“We saw your dancing video!” may not sound like something you’d expect to hear from patients as they settle into the dentist’s chair. But it’s a phrase Dr. Naweed Najand hears all the time at his Las Vegas practice Smile Vegas Dental.
Dr. Najand and his staff enjoy using social media sites like TikTok to familiarize patients with the practice (and they’re not afraid to bust out a few dance moves in the process). We caught up with Dr. Najand to discuss the power of social media, the challenges of COVID and the ins and outs of practicing dentistry in the entertainment capital of the world.
How and when did you decide to become a dentist?
It was my first year of undergrad. I always wanted to be in medicine, but I didn’t know if was going to go the pre-med route or go into dentistry. My cousin’s husband was a dentist, so I kind of shadowed him. I really liked the whole aspect of treating patients, working with your hands, having your own practice. That was really intriguing to me.
Las Vegas is a pretty unique city. Why did you decide to open your practice there?
I grew up here. My mom’s family is out here. People always ask, “How do you live in Las Vegas?!” But it’s a great city. There’s a lot of opportunity out here. I just grew up here and decided to stay.
From what you know of dentistry in other places, do you feel that practicing dentistry in Vegas is different than in other cities?
I think in terms of service it is. Las Vegas is known for its service industry. The hotels and the customer experience are some of the best in the world. Growing up here, I worked in the casinos on the strip. One of the things I wanted to bring to the dental field is the customer service that you would get at a really nice restaurant or an excellent hotel. In terms of patients, I feel it’s the same. But in terms of what we provide, I try to go above and beyond in giving people good service. That’s what the residents here expect.
What do you love most about being a dentist?
It’s the patient interaction, getting to know your patients, understanding what their needs are and being able to provide that. With dentistry, you really have an impact on people’s confidence and their self-esteem; if they’re in pain, you have the ability to get them out of pain. One of my favorite parts is getting to know the patient, building that trust, having that long-term relationship.
What advice would you give to a young dentist just starting out?
That’s a good question. One piece of advice is: Take as much CDE as possible. Take as many courses as you can. When you get out of dental school, you know enough to do basic dentistry, but there’s so much more involved. One of my favorite things is learning advanced procedures. It makes dentistry a lot more fun, and you’re doing a big service for your patients. It helps you get to the next level. Keep learning.
The second thing is: Try to be confident. Keep working hard to get better. There’ll be days when things don’t go according to plan or you’re dealing with a tough patient. If you work on improving every day, things become a lot easier. You get more confident, and the patients see that.
What do you think are the biggest challenges to the practice of dentistry today?
COVID’s a big one. It’s tough because patients will miss appointments. They’re nervous about coming in. They’re not sure if it’s safe or not.
Another one is building a good team. It’s been tough finding staff. My office just opened last year. We’re at 10 team members, but as we grow, we want to bring on more team members. It takes time.
What do you like to do in your time off?
I like hanging out with friends and family. I enjoy working out. I enjoy going on hikes. We have really beautiful hikes around Las Vegas. I enjoy going camping, as well. But definitely spending time with friends and family. It’s tough because you get so caught up in work. You always have to remind yourself to enjoy the other parts of life.
Your practice is active on TikTok, and it seems like your office staff and patients have a lot of fun participating. What inspired you to make a TikTok page for your practice?
I was never really into it, but I have a lot of younger team members. We started doing these videos. One of the reasons I liked it was because of the team bonding. It’s just fun making these videos together. It helps engage with some of our patients. We have a lot of patients in the 20- to 35-year-old age range. I’m noticing a lot of them on TikTok now. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a patient say, “Oh, we saw your dancing video!” It’s engaging for them, they become familiar with your practice. They see that you’re just normal people, and they feel more welcome. It’s been really huge for us.