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Dentology Podcast with Tilly Houston


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Transcript – Dentology Podcast with Tilly Houston

Episode Release Date: Monday 15 January 2024

Andy & Chris (00:00.746)
Here we are again. Yet another Dentology podcast. I love them. We love them. They’re good fun aren’t they? I think it’s interesting because the people are more interesting than us and that’s why we’re all getting that. It was 120 plus now, wasn’t it? Our 120th episode went out this week. And not a single duffer. No, no, no. We’ve had a few problems. No pressure. I was going to say good one after good one. So there’s no pressure for today’s guest and today we are very, very fortunate. We’re joined by Dr Tilly Houston and Tilly’s a dentist.

network extraordinary i love that word and a positive force in dentistry and telly how you doing we don’t have to say who still we have a problem all together but you’ve had that all your life

Tilly (00:40.459)
Yeah, no, very original. Morning guys. Thanks for the introduction. Pressure’s on then. 120 plus.

Andy & Chris (00:44.322)
Thank you.

Andy & Chris (00:50.315)
Yeah. Exactly. And no buffers. And no bad ones. And we don’t want to start now either.

Tilly (00:55.097)
Okay, right. I’ll try my best.

Andy & Chris (00:58.378)
Focus, all the connections gone, no. So to kick off Tilly, I think it’s always useful but interesting to find that kind of the background to people and it’s often said that PPE has had the biggest impact on our lives and every dentist listening will be, oh PPE, yeah we know about that, but in this context it’s parents, postcode and education and so that’s kind of the start point.

What was your family upbringing like and were you always destined to be a dentist?

Tilly (01:29.689)
So, interesting one, no. Absolutely not destined to be a dentist. My parents didn’t go to university. They’re kind of completely not medical at all. And actually no one in my kind of immediate family were medical. Grew up in Southwest London and went to school there. I actually went to school a year early, which I always say to my parents, I’ve had a year less of.

of life where I can just live and not have to be in education and working.

Andy & Chris (02:04.645)
Why aren’t you?

Tilly (02:07.505)
I don’t know, I think, yeah, I think something like that. They’d had enough of me after two, three years. And so, November. So I was earlier in the school year. But so started school when I was in Wimbledon and then stayed there for a couple of years and then we moved out to kind of Surrey area.

Andy & Chris (02:16.435)
Which month were you born in, Telly?

We’re going to take it.


Tilly (02:35.177)
and then continued kind of in the year above, I guess, when I went back to school. And then I think my parents decided, do you know what, actually there’s no benefit to her being kind of a year ahead. All her friends are going to be able to learn to drive before she can. Well, so then basically I think it was when I was in year six, I came out of school.

Andy & Chris (02:53.282)
I was going to say, how did that work?

Tilly (03:01.593)
and went to a completely different school just for one year to repeat year six, which at the time I was so nervous and I was like, why are you making me do this again? I just didn’t understand the time. It’s like, life’s not fair. It was such a great year because it kind of to me didn’t really mean anything. It was just for fun. Yeah, exactly. And it was great, but then what was really hard was then coming back into the school that I was in.

Andy & Chris (03:07.146)
Ah, okay.

Andy & Chris (03:14.989)

Andy & Chris (03:21.71)
It’s a free year.

Tilly (03:30.941)
in the year below and all my friends were in the year above and at that age like one year difference is quite a big difference kind of ages 10, 11, 12. So that was quite a challenge. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (03:31.075)

Andy & Chris (03:36.203)

Andy & Chris (03:40.014)
huge. Yeah, it’s interesting because I was when I went to my secondary school or my school, whatever you call it, I don’t know, I was in a year above so therefore when I came to end my school, whatever year, year 12 or 11, whatever it is, all of my friends left so I had to stay on. So at the end of the year there were four of us.

Tilly (04:04.289)
Yeah. Oh, it’s hot.

Andy & Chris (04:11.234)
It was mad. It was the world’s smallest school year ever. Hello! But it was hard work. It was hard work. Because you’re sort of not in your right position, are you? It’s quite strange. And I think school’s tricky anyway because you’re kind of growing up and finding out who you are. So to then have something like that chucked in the mix as well. And prom. Yeah. Yes. I suppose. Prom. Did you have prom? Because all your friends are doing prom. And you’re like, oh, okay, I can’t do prom.

Tilly (04:16.059)
When goes that?

Tilly (04:37.225)
It was honestly such a weird one because you’d see them around the school. Hi! But almost felt like I couldn’t be friends with them, but that I had to make enough friends with the people in my year. It was weird. I mean it was fine after a term or so I kind of got into the swing of things. But then yeah they’re all kind of off going to university and off doing their own thing and it’s weird.

Andy & Chris (04:40.247)

Andy & Chris (04:45.884)

Andy & Chris (04:53.282)

Andy & Chris (04:59.892)
And who was your friendship group, Tilly? Was your friendship group the year that was above you, or the year that you were then in?

Tilly (05:07.469)
So I then, I think, formed closer friends with the group that I was then in. I was friendly with the guys in the year above, but my close-knit group, who I’m still really close with now, were in that year that I then moved into. But I think…

Andy & Chris (05:13.514)

Andy & Chris (05:25.435)
What’s it? What’s it? Sorry, go on, Tony.

Tilly (05:27.321)
Sorry, I think the friendships maybe when, I think I found it quite hard, because when you’re that young, like four, five, six, seven, eight, the friendships are almost just because they’re people that you’re in a class with. When you’re a bit older, you have a little bit more kind of working out who you are, who you like and who you get along with. And so I’m actually super grateful to my parents that they did that, they did that kind of swap.

Andy & Chris (05:43.234)
Mmm. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (05:49.045)

Andy & Chris (05:55.9)

Tilly (05:56.994)
when it was earlier on rather than later on.

