Smileworks - Why Children Fake Toothaches To Visit This Dentist

Smileworks - A trip to the dentist can be fun!


The dentist is one person you needed but never wanted to visit as a kid, or even as an adult. Knowing how most people have an aversion to the dentist, the founders of Smileworks started the clinic with the aim of reducing fear in their patients and making the dental experience a lot more enjoyable and comfortable.

From the moment you step into the clinic, Smileworks' comforting decor and soothing music dispel the images of painful procedures and menacing tools that come to mind when your tooth starts to ache.


The plush sofas and warm hues channel more of a spa vibe than a typical dental office’s cold detachment. Looking at the clinic, one would never guess who their most popular clients are. 



Interestingly, Smileworks did not set out to be a child-focused clinic. Although outlets at Paragon and satellite clinics at Woodlands, Bukit Panjang, and Choa Chu Kang are all fully equipped for general practice, the relationship the dentists have with their little patients have made Smileworks a popular choice with parents.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Smileworks-18.jpgEven Eeyore and his stuffed giraffe friend have a set of braces done for them!

Referrals via word of mouth and online forums have seen an increase in child patients in recent years. Children have been known to refer their relatives to the clinic, and some even faked toothaches in order to visit their favourite dentist! 

With consumers voting Smileworks as a top brand in the Dental Clinics category for the 2014 Influential Brands survey, I headed down to Smileworks to discover the secret behind this kid-magnet of a dental clinic.I followed little Natalie and Naomi on their trip to their favourite dentist Dr Lam Ying Keat to see what a typical trip to Smileworks was like.


Preliminary Examination 



Upon arrival at the clinic, the children were greeted by name by the friendly receptionist Ming Chee, after which they promptly headed to the couch to wait their turn. Dr Lam came out to receive them, and they literally bounced into the consultation room. 


Together they headed for the consultation room which was recently decorated with decals of mischievous monkeys hanging from the ceiling and animals on the wall. It was Naomi’s turn first. She was asked to put on a pair of stylish shades and asked to lie down on the “moving chair”. 


One thing that struck me about the consultation room was that it lacked a TV or tablet of sorts that could potentially keep children entertained while getting their teeth fixed. I later learnt this was because Dr Lam wants the children to be more personally engaged in the entire dental process.This helps the child foster trust with the dentist and relieves anxiety. Some children are so at ease with Dr Lam that they even fall asleep on the dentist’s chair! 


What about the more intimidating procedures, say a tooth extraction for example? The trick, Dr Lam says, is to explain the process in a way that is understandable by the child - a bad tooth would have to be given a dose of “sleepy juice” for it to “go to sleep” so that it can be quickly removed before it wakes up and realises what’s going on. 




After checking for cavities it was time for the cleaning process. This is the part children look forward to the most - they get to pick their toothpaste flavour out of strawberry, grape, apple or orange! Dr Lam told me some kids decide their flavours even before they step into the dental clinic.

Smileworks dentists use an electric toothbrush with soft bristles to clean the teeth of their patients. Before the cleaning commenced, Dr Lam first asked Naomi to have a feel of the soft rubber brush with her fingers so she knew what to expect. Throughout the cleaning process Dr Lam was nothing but gentle and constantly praised Naomi for her bravery. 

Being a regular, Naomi was very cooperative with Dr Lam, but I wondered about the difficult cases. Smileworks dentists work with Anaesthetists who administer general anaesthesia to help with cases of complex treatment or trauma. However, Dr Lam stressed that this is only used as a last resort. Subsequently, Dr Lam tries to help the children overcome their fear by first performing simple cleaning procedures in order to gain their trust. 


Going home!



For children with no particular tooth problems that require extraction or other procedures, their visit to the dentist is now over! Children are awarded for their bravery with stickers and balloons made from surgical gloves that are blown up and artfully decorated by the very talented dental assistants at the clinic. First timers receive an additional Certificate of Bravery and a generous serving of encouragement and praise.

So when should parents start bringing their kids to the dentist?

Dr Lam says that the recommendation by the American Association of Paediatric Dentistry is that children should start seeing dentists from the age of one or just when their teeth start to appear.


The Secret: Everyone at Smileworks!



The driving force behind Smileworks popularity especially with children has got to be its staff and dentists. Dr Lam prides Smileworks on hiring dentists with good personalities and value systems who also enjoy working together with like-minded colleagues. Though Dr Lam, Dr Berenice Chan, Dr Nancy Duong and Dr Law Lay Yin are the main dentists where children are concerned, all other staff and dentists are also fond of children.

Many of the children have also grown up with the dentists in Smileworks.  As the patients grow from toddlers to teenagers, Smileworks' Orthodontist, Dr Geraldine Oh, frequently helps many of them with braces. 

This doesn’t mean Smileworks dentists are only popular with children. Smileworks also sees a sizeable number of adult patients, with some travelling long distances to seek dental treatment from the clinic. Patients come from all over Asia, Europe, Australia and the USA. Dr Yvonne Yap can now speak a smattering of Russian from encountering Russian patients who travel to Singapore to be treated at Smileworks.

Dr Henry Ho and Dr Christopher Quek are also known in the dental circle for their work in lecturing and teaching dental colleagues world wide. They have mentored many dentists in implant and prosthetic dentistry.

This is a testament to Smileworks' professionalism and reputation, not just locally but also internationally.


Smileworks Locations


Smileworks Paragon
#11-11/12 Paragon, 290 Orchard Road, Singapore 238859
Tel: +65 6238 9318

Smileworks Keat Hong
#01-12, Keat Hong Shopping Centre, Blk 253 Choa Chu Kang Ave 1, Singapore 680253
Tel: +65 6763 3436

Dentalcare @ Fajar
#02-522, Fajar Shopping Centre, Blk 445 Fajar Road Singapore 670445
Tel: +65 6762 2955

iSmileStudio Pte Ltd
#01-185 (Level 2), Blk 303 Woodlands Street 31, Singapore 730303
Tel: +65 6363 1982


About Smileworks 


Smileworks is a dental clinic that provides a comprehensive range of dental treatments for all ages. The motto of the clinic is "Where Every Smile is Special" and the dentists believe in understanding your condition and expectations to foster a good relationship that will last through the years.

Smileworks has various dental specialists who specialise in braces, crowns, bridges, dental implants and gum disease. They also provide all other treatment like wisdom tooth surgery and cosmetic dentistry such as veneers and teeth whitening.


About Influential Brands 


Influential Brands is a consumer insight driven awards programme which provides a platform for brands to celebrate their achievement; for consumers, businesses and stakeholders to recognise the brands’ efforts in arriving where they are today. The study conducted by Influential Brands is purely consumer driven and the Top Brands are selected by consumers through their perception and preference, demonstrating the level of impact and influence of the brands in each consumer’s life.

Influential Brands seeks to identify consumer preferences, their behaviours, values andto understand how the ever-changing environment affects consumer experience in thepurchase journey. The programme is tailored to enrich the brands’ relationship with theirconsumers through ongoing meaningful conversations and engagement.

For more information, like and follow Influential Brands on Facebook for more updates!


Read More Influential Brand Stories by TSL


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This post is part of Influential Brands 2014, where we highlight the most influential brands in Singapore.


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