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Dentology Podcast with Paul Abrahams


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Transcript – Dentology Podcast with Paul Abrahams

Episode Release Date – Monday 6 May 2024

Andy & Chris (00:00.934)
Here we are again another episode coming our way can’t wait can’t wait this been exciting one one of the legends legends of dentists that leg in So ladies and gentlemen today we have dr. Paul Abraham is joining us Paul is a dentist a very well known dentist very well principle of smile more dental care for 30 years He doesn’t know and officially the coolest guy. Oh, no, he doesn’t welcome Paul. How you doing?

Paul Abrahams (00:07.934)
I’m sure I heard leg ends from this end but anyway…

Paul Abrahams (00:20.85)
I’m alright, thank you. Thanks Andy and Chris for having me. Yeah I’m not sure about, yeah 30 years, bloody long time isn’t it really to be looking in people’s gobs really and that sort of thing. I’m not sure about the coolest person in dentistry, that’s very kind. Yeah very very

Andy & Chris (00:32.16)
Our pleasure.

Andy & Chris (00:36.598)
Isn’t it Israel? It is. It is. But all that wisdom… Oh, no, you are. You are. Whenever I see you, I think when I grew up, I want to be like Paul Abraham. That’s every time I see you, I’m like, that’s who I want to be. Before we get into the dental bit, can we rewind back to the beginning, your childhood? What was it like? Where did you grow up? Parents, siblings?

Paul Abrahams (00:48.914)
Yeah, that’s very kind.

Paul Abrahams (00:59.082)
So I grew up in North London. My parents lived in Wembley Park, actually, a stone’s throw from Wembley Stadium, just on the hill up there. Lots of memories of wandering down the big cup finals and all sorts of things and milling around with the crowds. Great place to be. Great community in Wembley.

Andy & Chris (01:05.358)
Ah, okay.

Andy & Chris (01:16.854)
The original Wembley Stadium is still something to behold. I know the new arch looks good, but it wasn’t the Twin Towers, was it? No. I wonder what the… Hmm. Yep, definitely.

Paul Abrahams (01:24.106)
It’s not the same. It’s not the same. And the era has changed hugely, you know, like lots of London being built up hugely. I’ve got one brother, an older brother, and you know, yeah, just a straightforward childhood, I suppose. Nothing, nothing dramatic in there.

Paul Abrahams (01:48.298)
So yeah, good times. No, no background at all in healthcare. I think like many third generation people of Jewish background and maybe like many of my Asian colleagues, parents were driven to get you to university.

Andy & Chris (01:50.294)
Were they dentists or any dentists in the family?

Paul Abrahams (02:11.274)
son has gone to university and preferably medical, dental or law or accountancy one of the professions it’s just the way it was and I ended up at dental school just the way it was so yeah.

Andy & Chris (02:16.694)

Andy & Chris (02:20.412)
And you were the first generation of your family to go to university, so kind of linking on what you were just saying about your parents’ ambitions for you. Was that quite a big moment in your family?

Paul Abrahams (02:28.082)
Correct, yeah.

Paul Abrahams (02:34.538)
My brother is older, so he went to university. So obviously he was the first. But I think it was in terms of going into one of the notable professions, I suppose. That was a big moment. My mom actually is from a really big family. So my mom is one of nine children. Yeah, really big family from Liverpool. So my dad’s an East Ender, and my mom is.

Andy & Chris (02:44.022)

Andy & Chris (02:55.398)

Paul Abrahams (03:00.426)
So I’ve got lots of cousins.

Andy & Chris (03:01.92)
I will.

Paul Abrahams (03:05.45)
sister actually lived in the south.

Paul Abrahams (03:14.282)
So it was a big.

Andy & Chris (03:16.958)

Paul Abrahams (03:18.762)
for their kids, that’s what they want. Might have changed a little bit now, but yeah, for sure it was a big deal. Very exciting. East London and Liverpool, so really it’s the Jewish community thing. I think my dad, one of my mum’s older brothers introduced my dad. They used to come down and work in London. Lots of, I mean actually even my generation was a very big…

Andy & Chris (03:24.342)
How did East London and Liverpool meet?

Andy & Chris (03:40.214)

Paul Abrahams (03:45.21)
club scene, so not as in nightclub scene, but youth club scene. So the Jewish youth clubs through the 50s, 60s and even into my era in the 70s and 80s were huge. Most of my friends today are people that I met at my youth club when I was a kid, you know, it was a part of a community thing, big factor, and that’s how they met. So through that sort of

Andy & Chris (04:00.374)
Wow. Nice. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (04:09.622)
Hmm. Sincerely, when you hear things like that, that they’ve kind of been lost through time, haven’t they? That kind of…

Paul Abrahams (04:14.89)
totally 100%. I’m not religious, my wife is Catholic actually, I’m Jewish so my kids do whatever they want to do. But the one thing I think that comes from that and still does is the community. I think that’s been driven into me.

Andy & Chris (04:21.846)

Andy & Chris (04:26.198)

Paul Abrahams (04:31.9)
community is so important that support from other people around you maybe of similar background. It’s good and bad to it but you know one thing that’s good in religion is absolutely that community thing. Say that slowly.

Andy & Chris (04:37.142)

Andy & Chris (04:42.774)
Yeah, yeah, definitely. So you graduated back in 1989, some 35 years ago from Guy’s. Just last week I met a guy who’s a dental student in Liverpool at the moment and he was kind of recounting what his experience is like and how he’s finding it. Roll us back to the mid late 1980s. What was dental school like then and what was your experience?

