Exclusive interview with Dr. Samintharaj Kumar, founder and CEO of Nuffield Dental: Transforming Smilies and Lives

CONTENT: Yiew Kai Jie
IMAGE: Nuffield Medical Group

We recently had the opportunity to sit down and have a chat with Dr. Samintharaj Kumar, the visionary Founder and CEO of Nuffield Dental. From how he first started Nuffield Dental, to coming up with the revolutionary All-on-4 / Teeth in a Day Implant procedure for his patients and sharing a few impactful stories about how their lives have been transformed for the better since the procedure.

Kumar

Luxe Society Asia: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how did you come to be a cosmetic dental surgeon?

My journey in the field of dentistry began in 2001 when I qualified as a dentist in Singapore. Subsequently, I pursued medicine in England, completing my degree in 2006. My career took an interesting turn between 2006 and 2013 when I engaged in a training program for oral and maxillofacial surgery. It was during this period that I developed a passion for craniofacial surgery, where I decided that plastic surgery residency would be more relevant towards treating such patient back in Singapore.

Upon realizing the growing demand for implant and dentistry makeovers in Singapore, I decided to establish Nuffield Clinic in 2014 to address this unmet need whilst during Plastic Surgery Residency. I was not working in the dental clinics but rather managing them with a team This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it allowed me to carve out a niche for myself after leaving Plastics Residency. To further refine my skills in this unique intersection of cosmetic surgery and dentistry, I actively participated in various digital design courses related to facial appearances and aesthetics. It’s been a fulfilling journey, and I feel fortunate to have found my expertise in this rapidly growing sector of the cosmetic surgery market.

Luxe Society Asia: Why did you decide to set up Nuffield Clinic in Singapore instead of a more popular destination like Korea?

Well, Singapore holds a special place for me because I’m intimately familiar with its market being a home grown citizen. When it comes to patient perspectives, regardless of their financial background, there are unique factors influencing their decision to stay in Singapore. From the more budget-conscious to those seeking premium services, it’s a mix of convenience, cost, and most importantly, the reputation of the surgeon that matters. We’ve seen that patients, once they have all their questions addressed and receive positive recommendations, are inclined to choose Singapore for their medical journey. Nuffield’s values were crafted around this patient-centric approach and value for high quality treatment from around the regional areas such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam to quote a few.

The experiences accumulated in dentistry have seamlessly transitioned into both Otolaryngology surgery and Plastic surgery. Our success stems from upholding high standards within our team, ensuring a consistent and positive customer experience. The decision to venture into Otolaryngology surgery and Plastic surgery was thus a natural progression. Singapore is not just a location; it’s home. The familiarity and ease of managing the operations here played a pivotal role in my decision. Being physically present in the country where we practice enhances our commitment to delivering exceptional healthcare experiences.

Luxe Society Asia: Can you tell us about Nuffield Medical Group’s new integrated clinic in Wheelock Place and what differentiates it from other clinics?

What sets us apart is our holistic approach to healthcare, combining medical and dental expertise under one roof. Unlike conventional clinics, we bring both medical and dental qualifications to the table, enabling us to understand and address patient needs comprehensively.

Given my background and specialization in the head and neck area, we’ve established a unique head and neck theme at our clinic. This focus allows us to cater to a range of services, from plastic surgery to dental procedures, all with a centralized emphasis on the head and neck.

What’s distinctive about our clinic is the seamless collaboration between Plastic surgery, Dental care, Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) expertise and Sleep medicine – all housed within the same facility. This integrated setup enables us to offer comprehensive solutions. For instance, in addressing issues like obstructive sleep apnea, we not only provide medical interventions but also consider adjunct treatments such as liposuction, backed by counseling services from our in-house cognitive behavioural therapist.

Moreover, our clinic addresses concerns beyond the physical, especially for patients dealing with body dysmorphia. We prioritize pre-counseling sessions for all patients, a practice perhaps not commonly seen in Singapore. Our clinic takes a meticulous approach, with pre-screening by a cognitive behavior therapist ensuring that patients are mentally prepared for the procedures. This stringent process not only aids in enhancing the patient’s experience but also helps uncover underlying health issues. For instance, we’ve diagnosed conditions like hepatitis, STDs and silent heart attacks through routine pre-screening.

This approach allows us to explore the underlying reasons behind cosmetic interventions and aligns with practices institutionalized in larger healthcare settings, drawing from my experiences in England. In essence, our integrated clinic is a one-stop destination for a wide spectrum of health and aesthetic needs.

Nuffield

Luxe Society Asia: How do you handle the rising trend of patients who want to simply throw money at the solution to make themselves look good?

I’ve encountered individuals who, due to their financial capabilities, want to undergo procedures purely for aesthetic reasons, often disregarding potential side effects. This scenario can escalate, as some of my own dental patients have opted for frequent procedures like botox, dermal fillers or other upkeep, leading to a never-ending cycle of aesthetic enhancements.

This phenomenon is more prominent among those with a party-centric lifestyle. However, they also tend to be ardent followers of aesthetic trends, valuing a well-maintained appearance. It’s intriguing to observe how their focus on facial aesthetics coexists with potential health concerns related to their lifestyle choices.

Then there’s a group that can afford such procedures and wants to explore them discreetly. These individuals prioritize aging gracefully and maintaining confidence, yet often keep their choices private, even from close ones.

I’ve often realised that handling these cases involves addressing the root concerns related to body dysmorphia, ensuring patients have realistic expectations, and counseling them about the achievable outcomes. Moreover, some patients might desire outcomes that are surgically unattainable, leading to potential dissatisfaction and impacting various aspects of their lives, including work and relationships.

Luxe Society Asia: What are the distinct advantages of the All-on-4 implants compared to traditional methods for teeth replacement?

