With plummeting NHS funding reported nationally, and Brexit underway, we catch up with Ramona Fathi Saffar and Dr Romulo Greco of the Southborough Dental Practice to see if the future is looking bright…
Tell us a little of the history of the Southborough Dental Practice.
Established over 70 years ago, Southborough Dental Practice has been providing dental care for over three generations of families. Thanks to diligence, continuous hard work and the dedication of our staff members and associates, we have been able to provide our services both as NHS and independent services without any interruptions, even when we moved to our new premises in 2014. This move has allowed us to offer a higher level of service and deliver a wide range of treatment, including a number of cosmetic options such as whitening and straightening. At our practice, we believe a smile is one of your greatest assets and is worthy of the best care.
How has business developed since your arrival in 2014?
Our focus has always been on improving services to our patients, and we continue to grow our services. Following our successful move to our new premises, we have been able to install two new surgeries with the latest technology available to provide only the best and latest treatment options for our patients. This has enabled us to expand our team to include specialists in implants, orthodontic work and cosmetic dentistry in-house.
Our new patient services now include:
Permanent Dental Implants: Providing quality replacement for missing teeth in-house
Rx Aligners: An invisible alternative to traditional braces transforming your smile
Oral Surgery: Our latest addition to our professional dental team
Complete Smile Makeover: Using the newest non-invasive porcelain veneers, full ceramic crowns, inlays and white fillings.
Bright Smile Tooth Whitening: A whitening package at affordable prices
Self-Referral Hygienist Appointments: Experienced hygienists available every day
What should people be looking for when choosing a dentist?
Our teeth play an important role in our health and livelihood. They help us to bite, chew and digest food. They help us to talk and make different sounds, and they are an important part of our facial features. Unfortunately, tooth decay can start from a very early age in our lives. If untreated, it can potentially lead to infection and eventually loss of teeth. Therefore, choosing a dentist must be an early decision in our lives, hence we must choose a dentist we can trust who is able to cater for all the changes happening to our teeth from a very young age to the time we grow old. We thrive from our long-standing successful patient care and positive feedback. Word of mouth is our greatest asset as we make the welfare of our patients our top priority, and that’s never up for negotiation.
How do you deal with people who are scared of the dentist?
Based on our patients’ admission, we have a very caring team in place, our receptionists and nurses, as well as dentists, make our patients feel very comfortable from the moment they walk into the practice to the time they are making their next appointments. Our dentists always ensure that they go at a pace that makes the patients feel comfortable. We explain any procedure very clearly, step-by-step, to ensure that they know what to expect, so there are no surprises. It’s a priority of ours to make sure our patients have a pleasant and stress-free visit.
Do you have a lot of patients who have been with you long term?
At Southborough Dental Practice we have many patients who have stayed with us for many years. Over that time, they have brought in their partners, children and grandchildren. Our patients stay with us because we always put them and their needs first. It’s a real privilege to see families grow through the generations.
What are your thoughts on the growing concerns for NHS funding?
We view ‘change’ as a fact of life, therefore –whilst it would be unfortunate to see a reduction in our funding resources – with the help of our patients and some innovative financing solutions we would be able to keep up our services. Nevertheless, we are forever grateful that we have the NHS in our country, and it’s something to be both valued and preserved.
It’s been a turbulent few months on a national and international scale. Have hot topics such as Brexit affected your practice at all?
Yes, our practice has suffered Brexit to some extent; we have had associates leaving us because they lost confidence in working in the UK. We are also finding it more and more difficult to source professionals from Europe, which could be a concern for the entire healthcare industry in the UK.
What are the most common problems you find you are dealing with in regard to dental health?
We actually find that the problems are decreasing. Now people are a lot more aware and conscious of their oral health and dental hygiene thanks to education, advertisements, campaigns and social media. There are the usual issues, such as decay and gum disease due to smoking, drinking and high-sugar diets, but overall dental health is improving.
How many staff do you currently have?
Our team consists of 14 members of full and part-time staff. Ramona Fathi Saffar is our principal dentist, who owns the practice. She has built it up and has been seeing our patients for over 18 years. Dr Romulo Greco is our implantologist and full-time general dentist. Dr Amir Tarki is available on Fridays for advance cosmetic and general dentistry. Mr Munim Habib is our full-time general dentist, and Dr Michalis Kyrtsos specialises in oral surgery. We have two hygienists working full-time hours who have been working with us for a combined 16 years. Additionally, we have three fantastic, qualified nurses, and brilliant reception staff welcoming our patients into the practice.
How do your NHS and private services differ?
We provide the same quality of care both for our NHS and independent patients; however, unfortunately, with limited NHS funding, not all treatment can be provided, therefore our patients always have the option to choose our independent services, such as implants, and all cosmetic treatments, such as teeth whitening.
What proportion of your patients are private?
About a quarter of our patients have chosen to go independent, although our NHS patients also have the option to choose independent services if they are not available within the NHS.
Why choose Southborough for the practice?
The town is a great area of Tunbridge Wells. There is a real sense of community here, and we hope we are considered a part of that. We are situated on the main road running through Southborough, offering great access for all our patients.
What does the future hold for you all at the dental practice?
The future is bright for Southborough Dental. Every day we continue to grow, introduce modern technology and continue to develop our services, and we hope to be able to provide an excellent service to existing and new patients for many years to come.
Describe Southborough Dental Practice in five words
Care, health, professionalism, modern and accessible.
Southborough Dental Practice
77 London Road, Southborough, Kent, TN4 0NH
Tel: 01892 528048