Paul Abrahams (05:08.226)
Well you might agree Andy and Chris, I mean you’re not too far off my ear. I mean you’re obviously much younger men aren’t you? But you know, I would say that the 80s was a golden period. I think we were very fortunate to be brought up in the 80s, to be in our 20s in the 80s.

Andy & Chris (05:15.126)
Of course, well said. I was thinking I’m older than Paul.

Andy & Chris (05:29.91)
Try music. Yeah.

Paul Abrahams (05:30.154)
Sport, you know, Gaza, Italian 90, all those things, you know, it was an amazing era, a live age, you all that sort of stuff, you know, that happens, you know, it’s a big part of my, in 1984, that for me, you know, I lived over the crow from Wembley Stadium, so went to that, it was incredible, you know, it was an amazing era, you know, we’re very, very lucky and at the time, you know, now University of London guys is one of, I think they’ve merged everything, so there’s essentially two.

Andy & Chris (05:36.482)

Andy & Chris (05:45.75)

Mmm. Mmm.

Paul Abrahams (05:58.826)
medical and dental schools. At that period, Guys was one of seven or eight medical dental schools in London, if not more. So it was a big competitive spirit. I played a lot of football. We had inter -hospitals cup. It was a great, fantastic era. I was very fortunate. Say that again? No, no, no. We always had to wear… So I think we’re one of the few professions that I had to wear. Yeah, I had to wear a shirt and tie and a white coat.

Andy & Chris (06:09.558)
Thank you.

Andy & Chris (06:13.366)
The guys from guys always wore a blazer. I seem to remember that was quite often the guys from guys always wore a blazer They always look very smart

Paul Abrahams (06:28.81)
and then you can chuck it all away when you’re qualifying, wear a shirt, t -shirt and put scrubs on the other end. So, you know, it’s, although we did, you know, actually when I started it was shirt and tie for sure. So yeah, there was a formality about it, but it was an amazing, great institution, great memories.

Andy & Chris (06:39.03)

Andy & Chris (06:44.15)
And what was your period from qualification, your own smile more for 30 years, which is…

Paul Abrahams (06:49.098)
So I, my best mate was going out with a hygienist in his final year and that hygienist said, who I got very friendly with, said, oh, you know, my boss is looking for someone, a guy called Morris Weinstein in Southfields, which is a bit of a fit for Paul Abraham’s, to be honest. So I went to, I think I just qualified, we qualified in those days, we qualified in December, not in the summer. So.

Andy & Chris (07:02.824)
Oh. Mm -hmm.

Andy & Chris (07:15.78)
All right.

Paul Abrahams (07:19.338)
a five, four and a half year course, finals and then we qualified, so I qualified December 89. I went down to, I call him Mesh, he’s nine years older than me, went down to his practice, we had a sandwich, taught football, showed me the room which was empty, had nothing in there. He said, when do you want to start? I said, well, he said, I need to get the room ready. I said, well, I’ll come in and paint it for you, don’t worry. We’re gonna start in, I can’t imagine anyone doing that today, we always joke about it. I said, listen, I’ve got a few weeks, I’ll come in and.

Andy & Chris (07:25.206)

Andy & Chris (07:47.804)

Paul Abrahams (07:49.448)
It needs a coat of paint. So I painted my own room and I started in January 1990 in Southfields, just down near Wimbledon as his associate. January 1990.

Andy & Chris (07:57.686)
Wow. So that was January, so that was January 90. But then by 93 you set up a squat, which is a bold move in itself.

Paul Abrahams (08:04.554)

So we, so it was, but Andy, the most important thing about that job is that, and I’m to this very day, he didn’t only become, it wasn’t my boss, he became my mentor, my guide. He was an amazing bloke to work for, very influential on my career. And we set up Smilewall together actually in 1990. So he said, come on, let’s look for another practice. St. John Woods is a great area.

Andy & Chris (08:30.614)
Ah, okay. Oh, right.

Paul Abrahams (08:37.13)
came to look at this place in February, probably 92, freezing cold. My practice is on two floors, it’s tiny, and there was a guy who was working one day.

Jersey, the second floor he would camp overnight.

surprised he was going through a divorce at the time. So essentially just it was a squat. We bought the lease, set it up together and then worked together for probably four or five years and I bought him out eventually with his blessing, with his guidance, with his help, with him saying so at that point I was working, we built it from nothing. I was probably doing two stroke three days a week in Southfields. Maes was doing another day and the tipping point and I was still working like so you had a big income from Southfields.

Andy & Chris (09:09.366)

Andy & Chris (09:18.004)

Paul Abrahams (09:28.81)
And he just said to me, listen, buy me out but you can work for me as long as you want. No problem, stay working with me, I’ll support you. As it happens, I stayed in South Wales for about two months because once you’re in your own practice, different story.

Andy & Chris (09:32.982)

Andy & Chris (09:41.942)
Yeah. Mmm, yeah.

Paul Abrahams (09:45.738)
presence. So I’m not sure, very different times I think and I’m still to this day, I pop round to his place on a Friday night, he’s got a fantastic whiskey bar and we sit chewing a fat over whiskey.

Andy & Chris (09:49.256)

Andy & Chris (09:55.094)
And it’s lovely to hear a story where, you know, he kind of takes you under his wing, shows you the ropes, becomes a mentor. It’s like the mentor role. You’re then in partnership. It finishes nicely because you hear so many horror stories of things not working out. And when you hear that as a really positive experience, it shows people that it can work. It’s not all going to end badly.

Paul Abrahams (10:06.858)
So key.

Paul Abrahams (10:16.938)
It can and I think fundamentally, sometimes by luck, well it is by luck, getting that job was by luck, but I think the people that can influence you early in your career are fundamental to how your career progresses and some of that is choice. I always say with a BACD one of the most, and I think a lot of the young guys would say this, get involved with BACD when they’re students and they come into contact with these people.

