Specialist Paediatric Dentist, Prashanth Dhanpal, journeyed half way ‘round the world before finding a home in Sydney’s northern suburbs. Dr Dhanpal trained at undergraduate level in India and then completed his Masters and Advanced Diploma in Paediatric Dentistry in Hong Kong. Arriving in Sydney in 2010, he is one of a very few specialist Paediatric Dentists in Australia who completed all their training overseas.
“When we arrived in Sydney, I started work at Sydney Dental Hospital,” Dr Dhanpal said. “Then, in 2013, I started work at a private specialist practice in Crows Nest. Long term, I had the goal of owning my own private practice, but in order to do that, I thought it would be a good idea to work in an established specialist practice for a few years and learn what I needed to know from a business and management perspective. However, after six months, I hadn’t learnt anything I wanted to learn.”
“So I made the decision to take a hit financially and started planning to go out on my own sooner than I had envisaged.”
A year after opening, establishing North Shore Paediatric Dentistry in Pymble on Sydney’s Upper North Shore has proven to be an excellent decision. It’s located in an affluent area with a high proportion of families and there are no other specialist paediatric dentists for several kilometres in either direction. Luck, however, played a great part in this good fortune.
“We’re new to Sydney and had been living in Strathfield,” Dr Dhanpal said. “We really didn’t know the city well and we ended up going to an open day at a private school in Pymble to see if it would be suitable for our daughter. We really liked the school and we really liked the area. As a result, I started to look at available commercial space there.
“Dr Eduardo Alcaino, a fellow Paediatric Dentist, is one of my mentors, so I asked him for his advice on the matter. He said to do two things: 1. Buy the property; and 2. Work close to home. I took that advice to heart and looked for commercial property for sale for the practice and as a family, we also looked to move close by.”
As well as looking for space to setup, Dr Dhanpal went in search of a specialist dental fit-out company to work with. “I spoke to four different dental fit-out companies,” he said. “Of those, Perfect Practice was the one that really listened to what I wanted. Peter Arnot sat down with me and explained the process of building a practice and what occurs externally with council, strata and other factors. Peter also looked at the three premises on my short list and gave me the pros and cons of each. It made it easy to choose the location I really wanted. The space we agreed on is in a commercial building and at street level with parking at the door – the parents of our patients really appreciate that convenience.”
Dr Dhanpal’s wishlist for the new practice included a reception and waiting area, doctor’s office, admin office, two surgeries, an open sterilisation area, OPG area and staff room. “We had 3 meetings to discuss the design,” Dr Dhanpal said. “It was a great way to do it. We filtered any problems from the first meeting at the second meeting and by the third, it was pretty well done. They really focused on the detail and everything was discussed. We went through the pros and cons of everything.”
“It was a great learning experience for me and I think the team at Perfect Practice also benefited because they learnt how the needs of a specialist differ from a general practice. In my case, I went for two big surgeries rather than three because often, when you’re treating a child, the whole family is in the room which may also include a pram. Specialist practices also often see less patients for longer, so that can affect the design as well.”
“I was very happy with what Perfect Practice came up with on paper, but then, before construction began, they went to the trouble of taping out the design on the floor of the empty premises. We all did a walk through to confirm we were happy with it a final time. They are very thorough and we went room to room and discussed every detail. It was a fantastic idea to ensure we knew exactly what to expect. After that, I signed a contract for an 8-week build – it was completed in six.”
North Shore Paediatric Dentistry is a contemporary, professional environment any practitioner would be at home in. The neutral colour scheme throughout the practice is offset with texture in the flooring, fabrics and feature walls. The mauve colour from the practice’s logo is used in the shopfront and also sparingly in the treatment rooms.
The A-dec 400 dental units in the two surgeries feature seamless upholstery in purple which complements the white walls and mauve highlights. An A-dec 542 side delivery system with electric motor and Satelec scaler retracts into the cabinetry, allowing for a less cluttered environment for young patients.
An A-dec ceiling-mounted LED light, Seiler Evolution XR6 microscope, W&H Vision high speed handpieces with paediatric heads, W&H Fusion slow speeds and W&H Alegra straight handpieces complete the picture clinically. Radiographically, the practice features a Soredex Novus digital OPG unit, an Optime PSP plate scanner and Soredex wall-mounted x-ray units in the surgeries.
Apart from working in his own practice, Dr Dhanpal spends a week a month in Tamworth and in February, will commence visiting Lithgow in the Blue Mountains. He is also the Visiting Specialist for the Hunter New England Area, the on-call Paediatric Specialist for both the Mater and North Shore Private Hospitals and the Secretary for the Australian and New Zealand Society of Paediatric Dentistry (NSW) Branch. “It’s always been my dream to have my own private practice,” Dr Dhanpal said, “and Perfect Practice made it a fantastic experience. I am very happy with the results and am now learning exactly what I need to know about running a practice. It takes time to build-up any practice and for specialist practice, even more so. A year ago, we were having seven coffee breaks a day; now we’re down to three, so we are growing as our network expands. It was a pleasure to work with the team at Perfect Practice and I have no hesitation recommending them to my colleagues at every opportunity.”
– Australasian Dental Practice
By Joseph Albeury