‘Success lies in how you make a patient feel’

Nix ShahFrom selecting music in the surgery chair to giving patients his mobile number, Nix Shah explains why great dental care is all about putting patients first and ensuring the most comfortable of environments.

‘Ever since I qualified as a dentist, I have strongly believed that good dental treatment is not solely about the quality of the work we do in the mouth.

‘Excellent care starts even before a patient enters a practice. And it doesn’t stop after the anaesthetic wears off either.

‘Success lies in how you make a patient feel – from beginning to end. And while there are no clinical studies to evidence this, I’ve seen the oral health of my patients improve because they attend more often.’

Nix and Meera Shah are co-owners of Wheathampstead Dental Surgery. And, with passion like that, it’s unsurprising to learn they have invested heavily in ensuring their business meets the criteria of comfortable dental care.

The practice is situated in a 17th century grade two listed building that is full of original features, such as beams and fireplaces. It is set in a characterful Hertfordshire village just shy of five miles north of the popular city of St Albans.

Nix, Meera and their team service the needs of generations of the same families. They are as loyal to his brand of dental care as their staff are to them.

‘Warm, friendly environment’

For them, the location is ideal; a pretty village surrounded by fields and farmland. It is only a few miles from train stations and motorways and a number of large towns. It delivers care in a ‘warm, friendly environment’ to make ‘dental visits easy and enjoyable’.

They have owned the practice since May 2015. At the time of purchasing, Nix already owned two practices – one in Hitchin and one in Bovingdon.

Having since sold Hitchin, he felt that Wheathampstead was a good fit with his existing practice.

Nix explains: ‘Wheathampstead is a small village with a tight-knit community and is very family orientated – much like Bovingdon.

‘The practice has been in the village for more than 50 years. Many of our patients have been attending since the beginning.

‘We see several generations of the same family – children, parents and grandparents often attending together. We also take on new patients, who then recommend us to family and friends. So our surgery family is ever expanding.’

Relaxing dentistry

The practice website promises patients a ‘calm, pain-free dental experience’ and delivering on this are three dentists – Nix Shah, Meera Shah and Arjun Shah – two dental nurses (Tina Hunt and Ruby Norman), receptionist/treatment coordinator, Mel Bodman, and two trainee dental nurses, Maty and Nicky, who work between the two practices.

Nix and Meera are proud of the team’s track record and staff retention reflects the longevity of patient loyalty, too. ‘Receptionist, Mel, has worked here for 33 years, Tina for 26 years and Ruby for 14 years so they know our patients very well.

‘From the minute they walk in the door, our patients are the most important people in the practice.

‘Our aim is to make them feel safe and relaxed in all areas – from reception to surgery. We never want our patients to feel hurried in any way; they are in control and we want each visit to be as enjoyable as possible.’

To enhance this relaxed ambience, there are television screens in the waiting room and downstairs surgery. The team even invites patients to decide on what music they would like to listen to whilst in the chair. ‘We certainly have an eclectic mix of musical tastes’, Nix laughs.

‘Patients are much more receptive when relaxed. The whole team offers a friendly, informal approach. As a result, patients feel able to ask questions and discuss any concerns they may have regarding their care.

‘We follow up each treatment appointment with a phone call the next day, just to see if everything is settled.

‘All of our patients know we will do our best to see them within a day or two if they have an emergency. And they can contact me on my mobile for advice at any time.

‘It is much easier to provide this level of service in a comfortable, safe environment and our recent refurb has certainly helped.’


Dentistry is a fast-moving field and Nix acknowledges that he and the team – and the environment they work in – have had to adapt and update in order to provide the best patient care.

‘New materials and equipment mean we can provide safer, quicker treatment and create an all-round more positive patient experience.’

To remain up to speed on changing patient expectations and incorporate new technology and design ideas, they recently updated the ground-floor surgery and swapped from a right-handed to ambidextrous workstation.

Nix explains: ‘We completely redesigned the room, moving the chair and changing the cabinetry layout to give a brighter, spacious work environment – accommodating all of the clinicians needs to ensure a better delivery of care.

‘The surgery is white, with black woodwork to match the beam. So we chose a soft grey for the cabinets, to take away the clinical look of an all-white room.

‘The grey is echoed in the wood-effect flooring and the Belmont TP Compass chair is mid blue. This brings a splash of colour and matches with our surgery logo.’

The refurb took three months in total to include gutting the room, replacing pipework, rewiring and redecoration before the installation could take place.

‘We didn’t really run into any problems,’ Nix recalls. ‘The build team at Anglian were wonderful. They were very responsive to any minor snags that were quickly and efficiently dealt with.’

Nix says they chose Belmont because ‘having used their chairs before, we knew they were easy to maintain and the company provides a very good service’.

And for anyone considering a refurb, he has this advice. ‘Look at the costings, choose a reputable company you are comfortable to work with. Brainstorm and plan with your whole dental team.

‘Be adaptable, too – your design may change along the way. So be patient and prepared for the unexpected. Always have a plan B!’

For more information visit belmontdental.co.uk.

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