Andy & Chris (10:31.99)
Mmm. Mmm.

Paul Abrahams (10:45.418)
open to help them and I think you’ve got to seek that out. You know if you realize you’re in a place where someone is really not supporting you or not helping you, you need to look around and change because that’s what you need in your career. Dentistry is a hard place, it can be a lonely place so that support, mentorship is critical. Yeah you do.

Andy & Chris (10:45.43)

Andy & Chris (10:52.)
Yeah Yeah, yeah you need others to help you down you for sure because as you say Paul it is very lonely We always say to people, you know, you’re a dentist, but then you got all these other things, but ultimately it’s you really Yeah, yeah, no, it’s not it’s not easy

Paul Abrahams (11:15.274)
Yeah, it can be. And we come full circle, so now I’ll sit at his place on the Friday and he’ll ask, I’ve done a whole lot of other stuff, and he’ll ask me, what do think I should do with this? So we have that two -way relationship.

Andy & Chris (11:28.15)
Lovely. Given all your experience, I’d like to get your take on, I’ve got a few topics I’d like to get your take on. No, no, we’ll run through them one by one. People, how have the people in dentistry changed over the decades? Decades. It is.

Paul Abrahams (11:36.202)
this sounds frightening Andy go on

Paul Abrahams (11:45.77)
I don’t know that we’ve changed. I think people are people and dentistry is a reflection of society. You’ve got a whole cross section of people within dentistry. Possibly one of the things that we’ve seen emerge in the last few years is entrepreneurs in dentistry. I don’t think that really was the case. Few and far between if you go back 20 years ago, whereas today a lot of the young guys come through and they have this entrepreneurial drive which, you know, multiple practice ownership.

all sorts of stuff going on in the background. It’s crazy. I don’t know how they do it. I really admire them. And we’re seeing some tremendous young guys coming through, making huge contributions to our industry, which is so great to see. So I think that has changed. But people are people. We attract all sorts, right?

Andy & Chris (12:34.326)
Yeah. And I agree. There is a very much more of a business flavor to dentistry than there was before. What about, oh no, no, it’s a good thing. Good thing. You’re an embrace of technology. I guess when you started out, there wasn’t much digital tech in dental practice. So that must’ve been transformation.

Paul Abrahams (12:44.074)
100 % which is good not bad it’s good.


Paul Abrahams (12:56.042)
there wasn’t so it was and the first thing and again I talked about my mentor but he was always pushing the boundaries so he had computers in the practice before most people had them doing the other day to day stuff I think the first thing that we got was an interaural camera you know this thing you stuck in someone’s mouth and you could show them their tooth I mean that was a game changer and then obviously it evolves from that so yeah I couldn’t practice without my digital tech.

Andy & Chris (13:02.454)

Hmm Yeah

Paul Abrahams (13:23.626)
I’ve got this little room and I’m surrounded by three, well actually I’ve just sold one, so two scanners. But you know, my, and this again comes a little bit from Meish, but my fundamental ethos is the only constant is change. Things are going to change whether you like it or not and if you’re not going to change then someone, some guy is going to set up the corner and be doing things better than you are doing. So I think that’s a really key.

Andy & Chris (13:37.366)
Yeah Yeah Yeah We’ve kind of touched on it just sort of around the edges with loneliness Well -being is obviously a huge topic at the moment

Paul Abrahams (13:51.626)
particularly today in dentistry, particularly in the last decade, things have changed beyond any recognition in how we work.

Huge issue.

Andy & Chris (14:07.638)
Has the stress of dentistry, has it always been there? Has it always been the case? Or do you think the stress is increasing as the years go by? Hmm. Hmm.

Paul Abrahams (14:13.354)
I think the stress has always been there. I don’t think we hear about it more, you know, social media, all that type of stuff. Look, there was a period where we were, I mean, when we bought this practice and we had to refurbish. So we had a builder, guy said six weeks be done. He started the work in, I think, September of whenever it was, 93.

Andy & Chris (14:24.694)

Andy & Chris (14:34.902)

Andy & Chris (14:39.254)
Oh my goodness.

Paul Abrahams (14:41.226)
We worked for a few months and then ripped off. We’ve got a little flat roof and a flat roof at the back. There’s a shop underneath. Ripped the roof off, disappeared. We had the worst rainfall we’ve ever had in October. This is stressful. The woman from downstairs came upstairs and said, I’m knee deep in water in my shop. What are you going to do about it? That was… So all those stresses, we’ve all been through those stresses. And then, you know, working, trying to work. We got through it. Took six months, not six weeks, but we got through it.

Andy & Chris (15:08.438)
It’s probably more vote.

Paul Abrahams (15:12.81)
And then just building a business, you know, it took us a few years to take any money out. I mean, honestly, I was working in four different practices at one point. I’ve got four kids, you know, I had at that time when we had that was my first child was born in 93. We had children pretty quickly. So I think all those things have always been there and we all deal with it in different ways. Right. So. It is more vocal. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (15:34.198)
I think that’s the thing is people now talk about it more. Yeah, which is which is good. Yeah. Yeah Hmm I think in some ways it might it might be mildly comforting that it’s not getting worse because I think there might be the perception that it’s becoming More stressful and things getting harder, but I think perhaps it it’s just been talked about a bit more

Paul Abrahams (15:39.722)
I mean listen, you need, you know, we all deal with stress in different ways. You’ve got the support of people around you, family support, all that type of stuff. You know, we all go.