Andy & Chris (06:01.662)
It’s sort of early, I know that we talked about networking extraordinary, it’s sort of almost like a formulation of an early networking plan, isn’t it? You know, because you’ve sort of got to get on with various people, you don’t recognise it at that time, but basically if you hadn’t, you’d have probably shriveled and died. But you were having to sort of relate to people that you used to relate to, people you never related to, people in your…

that one year that you’re never going to see again because you’ve rocked up for a year. It’s quite an interesting sort of basis of maybe where you are and do what you do now. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that you adapted young and quickly to a new group of people and we’ll come on later talking about kind of how networking is a theme of how your career has progressed as well but I don’t think that that’s a coincidence. No not at all. I think that was a skill that you acquired quite early on.

Also for people listening to this that might have kids and young kids, to listen to your experience, I think it will be fascinating because everybody’s kind of wanting to make sure they create the best environment for their kids possible. But actually your environment, whilst when you were young, might have felt quite challenging, you learned to require some skills very early on that have served you really well. I don’t think I’ve ever, ever heard anyone who’s… I’ve heard people, you know, been put up a year and stuff like that and start a year early.

bit unusual but I’ve never heard anyone who has then gone to another school to do a year to then leave that school to go back to the school they did I mean I’ve never heard that.

Tilly (07:39.229)
It was, I think, look, I mean, like I said earlier, at the time I was like, what are you making me do? I’ve been going to this random school for one year. But actually, the school that I went to, my parents kind of thought, well, rather than making her do literally the exact same syllabus again, completely like immediately with all the students from the year below, why not take her out, give her a completely different experience? And the school that I went to was quite different to the school that I’d been at.

Andy & Chris (07:44.714)

Andy & Chris (07:55.886)

Andy & Chris (08:01.734)

Tilly (08:08.841)
It was kind of like calling all the teachers by their first names. It was much more relaxed. Well, she’ll probably get a slightly different experience, maybe like learn a different set of skills, maybe non-academic skills, but like you guys, kind of interacting with different people and that kind of thing. Um, and I.

Andy & Chris (08:12.928)
Oh, well. Right, yeah.

Andy & Chris (08:21.314)

Andy & Chris (08:25.973)
What did your mum and dad do for jobs?

Tilly (08:28.513)
So they’re completely non-medical or sciencey. My dad comes from like a managing consultancy background and my mom actually used to work in like TV and film while we were growing and then moved to kind of marketing that kind of thing later in life.

Andy & Chris (08:41.174)

Andy & Chris (08:48.514)
I was just wondering whether their experience made them think sort of outside the box for their child’s education. I’m just thinking your dad is a management consultant, probably, I don’t know what to say. It’s just interesting as to what they were, what they were doing. Because how was their motivation to think about it? I’ve never heard anyone else do it. So what was the twist for you for dentistry and when did you decide that dentistry was your calling? Because there’s no experience about that. And so far,

Tilly (09:06.297)
It’s a good thing.

Andy & Chris (09:18.104)
it’s not come up at all as a word.

Tilly (09:21.485)
So I think it kind of came when we started to do work experience and school was saying, right, you need to go and do a week’s work experience somewhere. And I was like, oh, God, I don’t know. I don’t really know what I want to do. Maybe I want to do medicine. I knew I kind of wanted to be helping people. So I went and did a week’s work experience, like in a GP and in a hospital. And I really didn’t like it at all. And then I was suddenly…

thinking, well that was the only thing I thought I would really do, so where do I go now? One of my friends who I used to swim with, her dad was a dentist and he was like, oh come and do a day with me, no one really ever has a burning passion to be a dentist, just come and do a day with me and see how you think. So I remember going along and he had me mixing the alginate and I was suctioned.

Andy & Chris (10:15.886)
I don’t know.

Tilly (10:17.581)
I mean, probably he’s retired now, but… We’ll be back after you’ve retired. Hope everyone’s throwing him under the bus there. But yeah, like, we’re suctioning and kind of really getting my hands involved. And I loved it because it was so practical. And I just saw it as a big social kind of every day. He’d go in, chat to lots of different people. Not much dentistry was going on. It was more just like the chatting and…

Andy & Chris (10:42.71)
Why not?

Tilly (10:46.037)
the relationships I’d seen that he’d built. I was like, wow, this is really cool. And I ended up doing more days with him. And without kind of consciously making a decision that I want to be a dentist, I ended up just going down this pathway of doing kind of more work experience, then the GCSEs and A-levels that I needed for it. I haven’t looked back since really, so I’ve got him to thank.

Andy & Chris (10:52.034)

Andy & Chris (11:00.814)

Andy & Chris (11:04.535)

Andy & Chris (11:08.747)

Andy & Chris (11:12.106)
Yeah, we hear time and time again that it’s work experience that turns people’s heads towards dentistry. And individual, isn’t it? One person who really sparks your journey. Yeah, something happens. I wonder whether more could be done with younger people to get them interested in dentistry. I think part of the challenge is that now you need to choose your GCSE when you’re 13, 14 years old. And that then sets you up to do your A-levels, which then sets you up for your

entry into dental school. So the decision has to be made so early it’s hard for young people to get that exposure to dentistry to give them a chance. How do you know what you want to do? You know it’s hard isn’t it?

Tilly (11:56.513)
My sister’s going through it kind of at the moment. She’s in her third year of uni. And even going to uni, she was like, I don’t really know what I want to do as a job. So what degree do I do? I just said to her, just do something you enjoy and it will work itself out. But now she’s still like, oh, there’s nothing. She always says to me, you’re so lucky you knew you wanted to do dentistry because you kind of just follow a pathway that’s set for you. Whereas when you don’t know what you want to do, it’s really tricky.

Andy & Chris (12:09.492)

Andy & Chris (12:19.342)

Andy & Chris (12:23.905)

Tilly (12:25.049)
I felt of it kind of the other way around as in, I’ve never really had to think for myself or I just knew right, next pathway is uni, then FD, then. And I know it’s coming for you, but no, it’s interesting. But yeah, I completely agree. It’s not really on your radar when you’re making those decisions as a job. And actually, I remember my mum saying, because she used to work in television,

Andy & Chris (12:34.554)
Yeah, yeah.

