Dentistry’s Person of the Year 2022

Gaby Bissett speaks with Dentistry’s Person of the Year 2022, Dr Simon Chard, about perseverance, the rapid success of his next-generation oral care brand and being the youngest-ever president of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (BACD).

Practice owner, businessperson, entrepreneur, lecturer and president of the BACD – Simon Chard is not short of accolades. At just 36 years old, he has soared to the top of an ambitious new generation of dentists who thrive on clinical excellence, progressive thinking and new ideas. 

‘I think the most important bit of advice I can give to young dentists is that no one comes out of dental school being a fully-fledged, cosmetic dentist,’ Simon explains. ‘Everyone starts at the same level and there are no shortcuts – it takes passion, hard work and a good team around you to get there.’

From the very beginning of his dental career, Simon knew he wanted to go above and beyond – both clinically and in business.

He focused on learning from the best dentists around the world and embraced the new digital direction of dentistry with both hands, being one of the early advocates of intraoral scanners at the start of his career. He understood the power of social media for professional profile and business success, such as on Instagram, where he now has more than 26,000 followers. 

Simon Chard - Dentistry's Person of the Year 2022

The engine behind the success

Simon explains how the support of his wife, Dr Meghan, has been integral from the beginning. The pair met on their first day of dental school at King’s College London in 2008.

‘We’ve always worked together – ever since she first dragged me to the library when we were at university,’ he says. ‘We were even coincidentally put together as clinical partners where we had to nurse for each other. This wasn’t much of a success though, as I was a terrible nurse.’ 

At first working in different locations after qualifying in 2012, they bought Rothley Lodge Dental from his parents in 2018 and set to work on an ambitious expansion.

A family affair

They have built on the legacy created by his parents and grown the practice to become a multidisciplinary centre of dental excellence, boasting seven surgeries, the latest technology and 30 staff members. But despite bringing the practice up to speed with the digital age, the practice has been built on traditional ethics and it is still very much a family affair. 

Many of the team have worked there since Simon was born. ‘What I love about the practice is the variety of patients we have. We get new patients coming from around the UK and even from around the world for cosmetic work at the clinic. However, many of the patients who are with us have been looked after by my parents for over 35 years! It’s a lovely mix and this is carried through into the team as well.’

With numerous other projects and two young children, Simon and Meghan’s compatibility is key to keeping the practice running.

‘Meg and I balance each other out perfectly,’ he says. ‘I’m very much an ideas guy. But when it comes to execution and operations, I’m not particularly strong. Meg is much stronger in this department and makes sure ideas are implemented, ensuring the practice is always running smoothly. I think we balance and complement each other very well.’

Simon Chard - Dentistry's Person of the Year 2022

Simon Chard - Dentistry's Person of the Year 2022

In the blood

Simon grew up in Surrey with his parents, dentists Dr Nicholas and Jennifer Chard, and two younger siblings, Lauren and Matthew. Dentistry, he says, is in his blood. ‘I’ve always joked that there was always a mirror and probe in the cutlery drawer when I was growing up,’ he explains. 

As owners of Rothley Lodge Dental at the time, his parents handled the day-to-day challenges of running a practice while bringing up three children. But their lives were turned upside down when Lauren was diagnosed with cancer at the age of seven. Just nine at the time, Simon saw the toll it took on everyone around him.

‘I think a lot of who I am is down to that time. It was very traumatic for us all, and especially for my sister,’ he says. ‘She’s just an incredible human being – unbelievably strong and managed to get through one of the worst things you could imagine at such a young age.’ 

Help and support

These formative years set Simon on a path of perseverance and self-care. He quotes his two key passions in dentistry as mental health and sustainability (more on this later). For his own mental health, he swears by his daily 4:45am wake up where he jumps on his Peloton, puts on his running shoes or goes to the gym – anything that gets his heart racing.

‘Waking up early to fit in my daily exercise has become a central pillar both for my physical and mental performance. It’s a non-negotiable. By doing some hard work and getting your heart going, you start the day feeling great. You feel like you have won the day before it even begins.’

The work of Confidental – a charity that provides help and support for dentists in distress – is also a cause close to his heart. The chosen charity partner of the BACD in 2022/23, Simon says it’s crucial that dentists communicate and be kind to each other.

‘It’s a highly stressful job with an alarming suicide rate – rather than troll each other, we need to be supportive.’