Paul Abrahams (15:54.858)
I don’t think so. Look, I think, you know, we have to acknowledge that things like litigation have increased. That wasn’t, I don’t think that was really on my radar 25 years ago. So yes, and that is stressful for people. I acknowledge that is definitely one thing that’s changed and people feel threatened by that. And then obviously not supported by the health service. That’s…

Andy & Chris (16:03.958)
Yeah, yeah.

Andy & Chris (16:17.718)
Yep Hmm Hmm I suppose they’re different stresses on there since that also thing, you know, it’s Running your business. No matter what it is has never really been easy. No, there’s always issues that I think the thing is that people are more vocal about it or prepared to say Oh, I’m stressed

Paul Abrahams (16:20.682)
I’m very fortunate to have worked in private practice for most of my career and I consider myself to be very lucky. Those stresses are immeasurable.

Bye -bye.

Paul Abrahams (16:38.282)
There’s always something.

Andy & Chris (16:47.478)
maybe they might not be stressed. It’s an interesting one, isn’t it? I think sometimes the pendulum can swing the other way. Yeah. Yeah. And on the business of dentistry, Paul, would you say that that’s now like a non -negotiable? You need to have decent business skills to own and run a dental practice, perhaps compared to days gone by?

Paul Abrahams (17:06.666)
I think, look, I think, again, it’s these two things of we have the obvious entrepreneurial approach to Densha, I mean, without those business skills you’re going to be lost. And then there’s what most people are in, is everyday dental practice, running their own business. They can be learned, but yeah.

Andy & Chris (17:15.734)
Hmm. Hmm.

Paul Abrahams (17:24.938)
There’s not enough of that on an undergraduate level, just the fundamentals. But I think my kids would say there’s not enough of that in life. None of my children are in dentistry yet. They would always say that they felt they weren’t taught enough about business before they graduated. So yeah, absolutely. But there’s all the resources there now. That’s the point, particularly with dentistry, to go out and learn those things. In the old days, we relied on…

Andy & Chris (17:32.022)
Yes. Yeah. Yeah, to learn it. Which is a good thing. Oh, Frank Taylor. Yeah, yeah. So…

Paul Abrahams (17:51.466)
the guy that we worked for to point us in the right direction. I’m still learning that stuff. Honestly, you know, never stops.

Andy & Chris (18:01.59)
Five years ago you sold out to Dentex, which is now part of Portman Dentex. How did that process go for you?

Paul Abrahams (18:09.354)
For me, it went really smoothly. I still maintain that. I know some people would say it’s not such a smooth process. I wasn’t thinking about selling my business. I’ll be 59 in January, so I was 53. It wasn’t something that was on my mind. Someone apart from Dentx Portman approached me and maybe not wanted to buy me.

Andy & Chris (18:31.958)

Paul Abrahams (18:37.322)
that I’m very friendly with Roald Dossie.

must have been talking to Rahul about it. He said, listen, I’ve got involved with this business called Dentex. It’s fundamentally different to anything that’s been there before. It’s early days. Maybe you should consider joining us. And that’s where it went. We had discussions. And it just seemed like there was always a risk in it. Their fundamental difference was, as a partner within Dentex, you’ve still got to share in the business.

Andy & Chris (19:00.246)

Paul Abrahams (19:07.946)
There was this element of taking shares in the bigger business if you wanted to as part of your attention. But I felt I wasn’t totally relinquishing control that way. But it was a little bit of a jump because at that point, I think there was only 20 practices in the group. We didn’t know where it was going to go. My lawyer said to me,

got retention of 20 percent you might as well forget about it because you might never see it so that’s a jump or a leap you’ve got to take if you’re prepared to do that and it’s worked for me you know it’s been great support particularly through Covid you know that’s unbelievable really.

Andy & Chris (19:29.846)
I’m pleased it’s worked out. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And your work style now is three clinical days, you do some clinical engagement lead work at Portman and you also lecture. Is that kind of the mixture that you’ve got and that works for you? You’ve said before that…

Paul Abrahams (19:46.122)

Yeah, it is. Yeah, yeah I love it. I’m really enjoying it.

Andy & Chris (19:59.062)
When you did the lecturing, when you started lecturing, you didn’t particularly enjoy it, you didn’t like it, what?

Paul Abrahams (20:04.33)
I don’t know if I can use this. I used to shit myself, honestly, and Ingrid. I couldn’t, you know, I found it really difficult to stand up in front of people and I just couldn’t do it. I found it really hard. But what the BACD gives you is that pathway. So they would say, you know what, come and just talk in front of, I remember going with Zachy Canan the first time I ever did it. You know, Zachy was younger than me, but being involved for a while and absolutely natural when it comes to lecturing.

Andy & Chris (20:22.774)
Yeah Hmm And so I weaned yourself in yeah

Paul Abrahams (20:32.266)
We went and did, I think, a study club in Liverpool, wherever it was. Yeah, it was definitely Liverpool, because I remember Daz being there, Daz Singh. So that was probably the first time I stood in front of 10 people. And then you progress. You start doing a little bit more of it. I got involved with Align doing some stuff with them. And they actually did some formal training, which was really useful. I’ve done a couple of other bits with, I did something with Ashley Latter on presentation skills. That was really worthwhile.

Andy & Chris (20:53.27)

Paul Abrahams (20:59.498)
and then suddenly you’re standing up in front of 100 people or 150 people and enjoying it. And I do enjoy it now, you know, it’s completely different. I can’t believe that shift has happened, but there’s a tipping point. I think for me again, I did quite a lot and then became BACD president and then…

Andy & Chris (21:09.398)
at your personality.

