Interview with Dr Anna Tang

Dr Anna Tang, Orthodontist (ToofDoctor)

1) Why did you choose this profession and what do you love most about your job?

There are a few reasons actually…
I had braces done when I was 16 and it really changed the way I felt about myself. I had really crooked teeth and I didn’t smile much. And I thought, hey, isn’t it great if I can do this for a living and help other people with crooked teeth too?

I am also a control freak (well, in a good way). I like everything nicely planned out and under my control. I am also obsessed about things being tidy and organized. I love putting braces on my patients  – it’s all MY work and no one else. (ok, I do need the patient’s co-operation sometimes like keeping the teeth clean and wearing the rubber bands. but it’s still mostly my work) It is really very satisfying to see my patient’s crooked teeth get all tidied up.

Of course I also love the lifestyle of our profession. Generally dentists have very flexible hours, or at least those who are in private practice. You can work as much or as little as you want to. And the remuneration is not too bad too!

2) As many people are afraid of visiting the dentist, how do you identify and reassure patients who are feeling nervous?

 Identifying nervous patients is easy. They either will tell you right away that they are scared, or they are very tense once they are on the dental chair.

How to reassure them….This is what I usually do –  chit chat a bit, explain the procedure in simple layman terms, try to get the procedure done as gently as possible, use positive words like ” well done”, “you are doing a great job”, etc. and actually braces is not a really scary dental procedure (unlike wisdom tooth or implant where surgeries are involved) so most patients adapt quite well.

3) What is your mission in Life?

Wow, mission in life….those are some big words. I believe that I am in this world for a reason – I want to leave my footprint and I want to be able to say that I did change the world for the better during my life when I die. Have you heard of the parable of the talents in the Bible? I am sure I don’t want to be like that servant that buried the talent in the ground.
4) How do you create a work-life balance for yourself?

I worked in the government clinic for 10 years, and those were the times when I felt that work >life. My schedule now in private practice is much better. I don’t work most mornings and I spend the time with my 2 year-old daughter. I try to make full use of our time together and we often go to the park, go swimming, do craft at home or go to the library. Then we have lunch together. When she’s down for her afternoon nap at about 2pm, that’s when I’m off to work. I usually come home around 8pm so we have a bit of time together before her bedtime.

My husband is also a dentist. But he’s way more workaholic than me. Weekdays he works really long hours but he tries to come back for lunch or dinner with us. Sunday is our family day and we prefer going outdoors than staying in shopping malls. Favorite hangout on Sundays – MacRitchie, Botanic Gardens, Sungei Kadut Nature Reserve, Farms at Kranji. We spend enough time indoors during our work hours so it’s all outdoor, back to nature for us during Sundays!

5) How would you define “Beauty

Beauty comes from within. I believe that I can give my patients beautiful smiles and confidence about their teeth – but being beautiful is so much more than that. In Orthodontics, we have “gold standard” and we all aim to give our patients the straightest, most perfect set of teeth. Similarly, there are also “gold standards” in other areas in life that we can aim towards in order to become truly beautiful.

Grace says: I’m in the process of getting my canines “straightened out” and visiting Dr Anna is like going to meet an old friend. I was surprised when I stepped into Dr Anna’s consultation room one day and she said something along the lines of “Oi! How are you?”. 🙂 That uncommon greeting sure took me by surprise. I also liked it that there’s no hardselling, and she asked me whether I’d like to get the common metallic braces instead of the costlier ceramic ones, or a combination of half-metallic half-ceramic, in order to “save money”. Vanity eventually won, and I signed up for the full-ceramic package. 😀 There’s still more than a year’s worth of tightening and straightening to do so wish me luck!