It is dentists like Vik Chugani who have changed the face of dentistry in this country. Many of us will remember the horrors of visiting a dentist as a child and are happy that for today’s children it is a completely different experience.
In our area, it is because we have a dental practice owned by Vik (an honorary Peppard Person) whose forward-looking philosophy is to be fully involved in what he calls minimal intervention dentistry: this means early detection of dental diseases using the latest diagnostic instruments and then treating patients preventatively with things such as high fluoride/mineral pastes, diet diaries, hygienist treatments – all with the aim of reducing the amount of fillings, etc. In this he has largely succeeded – in the last 15 years they have reduced by around 65%. He visits schools to give talks and invites school parties into the surgery for things like playing informative games and practising brushing. His own professional specialisation is in restorative work such as root canal treatment and implants. He also takes referrals from, and participates in education of, other local dentists.
His team at Wood Lane Dentistry also provide training for carers (free of charge) in local nursing homes, showing them how to help maintain the oral health of their vulnerable patients, especially those with dementia.
The business model that Vik has adopted is that of a not-for-profit organisation whereby he is salaried thus enabling continued investment into the practice. They carry out a small amount of NHS work but rely mainly upon most of his patients being Denplan insurance clients.
Vik was born and bred in West London: his family settled there after the partition of India in the late 1940s. When Vik joined the practice as Richard McQuillan’s Associate in 2002, he commuted from London but in 2013 he moved with his wife, Claudia, and two young children to Caversham.
He didn’t follow a family path into dentistry: his grandfather, who died before Vik was born, travelled the world for an international trading company based in Lagos, Nigeria.
His extrovert father, an accountant, confounded all his family and friends by giving up his job for a large company and starting his own business selling a variety of things ranging from picture frames to electronics. He was fondly known to all as a sort of South Asian Del Boy!
He and Claudia met at university in Cardiff where they both qualified. Having completed postgraduate training and achieving several advanced qualifications, Vik considered pursuing a career as a hospital consultant however by the time he came to that major career decision he was well and truly settled in Sonning Common. Claudia followed her career in dentistry too and holds a consultantship at the London Hospital Dental School in Whitechapel.
One thing is for sure – their two young sons will grow up with the best oral health in the entire region.