Paul Abrahams (21:18.698)
What I realised was I had to give that presentation at the beginning of conference, which was for me a really big deal in front of my peers, in front of all the ex -presidents, whatever. And I really prepared it. And I had a little bit of help along the way from some of the guys on the board. Big shout out to Sam Jeff were there who really helped me with the presentation. But I realised that I prepared properly for what was a really important thing for me to do. And…

Andy & Chris (21:21.91)

Andy & Chris (21:28.95)

Andy & Chris (21:46.134)
Mm -hmm.

Paul Abrahams (21:47.658)
Because of that, I could have shut my lab shop, closed my eyes, and I could have just ruled off. And it was a very comfortable place to be. So I think it’s just, you’ve got to prepare for these things. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (21:58.326)
of preparation. It must be hard at mustn’t it really? You know we do lots of speaking but we don’t speak to anybody who who probably knows more than we do not be big -headed about we talk about business and practice hours and markets and most of the people we’re talking to. You’re a specialist subject. Whereas it must be very different if you’re talking to a bunch of dentists who are your peers who have similar skills or maybe even better it must be quite interesting I hadn’t really thought about that but it must be…

Paul Abrahams (22:24.586)

I suppose but as you, it is nerve -racking, but as you progress you’re getting older. So you have been doing it for a long time and actually then you’re in the room with people who are mostly younger than you and you should know more than them. So that’s the fear actually, standing for if you’re teaching something it’s like do they know more than me sort of thing. I love doing the small stuff, I love doing hands -on teaching with a group of 20. I love that type of stuff, I really enjoy that particularly because you really feel you can give something.

Andy & Chris (22:27.83)
a touch more nerve -wrecking.

Andy & Chris (22:38.966)
Ha. Ah, shit.

Andy & Chris (22:44.438)

Andy & Chris (22:49.782)

Andy & Chris (22:54.55)

Paul Abrahams (22:56.01)
But the other stuff, yeah, you know, you realize that, you know, I am the oldest person in the room, so that’s all right. They’re looking at me thinking he probably does know what he’s doing. Yeah. Yeah, just, you know, those days are great. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (23:01.206)

It’s a hoot, I love it. I think we both love it. It’s like you, I think we’ve grown to love it and it’s just really enjoyable to impart knowledge to other people. So, your ex -president of the BACD, one of the founding members of the BAPD, so it gives you great insights in terms of dentists thinking the direction.

What’s your view on the current availability of dentists to meet patient demand? There’s a shift towards many dentists now and you’re working two, perhaps three clinical days a week. Where are we heading in terms of that direction?

Paul Abrahams (23:41.194)
We clearly haven’t got enough people, have we? I mean, that’s clearly the health service is a mess. You know, it’s, we consistently hear government talk about increased funding, blah, blah, blah, blah. And the whole thing needs ripping up and starting again. It’s fundamentally flawed the system. So I think we’re…

Andy & Chris (23:43.318)

Paul Abrahams (24:01.642)
heading into trouble. When people can’t get, you know, there was an art piece on the news this morning about cancer care and access to, I don’t know if you saw it, you know, people not getting to cancer care quick enough, you know, that’s killing people, you know, and, but at the same time, we all know the link between dental health and systemic health.

Andy & Chris (24:07.894)
Nah. I did, yeah.

Andy & Chris (24:15.03)

Paul Abrahams (24:21.738)
we’ve got whole swathes of the population that can’t get basic dental healthcare. It’s not right, is it? And I’m not sure what the answer is. Bringing in people from abroad is not the answer, aren’t trained properly. I think it’s not, it’s not, yeah.

Andy & Chris (24:25.654)

Andy & Chris (24:30.102)
I mean, that’s been.

Andy & Chris (24:33.846)
Well, I was just going to say that that’s one of the solutions that’s been suggested is fast -tracking overseas dentists into the UK system.

Paul Abrahams (24:40.842)
I don’t see that as a help. I think that that’s going to create more problems. We need, clearly probably need to train more people, but that’s not going to happen overnight. Can we force, you know, I did by, I did optional VT, so I did a year of VT when I started. Should there be big hubs where newly graduated students go in and support the health service? There’s lots of ways probably it could be done.

Andy & Chris (24:55.062)

Andy & Chris (25:08.278)
Yeah. Over the years, you’ve probably seen this through your own career and probably within your practice. Are hygienists and therapists being used to the extent they could or should?

Paul Abrahams (25:09.002)
But unless there’s will from government, it’s not going to happen.

Paul Abrahams (25:23.082)
myself include, I mean I’ve got hygienists, again the guy I worked for he was introducing hygienists before anyone was introducing hygienists so I was in that environment anyway. I did have a therapy trained hygienist that I underused and I think that is a way forward for sure, they should be doing more. When I see people like who I’ve worked with in the lecture with someone like Edne the skill she has and what she can do and I know most

Andy & Chris (25:24.822)

Andy & Chris (25:30.742)

Paul Abrahams (25:51.402)
the therapists are going to be like that, we’re underusing them for sure in general practice. But then again, I think there’s a whole swathe of younger guys coming through and realising the potential of these people, integrating them into their teams and utilising them more. But that’s the tip of the iceberg though guys, that’s not the general norm. And you know, again, I suppose I’m relatively privileged and the people I deal mixed with and whatever, that’s a very small percentage of what’s going on in everyday practice.

Andy & Chris (25:55.03)

Andy & Chris (26:04.534)
Oh no, no no.

Andy & Chris (26:18.678)

Paul Abrahams (26:22.026)
I’m constantly with people who want to do courses, do this kind of stuff. What I found being with in Portland Dentex is we’re going from the BACD where we would put on a course and people fall over themselves to come and attend to being within a big group where there’s thousands of dentists and a big swathe that we’re struggling to engage with to take part in education. It’s more than normal. I get it. I kind of get it. They’re busy in practice.

