Discover their floss-ophy for success.
By Ashima Sethi
It goes without saying that your mouth is one of the most important parts of your body, it lets you smile, it allows you to communicate, but it also requires constant care. We equate a routine visit to the dentist with making sure our teeth are sparkling white, however dentists actually do far more, checking your cheeks, gums, and tongue to ensure there are no signs of anything that can cause discomfort down the line.
As we’ve all been living through a deadly pandemic, it’s been made apparent that we really don’t appreciate our medical workers enough and this category includes professionals who work in dentistry. We might have been masking up to protect ourselves and our loved ones, but these heroes in white have put their own safety on the line to get to the root of any problem, hovering over oral oriﬁces to make sure we leave their oﬃces looking and feeling our best.
For a closer look at just what it’s like to work in the industry, Masala speaks to Dr. Vikram and Dr. Vishesh Bhatia, brothers and dentists behind newly-launched SmileBox Dental Clinic about their professional journeys.
Let’s begin with a brief introduction to the both of you.
We both attended TSIS for preschool and elementary school before moving to NIST International School to continue our studies in years 5 and 8 respectively. After graduation, we both pursued six years of dental school at Rangsit University.
It’s considered rare for siblings to both pursue the same ﬁeld of work. Were you both always interested in the medical ﬁeld or did something happen that led you down this path?
We always envisioned that we would become doctors one day just like our father. As kids, our dad would tell us stories about what he did at work, how he helped people, how he cared for others, and we always found these stories very fun and inspirational to listen to. We also spent a lot of time at our dad’s workplace. We were surrounded by nurses, doctors, patients, medical facilities and equipment, and a lot of these experiences shaped who we are today. We owe our journey to him.
He has always been someone we modelled ourselves after, not just as a doctor but as a person, a father, and a brother. It is very surreal working in the medical ﬁeld now and realising how much of our approach to talking to our patients, how thorough we try to be with understanding their medical history, and doing the examinations, has come from him! We both also appreciate art and because dentistry is a blend of both science and art, the industry was perfect for us.
Dentistry is by no means and easy industry to get into, can you tell us about your professional experiences and the kind of training you had to go through to become licensed dentists?
To become a licensed dentist, you have to complete six years of university and pass the board exams. During the ﬁrst four years of university, we had classes from 9am to 5pm followed by evening lab sessions every single day. As a result of this packed schedule, we often had to dedicate our nights to ﬁnishing lab work or studying for exams until 3am.
In the last two years, we were then able to take all of the theories, concepts, and lectures we had learnt and apply them to ‘real patients.’ We had to undergo a lot of training and had countless hours of practice for all types of treatments including diagnosing, cleaning, ﬁllings, crowns, kids’ dentistry (sealants and SSCs), extractions, root canals, and more so that we would be 100 percent ready when we completed our studies. Looking back, it was deﬁnitely a challenging experience but we both enjoyed it so much.
What was the impetus for establishing SmileBox Dental Clinic? And how did you make this vision a reality?
We had a clear vision, which was wanting to change the attitude around dental care. We started with SmileBox Oral Care so toothbrushes, toothpaste, and other products that were created for people with and without braces, with crowns, implants or dentures. We made our products available for delivery to your doorstep every three months via a subscription service because that’s how often you should be changing your oral care products. Frayed bristles can be very harmful, and can cause a lot of damage to your teeth and gums.
In order to take our vision a step forward and provide the best dental treatment and correct dental advice, we set up the clinic. SmileBox Dental Clinic reﬂects the same ethos as our original SmileBox brand. We understand that you only have one set of teeth and small issues that are left unattended can become big problems in the future. For example, a cavity that requires a small, pain-less ﬁlling available at a low price, in one dental visit can become a much more complex situation if you are ‘scared’ or trying to ‘avoid the dentist.’ It can get worse and lead to needing a root canal, crown, or worst case, an extraction and implant, all of which is more painful, requires more visits, and is a lot more costly.
At our clinic, our team of specialists want to provide the best quality of treatment and part of this is making sure patients understand what treatments entail, what comes next, how you can stop the same problem from occurring, and how you can improve your dental care at home.
Working with family can be tough. In your opinion, what are some of the rewarding factors of working with your brother and what are some of the challenges you both have had to overcome?
There have been a lot of rewarding factors. We had the same vision when we started out, from the concept of the clinic to the décor, systems, running of the business, so the ﬂow was very easy right oﬀ the bat. Working with someone requires you to be very comfortable with them, and we’ve always been close. Of course, every person has their own opinion so there are challenges we’ve naturally had to overcome but a lot of how we managed has to do with trust. We trust each other wholly and we know we have the best intentions for the clinic, so we give each other space to manage individual situations, and from that grow both individually and together.
What are some of the things that stand out about your clinic?
Our biggest standout factor is that we’re very comprehensive. We’ve often heard patients saying things like “I have no idea what’s going on or what needs to be done next” because their previous experiences have involved going in, getting a treatment and leaving without any real information about the processes. We’ve realised that people want to know, they’ve just never been told.
If you come in with a toothache, we’ll assess that tooth, inform you of what’s wrong, what your treatment options are, and the prices. We will then provide you with excellent quality treatment and teach you how to take care of that tooth to prevent problems in the future. We will also let you know if there is anything else wrong, whether it’s inﬂamed gums, crooked teeth, or decay elsewhere. We want transparency so we point out every issue and every possible plan for it. This way our patients are fully aware of what they will encounter and how long their journey is going to take.
As we’ve built the clinic on this foundation, this is the culture we reinforce with our doctors, staﬀ , and the rest of our team. We understand that one doctor cannot be excellent at everything, therefore we have a team of specialists in every ﬁeld including prosthodontists if you want prosthetic teeth such as crowns, bridges, dentures; maxillofacial surgeons for wisdom teeth removal, dental implants, bone recontouring, tuberosity removal and biopsy; endodontists for root canals; specialists for kids dentistry; and specialists for veneers, braces, and clear aligners. This way, we can be sure our patients are receiving the best quality of treatment.
Beyond just the clinic itself, we have channels on TikTok, Facebook and YouTube where we educate our patients on everything they need to know about dental care. This way, they are constantly reminded of the importance, almost like having a personal dentist with you at all times!
You’ve amassed a large following on TikTok with almost a million between the two of you. How did you embark on this journey? Was it a strategy or did it happen organically where you found that people were interested in your work?
Nowadays, every business wants to have a social media presence and we want our social media to reﬂ ect the things we believe in, which includes giving the correct information, creating a proper understanding, and providing excellent service. Because dentistry is so technical, we wanted to deliver information in a fun and creative way so that it is easy for anyone to understand. This was the impetus for why we started creating content on social media, especially on TikTok.
We never expected to have such a huge following and we never thought people would enjoy out content so much but we are very, very grateful for everything. It has been amazing seeing the responses and seeing people understand what we’re trying to convey. If our work means that one person, just one person, learns how to brush and take care of their teeth in the correct way, then we’ve already succeeded.
Follow Dr. Vikram and Dr. Vishesh’s journey to changing the attitude around dental care via their social