Andy & Chris (12:43.774)

Tilly (12:52.085)
she found it really hard when she had us, when she had our children. She really couldn’t found it, she couldn’t keep doing her job that she loved. It just was almost impossible for her. And by the time she came back from having children, she kind of ran out of touch with what was going on and couldn’t really join back where she was. And so she kind of just had in the back of her mind saying to me, look, really, when you’re thinking about it,

Andy & Chris (13:04.046)
Mm-hmm. Mm.

Andy & Chris (13:12.29)

Tilly (13:19.021)
They do think about if you want to have children, want to have a family, something that you can kind of do perhaps alongside. And so, yeah, it is.

Andy & Chris (13:27.723)
Yeah. And dentistry is great for that, isn’t it, in terms of working one or two clinical days a week. That suits lots of people.

Tilly (13:35.069)
Yeah, exactly. So no, I’m loving it so far.

Andy & Chris (13:41.834)
Good, good. So you graduated from Bristol in 2020, top student. Well done for that. Well done, yeah, yeah. Which is very smart. Genius. Obviously part of your- How many students? Yeah, no, sorry. It means you hasn’t get your take on your overall experience. Obviously it was COVID impacted as well. So what was it? Obviously for most of it, COVID hadn’t arrived, but then I guess for your last year it did. So how did that kind of work out for you?

Tilly (13:49.806)
Thank you.

Tilly (14:08.361)
Oh, you know what, it was crazy. I think luckily our year just kind of got out of uni just in time. It was the year below that really got hit because we’d actually sat our written finals in the January and in March we were going on study leave to do our kind of Vivers. So we went home on study leave in March and never came back. It was so…

Andy & Chris (14:18.69)
Oh yeah.

Andy & Chris (14:25.346)
What? I don’t know.

Andy & Chris (14:35.853)

Tilly (14:37.961)
So yeah, because then lockdown hit and then we were just at home.

Andy & Chris (14:41.49)
When did you have your final graduation? Or when did you finally have your graduation?

Tilly (14:45.645)
So that was actually lovely. We had that two years later, so we had that 2022. It was just a bit strange, because years below us had graduated before us. Who had been and gone. And we were like, hang on, this isn’t fair. But actually it was so nice, because it was like a reunion, and everyone had kind of been and done their FD and was doing kind of different stuff. And it was so lovely to catch up with everyone. And yeah, you know what?

Andy & Chris (14:49.723)
Ha ha

Andy & Chris (14:56.47)
Mmm, yeah.

Andy & Chris (15:04.151)

Andy & Chris (15:11.886)
of interest to me was it a separate one did you like have a separate or was it crammed in was it added to the existing graduation so that graduation like took forever or did you like have a have a separate Covid graduate session because I’d imagine if you know trying to add all those Covid graduates and we’re here for the next eight hours

Tilly (15:30.701)
Hours and hours. Yeah, no, I do remember that kind of couple of months that summer, it seemed to literally be graduation 10, 12, 2, 4, like every couple of hours every day. But I think it was a dentist and a few others, but it was happening for a long time, but I don’t think it was any longer than a month.

Andy & Chris (15:39.052)


Andy & Chris (15:48.346)
Ah, right, okay.

Andy & Chris (15:53.398)
The very sore hands, or the polite. Your mum, if she’d have been in TV and film, she probably was able to tell you how to look like you’re clapping, but don’t really hurt your hand. Going back to the networking thing in your school days, were you very social at dental school? Did you carry those skills through and have a large sort of network of friends at school?

Tilly (16:14.649)
I think so, at dental school. I think, do you know what? Our year, we got so lucky. We had honestly the best year. Everyone, obviously everyone had their own little friendship groups. Because our year was quite small at Bristol. There was about 60, 65 of us. You knew everyone, first name, surname. You could sit next to anyone at lunch and have a chat with them. And generally, everyone got on really well, which was so nice. It was kind of just like one big.

Andy & Chris (16:16.992)

Andy & Chris (16:37.826)
That’s great.

Tilly (16:44.421)
Obviously there were little groups within there. But I know kind of looking at other years there was a little bit more kind of distinct groups that wouldn’t mix so much. But I honestly had such a great time at uni. It was fantastic and everyone was so lovely, so supportive and all the staff knew us as well which was really nice. So, yeah. Socially, I mean, Bristol is great for social side of things anyway.

Andy & Chris (17:11.122)

Tilly (17:14.205)
Yeah, I think so. I think it actually became more social for me and less academic as kind of

Andy & Chris (17:27.838)
I love the sort of, well yeah, I think they… You want those people that’s quite naturally academically gifted in that you just absorb new material quite quickly as opposed to having to really dig in.

Tilly (17:42.881)
I thought maybe, but no. And actually I think I have to, I worked so hard during uni and I remember the hours, especially kind of the first couple of years, I would sit literally each night going through my notes. It wouldn’t just be something that would, I would read it and it would stick. I’d have to really work at it. But I think kind of going back to the starting school a year earlier, I think I take

Andy & Chris (18:00.502)

Tilly (18:10.201)
kind of that work ethic, I guess, from being in the scenario where you’re with other kids that are almost a year older and having to really work hard when I was younger. I think that’s where it’s come from. We’re never pushy, really not pushy at all about working hard or they kind of just let us do our own thing. So I think that came from that kind of early start, I guess.

Andy & Chris (18:23.616)
That’s interesting. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (18:38.486)
Right, yeah, yeah. And so then you graduated. So you say you did your finals in January 20, lockdown hit March 20. So what did your foundation year look like?

Tilly (18:51.353)
So I think different to what it had been like before. Actually almost a blessing in disguise because we’d come off clinics in March. We had had, we’d not touched a drill for however many months that is until September. Plus, we’re new graduates, so our skills are a bit shaky. Muscle memory, right? So we were kind of going into September. I was so nervous. I was thinking.