Andy & Chris (26:43.606)
It’s interesting, isn’t it, that they don’t want to engage with the education. It’s quite interesting.

Paul Abrahams (26:52.394)
there’s things available online there’s lots of other resources but yeah it’s a shame.

Andy & Chris (26:58.134)
You’d have thought you’d do something, well I suppose you’d come back to time, don’t you? I suppose if you haven’t got the time to do it or whatever. Yeah. But it does feel like something has to change and there’s got to be an unlock of some sort, hasn’t there, to create the capacity to meet patient demand.

Paul Abrahams (27:00.618)
It’s time financial pressures there’s so many factors about.

Paul Abrahams (27:15.69)
Will the change of government do it? I don’t know. I think the BDA have let us down. I don’t think they’re doing anything for the profession. I’m going to come off the fact I gave up my BDA membership years ago. I just don’t think the BDA is like a shop. It sells things. I don’t think it supports the industry the way it should do. That’s why the BAPD became important, particularly for private industry. And there’s some guys on that doing some great stuff.

Andy & Chris (27:25.526)

Andy & Chris (27:33.366)
Yeah, lots of people feel the same, don’t they?

Paul Abrahams (27:45.674)
say who really give a lot of time and are really trying to put pressure on but when I was in the BAPD I was seeing you know you can see

Paul Abrahams (27:56.01)
the layers I have to go through before I can have any impact.

Andy & Chris (27:57.814)
Yeah Yeah, I think it’s the thing that you said I think lots of people still put it in the category of teeth without thinking about the link to systemic health and If you can kind of make sure that teeth are well looked after it can actually help with so many other health related issues But that that that that joining the dots doesn’t seem to be kind of there or happening quick enough Yes

Paul Abrahams (28:14.57)
We’ll see what we can do about that.

Paul Abrahams (28:20.778)
But that’s health care full stop. So diets, processed foods, all these things are a fundamental problem to people’s health. It’s not talked about. You don’t see it generally talked about. It’s all about horses bolted will give you some tablets type of thing. But it’s not good.

Andy & Chris (28:31.35)

Andy & Chris (28:37.366)

No, you’ve got a wealth of experience, Paul. What’s the one thing that you’ve figured out that most people haven’t over your career and dentistry? What’s the thing that you go, ah, now I see it?

Paul Abrahams (28:52.042)
look, I don’t know what I have. I think the profession is what we do is about people. You would come back to that people thing, treat people well, you know, talk to your patients in the right way. It’s all about communication. I think that’s where a lot of people are flawed in what they do. It’s just how we communicate things to people. You know, when things go wrong, how do you address that? How do you know?

Andy & Chris (29:09.59)

Paul Abrahams (29:16.362)
I don’t think things haven’t gone wrong for me, of course they have, but I’m quite happy to pick up the phone and say to someone, what can I do? Where do we need to go? Do you want your money back? What do we do? And that’s in talking about treatments as well. It’s just about being… Tell people what’s wrong with them. It’s everything. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (29:17.942)

Andy & Chris (29:32.904)
That relationship thing is massive isn’t it? We went to something where we listened to Raj, wasn’t it Raj Ratan and he was saying that if you’ve got a relationship with your patient you can do most things. He says you know even if you’ve made an error or whatever but if the relationship’s right you can explain it. He said as opposed to if you haven’t got a relationship you’re in trouble really because you’re a professional who might have cocked it up. But then also it goes back to so…

Paul Abrahams (29:49.898)
You’re stuffed.

Paul Abrahams (29:58.666)

Andy & Chris (30:02.294)
we hear that in dental schools, there’s always been…

Andy & Chris (30:15.99)
does the people, communication and relationships need to start earlier at dental school where the students learn the value of people?

Paul Abrahams (30:20.49)
Yeah, again, at dental school, importantly, the people you’re working with when you start to see how that person does that. You know, be honest with yourself. Look, I was again 16, I was working on the markets, 14, what am I talking about? You know, that’s the best place to learn how to deal with people. We were, I used to sell hats. I’ve got a few friends who always joke about this, but I used to sell hats. A friend of my dad’s used to sell hats. And in that period there was…

In the late 70s it was pork pie hats.

Andy & Chris (30:50.806)

Paul Abrahams (30:53.482)
We used to have on our stand, half the stand was pork pie hats, half the stand was felt hats for the West Indian community. So we’d have all the mods queuing up for their pork pies on one side and all the West Indian ladies trying on their felt hats for Sunday on the other. So that was a great place. And I know when I was a student, I worked in Marks and Spencer’s. They train people. They were well ahead of the curve in training their staff how to deal with their customers. That’s what they were really good at. And I think I probably learned a lot of good customer stuff there.

Andy & Chris (31:20.822)

Paul Abrahams (31:23.388)
want to prepare the words, really important.

Andy & Chris (31:24.982)
You have to do this stuff. It’s fascinating, isn’t it? Again, the number of people who we find who don’t necessarily want to do some of that hard graft work but want the results when actually you’ve just got to do the 10 ,000.

Paul Abrahams (31:36.97)
saying I worked any harder than anyone else Andy, Chris. But I think you know certainly all my kids have done part -time work when they were students and that. I think a lot that’s lost because people are being you know these kids are driven so hard academically they’re so busy doing this sport, that sport. None of them get that kind of sort of experience that we might have had when we were younger so I think I think that is important.

