Best Aesthetic Practice 2019

on 14th October 2019

Award-winning dentist Thomas Sealey reveals how his practice, Start-smiling, went on to win Best Aesthetic Practice 2019 at the Aesthetic Dentistry Awards.

How do you feel to have won Best Aesthetic Practice at the Aesthetic Dentistry Awards 2019?

Thomas: Out of all the FMC Awards, I personally feel the Aesthetic Dentistry Awards is the one that we, as dentists, really want to win. Being judged by only leading cosmetic dentists – whom are all experts within their fields – adds real credibility and value to being shortlisted. I’ve entered for three years now and had many cases rejected as they didn’t meet the exceptionally high standards.

When I hear people say that you’re just paying for your seats and anybody can get in; I can categorically confirm that isn’t the case.

The team and I have worked exceptionally hard to make our practice the absolute best it can be; so to be recognised for this and judged at such a high level is a massive achievement and a huge compliment to the whole team on how hard they work every single day.

Why do you think you won?

Thomas: For us at Start-Smiling, dentistry is so much more than just the clinical end result, it’s about the entire journey of a patient and helping them achieve their smile confidence with as little stress and anxiety as possible. For so many people, even the thought of Googling a local dentist is sickening, so we have tirelessly worked to make our prospective patients’ journey as easy and stress-free as possible.

We put a lot of time and resources into communicating with the patients even before they set foot in the practice, sending them information about our team and demonstrating that we are real people too. Trying to show them the human side of dentistry before we even begin on the clinical can really help calm their nerves and relieve some of their anxieties.

When we built our entry portfolio we really focused on trying to show this pathway we have created for our patients, the theme of the entry was to show how we help them make that all-important first step, which may change their lives forever and bring them closer to the smile of their dreams.

Has winning Best Aesthetic Practice had an effect on the practice?

Thomas: Having multiple awards as recognition of our excellence immediately reassures our patients we are the right choice to provide them the smile they desire.

The awards are tailored for the types of things that patient may search for when they Google a dentist, such as ‘best smile makeover’ or ‘best dentures’. Having won these awards means we can use this for all our marketing and increase our presence on social media and search engines using these key phrases.

What this means is that it’s very easy to create an incredibly strong online practice presence once you have these awards to support your marketing campaigns. More profile means more patients, and generally more high-end patients looking for excellence; the awards add the credibility that we can provide this.

What made you enter the Aesthetic Dentistry Awards?
Thomas: I’ve always been a big fan of FMC. The clinical articles in the magazines have taught me so much over the years and I have been fortunate to meet the FMC team at events over the years, too.

With such a lovely group of people so committed to the success of UK dentistry and the fantastic events they put on, I try and go to at least one FMC event per year because it’s always such good fun and really a very extravagant and glamourous evening.

The Aesthetic Awards is my favourite as it’s held in the Landmark Hotel in London, which is magnificent – especially the breakfast!

What is your secret to running a successful cosmetic dental practice?

Thomas: The most important thing to being a successful practice is the recognition of the amazing work the people do there every single day.

A dentist can come and go, and the patients still stay; why? Because it’s everybody else at the practice who are the important ones. The receptionist, clinical assistants, treatment coordinators and managers are the people that the patients love, remember and look forward to seeing. The dentist is usually the one they fear.

The team need to know what an amazing job they do and none of us (dentists) would be anywhere without them; so my advice would be to spend more time and money on your people, the happiness they have and team-community spirit is palpable to the patients and it is this that keeps the patients coming back and spending their money.

What advice would you give to other practices hoping to enter the awards this year?

Thomas: Don’t think that you will have a chance of winning an award unless you put in a serious amount of work. I’d say the awards I’ve won have been written to the same level as my MSc case studies, with multiple references: very important to validate your treatment decisions.

The ones where I’ve cut corners are the ones that didn’t get anywhere. Follow the BACD standardised photography protocol to document your cases correctly and try to take procedural pictures also to help support your process and document your techniques.

Don’t forget that there is a person attached to those teeth you’re drilling; try to communicate the patients’ thoughts, feelings and anxieties, too. How did you help them overcome their fears and how did the treatment plan you agreed with them benefit their lives? It’s very important to show patient-centred care. Regarding the ‘Best Aesthetic Practice’ category, you need to demonstrate not only clinical excellence across multiple disciplines, but also your practice ethos.

It’s not ‘the dentist show’, it’s a team effort and everyone should help write the entry. Putting together an entry and following the guidelines can actually help focus and develop your team.

The process can highlight areas that are lacking within your practice and where improvements can be made, and can help the process of delegation and implementation of changes to the overall benefit of the patient journey and the enhancement of the practice.

The Aesthetic Dentistry Awards 2020 will take place on Friday 20 March 2020 at the Landmark Hotel in London. For more information, visit

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