Andy & Chris (19:09.12)

Tilly (19:20.813)
God, I’ve not done a crown prep, I’ve not even done a filling. Am I gonna remember what decaying looks like? The blessing in disguise was at the practice that we were at, they were building a new surgery, and it was the first year that they were taking on two of us FDs, but because of COVID, the work, the building work wasn’t finished. So there was two of us FDs, but we had one practice, one surgery, sorry. And what it meant is that we were doing kind of half days

Andy & Chris (19:36.938)

Andy & Chris (19:41.226)

Tilly (19:50.933)
and nursing with each other, which for me initially, I was like, oh, it was the best thing because it just gave me that slow start and I could march together. And it just let me find my feet in a little bit more of a kind of relaxed, supported environment. So yeah, I found coming out of COVID, that actually was the best way for me to start rather than diving in head to head.

Andy & Chris (19:56.738)

Yeah, that’s good.

Andy & Chris (20:14.57)
all that PPE stuff, do you remember? What was that thing that, you know, the, I don’t know, you had to wear the, you had to go get your hood fitted and all that sort of, you know, all those, yeah, you know, it’s all that sort of, you forget about all that, don’t you, I have to have a window open and, and what’s it, an aerosol, wasn’t it? Aerosol, 30 minutes and all that. Yeah, yeah.

Tilly (20:24.705)
That’s me.

Tilly (20:31.033)
Thank you.

Tilly (20:36.79)
And I remember all the men who had facial hair would put this very unique kind of, where they could just about manage a little bit of mustache because of the mask they had to be clean shaven it was a yeah it was an interesting time wasn’t it?

Andy & Chris (20:40.651)

I’m sorry.

Andy & Chris (20:47.617)

Andy & Chris (20:53.506)
Well, I remember people telling us, I mean, it must be a fascination as an FD going, in a way, probably a really brilliant experience because you were working, and this is not going to sound how it sounds, so forgive me for private practice, but you somehow imagine for an NHS practice with an FD student, it is going to be like the following the PPE corona protocols to the nth degree. So you know, you’re going to be suited up in your…

big old outfit. It’s probably a really good learning experience I’d imagine.

Tilly (21:26.917)
It was crazy coming from nothing to suddenly, yeah, we had this donning and doffing station where you’d… Ours was literally in reception and I just remember like, and like hair nets and the poor patients in reception looking at us literally terrified at what we were doing with this patient.

Andy & Chris (21:33.194)
Yeah, that’s it. That’s it.

Andy & Chris (21:46.146)
Because they were… Ha! Yeah, I’m gonna die. Well, it was like full on theatre scrubbed almost, wasn’t it? And like, literally someone’s got toothache. It’s like, what’s that? Yeah, yeah, hello, yeah. You’re gonna be there, what’s gonna be brilliant is, to this generation of dentists, in about 20 years’ time, when you’ve got students moaning about stuff, you’re gonna be going, look, you don’t remember the days of, it’s a bit like, do you remember the war?

Tilly (21:54.614)

Tilly (22:09.802)

Andy & Chris (22:14.318)
Let me tell you what I had to do as a foundation dentist. Bam! And then in a fairly short period of time, you now work as an associate across three different practices. And you’re very active in the BACD, the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and you said that all of your jobs came as a result of your connections to the BACD, which goes to serve that you are a network extraordinaire.

has led to opportunities. And what does building a strong network actually look like and mean? Because it’s not just turning up to parties, it’s not just being seen. You actually have to have it consciously, you have to build a network. So for people out there, like young or old, how do you build a network in a way where it’s truly useful for you? Yeah, because this has led to jobs, this has led to gain for employment as a result of that. Not just sick, offensive back slapping. Exactly, exactly.

Tilly (23:12.309)
I think, I mean, I love that the best thing about being a dentist is chatting to people. So it’s my favourite thing is chatting to people, learning about people and having a genuine interest in other people and everyone has something that you can learn from. And I think for me, I guess that’s probably the most important thing. I don’t, I guess it’s not something like, right, I’m going to go and network. Let’s go.

Andy & Chris (23:39.333)

Tilly (23:39.925)
put a hat on. It’s just having conversations with people but showing an interest and caring what they have to say. And I guess also the dental community is so small that you end up if you go to a few events and you put yourself out there and you speak to people, and I guess it’s going up to people and just saying, oh, lovely to meet you, my name’s da-da-da-da, I do xyz, what do you do? And just, I don’t know, everyone, I think…

from speaking to other kind of younger dentists, a lot of people are nervous to go to events for the first time because they’re like, I don’t know anyone, who am I gonna talk to? We’ve.

Andy & Chris (24:14.858)

Andy & Chris (24:19.982)
And we’ve all been there, we have all been there. That walking into a room of faces you don’t know is awkward. I love Tilly, he’s just going up to someone. I mean, there’s people listening to him, they go, I can go up to someone. No, no, just, I just go up to someone and say, Hi, my name’s Tilly, this is what I do, what do you do? And I think a learning for people listening is… You can do that. It is just, it’s just stuff, you know, but get it out of your head that you’re…

Tilly (24:29.068)

Tilly (24:33.358)
Thanks for watching!

Andy & Chris (24:48.511)
Also dentistry is a friendly profession. People aren’t horrible when you do that, aren’t they? I can’t remember going to an event where people were nasty or didn’t want to talk.

Tilly (24:56.925)
No, everyone’s up for a chat. Everyone, you all have something common. So it’s so easy to strike a conversation with anyone. But also as a dentist, it’s literally what you do every day. New random person comes and sits down in front of you, you say, Hi, my name’s Tilly and you strike up a conversation with them. So we’re actually doing it every day. And I always think

Andy & Chris (25:14.367)

Yeah. That’s a great one. But also great sound bite. So I just think that’s a great sound bite actually for people who are listening, who are nervous. Is the fact that you’re doing it already. It just happens to be your position as your dentist to patient, as opposed to dentist to dentist. And it’s a great one. So anyone listening, yeah, you know, you are doing it. You’re doing it 10, 20, 30 times a day, however many patients you see. But also I think it’s not just, I think there’s a difference between

Tilly (25:27.609)
every day.