Andy & Chris (31:56.214)
Hmm Hmm Hmm Hmm Yeah, you get to talk to various different people I think it is about who you talk to isn’t it? Cross -section of society helps you you say about you say about you kids poor you’ve got four children They’re all grown up. You talk a lot about people and relationships I imagine your family is incredibly important to you, but they’re kind of they’re spread out around the world aren’t they?

Paul Abrahams (32:06.602)

Paul Abrahams (32:25.194)
Yeah, no, I’ve got, well, my oldest daughter is, I can’t believe it’s 30, that’s not true, is it? I’m only laughing at my auntie, that can’t be true. Sorry, Chloe, we were joking, she was here yesterday. It’s gonna be 31 in June, so we were laughing. She works in the music business.

Andy & Chris (32:31.51)

Paul Abrahams (32:42.954)
So she works for Ticketmaster, got quite a big role, always had a love for music. She, yeah, good for tickets. No, no, come full circle, she’s great for tickets. Been to some amazing gigs in the last few years because of Chloe and all her siblings benefit from it. But she lived in Berlin for a couple of years. Back in London now, but loves to travel. She’s all over the place with work. My oldest son, Oliver, is in Australia and he’s been there since he was 19. He left

Andy & Chris (32:48.022)
It’s handy if you need tickets.

Paul Abrahams (33:12.86)
school, didn’t go to uni, done everything, all good work ethic just works, he now works in fund management so unbelievable, I can’t believe he’s doing all that after this but he’s 28. Number three Leah is in real estate in London but she’s about to travel, she’s giving up her work and number four is at uni down in Brighton.

Andy & Chris (33:22.55)

Andy & Chris (33:35.99)
How often do you get to physically all get together as a family? Is it quite challenging now with them all over the place?

Paul Abrahams (33:38.25)
Well, they were so three of them were with us. It was Mother’s Day this weekend. So one came on a Saturday down from Brighton. The two girls were home on Sunday. And obviously all of a being in Australia, a bit tricky, can’t just pop over.

Andy & Chris (33:47.318)
All right.

Nice. Sweet.

Andy & Chris (33:56.854)
Yes, pretty cool really tickets so you can get tickets for anything if you need a house your suit You know if you’re sorted and also you’ve got you’ve got a son who could look after your wealth result

Paul Abrahams (34:01.226)
Well, that’s not a public release. If you need a ticket for something. Chris, if you need a ticket, contact Paul Abraham. That’s not the broadcast. Tickets for anything. No, we’ve been really great with that. I’m a big sports fan and I love my music, so she’s got me some great gigs and stuff. It’s been really good.

Andy & Chris (34:12.47)
Yeah, what we’ll do is we’ll put it in the bio notes. We’re setting him up.


Andy & Chris (34:26.774)

But you’re not just a fan, are you? You still play, I mean, you’re a massive Arsenal fan. There’s lots of people. Good man. Are you going tonight, Paul? Good, I’ll see you there tonight, my friend. But you also…

Paul Abrahams (34:34.186)
yeah i am going tonight yeah yeah where yeah it should be fun yeah it’s gonna be a tricky one

Andy & Chris (34:41.942)
Yeah, yeah, but I think I think if we play with that sorry Andy So if we play with the passion that we’ve shown I think we’d be fine So this is going out this will be going out after the event Arsenal are playing Porto tonight and you lost the first leg and you need to put it back in a second. Yeah, we weren’t really on by the time this gets released the The result will be known you’d either be in the next round or you’ll be out, but you still play football as well. Don’t you Paul? That’s impressive

Paul Abrahams (34:52.65)
Yeah. One day over, yeah.

Paul Abrahams (34:58.698)
We could be out. Yeah.

I do, I do. It’s getting harder. So I play, I’ve always played, I think it’s one of those things you’ve always played, you can keep going. I’ve always played, you know, there’s a group of guys I play with on Sunday morning, I can play in a seven -a -side game. Same boys have been playing for, you know, 20 years, if not longer. No, no, proper football, I do walk a little bit, and I play in a competitive league.

Andy & Chris (35:23.094)
Wow. Is it walking football?

Andy & Chris (35:31.35)
God, dearie me, I’m impressed.

Paul Abrahams (35:31.53)
It’s getting harder that. So we play, it’s a veterans league, gotta be over 45 now to be in the league, so it’s getting harder. Because we’ve got a game at the weekend and the team we’re playing will probably be more loaded with 40 to 50 year olds than 50 to 60 year olds, which is more our team. So it does get harder. I picked up an injury.

Andy & Chris (35:49.014)
But yeah.

Paul Abrahams (35:54.122)
hammered about eight weeks ago and cracked the head of my fibula. So that’s my first game actually for first 11 aside going for eight weeks. It’s getting harder.

Andy & Chris (35:57.942)

Andy & Chris (36:02.518)
Ouch. But you said something, Paul, I think you kind of glossed over, which is if you keep doing something, you can keep doing it. And I think if you’ve been doing something for a long while, like playing football, whatever the standard, whatever the level, there’s a level of fitness that just keeps there. And whilst the game might get slower and whilst you might not play as frequently, I think if you can maintain a level of fitness as we move into kind of slightly later life, I think that helps massively.

Paul Abrahams (36:27.69)
I think anyone would say that.

Again, a point of my mentor again, I only refer back to him because he’s a massive fitness fanatic. One of his boys is a personal trainer and he’s out in South Africa and always just got back. I think he’s back. It’s there tomorrow. He’s done the Argos in South Africa, which is a cycle ride. I mean, he’s 60, 67. He’s strong as an ox, you know, and the bottom line is, I think that’s also key in terms of mental health, in terms of being able to do what we do.

Andy & Chris (36:47.126)
Right, yeah, yeah, yeah. Hmm.

