Inspirational Woman: Dr Uchenna Okoye | Cosmetic Dentist & Clinical Director of London Smiling

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Dr Uchenna Okoye is one of London’s hottest celebrity dentists creating signature designer smiles that are sought after by celebs and she is known as the Chanel of Dentistry. Uchenna believes a fantastic smile is the key to boosting confidence and with her approach of treating people holistically she confesses to being a total beauty junkie and offers advice on everything from the latest beauty lip products to enhance your smile to the latest shape brows that will suit your new look. As well as offering bespoke dentistry, Uchenna is a master of facial aesthetics. Uchenna is the official dentist on Channel 4’s ’10 Years Younger’ and was also voted Vogue’s hottest dentist in town (2006).

Dr Uchenna Okoye-mainTell us a bit about yourself, background and what you do currently

I am Dr Uchenna Okoye, a cosmetic dentist and clinical director of three busy London practices called London Smiling.   I come from a large family and I am the oldest sibling of a big loving Nigerian family. I had a fabulous upbringing here in the UK where my father owned an ice cream factory and my mum was a pharmacist.

I had a terrible experience as a child with a dentist who extracted my tooth without an anesthetic and from that day on I knew I wanted to be a dentist.

I studied dentistry at Guys Hospital and dentistry was a very male dominated profession in those days and somewhat still is and I had to work very hard to prove myself as a woman. I went on to train further at St George’s in Tooting and then decided to open my own busy practice in London. I passionately wanted to completely change how dentist worked here in the UK and treat people holistically and help people overcome their dental phobias. The biggest part of my job is knowing I can completely change someone’s life whether that is simply easing pain of toothache to giving him or her their confidence by creating a new smile. From simply showing people how to clean and care for their teeth to changing a smile no two day is the same for me and that is what I love about my job.

With three busy practices I run a very successful million pound company that I have created from nothing when I first opened in 2000 without any investment but my own money.

I wanted to create an environment where people could come and actually enjoy having their teeth cleaned and to help people who were dental phobic like myself not be frightened.

In dentistry you cover many aspects of business as well as being a dentist. From simply choosing the right location to set up your business right through to Italian porcelain you choose to design a smile every detail matters to me.

Dentistry involves many aspects of a business from marketing – understanding your customer, your patient/or guest as I call them right through to advertising, PR, social media, and building your own profile within the media. All of these require expertise and finding a team to help me do this plus a lot of time managing the team

Training and building my own staff is vital and very time consuming but a vital part of my business and I spent time in the US learning about customer service that is second to none. I now train my staff very specifically and we have our own concierge service for our guests.

I mentor, train and work to inspire my staff as well as network within the dentistry field. I am a board member of the British Association of Cosmetic Dentistry and a member of the BDA as well as a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry

I lecture and train and also now actually head to the US to teach them how to create more ‘natural’ smiles. In the US they have a tendency to use veneers where here in the UK we have perfected the craft of designing and maintaining smiles using amazing materials that keep the existing teeth.

Why did you start your business?

I wanted to create an environment where people could come and actually enjoy having their teeth cleaned and to help people who were dental phobic like myself not be frightened. I also wanted to change completely how dentistry is perceived here in the UK and get people to start thinking about their smile as part of their ‘beauty’ regime. A smile is incredible and when people have amazing teeth they smile which in turn boosts their lives in many ways e.g. their happiness, confidence, stress levels and their health overall.

What appealed to you about setting up your own business?

Everything about dentistry I love. From completely changing how a person looks, feels, their lives to teaching someone how to brush their teeth. There are so many areas to the business it’s incredible from the creativity and perfection of my smile design, to the material I use in my smiles to having a fabulous team and a beautifully run practice and most importantly to my guests who I just love. It’s an incredible job in so many ways.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Finding the right staff. I am a true perfectionist and run my business in a very particular way based on certain principles. I give to my team 120% and I expect that back which is hard sometimes for people to understand.

My father. He taught me everything is possible. He taught me my foundations of hard work to truly believe in myself and believe everything is possible. His philosophy in life was .. If I give you lemons you make me lemonade’.

What’s been your greatest achievement personally?

Mentoring staff and seeing them flourish over the years and grow as people.

My siblings and how we have endured the loss of my youngest sister but continue to stay strong as a family and support each other.

My marriage and my friendships. I am truly blessed in many areas of my life and immensely grateful to have great friends that support me and a husband who is a doctor that supports my dreams and hopes.

If you weren’t doing what you do, what would you be doing?

There is nothing else I would want to do. A ballerina but I’m nearly 6ft!

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My father. He taught me everything is possible. He taught me my foundations of hard work to truly believe in myself and believe everything is possible. His philosophy in life was .. If I give you lemons you make me lemonade’.

What does the future hold for you?

I want to set up a training school for dentists and dentistry teams to be able to deliver a five star service as I do.

I also want to continue to educate people on how vital it is to invest in their oral health as it is vital to their overall health. The best way I can do this is by working with inspiring brands that allow me to reach consumers and educate them on why taking care of their smile will keep them not only healthy but make them happy too.

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