Andy & Chris (25:45.326)
kind of just bouncing around an event, saying hello to people, and actually building a networking, keeping in touch with them, and having deeper conversations and taking interest. Because I think kind of just being open to the idea and having the right sort of demeanour and personality will start those conversations. But I think a network, what you’ve developed is beyond that. So you’ve obviously stayed in touch with these people and you have ongoing conversations and you talk about things that are interesting to you and the other people. And I think that’s…

that’s different from just kind of chatting to lots of different people at lots of different times. That’s not developing in the way that you have. It’s a skill. It’s a real skill.

Tilly (26:23.513)
I think it does come down to just being interested by people. And you know sometimes you can tell when you’re talking to someone and you kind of feel like they’re not really listening to the answers that you’re saying and they’re just talking to you for the sake of making polite small talk. I think to form kind of meaningful connections and relationships with people, you have to be interested. I remember Samir Patel actually always, because he is such a great networker and communicator,

Andy & Chris (26:36.055)

Tilly (26:53.473)
when you are speaking to someone, literally forget about everyone else. They are the most important person. You have to focus on them. Really listen to what they’re saying. Not just to reply, but listen to what they’re saying. And I find that kind of really, really helps me. Yeah, I don’t consciously think so much of that anymore, but it is important with social media and there’s so much going on. Everyone’s got so much going on in their mind. Just to kind of put that out of your mind. And I do it with patients as well.

Andy & Chris (26:57.902)
don’t look over their shoulder.

Andy & Chris (27:06.164)

Andy & Chris (27:14.326)

Andy & Chris (27:19.758)

Tilly (27:22.837)
It’s easy to be thinking, oh, this is what’s coming up later in the day, or I need to get this… Forget all of that. You’ve got one person in front of you. Just give them your attention, your time. And I found as far as kind of building relationships with people and keeping in touch, it’s powerful and it works, I guess.

Andy & Chris (27:43.551)
Hmm. Makes it feel special. Yeah, and I imagine that’s probably filtered through to the interactions you have with your patients as well, in terms of understanding their needs. Because what you said is right. Most people, when you’re talking, they’re just waiting for a gap so they can start talking. They’re not really listening to understand. They assume they know what you’re going to say. And I guess in your world, some of the clues and things that patients might say give you a deeper understanding in terms of what they’re…

Tilly (28:01.494)

Andy & Chris (28:10.638)
their needs are, perhaps not clinical needs, but the settings or how they feel about coming to the dentist or what their worries or concerns might be and hanging on to those things is quite important.

Tilly (28:20.925)
Yeah, absolutely. And I think the kind of non clinical side of things getting to know that person, everyone you always hear kind of don’t treat a stranger get to know the person. And I really think that’s so important get to know that you’re about to put your hands in some stranger’s little bit before I do.

Andy & Chris (28:38.382)

Andy & Chris (28:42.366)
He’s crude isn’t he? Was it Barry Alton who said something like that? He said something like, I never really thought about it. He said, who else puts their hands in your mouth? Yeah, that’s a really good point. I never thought about that.

Tilly (28:50.673)

Tilly (28:55.749)
And also like their head is literally between your legs like where they are is a very vulnerable position You’re then your hands in the mouth It is a lot and it’s I think for making them feel comfortable as well Just getting to know a little bit about I try and find some similarity or something that we can be like Oh, I’ve got a cousin who whatever just to make them feel a little bit more relaxed But honestly the nurses hate it They’re always

Andy & Chris (28:59.787)

Andy & Chris (29:14.644)

Tilly (29:22.741)
rolling their eyes or like tapping their wrists like get on with it we’re running as I work with um they just they’re like you talk so much

Andy & Chris (29:38.343)
That’s good. So you work across three practices. You’ve obviously got a growth mindset in terms of you’re always trying to find new things, do new things and better yourself. Is that part of your logic to work across three practices so you get different experiences and it gets you to learn and acquire different skills?

Tilly (29:57.709)
So I think, yes, initially I was working at two and I was learning such, one was kind of a private practice, one was a mixed practice, but with a more heavy private aspect to it. And just from, forget the dentistry I was doing, just the way that the practices are run and the different bosses and the way the reception was run and the nurses taught me different things. You learn so much. And also from the patients, different demographic of patient.

like to be, I don’t know, spoken to or treated in a slightly different way or I’ve learned to deal with slightly more difficult patients in one area or someone with higher expectations in another area and I think it was just getting like quite a broad base of learning as much as I can and then and this other opportunity came up more recently and I thought cool the amount I can learn from this.

I can’t say no. So at the moment I’m on a bit of a just saying yes to everything and I’ve honestly, yeah, learned so much from the different practices, different bosses. It’s a lot, three practices is a lot. Sometimes I wake up and I’m like, okay, where am I going today? Have I got my loops? But no, as far as kind of me developing as a clinician and working out what sort of dentistry I want to do, where I want to take.

Andy & Chris (31:14.094)
Ha ha.

Andy & Chris (31:22.647)

Tilly (31:23.385)
career, it’s so hard initially to know what you want to do. And I had a student saying to me, oh, I don’t know if I want to specialize in this yet. And I was like, just do a few years of doing a bit of everything. You’ll quickly learn what you love and what you don’t. There’s no rush. And I think at the moment I’m just enjoying keeping trying to do as much of everything as possible. I think I’m done.

Andy & Chris (31:27.563)
Yeah? Hmm.

Andy & Chris (31:36.607)

Andy & Chris (31:45.917)
Mmm, tasty.

