Know the the man behind your smiles.
We have always been afraid of dentists as kids. So stepping into the clinic with a six-foot tall, large-built dentist didn't exactly quell my fear of the man with the drills. However, I soon found that behind the mask was a genuine man with a good sense of humour.
Who: Dr Harry Singh, 33
Studied: Bachelor in Dental Surgery at University of Adelaide
Tell us more about yourself.
For starters, I never wanted to be a dentist. I wanted to be an actor and play Batman. I got into performing arts but my dad said: "That's never going to happen." My other option was dentistry so I pursued that instead.
Did you slowly learn to love the field of study when you got in?
Oh, I absolutely hated it.
However, after I graduated, I started loving aspects of it – mainly talking to my patients.
MEETING NEW PEOPLE IS A JOY FOR DR HARRY.
What is your typical day at work like?
The first thing I do is to take a look at all my appointments for the day. I prepare my equipment 15 minutes before my patients arrive, and we get the ball rolling.
I usually have appointments back-to-back, but if I have a large gap, I use the time to go to the gym or do whatever I need to.
What is the scariest case you have ever handled?
Well, I don't get grossed out a lot because I see it so often. But there are a few patients that make me think "Oh God".
I had this one patient who was HIV positive and he had poor oral hygiene. He needed a few teeth removed and they were all broken teeth. His mouth smelled like rotten meat and there was blood splashing all of a sudden.
I had to be really careful and for my nurses as well. They don't get paid enough to put themselves in that position.
SOME OF THE ORAL PROBLEMS THAT HIV PATIENTS FACE.
PHOTO CREDIT: HOWARD DENTAL
What motivates you to come into work every day?
Paying the bills (laughs). Obviously there's financial motivation, but I've reached a point where I enjoy what I do. The practice is stimulating to the mind and I enjoy the challenge.
Also, I look forward to meeting people from all walks of life. I get wealthy people, middle class people and even construction workers.
What sacrifices have you made for your job?
Weight gain! I work about 68 hours a week and don't have a lot of time for myself. That's not a good thing as you get older, especially when you're working in a very sedentary profession. I don't get see my family a lot too.
What are some dental habits you try to instill to your friends or family?
Well it's culturally different here in Singapore as compared to western countries where they pay more attention to oral hygiene. They actually floss. And up until recently, my wife didn't know she had to brush her teeth before she goes to bed!
What advice would you give to youths considering dentistry?
Don't do it (laughs). I'm kidding!
DR HARRY PERFORMING AN ORAL CHECK UP ON ONE OF 15 PATIENTS HE SAW THAT DAY.
Don't expect to be filthy rich being a dentist. A lot of people become dentists thinking it'll be lucrative for them, but it's not a profession you can bluff your way through.
You have to be absolutely certain that you want to see new people and their mouths every day, for the next 30 to 50 years, and that you'll love it as much as I do.
Educational requirements: Degree in Dental Surgery.
Qualities needed: Skills can always be picked up, but people skills are crucial to get your patients to trust you.
Salary range: $5,000 to $7,000 per month for fresh graduates.
Working hours: Roughly 8 to 12 hours a day, although this depends on your clinic and number of patients.
Career prospects: After getting your Degree, you can further your studies by getting a Master's degree and specialise in orthodontics (braces), endodontics (root canal), periodontics (diseases) and many more.