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18th January 2018

Innovation and Abition

The Winner of the Most Improved Practice at the Private Dentistry Awards 2018, Dev Patel, talks about his ingenious idea that aims to improve dental hygiene and reward patients.

Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I am the principal dentist and clinical director of Dental Beauty in Swanley. I am also the CEO and Co-Founder of ‘Brushlink’ – Brushlink aims to reward patients for brushing well using a  evolutionary brushing device that can provide a clinical based score for each brushing session, through the use of Bluetooth and the Brushlink App. The points will then accumulate over time, so the patient can spend them on tailored practice based discounts. This will incentivise patients to improve their brushing habits and also save money. Brushlink will be launched on the 1st November this year.

What or who made you choose a career in dentistry – and cosmetic in particular?
DP: My dad and older brother (who is also a dentist) played an integral part in me choosing dentistry as a career. After graduating I was recommended to go on the one-year restorative course taught by Chris Orr. This was probably the biggest influence and inspiration to pursue clinical excellence and cosmetic dentistry.

Can you tell us more about your practice – Dental Beauty?
DP: We have an amazing team of 18 dedicated, hardworking dental professionals. I bought this mixed practice two years ago which initially was only utilising two surgeries, with no real brand or website. Now it’s a busy four-surgery practice, with a multi disciplinary team and a well known centre of clinical London’ at the prestigious Dentistry Awards

How do you manage the practice and how is it structured?
DP: I have a really hard working team that manages the practice. We have a practice manager, head nurse, head receptionist, TCO and myself as clinical director.

Tell us more about Brushlink – how did the idea come about and how did it come to fruition?
DP: As a general dentist I get to see a wide range of patients from all walks of life. One of the biggest issues dental professionals face is getting our patients to brush properly and regularly. After doing some deep market research I learned that the majority of people in the UK still use a manual toothbrush and the majority of our patients don’t brush for two minutes twice a day. I was also shocked to see that the actual evidence for brushing twice a day for two minutes was insufficient. This kind of made sense to me. How could anyone carry out an accurate study on brushing habits, duration and technique without either being in the patient’s bathroom or having a device that tracked brushing behaviour? This then left me with the ‘penny drop’ moment – why don’t we
make a device that can track brushing habits? As this all happened in 2015, I researched other products that already created ‘smart toothbrushes’, but none of them seemed to fit the bill.
We would never be able to force everyone to use the same brush, so I decided to create a device that can attach on to anyone’s toothbrush. In addition, the price point had to be affordable for the mass market as the people who can afford an expensive toothbrush most likely didn’t need brushing coaching. We wanted to offer the technology that was already being used in expensive
‘smart toothbrushes’ and medical fitness tracking devices to everyone for an affordable price point. So then Brushlink was created!

You’ve won quite a few awards – how has this helped you in your career?
DP: Winning awards has been a blessing; not only does this help with marketing both within the profession but also with patients. I do not feel that these awards make me a better dentist/person but it does feel like my peers have recognised me for my hard work, which is a nice feeling.

Describe your typical working week.
DP: Currently – one day averagely is put aside to manage Dental Circle, two days in practice working clinically and in management and four days managing and preparing to launch Brushlink. This can all overlap and a typical working day will last 15 hours.

What have been your best decisions?
DP: My best decisions were to re-invest most of my earnings into postgraduate education after my FD year. This led to me to achieve a deep understanding of dentistry and think outside of the box.

How important is patient communication to you?
DP: Very important, it is THE most important part of dentistry apart from the clinical side. Finding out what a patient wants and their concerns leads to patient-led treatment planning. It also shows to the patient that you listen to them and are planning to what they want. I use photography to aid in this process and an hour consultation appointment minimum, to ensure this is as thorough as possible.

How do you stay abreast of modern techniques?
DP: I go on a LOT of courses, around 1,200 hours of CPD to be exact. I have a passion for minimally invasive dentistry and improving oral health, so a lot of the courses I go on or topics that I lecture on are around this.

To read more of Dev Patel’s interview, get November 2017 issue of Private Dentistry!

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