90 seconds with… Surina Sehgal

Dentistry speaks to Surina Sehgal about her love for food and life, and her top three tips for dentists.

Dentistry speaks to Surina Sehgal about her love for food and life, and her top three tips for dentists.

Please introduce yourself

My name is Dr Surina Sehgal, I’m a general and cosmetic dentist based in central London.

I also run a social media platform called ‘The Foodie Dentist’, which is a platform designed to educate the general public about oral health and prevention, nutrition and lifestyle, and how all these factors affect oral health. 

I try to make it as fun as possible and give lots of tips, while also trying to make dentistry as cool and interesting as possible!

How did you first get into dentistry?

It’s not the typical story. When I was applying to university, I knew I was always good at sciences and maths, but it was a battle to find out what I wanted to do in the future. 

I did work experience with lots of different healthcare professionals – I shadowed in a hospital, pharmacy, doctor’s surgery, lots of different things. Then I decided that dentistry seemed cool, and you get to talk to patients while also doing practical work, which I really liked, so I chose that career. 

During dental school, I found it really challenging. The five years weren’t easy for me. I struggled; I found the exams and studies really hard, but I ploughed through. 

At the end of my education, I was stuck. I still didn’t know what I wanted to do, what I wanted to specialise in. Only after, when I did my foundation training year, did I start to really enjoy cosmetic dentistry and making smiles look beautiful. 

I love going through that journey with a patient, transforming them, improving their self-confidence and getting to know them. So that’s the speciality I honed into, and I absolutely love my job now!

Dentistry speaks to Surina Sehgal about her love for food and life, and her top three tips for dentists.

What’s your strangest professional experience?

I’ve had lots of strange experiences! I remember when I was fairly young, in my foundation year, I was doing lots of extractions for a young child before he had his braces fitted by an orthodontist. I took out lots of baby teeth, and some permanent teeth as well – he had a very crowded mouth. 

I gave him the teeth to give to the tooth fairy, and when I saw him for a review in a few weeks, he had made a necklace out of them and was wearing it! 

It was a very funny thing to see and something I’ve never seen before – or since. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

What are your top three tips for dentists?

Don’t stress in the early days. I spent a lot of time doing that and not knowing what I wanted to do because I was so flustered. We were doing a bit of everything in university, and I didn’t really know if I enjoyed it. But once you do more and you practise, you find out what you enjoy.

My second tip is to work smart. You don’t have to be working six, seven days a week, all day from 8am to 8pm. It’s not possible for me – balance is really important. 

To be a great dentist, you need to have great care for your patients and a sympathetic and empathetic nature, and you need to be very attentive. 

I think less is more with dentistry, and the more you can give in your work clinical hours, the better. Don’t think that working really long hours is the best way to go.

Third, enjoy the experience and make friends with your colleagues, nurses, receptionist etc and have a good time. It really is a team effort. Everyone needs to be on the same page and work together really well, so make sure that you’re in a good relationship with everyone around you because it is crucial.

Away from dentistry, what are you passionate about?

I absolutely love cooking, it’s almost like my therapy! I love baking, listening to music, having a little dance. Also, I love going for walks in the countryside and parks. 

I love yoga and Pilates and working out because I feel like my day is just so much more productive and I feel so much better once I’ve moved my body and exercised. I also love playing tennis and I’m a black belt kickboxer, so I enjoy keeping that up once in a while! 

You can get in such a rut of going to work, working nine to five every day and not doing anything else, so I think it’s important to have extracurricular activities. It’s really important you have mental stimulation from elsewhere, other than just your work.

What are your goals and dreams for the future?

Honestly, I want to be healthy, happy and be in a career that I absolutely love. I want to do good. Those are genuinely my things. I don’t have goals to be the next millionaire, I just want to enjoy my life. 

And I think that’s important – you shouldn’t be swayed with what anyone else is doing. You are the only person living your life, so you need to be content. There’s no point in trying to follow someone’s footsteps if that’s not really what you want to do because you won’t be happy. 

It’s really important to follow your dreams, but also know what you enjoy doing. Dream big, but also enjoy the process and make sure you enjoy life to the fullest.

Whatever your goals and dreams are, no matter how big or small, it could just be having a great family and that is amazing. So those are my goals and dreams – to be happy, healthy and enjoy my career forever. 

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