Traditional approaches often involve the lengthy process of implants and dentures, ranging from four to six months, and in some cases even longer if the patient lacks sufficient bone density.

Now, the revolutionary aspect of All-on-4® implants is the ability to provide patients with teeth in a single day. It’s important to note that while I can’t provide a specific timeframe due to regulatory constraints, the Ministry of Health in Singapore has recognised the unique protocol that allows for the patient to walk out withteeth after implant placement on the same day.

The advantage here is transformative. Patients can literally go into surgery in the morning and by the end of the day, they have functional teeth. They can even eat an apple on the same day, although we recommend a soft diet for the first few weeks as the bone gradually adjusts.

Moreover, All-on-4 eliminates the need for bone grafting, addressing a common concern associated with traditional methods. The process of Bone grafting is often perceived as painful by the body as typically the materials used will create an inflammatory response leading to some minor pain. On the other hand many patients have shared their relief when they realise they won’t undergo this process with All-on-4®.

Lastly, I’ve encountered patients who, unfortunately, had promises of teeth on the same day but were left hanging for months. This emphasizes a critical point: the availability of a concept in the market doesn’t guarantee the capability to execute it effectively. All-on-4 distinguishes itself not just by its promise but by its consistent delivery. One patient, who endured a nine-and-a-half-month wait elsewhere, took just two weeks to decide with us and left with a new set of teeth in a single day.

Luxe Society Asia: What part of your patient’s dental health do they often neglect the most?

Approximately 80 to 85 percent of patients exhibit issues that can be traced back to poor oral hygiene, and the impact can be quite profound. I recently encountered a patient who was in his 30’s that vividly illustrates this. His oral health concerns were, to be frank extremely alarming. His condition was so severe that even he himself was reluctant to see the X-ray images that we took of his teeth.

Upon addressing this issue, we initiated a comprehensive dental care plan for him. The patient, who used to have a fear of going to the dentist, now adheres to a regular dental attendance schedule every six months. So because of this, we managed to transform his perception of dentistry, showcasing its value and the positive impact it can have on one’s life.

It’s essential to emphasize that the field of dentistry is not merely about teeth; it’s a specialized branch of medicine. This patient’s case was, admittedly, an outlier, as I don’t typically encounter such severe instances. However, it underscores the transformative power of quality dental care, reaching beyond aesthetics to impact one’s overall well-being. I firmly believe that good teeth contribute significantly to one’s confidence and can be a catalyst for positive life changes.

Luxe Society Asia: How does Nuffield Dental address or ensure patient comfort and confidence, from consultation to recovery?

At Nuffield Dental, we approach patient care with a comprehensive focus, extending beyond dental procedures to encompass overall well-being for our patients. Our approach goes beyond the dental chair. Weight loss, improved sleep, and enhanced overall well-being emerge as natural byproducts of the dental transformations we facilitate. These transformative stories underscore the interconnectedness of dental health and general health, reinforcing our dedication to providing comprehensive care.

Moreover, our streamlined processes, like offering same-day procedures at our clinics, exemplify our commitment to convenience and patient-centric care. By integrating our own laboratory processes, we elevate the standard of care, providing a level of service that goes beyond what’s commonly available in Singapore. We are dedicated to ensuring that every step of a patient’s journey with Nuffield Dental is characterized by comfort, confidence, and a holistic commitment to health.

clinic

Luxe Society Asia: Can you tell us about a time when a procedure turned into a life changing experience for your patients?

Obviously I can’t mention any specific names, but one memorable case involved an individual who faced challenges, from being unemployed and had other health issues as well. When he first visited, he had very little confidence in himself and his outlook on life was grim. However, after his procedure, his whole life turned around for the better! Not only was he more confident, he managed to get a job and also introduced his significant other to me! This shift was profound, signaling improvements in self-esteem and confidence. It’s remarkable how a change in dental aesthetics can influence one’s overall demeanor.

I had another patient, who initially exhibited signs of body dysmorphia, underwent dental procedures that remarkably transformed not just his smile but his entire outlook on their life. He told me his colleagues didn’t even recognised who he was when he walked into the office after his recovery period and were astounded! Apparently his colleagues even started dating my patient after the transformation.

These instances are just an example to underscore the profound impact that dental interventions can have, especially in the realm of cosmetic dentistry. For the age group I often cater to, which spans from the late 50s to the 70s, these transformations can be life-changing.

Luxe Society Asia: With today’s advanced technology, what’s the most futuristic concept you’ve encountered in the field of dental care, and how do you think it will revolutionize oral health in the future?

In the realm of dental care, one of the most futuristic concepts I’ve come across is the utilization of technologies that focus on how the patient bites. Did you know that most dentists in the world use coloured paper to check the bite for their patients despite knowing that there are far much more accurate ways to objectively measure patient biting forces. By using specific sensors for occlusion (biting) eg: TekScan which are available internationally and also backed by substantial evidence of safety and efficacy. It’s imperative to rely on established literature, referring to well-documented and published papers that confirm the long-term stability of results and the safety of these innovations. I routinely use TekScan to manage all my dental patients, especially those suffering from TMJ pain where it can literally be a life saver and make them bite more comfortably agni.

In the ever-evolving landscape of medical and dental advancements, if a procedure is deemed unsafe, the community is swift to discontinue it. This particular concept I find noteworthy has withstood the test of time, dating back to the 1990s.The All on 4/ Teeth in a Day concept has emerged as the gold standard for full dental replacement, showcasing both safety and effectiveness. This represents a promising direction for the future of oral health, emphasizing the importance of evidence-based practices in embracing technological innovations combined with the ability for us to check the patient’s biting forces using modern technology (TekScan)

For more information or to book an appointment, visit Nuffield Dental’s website