Going to the dentist has never been something we look forward to. Even as an adult, many of us put off a visit to that reclining leather chair and nightmare drilling sound that still haunts us. But there's one charismatic dentist making waves on YouTube and sucking the fear out of dentistry for kids and adults in equal measures. His name is Dr Milad Shadrooh but many of you will be familiar with him as the Singing Dentist. We had the pleasure of catching up with him recently about all things business and show business, and just how much his parodies of famous tunes are having an impact on attitudes to dental hygiene.
1. How did the Singing Dentist first enter our world?
It was November 2015 and I was working in my dental surgery when Drake's 'Hotline Bling' came on the radio and I started changing the lyrics to be about root canals. I recorded one take of me free styling and sent it to my mate. He thought it was hilarious and told me I should put it online; I thought he was crackers. But then he posted it on Facebook without me knowing and before I knew it, the video was circulating the dental community. From there, it started to get picked up by the public. The root canal lyrics were a bit technical for the public to understand but what was clear was that they were enjoying seeing a dentist do something different so I created 'Gappy', a parody of 'Happy' by Pharrell Williams. This one went crazy. Honestly, this just became a thing out of nowhere. My logo just evolved from the fact that people liked my eyebrows.
2. Do you remember the feeling of it all kicking off?
It was all just really funny. I was getting loads of messages back from people saying that their kids had started brushing their teeth, having struggled to get them to do it themselves. I’ve had messages from adults who had been really nervous to go to the dentist and I’d helped them to have the confidence. It has all been so positive. It’s a great feeling knowing that I am helping to do some good. It was around March time last year when I received a message from a mum on Facebook to say she had a disabled daughter and after 7 years she now wanted to go to the dentist. I’m quite amazed at what my silly face has done. The common positive response has encouraged me to carry on.
3. How do you balance doing your job as a professional dentist as well as being your alter ego?
I’ve worked at the same dental practice for 13 years now owned it for 7 years so I have an established patient base and we're embedded in the local community. My patients are really chuffed for me and they understand that sometimes I might need to reschedule some appointments. But being the Singing Dentist day to day doesn’t take up much time as the parodies take just minutes to write and I’ll only record them in 2-3 takes. I have a very balanced schedule as I work 3 days a week, while the other days I am lecturing in dentistry and juggling fatherhood and Singing Dentist commitments. The dental industry talks are really taking off due to the growth of the brand.
4. Do you feel that you have to choose whether to be the Singing Dentist or yourself in public situations?
No. Luckily what you see of the Singing Dentist is my own personality. I don’t turn it on and off. Weirdly, though, I am more shy in real life. I can sing to the camera in a room no problem, but put me on a stage performing and I do get nervous!
5. What's the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in life? If you have a passion then the talent always comes through, no matter what you do. If you do something because you love it and are sincere, people will understand it. Follow your heart.
6. What's been the biggest milestone for you so far? I can’t pinpoint a specific milestone because I’ve enjoyed every step in the Singing Dentist’s journey so far. If everything ended tomorrow, I’ll be glad I’ve done it. It still shocks me how many people I’ve spoken to or met through social media. I reply to every comment, it’s a promise I made to myself, and it takes a long time. A lot of the questions require dental expertise so I can’t rely on anyone to help with the replies. The ability to help people remotely is a rather big milestone alone.
6. What has been your proudest moment as the Singing Dentist?
I think it’s been all the TV stuff. It snowballed after my nurse contacted the local press without me knowing (there’s a pattern of people sharing my stuff without my permission). It then got picked up in the Metro and ITV London News. Before I knew it I was on Lorraine with Dr Hillary doing a dentistry special. A pretty amazing moment was meeting Ed Sheeran and he asked me for a selfie! I met him backstage at The Royal Albert Hall during his concert for The Teenage Cancer Trust and I was gob smacked when he recognized me! Meeting and performing with Diversity on their New Years Day show was also awesome! And professionally, it was an honour to be named as the number 1 most influential person in dentistry ahead of Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt! This was voted for by readers of Dentistry magazine and my parents were particularly proud of this!
7. Who is your inspiration?
My dad has been an inspiration by introducing me to music from an early age. And it’s both my parents. They made huge sacrifices for me to have a better life and for that, I am eternally grateful. As a father myself, I now appreciate it so much more.
Another inspiration has to be Michael Jackson. As a child in Iran, I watched Thriller every day and I would copy his moves and sing his songs around the house. My final inspiration was Will Smith. Growing up, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was my favourite show and I learnt a lot of my personality traits from cheeky Will! Truthfully, though, I get inspiration from all over - there are so many good people in my life.
8. What keeps you motivated?
I think knowing what I have achieved in a short space in time keeps me motivated and I want to use this voice to do some good. I would love to leave behind some kind of mark, something my kids can look back at and feel proud that their dad did something great. We have record numbers of children being admitted to hospital every year for dental extractions under general anaesthetic. This costs the NHS around £36million each year and in essence, it is a preventable disease. I want to use the Singing Dentist brand to bring this stat down. Also knowing I can help make what seems a boring and scary place – the dentists - somewhere people want to go is driving me forward. I would like to show what really goes on behind closed doors of dentistry as it’s neither boring nor scary. There’s an awesome generation who’ve come in to keep it interesting. I work with a bunch of personalities who are dental professionals during day and have crazy interests at night, like body builders, boxers, actors. It’s a cool place, really.
9. If you weren't doing this, you would be....
I’d probably be doing something in music, maybe production or being a superstar DJ (!).