It used to be the visit that even grown-ups and macho men dreaded. I know of a very brave man who was willing to face bullets but not his dentist.
The dentist used to be the embodiment of “Dr. Pain” himself with his injections, his drills, his pliers. Few ever went to the dentist willingly. The dentist’s chair was like an “electric chair” once you were strapped to it, you had to meet your fate. Of course, unlike doomed convicts, we all walked out of the dentist’s chair alive, living another day to tell our harrowing tale.
Those were the days before Dr. Steve Mark Gan and other dentists who have married medicine, gentle “chair-side” manners and the latest technology in the name of good dental health.
Gan is making a mark for upgrading, humanizing okay, even glamourizing the practice of dentistry these days. Some people refer to him as the “Dr. Vicki Belo of dentistry.” Gan says he is “honored” by the comparison.
Like Vicki, Gan is sometimes controversial for his trailblazing style. Moreover, he looks more like the leading man in a Korean telenovela than the “simple dentist trying to make a living” that he claims to be.
Gan recently made another mark with the opening of the Gan Advanced Osseointegration Center (GAOC) at the ground floor of The Residences at Greenbelt. This is the latest addition to the GAOC chain of clinics, which specializes in dental implants, cosmetic surgery and general dentistry.
Gan says the clinic’s services and facilities rival those of dental clinics in Singapore and Hong Kong, and are one of the best in Southeast Asia. His own expertise is the installation of dental implants.
Dental implants, unlike some dentures, give the appearance of real teeth because “they look, feel and function just like natural teeth,” points out Gan.
A popular TV host has publicly acknowledged Gan for his dental implants and this, according to Gan, has changed his (Gan’s) life. I am sure it has also changed the TV host’s life, because a smile can make or break one’s career on television. People thus started coming to Gan’s clinics for dental implants.
GAOC is also known for its tooth-whitening treatments, which use plasma arc blue light technology that activates a specially formulated gel to whiten teeth. And you get to watch a DVD movie on a flat screen on the wall during the process; they have quite an extensive collection!
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Gan, who also considers himself a government employee because he is a member of the Professional Regulatory Commission, toured some members of the press around his Greenbelt clinic recently. Frankly, its lobby exudes the feel of a beauty or wellness clinic rather than a dental clinic. In a way, it is a beauty clinic because one’s teeth can change one’s appearance dramatically and radically there has never been a cover girl or boy with bad teeth. Gan’s clinic can also now repair “gummy” (in Filipino, we say “gilagid”) smiles for those who are bothered by them.
Automatic glass sliding doors off the lobby are symbolic of the services offered at the clinic they open up a whole new world for the patient, almost instantly. Beyond the glass doors is a veritable trove of dental equipment in spacious, high-ceilinged treatment rooms. You will never know who is in the next room. Gan is assisted by several dentists.
“I want my clinics to be a yardstick for quality. I want it to be a place where excellence is expected,” stresses Gan. He proudly declares his Greenbelt clinic is arguably the most advanced in the Philippines.
In one room is a flat screen TV that explains the procedure you are about to undergo in layman’s terms. The software for this, according to Gan, costs P300,000. But it is worth every centavo because it puts the patient at ease. In another room, he shows us a P1-million dental chair that he claims is the Mercedes Benz C Class of all dental chairs.
He also shows us X-ray machines that do not need film (much like desktop publishing nowadays) and smaller machines that administer painless anesthesia and root canals.
In another room is a CT scan machine that cost him P16 million. Gan says this machine, the first of its kind in Luzon, provides an accurate high-resolution image for dentists to assess the best treatment for patients.
“Every time I invest in new equipment, I’m in heaven!” Gan, a business major in college at the UST before he shifted to dentistry, points out. He says he only buys American or European-made equipment.
Even if his clinics are state-of-the-art and he has a reputation for being the “dentist to the stars,” Gan says he is very democratic in his dealings with his patients. Once, he recalls, he had a tycoon, a top politician and an OFW in his waiting room. The OFW had the first appointment and so he was the first to be attended to. Gan says that if you are consistent with your policies, your patients will be happy to cooperate.
Even if his other clinics sport swanky addresses, Gan quietly runs a dental clinic in Pasay City that attends to indigents. He also goes on free dental missions at least three times a year.
In his free time, he likes to race cars.
But in his practice, the only person he likes to outdo is himself. The people he likes to see at the finish line are satisfied patients. Ultimately, that, to him, is the prize of winning the race.