Person of the Year

Unparalleled success

Three years ago, we saw the birth of Pärla – an unexpected and sudden success in the notoriously hard-to-crack toothpaste market. A joint venture with his good friends and fellow leading dentists Dr Rhona Eskander and Dr Adarsh Thanki, Pärla was launched at the start of 2020 to solve the problem of 20 billion single-use plastic toothpaste tubes going into landfill and the ocean each year.

All of Pärla’s packaging is 100% plastic free and, with a modern approach to oral health, their products are full of cutting-edge, science-backed ingredients to protect patients’ smiles.  

Simon believes that sustainability needs to be everybody’s business, including dental professionals. ‘Like anything, sometimes we feel as individuals our choices won’t make a difference,’ he says. ‘But as we say at Pärla, it takes all of us to make one small change to really have an impact and it’s the same for dental practices.

‘When you think about the cumulative carbon emission and plastic waste of all UK dental practices, it inevitably has a huge environmental impact. We as the dentists need to be driving these changes, both within the industry and among our patients.’ 

Simon Chard - Dentistry's Person of the Year 2022

Dentistry's Person of the Year 2022: Simon Chard

Take over the world

In less than three years, Pärla’s success is unrivalled.

It is now stocked across the UK by Boots, Ocado, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, as well as in hundreds of dental practices across the country. And there are no plans for it to slow down.

The brand’s appearance on the BBC show Dragons’ Den was the cherry on top in 2021. Despite a joint offer for all the cash by dragons Deborah Meaden and Tej Lalvani, the Pärla team felt the 30% equity share in return was too large.

Despite declining the deal, Meaden told them: ‘I sincerely hope you take over the world with that, and I will be switching.’ 

‘Pärla is definitely the part of my career so far that has most exceeded expectations,’ Simon adds. ‘It was born out of an idea that we could make the industry better, one that we developed as three friends sitting in Adarsh’s practice brainstorming – I hope our success offers inspiration to other fledgling entrepreneurs with an innovative idea in the dental space.’

Dentistry's Person of the Year 2022: Simon Chard

Dentistry's Person of the Year 2022: Simon Chard

Mainstay of dentistry

At the end of last year, Simon was elected as the youngest-ever president of the BACD. He intends to use his one-year stint to make a difference, by educating both colleagues and patients.

‘There’s never been a more important time for young dentists to be guided on ethical cosmetic dentistry,’ he explains. ‘It’s very easy to be swayed by social media. With the rise of “Turkey teeth” and Tiktok trends, we also need to actively educate the general public on what high-quality, ethical dentistry looks like so that our patients don’t make irreversible decisions that will impact their oral health for a lifetime.’

Alongside his clinical work, for a long time, Simon has been a mainstay of the dentistry lecture circuit. Embracing digital dentistry in its embryonic stage soon after graduating, he was soon lecturing on its benefits. He was picked up by industry leaders, including Henry Schein, Dentsply Sirona, DMG and Invisalign, and has now lectured in countries as far as South Africa and Dubai. ‘

I’m very grateful for the opportunities I was given at such a young age,’ he says. ‘I love public speaking now and I really do think it helps shape you into a better clinician. It’s been a really, really enjoyable part of my career.’

Importance of community 

Simon insists that his success was not written in the stars – he explains how he had to work hard from the minute he started his A-levels. ‘I wasn’t the most academic individual at school and even doing my pharmacology degree before dentistry, I just scraped through with a 2:1.

I still don’t view myself to be a particularly academic individual, but I am a hard worker, incredibly passionate about what I do and I’m proud of all I’ve achieved in such a competitive environment.’ 

He credits his 2015 win as FMC’s Best Young Dentist as crucial to improving his confidence. 

‘When I found out I had won, it was such a massive surprise. It did help to boost my profile, but it went further than that; it was a real confidence booster for me. It reinforced that if I set myself audacious goals and work hard, I can achieve them. I set myself the goals of winning the Best Young Dentist award and being the president of the BACD as a dental student. So it’s incredibly rewarding to see both of those ambitions come true.’

He cites (and thanks) his parents, his wife Dr Meghan, Dr Miguel Stanley and his community of like-minded peers – including his Pärla colleague, Rhona – for their inspiration and support. ‘It’s been really nice to have a great community of dentists who support each other in excellence.’ 

What’s next for Dentistry’s Person of the Year?

‘I really want to be a force for good in the profession,’ Simon says. ‘I think there are a lot of issues at the moment, from fear of litigation to clinical difficulties. And I know I have a real opportunity to help grow the industry, both with my role in the BACD and with other projects that are in the pipeline for later this year. 

‘With regards to Pärla, we are determined to be the oral care brand for the next generation. We are only just getting started.’ 

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