Oh right, okay. Andy says a thing, I’ve heard him say it a few times, he says, you know, when you’re starting it’s really good to say yes to everything because as you get older and you learn you can then start to say no to things but if you say no at the beginning, one, you don’t know what you’ve missed and two, people stop asking.

Tilly (32:04.736)

Tilly (32:10.349)
Exactly, exactly. I would completely agree with that. I think you don’t know if it’s a good opportunity to miss unless you do it and say yes. Then in the future you’ll know whether that’s something you want to do again.

Andy & Chris (32:20.347)
Yeah. And even if it turns out to be not great, you will still learn, you will still take something from it. And even if the thing you take from it is, I didn’t enjoy it, I don’t want to do that again, at least you know based on the experience as opposed to what somebody might have said to you about it. Yeah. You’ve said, you’ve used the word like learning, development several times. You obviously go on lots of structured courses as well.

So you’re effectively stacking your skills in terms of the things that you’ve got in your armour, your toolkit. I see you have a requirement to deliver a certain amount of CPD in a year. And CPD is continuing professional development, but I think it could almost be clinical professional development because most dentists spend all of their time on clinical courses. Do you kind of balance it out between non-clinical learning as well as clinical?

or are you certainly in that phase where clinicals, where you’re kind of doubling down on?

Tilly (33:18.293)
Yeah, I think especially so early on, naturally you’re like, right, I wanna go and learn how to do composites, I wanna go and learn how to do all these things because you feel like your skills aren’t good enough yet. So you feel like that’s what we need to improve. And actually, when I started my job with Rajiv Rwala and Amika, they said to me, right, there’s a course that we really recommend that’s to do with

learning about how to do a checkup, like a patient exam. We won’t need to go and do it. We really recommend it. We’ve done it and we think it’s invaluable. And I remember initially being like, why do they want me to go and do a checkup? The easiest part of dentistry, surely. But actually, so I went on this course and they said, look, 50% of your day or less or more is checkups. You will not do any of the.

Andy & Chris (33:59.255)
I’m out.

Tilly (34:14.433)
treatment that you want to do. You won’t be doing composite bonding, you won’t be doing Invisalign, you won’t be doing Krause or anything. If you can’t talk to a patient initially about getting them to book in for the treatment, so the first hurdle in every treatment that you do starts with a checkup. So if you get that first step, 10 out of 10, then you’re going to have patients booking in for the treatment and then get good at that treatment. But if you get 10 out of 10 at composite bonding but no one’s booking in for it, then what’s the point?

Andy & Chris (34:23.031)

Andy & Chris (34:30.374)
Really good point. Yeah, very good point.

Andy & Chris (34:43.373)
There’s no point.

Tilly (34:45.525)
And so I went, probably one of the best courses I’ve done was this PYP course and really, really intense and they break the checkup down into 18 steps I think it is and it’s all about how you deliver your checkup, communicate with the patient and take them through that checkup appointment and it has completely changed the game. Like that was probably one of the…

Andy & Chris (35:09.358)

Tilly (35:12.277)
the most pivotal kind of courses I’ve done as far as me being able to speak to patients and also me having some kind of continuity and not doing a different checkup for a different person. Every dentist, if you just go and watch dentists doing a checkup, everyone does it differently. No, I mean there’s roughly kind of similar things, everyone does a charting and a VPE but the way they go about it is so different considering it’s a checkup and it’s a thing that’s been the most difficult.

Andy & Chris (35:24.594)
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Andy & Chris (35:40.292)
You have to be open to it though, don’t you? Because I think one of the other things is, you know, even you at your relatively young clinical age, there might have been a bit that says, well, you know, why do I need to go on a course about an exam? Why do I need to do that? Whereas you can imagine some older dentists would, you know, I can’t believe you’re making me go on a course. But by the sounds of things, it was a…

brilliant course, as you say, to give you continuity if nothing else. What interests me is that of all the courses you’ve done, the one that you kind of said was the most valuable was actually a non-clinical course. I guess it was all about structuring the surgery, having the communication, having the conversation, planning. You know, like you say, it wasn’t about getting a superb outcome on the look of a composite, which there’s endless courses for that. And we met fairly recently at the Denturama event.

Tilly (36:15.671)

Tilly (36:33.166)

Andy & Chris (36:34.246)
which was great fun and that was effectively creating a theatre style situation that kind of got played out in real time and then we had to kind of observe and decide what went badly and much of it was about communication and either not getting consent or lack of communication or not giving people the full information. The course that you’ve just described is about communication. We’ve had specialists on, people like Barry Alton talk about communication.

Does communication get the airtime that it really needs in dentistry? And is that something back in dental school days that it got kind of highlighted to you, the importance of it?

Tilly (37:16.385)
So no, it’s a short answer.

Andy & Chris (37:19.391)
Thank you very much. Thank you, lovely. Thank you to your next question.

Tilly (37:25.313)
At uni, I mean, it’s hard, right, to teach communication. And I guess they’re trying to make everyone a safe beginner and so focus on the clinical skills. I remember uni communication sessions and you have an actor coming in and it just feels so forced. And I don’t know, the actor’s kind of going extra angry. And I’m just like, no one in the scenario would talk to you like this.

Andy & Chris (37:50.875)
Ah, right, right. Yeah.

Tilly (37:54.237)
I honestly think part of it is just quantity, just speaking to loads of people, getting a bit of experience, yeah, 10,000 hours, just a diverse group of people because there’s so many different kind of personality types. I did a great course very early on, another communication one with James Browsen about, because I was speaking to everyone how I like to be spoken to, kind of chatty, quite upbeat energy.

Andy & Chris (38:01.56)
10,000 amps? Yeah.

Andy & Chris (38:19.598)

Andy & Chris (38:23.205)

Tilly (38:23.805)
I would get some people and they’d come into the clinic and be like, hey, how are you? How’s it going? And they’d be like, yep, good. And I’d be like, oh, they don’t like me. There’s something wrong. They’re not the same energy back. And actually, he taught me quite early on the difference personality types. And actually, those people don’t want to be spoken to like that. And now I’m so much better at reading a person. I know of chameleon effects for them, how they want to be spoken to. And it’s actually quite exhausting.

