to talk about root canals. I found it hilarious so I filmed myself on my phone. I sent this to a friend and he posted it online. It started to go viral and I saw that this could be a great vehicle for oral health promotion and bringing some fun and positivity into dentistry. The Singing Dentist was born! I haven’t looked back since.

How can parents encourage good oral hygiene for their children?

The key is to start early. Baby teeth should be cleaned from the minute they arrive. Using a small baby brush or even your finger with a tiny smear of baby toothpaste instills the habit in your child. As they get older, making sure to brush twice a day establishes a routine, which then becomes normal and not a chore. They could brush mummy’s teeth while mummy brushes theirs, brush at bath times, or get to choose their favourite toothbrush at the store — anything to make them feel involved and part of it.

Diet also plays a major part in good oral health. Reducing the frequency of sugar intake is key in preventing tooth decay, so try to leave sugary snacks and treats to mealtimes, as a dessert for example.

What are your best tips for oral care?

Listicle 1

Brush twice a day with a good toothbrush and good toothpaste. I recommend toothpastes with fluoride. Brushing last thing at night is key to remove all the plaque and food debris that have built up during the day. Also, you must clean in between the teeth as well, so whether you use floss or interdental brushes, make sure you do this every day.

Listicle 2

Reduce sugar consumption frequency. Tooth decay is preventable, and if you can reduce how often you eat and drink sugary things, you can reduce the chances of your teeth decaying.

Listicle 3

See your dentist regularly! Seeing the dentist may not be the most enjoyable experience for many people, but that’s usually because they’re going for treatment. However, if you prevent the problems in the first place, you should hopefully never need any treatment! This gives us the chance to pick up any problems early. We also check the mouth for lots of conditions that can impact your general health. Think of it this way: we all service our cars to make sure they’re running at optimum levels, and our mouth needs that service, too.

Why is good oral hygiene important for overall health?

The mouth is an important part of the body. We all know to do things to keep our heart, lungs, bones, and internal organs healthy, but we often neglect the mouth. I consider the mouth as another organ which must be looked after. It’s a complex structure containing hard tissue, soft tissue, muscle, bone, blood vessels, and nerves, yet people pay more money to make their hair look nice than they spend keeping their mouth healthy (not me, though — being follically challenged and all…)

Eating, speaking, smiling, kissing…. We use our mouth all the time and not looking after it can have impacts on our biological health as well as emotional health. There are many links now between oral health and other systemic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and even dementia. Also, the emotional aspects are huge. Studies show that one of the first things you notice in someone is their smile. Not being able to smile or lacking confidence in your dental appearance can be debilitating for many people and I’ve seen firsthand the effects of having a healthy mouth. It really can be life-changing on many levels.

What advice do you have for people who are afraid of the dentist?

First, it’s important to know that you’re not alone! Dental phobia is a very common phobia, but the key thing to remember is that phobias are learned behaviours. We’re born with only two phobias: fear of falling and fear of loud noises. We pick up all other fears as a result of previous experiences, being told things by parents or peers, reading things and building up mental images, and anticipating the worst. All of this helps create fears, but the good news is that they can be reversed.

Trying to find the cause of the phobia is key in undoing it. With dental phobia, a lot of the time the fear is due to a bad experience — a procedure not going right, feeling pain due to the anaesthetic not working, or feeling like you’ve had a bad treatment by someone you don’t like. Getting over this can be very hard and can take a long time. It requires a new dentist taking time to build that rapport and trust and to slowly introduce treatments and procedures to show that the new way of working can be very comfortable and pain-free. Ultimately, the best treatment is no treatment so prevention of problems is so important. Also, you often hear bad stories which make you afraid of something, even though you’ve never even experienced it. It’s surprising how many people are afraid of root canal treatment despite having never had one, purely because their friend had a bad experience with one. The issue is that everyone is quick to complain about a bad procedure but no one ever really talks about a good one. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say, “I had a root canal treatment yesterday and it was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had! All the pain I had from that horrible abscess went away and the lovely dentist did their work excellently, causing me no pain!” However, that’s the exact experience for many.

Now, having said all of this, if the dental fear is truly established, you may need a more active intervention. Hypnosis can work for many phobias and dental phobia is no exception. Failing that, we can use pharmaceutical interventions. Sedation is a very effective solution for people with severe anxiety. Administered correctly by properly-trained staff, it’s a safe and predictable process that allows the patient to be fully relaxed and unaware of what’s happening without having to have full-on general anaesthetic. Many clinics can provide this and it’s worth discussing with your dentist if your anxiety is stopping you from accessing dental care. Ultimately, the final thing to remember is that dentists are human beings just like you. We have emotions and we care about our patients and our work. We’re not there to hurt you or be mean to you, and we’re not sadists who get into dentistry to inflict pain. Quite the opposite! We’re in the profession to help people and we treat everyone with compassion and respect. We want to work with you to ensure your oral health is the very best it can be so you can continue to enjoy life and smile every day.

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