Two Bupa dentists were named finalists for nine awards between them at the Aesthetic Dentistry Awards last week. Richard Lee, Associate Dentist at Bupa Dental Care in Devonshire Square, London, was named a finalist in eight categories - Patient’s Choice, Implant – Single Tooth, Orthodontics Invisalign, Restorative Single Tooth Ceramic, Restorative Ceramic Smile Makeover, Restorative Composite, Smile Makeover, Restorative Single- Tooth Composite, Tooth Whitening. Meanwhile, Zena Aseeley, Associate Dentist at Bupa Dental Care Cardiff – The Parade, was named a finalist in the Tooth Whitening category.
Richard won the award for Restorative Ceramic Smile Makeover and was Highly Commended in the Restorative Single Tooth Composite, Tooth Whitening, Restorative Composite Smile Makeover, and Restorative Single Tooth Ceramic categories.
He said: “I am delighted to receive these awards - it is always gratifying to be judged and recognised by one’s peers. For me this really is about the team and it was great that we were able to celebrate together.”
We caught up with Richard and Zena following the awards ceremony to find out about their career journeys, what they love most about being a dentist and who inspires them.
Tell us about your career journey and where it started.
Richard: I qualified from Birmingham in 1999 and moved to London after completing my Vocational Training year. I spent a few years in mixed general practice but became disillusioned, lost my way a little and stopped enjoying what I was doing. I decided to take a year off from dentistry and indulge my other passion by working for a year as a Dive Guide in the Red Sea. On my return in 2005 I knew I needed to find something which would reignite my passion for dentistry - and I found it by luck.
Following a chance recommendation, I secured the last place on Chris Orr’s one-year cosmetic and aesthetic dentistry course. This changed everything for me. It introduced me to photography, composite bonding, adhesive ceramic restorations and so much more. It allowed me to see the dentist that I wanted to become and created a huge drive to achieve that.
I undertook training and courses in the US, Switzerland and Italy as well as back in the UK. I became part of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry which put me in touch with like-minded colleagues and was honoured to become one of 15 dentists nationally to become accredited by them. I am lucky enough to receive referrals from colleagues for all types of cases from complex full mouth rehabilitations to more ‘straightforward’ cases.
Zena: I joined Bupa Dental Care in 2015 after moving back to Cardiff after working in London for five years. I was looking for the right clinic to join, as in dentistry it’s so important to have a supportive team around you. And that’s exactly what I have here.
What do you love most about your role?
Richard: It will sound like a cliché but helping people. Whether that be aesthetically or functionally. For patients to look back at their ‘before’ photos and say “How did I walk around like that for so long?” or just to see the confidence that they gain from being able to speak, laugh and smile without trying to hide their teeth is wonderful.
Zena: I love the ability to be able to change people’s attitudes towards dentistry and their oral health. We have an important role in prevention of oral disease and enhancement of oral health, which plays an important part in general wellbeing.
What are your future ambitions?
Richard: I have a young family, Henry who is five and Freddie, two, so the focus has been very much on them for the last few years. However, now they are a little older and I have lots more time on my hands, I am starting an MSc in Restorative Dentistry this year so that should continue to keep me busy for a couple of years. I want to continue to learn, improve and hopefully enjoy what I do.
Zena: As a dentist you should be committed to lifelong learning. This year will mark 10 years since I qualified as a dentist and I still have so many courses I want to attend and areas of dentistry and aesthetic medicine that I want to become more advanced in.
What advice would you give to someone looking to make the move into dentistry?
Richard: There are so many different roles within the profession from business owner to teacher, so it’s about finding what it is that suits you. The advice I always give to students or newly qualified dentists is to first of all buy a set of loupes - magnification is everything, and then to buy a camera and to use it every day. Looking back at pictures of your work, whilst sobering initially, is the best way to improve and grow.
Who inspires you?
Richard: Professionally, I have been very lucky to have been exposed to some outstanding clinicians and teachers. Dr Chris Orr continues to inspire me as he first did all those years ago. Dr Didier Dietschi was a huge inspiration and influence after I was lucky enough to do his composite courses in Geneva. My team at Devonshire Square are simply outstanding and give 100% every day. I have been with my nurse Tracy for many years, and together we push each other on to give the very best to our patients.
Zena: Individuals who are positive, caring and supportive of each other. Mother Teresa said that peace begins with a smile and this is what I always think of at the start of each day.