What it takes to be a dental influencer

Dentist, entrepreneur, content creator – how does one find the balance in juggling these roles? Dental Asia finds out more from Dr Kayla Teh.

Transforming smiles one tooth (and content) at a time, Dr Kayla Teh Khe Sin has over 79,000 followers on Instagram, 27,000 followers on Facebook, and 33,000 subscribers on YouTube.

Also known as Dr Kayla to her patients and followers, she has established her name not just in the online space but also as a friendly dentist to her patients.

With her enthusiasm for raising oral health awareness as well as her passion for aesthetic dentistry, she founded Dr Kayla Dental Clinic and now leads a team of dental specialists providing comprehensive dental care. Read on as she shares her humble beginnings and how her persistence brought online and real-life success.

What sparked your interest to become a content creator and at the same time specialise in aesthetic dentistry?

Dr Kayla Teh: When I was a dental student, I joined a volunteering programme at a rural village in Malaysia. There, I met a young kid with a cleft lip who was all alone and none of the other kids wanted to be his friend because of his appearance. That could’ve been prevented if his parents were aware of bringing him to an oral surgeon to do repair surgery during the earlier years of his life. That was the moment when I realised how important dental awareness is. I started making videos on it, and that was back in 2018 when videos on social media were not such a common thing.

Then, I began to have some patients walking in, telling me that they do not have the confidence to get a job, partner or simply smile in front of the camera. So, when I did my first smile makeover case with veneers, my patient regained her confidence and came back to tell me that she met a new partner in life. That was when I felt true happiness and realised my ability to help others as a dentist. This experience and more after inspired me to keep doing this every day and keep improving in the field of aesthetic dentistry.

What are your aspirations as an oral health advocate and an influencer?

Dr Kayla: It is important to uphold the standard of dentistry while having fun on social media. Whenever I create a piece of content on social media, I always have three goals in mind: educate, entertain and inspire.

I love to educate the public on certain dental topics through videos or social media posts. I also like entertaining them from the point of view of a dentist because that shows them that dentists are human too and we just wanted to help with their dental problems. That can actually increase the patient’s acceptance of dental treatment, which in turn elevates public awareness of dental care.

I hope to inspire the younger generation on the beautiful aspect of dentistry – which to me is an amazing field. I enjoy every moment of it, creating smiles and building connections with my patients which last for generations. I hope that more people can see and appreciate this aspect of dentistry as much as I do!

Can you walk us through the conceptualisation of your dream clinic, and what is the significance of this milestone in your career as a dentist?

Dr Kayla: I have always wanted to make people feel safe. But dentistry? Oh man, it can be scary to our patients. When I build my clinic, I want people to feel like they’re coming back home to a safe place where they can be comfortable and more relaxed to share their dental concerns.

That is why my clinic is homey, it is also covered in a pastel pink tone – which is unconventional. But that’s the beauty of it. It doesn’t give off that tense, strict vibes. But rather, it makes you feel comfortable like you’re walking into an area where you can relax as well as enjoy the view.

As a dentist, this is a huge milestone for me. It is a sign that I am no longer just a clinician, but an entrepreneur, marketer, manager, and so much more too. I have a bigger vision now, to not only excel in my clinical work but also to build a team of doctors who strive to achieve excellence in dentistry as well as patient management. And this is something we did not learn in dental school, this is the real world where we have to be independent, creative, caring and better than who we are yesterday.

As a practitioner of digital dentistry, what are the must-have devices in your practice, and how do they help you enhance your service to your patients?

Dr Kayla: Intraoral scanner (IOS), digital planning software and 3D printer are a necessity in my daily clinical workflow. IOS enables me to take dental record conveniently and comfortably, and helps in enhancing the communication among clinicians, dental technologist and ceramists.

I am also using exocad software to plan out my cases, be it prosthodontics, restorative or orthodontics. It helps me to bring a more comprehensive approach to my case planning. For example, most of my patients who came to me for veneers often need orthodontics treatment. I will incorporate digital dentistry into their orthodontics treatment to measure the space distribution for their final veneers as well as monitor their treatment progress. This gives me more predictability and control in my clinical cases, which also gives my patients more confidence and reassurance.

Five to 10 years down the road, how do you envision your career as a dentist, and what else are you looking forward to in the future?

Dr Kayla: I look forward to creating more quality content in dentistry and inspiring more young dentists to do better in their clinical work. I hope to show people that just because you’re out there on social media, doesn’t mean that you’re all talk and cannot produce good clinical work. We are all clinicians and we are here to help our patients through the skills and experience we have. I also look forward to meeting and learning from more dentists across the globe, after all, learning never ends.

How do you find the balance between your role as a dentist and content creator, and what advice would you like to give to dental practitioners who are keen to follow in your footsteps?

Dr Kayla: It is difficult to maintain social media while upholding your clinical work standards – at least it is for me. I plan out my shooting time as well as clinical time, but that also means that I have to sacrifice my personal and family time.

My advice to those who wanted to engage more patients online is to be yourself on social media. Many people think they have to pretend to be someone with “personality” to engage more audience but simply being yourself and showcasing your best sides are good enough. It also gives a sense of authenticity when a patient, or a fellow dentist finally meets you in person. After all, people love making friends with a person who is true to himself.

Published in Dental Asia September/October 2022 issue.