Andy & Chris (38:32.234)
Ah, yeah, yeah. Mm.

Andy & Chris (38:45.216)


Tilly (38:53.037)
just having that brain switched on and trying to analyze someone. But it makes such a difference and dentistry is so much easier when you get on with the person you’re treating. It makes it a breeze, it makes it enjoyable.

Andy & Chris (39:06.752)

Andy & Chris (39:10.843)
But also I guess you need patient feedback don’t you? If you’re communicating with them on a level that they feel comfortable, they’re much more likely to tell you things that actually could really impact the treatment that you propose. And as Ranj says at that, whatever it was, I can’t remember, a global dental elective about the GDC, he said if you build a relationship you’ll get less complaints.

Tilly (39:31.701)
Yeah, yeah, I mean, I can see that it’s true because you don’t want to complain about one of your friends. If they do something to upset you, you just kind of chat to them about it. Whereas if it’s someone you don’t like and you don’t really know, then you can see how easier it is to just complain. Yeah, so I think, I mean, it’s hard at dental school to add in, but I definitely think in that foundation year, maybe more can be done to

Andy & Chris (39:39.263)

Andy & Chris (39:45.83)
Yeah, there’s no investment.

Andy & Chris (39:58.146)

Tilly (40:01.4)
more space on it I guess.

Andy & Chris (40:02.603)
It’s an interesting one isn’t it, because we do a course called The Blueprint and we do it with Samir Patel actually and one of the things that we have in it is 10,000 hours because you said what we’re all seeing is a lot of the young dentists they want to do composite bonding and do all this stuff and we were saying you know you need to do your 10,000 hours you know and if it’s, especially if it’s in the NHS because you talk to so many people.

that you will fine tune your communication skills, which is what you’re saying, isn’t it? The more people you talk to, surprisingly enough, the better you get at it. Well, you should get at it. But I think there’s a running theme here as well too. If you go back to your school days and dental school and BACD, it doesn’t surprise me at all that you communicate really well with your patients. As a result of that, you’ll get good outcomes. But it’s in a structured fashion. It’s not just chatting for the sake of it.

Tilly (40:40.583)
I’ve had…

Andy & Chris (40:59.054)
actually there’s a purpose behind it. But this is something that you’ve developed as a skill for many years, which I think it sounds like it’s serving you incredibly well.

Tilly (41:07.977)
Yeah, I think it’s also important just to highlight that it doesn’t always go well. And I am still learning and I have had instances with patients where my communication hasn’t been great and it has ended up with… I think I’ve had one major complaint and when I go back to it, it was my communication. That’s what it nestled down to.

Andy & Chris (41:34.702)

Tilly (41:35.673)
and it was nothing clinically that I’d done wrong. The clinical work was fine. But the thing she was complaining about, she actually, I actually got a call from the GDC. She went to the GDC about it. And it, and it, knelt down to, I hadn’t explained the treatment or what we were doing in a way that I understood it, but she obviously hadn’t. So I hadn’t, and that was on, that was on me. You learn so much from that. So,

Andy & Chris (41:51.252)

Andy & Chris (41:57.86)



Tilly (42:03.913)
I think it’s important just to highlight because I know that social media and everything, you see all the highs of everyone. To be aware, we all have mistakes and we all have…

Andy & Chris (42:09.33)
Yeah, definitely.

Andy & Chris (42:14.958)
opposite bonding that fell off. Yeah. Oops. It’s Victoria’s. Victoria Sampson, she would say the same I think when you say that her, because I think she’s been public as she’s about her company. And I think hers was about communication. Because she expected, like you just said that, you’re expecting people to be like you. And I think hers was very similar wasn’t it? It was, she almost, yeah, she sort of expected

I think she said because she felt she could help, that she could relate to everybody, but she said actually there are certain people you can’t really relate to unless you can change the way you relate, if that makes sense.

Tilly (42:56.297)
Yeah, and that’s fine as well. You’re not going to be the best dentist for everyone. And that’s fine if you don’t get on. There will be someone out there who’s a perfect fit.

Andy & Chris (43:02.314)

Andy & Chris (43:09.034)
Yeah, you’ve got so much energy and passion for the profession. Is that passion going to transfer into owning a practice and leading your own team someday?

Tilly (43:20.717)
So I get asked this a lot. Do you know what? At the moment, I’ve got no, like it’s not, I’ve got some goals of what I want to achieve. Owning a practice isn’t one. It’s, at the moment, I don’t know, I love being kind of stuck in with the patients and doing my dentistry, and I’m really enjoying being a wet finger clinician at the moment. I’m learning a lot from being in my different practices about.

Andy & Chris (43:31.942)
is down here.

Tilly (43:48.513)
setting up a squat and how that works. And just the stress of being a principal, a lot of people work. I’m like, do I want to do that? I mean, I know it’s very rewarding and probably one day, I’m not saying I won’t, but at the moment I’ve got no major ambition. I would love to.

Andy & Chris (43:53.999)

Andy & Chris (44:06.194)
There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to have the practice, is there? No, no, it’s fine. I think it’s a shame. Quite often people kind of always have this hierarchy of, you know, an associate and somehow a principal ranks above an associate. Almost apologetic sometimes. Yeah, and it’s not because, you know, as a non-clinician, I mean, or a dentist, I think what you do is truly life-changing. It is ridiculous. And sadly, in our other job…

of selling dental practices. We often see people towards the end of their career and it’s always a bit sad when they’re falling out of love with dentistry because it is such an incredible career and I don’t think any associate should ever feel apologetic. It might be saying like actually I’m happy to do this and I don’t think there’s ever been a better time to be an associate anyway because you know it’s an interesting profession. You can still have your own individual profile through social media platforms.