Andy & Chris (36:53.206)
Wow. Good for him. Good for him.

Paul Abrahams (37:00.124)
we do. If you’re not well in yourself physically it’s a hard job to do and I think if you know I think when you get into your 50s if you’re not well physically and it’s a struggle then it’s a struggle if that makes sense. Going in on a Monday morning is a struggle because you know you’re going to be hurting by lunchtime or so it’s really important to look out you know again look after your own health.

Andy & Chris (37:05.27)

Andy & Chris (37:23.83)
Yeah, has being involved in football, working with other people, managing a sports environment helped with your dentistry team in terms of managing different teams?

Paul Abrahams (37:35.018)
I think so. I think anyone who’s been involved with sport would say that. There is nothing, and mental health as well by the way, especially for men, there is nothing like being in a change room on a Sunday morning with 12 blokes, whether you’re 16, 17, 30, 40 or 55, the banter doesn’t change. And you know, it’s, yeah, and being part of a team, team ethic.

Andy & Chris (37:43.894)

Paul Abrahams (38:01.514)
It’s really important, I think that’s fundamental.

Andy & Chris (38:04.662)
Yeah, that banter thing so funny I do I do golf I don’t play golf but my wife will tell me after we’ve been away and she says what do you all talk about and I said stuff really and she says well What have you got to talk about? I said well stuff really and I think it’s the same Conversations that have occurred as you say over the decades. Yeah

Paul Abrahams (38:07.05)
Oh, the bans of things, everything. Yeah.

Paul Abrahams (38:23.05)
Yeah, listen, some guys will go into a change room and they talk about things in their marriage or things that are depressing them or whatever. They might not know they’re doing it because they feel like they’re in a safe environment. I can’t put it in any other terms. So sometimes, you know, it’s a bit like someone sitting in our chair. Yeah, they’re sitting in a chair and I’ll say, how are you? And half an hour later, I haven’t heard anything about teeth. It’s just…

Andy & Chris (38:29.75)

Andy & Chris (38:33.782)
Yeah. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (38:40.406)
great outlook. Yeah, that’s true.

Andy & Chris (38:49.558)

Paul Abrahams (38:49.706)
some of those patients that I’ve known for years will unleash. Yeah, it’s exactly that word, safe environment, so key.

Andy & Chris (38:54.262)
It’s safe, isn’t it? You’re a safe place. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Paul, we know you have patients waiting for you this afternoon. So before you go, we have two final questions we’d like to ask you. You can be a fly on the wall in a situation. Where are you and who’s there?

Paul Abrahams (39:11.978)
Is this going to be sport? I would have loved to have been in the changing room at half time when Arsenal were playing Liverpool at Anfield and have to win 2 -0 to clinch the title. And were we 1 -0 up at half time? I can’t remember. I think we were always at 0 -0 at half time. I meant to…

Andy & Chris (39:13.942)

Andy & Chris (39:22.102)
Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Andy & Chris (39:28.566)
I can’t remember now, but I do remember I broke the sofa.

Paul Abrahams (39:32.618)
Yeah, yeah. So I would love to have known what George Graham said to those boys because no one won at Anfield in those days. No one wins there now. But I’d love to have known what the psychology was there, what they were saying. They’ve got them over the line, that sort of thing. In that kind of situation, or, you know, when someone’s in a fight or what do those people, how do they motivate them?

Andy & Chris (39:44.502)

Andy & Chris (39:53.014)
Yeah, it’s high pressure. You’ve only got a few minutes and you have to galvanize people and get something different from them in the next 45 minutes. And how did Michael Thomas come up with that very bizarre goal celebration?

Paul Abrahams (40:07.818)
what I would have done in that situation but it might have been something similar. I think it was the disbelief.

Andy & Chris (40:11.784)
And our follow -up is if you could meet somebody who would you like to sit down and have a coffee or wine or whiskey with?

Paul Abrahams (40:19.242)
I would love to love to have met Freddie Mercury.

Andy & Chris (40:23.382)
Oh, yeah.

Paul Abrahams (40:25.482)
coffee with him and hear a little bit about his life and what rocks his boat. I think we knew what rocked his boat but…

Andy & Chris (40:27.734)
Yeah, yeah. I, I’d only just left school and they did a gig at Nebworth House and me and my mate Gary Moon, we only had enough money for one ticket between us. So we never went and I never got to see him perform live and I regret massively not getting to see Queen live. My wife’s from at Live Aid.

Paul Abrahams (40:50.282)
I mean those two great yeah yeah Live Aid and then the year later at Wembley and that year later at Wembley was probably the best gig I’ve ever been to in my life when he was at right at his peak you know on the back of Live Aid yeah kind of magic all that kind it was just a beautiful evening and it would love to have had dinner with Freddie Mercury.

Andy & Chris (40:55.67)
Yeah. Yeah.

Right, yeah. Yeah.

Yes, the Renaissance wasn’t it? Live action. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (41:09.75)
Yeah, he’s a wonderful guy, a wonderful guy. I bet he has some stories to tell. I bet you’ve been along, didn’t I? I bet he’d have been a scream, an absolute scream. Paul, thank you very much indeed, absolute joy. Yeah, brilliant, thank you. Thank you for squeezing us into your busy day. Keep well and no doubt we’ll be bumping into another soon at an event. Look after yourself. Yes. Cheers, Paul. Cheers, man. Bye -bye.

Paul Abrahams (41:15.882)
I bet he did. Yeah, it would have.

Paul Abrahams (41:24.394)
It’s a pleasure guys. See you soon, probably see it at the BIA. Take care, thanks guys. See ya, bye.


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