Breaking his way to being a better dentist
Shiraz Khan’s philosophy on dentistry, getting into breaking and the power of exercise when working in the profession.
Taking up breaking may well be one step too far in any dentist’s move to boost lost activity levels in a profession known for its sedentary drawbacks. But for Shiraz Khan, his wellbeing ‘win’ is, in essence, all in the spin.
Shiraz is widely considered ‘one to watch’ among the younger cohort coming up through the ranks of dentistry. But his passion for the power of exercise is just as noteworthy.
As an accomplished competitive breaker, he takes seriously that simple principle that physical wellbeing is a vital component to achieving good mental health.
In a profession often beset by burnout and stress, Bboy Khanage (Shiraz’s breaking alter ego) is his route to redressing dentistry’s work-life imbalance when the burden of clinical work tips the scales in an unhealthy direction.
His breaking sets (you can find them on Youtube) are a sight to behold. They are all the more impressive considering the training and rehearsal they require. And which he fits into a hugely busy career.
Who is Shiraz Khan?
Shiraz graduated from Birmingham in 2013 but has already built a portfolio worthy of a practitioner beyond his years.
Within less than a decade, he has returned to studies for a masters in restorative dentistry. As well as founded Sculpt composite (an innovative online learning programme) and put his name on the map as a much-respected and accomplished aesthetic dentist.
A multi-award-winning clinician, he is director of the Young Dentist Academy. This is a body that offers high-level, top quality masterclasses to those eager to excel.
Shiraz is a firm believer that exercise plays a key role in the successful pursuit of a fulfilling career. In fact, he goes as far as to suggest that he would be a poorer clinician without out it.
The ability to regularly exercise has, he says: ‘Categorically made me a better clinician’.
‘It is well documented that, if you are at a higher level of fitness, the ability to cope with the stress, strain, plot or mechanism is significantly improved.
‘It improves cardiovascular performance, which means your body is better equipped to pump blood round the body to the brain to come up with logical decisions.
‘Being able to regularly exercise, release endorphins, work the body and get the blood pumping massively increases your aptitude and your ability to cope with stress and difficult decisions. Especially when things are not going your way.’
Whilst admitting he is: ‘A little more creative than the routine gymgoers out there’ (he does this too by the way), he finds breaking: ‘Strangely enjoyable and addictive’.
He was always active and into his sport – cricket, football and basketball. But began breaking in 2007, which he says was ‘late to the game’.
At university he was searching for an outlet to stay active. He found training for other sports too rigorous to slot into his educational timetable. But was inspired to take up the hobby when he saw a street dancer performing in Birmingham town centre. The rest is history, he says.
A former medical science graduate, his father later suggested he stop that ‘rolling about stuff’ when he returned to study for his BDS after a year’s break.
But instead of the comment wrong-footing him, this was, he says, a moment of reckoning. He realised it was because he enjoyed breaking away from his studies that he was able to perform well educationally.
Synergy between dance and dentistry
Roll on a few years, is there synergy between the creativity in his dance and that of his dentistry?
‘With dentistry, although there is a heavy focus on its scientific aspects, there are elements of it where we can express our creativity.
‘But I am the kind of person who needs spontaneity in my life. The more we strive to improve and better ourselves, the more funnelled our lives become in terms of time commitments and in terms of being able to be spontaneous.’
So when life becomes prescriptive, that’s where an hour of breaking kicks in for Shiraz. And without the constraints of dogmatic thought required by his clinical craft.
He admits: ‘Of course, training is systematic. In terms of endurance training, strength training and rehearsals, so there is a science to it.
‘But I have become slightly less competitive in the last few months. This has given me a chance to be free and enjoy moving around. Which also gives so much solace to the mind.’
‘It’s all about the ebb and flow’
He suggests that when facing a seemingly unsolvable problem, that walking away and doing something ‘completely off-piste’ can empower us all to better deal with the challenges we face.
Breaking quite simply takes him out of a profession that is insular. With a constant cycle of patients, lectures, conferences and so on.
‘Just getting blood through the muscular channels and veins and feeling awful for it at the time, but fantastic for it weeks down the line,’ can make a huge difference he says.
And his advice to others in need of that all-essential resetting of the work-life balance? ‘We are all in search of the big “haymaker” type steps that are going to change our lives. But they don’t exist.
‘It’s all about ebb and flow. You have to accept at certain times that you will have much more clinical commitment or business commitment.
‘But, if you have a baseline core of things that you have to do in a week – squeezing in a gym session, for example – eventually you keep ebbing away to find that model.
‘It is the sum of incremental changes that creates a massive change.’
- This article is written from an episode of Dentology podcast featuring Dr Shiraz Khan that is one in a series in which Frank Taylor & Associates’ Chris Strevens and Andy Acton discuss with their special guests ‘all things non-clinical in the dental world’.
You can view and listen to this and more episodes here.