Do you feel like you’re a business person in your own right as an associate? Do you still feel like you’re running a micro business yourself?

Tilly (45:05.829)
Yeah, to an extent I’m starting to feel a little bit more like that. But I kind of feel… I feel like I found practices where I almost feel like the principal. Like I feel like that practice is, I care about it and like it’s mine, but without the headache and the stress and the paperwork and the staffing issues. So I’m quite enjoying kind of being on that side of things. But yes, I do. As I’m kind of…

Andy & Chris (45:22.544)
That’s great. Lovely.

Tilly (45:33.977)
progressing a little bit, I am feeling like, okay, I do need to focus on myself and my brand and who I’m putting out there as a clinician myself. But I still do feel that affinity and that tie to the practices and as if they’re…

Andy & Chris (45:53.07)
That’s a credit to the principals actually, to have made you feel that. Yeah. Because that’s a real good one, is the fact that you feel that engaged, whereas obviously some associates don’t feel engaged whatsoever. So it’s a real credit to the guys that you’re working with who’ve made you feel that investment. Yeah, Jack Welch said a thing about values and he always says that the best people you can have in a team are people who are performing in terms of delivering the numbers.

Tilly (46:04.897)

Andy & Chris (46:19.982)
So in your world, you know, seeing patients, delivering a gross, but also get the culture and the values that are practised. And you get somebody in a business that performs at a kind of metric level, financial level, and somebody who gets the values and the culture. They are an absolute winner and you want to keep those people all day long. Like I say, I think you tick that box, but as Chris says, I think it’s also credit to the people you’re working with. They’re creating the environment that enables you to be that person.

Tilly (46:46.837)
Yeah, 100%. I mean, all of my principles are incredible and I feel so lucky because they’re so supportive and I think that’s such a key thing to find and I have a lot of friends who aren’t in the same position. So yeah, I put it down to them and building the culture and the values and the team, it makes you feel like you’re part of it. So yeah.

Andy & Chris (46:51.246)

Andy & Chris (46:54.402)

Andy & Chris (47:00.132)

Andy & Chris (47:07.662)
But there again I suppose goes back to your networking that you were saying you got those jobs you got through your networking. It all fits together doesn’t it? It does. Really good. It does. Well done. Hats off. We always wrap up in the same way. We’ve got two questions for you. Dun dun dun. Oh look she’s readjusting herself. Yeah she’s getting herself ready. Serious stuff. So the first question we have for you is if you could be the fly on a wall in a certain situation, when would that be? And who would be there?

Tilly (47:36.313)
Okay, so I’ve actually got two. Am I allowed to?

Andy & Chris (47:40.547)
Oh, come on, will ya?

Tilly (47:43.154)
The first one that I just would find really interesting is I hear so many stories from patients about how awful dentistry was 20, 30, 40 years ago that I actually would find it really interesting to go and be a fly on the wall back then because I think we take for granted being a new mature in these times, the technology that we have, anesthesia, the

Andy & Chris (48:04.758)
and introduce you to my old dentist.

Tilly (48:09.717)
I just think it would be really interesting and make us appreciate where we are. So that would be interesting. And then the other one that just because I’m super nosy during kind of all the all the COVID goings on, I would love to have been a fly on the wall in like party gay and seen what actually went on and seen the goings on and whether they actually had a party and how much fun it was and

Andy & Chris (48:13.831)

Andy & Chris (48:31.743)

Andy & Chris (48:38.75)
And were they really pretending? They were working obviously. My guess is they did have a party and they had a lot of fun. Did you see that thing today though? This will date this but it doesn’t matter really. That thing about Boris was contemplating a raid on drug supplies that had been embargoed in Belgium or Holland or something. Did you not read it? Brilliant. So you know there were some drugs, I don’t know, whatever they were. Who was it? AstraZeneca, wasn’t it?

Tilly (48:40.361)

Andy & Chris (49:05.11)
the EU were blockading drugs or something. So he asked the military to prepare a plan to have a raid to steal the drugs from this facility. Oh my goodness. Yeah, you’ll love it. COVID, no bonkers times. Absolutely ridiculous. And our follow-up question is if you could meet somebody, you can sit down, have a glass of wine, a cup of coffee. Living or dead? Yes. Fact or fiction? Who would you like to meet?

Tilly (49:34.921)
So I think I would like to meet, and I’m undecided on who, but one of the F1 drivers, I’m thinking Daniel Ricciardo because he’s so much fun. He’s so much fun. But he has that great balance of like focus, this is like for his race, there’s nothing that can distract him. And then it’s like the second he’s out of the car, it’s banter, jokey and he’s back to his normal self. And I think that is such a skill and he seems like such a lovely guy.

Andy & Chris (49:43.586)
He’d be fun. Yep.

Andy & Chris (50:01.774)

Tilly (50:03.954)
But I think that would be a look.

Andy & Chris (50:04.522)
I imagine it’s exhausting. I bet going out with him for a night is exhausting. I bet you need a week off to recover.

Tilly (50:10.225)
or it depends what they go through but yeah I think Daniel Ricciardo would be great.

Andy & Chris (50:16.834)
Brilliant. Tilly, it’s been a joy. I’m looking forward to doing another one of these in a few years’ time because I think there’ll be lots of twists and turns in terms of where you are and what you’re doing. But I think already so far you’ve done so much and I think people will take so much from how you’ve approached your career and the success you’ve had. There’s key stepping stones that you’ve used to get you to where you are. So it’s been a fabulous conversation. There’s learning spots in there.

It’s just a conversation, it’s just a… I love it. So thank you very much indeed. No doubt we’ll be seeing one another soon at an event somewhere. But in the meantime, have a lovely day, thank you for your time, and look after yourself. Lovely to see you. Thank you.

Tilly (50:58.873)
Thank you so much, lovely to chat, I’ve really enjoyed it. Thank you. Bye.

Andy & Chris (51:02.434)
Cheers, Teddy. Keep well. Ciao, ciao.


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