Dentistry Uncensored with Howard Farran
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362 Dentistry in Malaysia with Matthew Hong : Dentistry Uncensored with Howard Farran

362 Dentistry in Malaysia with Matthew Hong : Dentistry Uncensored with Howard Farran

4/12/2016 11:46:30 PM   |   Comments: 0   |   Views: 562

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VIDEO - DUwHF #362 - Matthew Hong



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AUDIO - DUwHF #362 - Matthew Hong



Today’s episode takes place in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Howard visited the dental office of Dr Matthew Hong, BDS. Dr Hong graduated from dental school in Sydney Australia in 1997. He is licensed to practice in Singapore, the UK, Australia, and Malaysia. Dr. Matthew Hong has the only Sirona Dentsply Cerec CAD-CAM in Malaysia. His wife Zoe is Mrs Malaysia Universe 2015 and is the spokesperson for Sirona Asia Pacific.

Howard:

Welcome. It is a huge honor for me today. We're in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

 

Matthew:

That's right.

 

Howard:

Joru Beru Malaysia.

 

Matthew:

Welcome to Malaysia.

 

Howard:

With Dr. Matthew Hong. Thank you so much for having me in your office.

 

Matthew:

Thank you very much.

 

Howard:

You are a legend. There's 30 million people in Malaysia and you have the only Cerec CAD/CAM machine in Asia and your lovely wife was Miss Malaysia Universe 2015 and is the spokesperson for Cerona Asia, correct?

 

Matthew:

You are correct. I'm honored.

 

Howard:

How does it feel to be the husband of a wife that made Miss Malaysia Universe?

 

Matthew:

I should that I was very, very lucky. It just coincidentally, I know she like competition. She want to top of the games and then she have this chance, so she grab it, she get it. I'm very happy and I'm lucky to have her. She's helping me on my dental career as well.

 

Howard:

How long have you guys been married?

 

Matthew:

Let me count. 12 years in all.

 

Howard:

12 years?

 

Matthew:

12 years in all.

 

Howard:

She's a spokesperson for Cerona Asia. Is that because you're associating beauty with all natural tooth color restorations? Why did you get a Cerec? You're the only Cerec user in Malaysia. Tell me about that part of your journey.

 

Matthew:

First of all, I always want to embrace high-tech dentistry. Of course, Cerona is one of the biggest dental company in the world. It's just naturally. We adopt whatever Cerona is providing us. I've been using this product for the last one and a half years in all. It's beautiful products. In fact, I regretted that I haven't get it earlier. Also since I embrace technology, Cerec CAD/CAM is the way to go. Like it or not, this is something that we have to learn how to use it. I'm lucky that I'm the first adopters in Malaysia.

 

Howard:

Does your wife help your advertising in Malaysia?

 

Matthew:

She does. I think we leverage a lot on her reputation. Coincidentally, we are very close with Cenora Asia. They are very happy with our dental relationship. I think also right now, because she's famous now in Malaysia, so they want to leverage on her reputation.

 

Howard:

I'd like to talk about differences around the world. You went to dental school in?

 

Matthew:

In Sydney.

 

Howard:

In Sydney, Australia.

 

Matthew:

Yeah.

 

Howard:

That's where my brother lives and you're licensed there?

 

Matthew:

Yep.

 

Howard:

You're licensed in Singapore?

 

Matthew:

Yes.

 

Howard:

This is the closest city in Malaysia. You cross the bridge from here and you're in Singapore. We drove in here this morning from Singapore to see you specifically. You're licensed in Malaysia, a country of 30 million and you're also licensed in the U.K., aren't you?

 

Matthew:

U.K., that's right, that's correct.

 

Howard:

You could practice anywhere?

 

Matthew:

Yeah. All of those country that you mentioned, I can practically practice there.

 

Howard:

I can only practice in the United States. You can practice in Sydney, Singapore, Malaysia, London.

 

Matthew:

Yep.

 

Howard:

Out of all those places, why did you pick here? Why Malaysia?

 

Matthew:

Very simple, is home.

 

Howard:

It's home.

 

Matthew:

I was born here. I actually did my primary and secondary school here. I only went to Australia to do my tertiary and my degree, then I come back to [several 00:04:05] country. As simple as that.

 

Howard:

Home is always home?

 

Matthew:

Home is home.

 

Howard:

Home is home.

 

Matthew:

I'm comfortable here.

 

Howard:

What is the difference ... Like next door in Singapore, you're not allowed to advertise.

 

Matthew:

Yep.

 

Howard:

In Malaysia are you allowed to advertise?

 

Matthew:

No. In fact, in Malaysia, Singapore by right we're not allowed to advertise.

 

Howard:

It's the same as Singapore?

 

Matthew:

It's the same. We're actually under the same constitutions.

 

Howard:

Talk about that. How do you grow a cosmetic practice with CAD/CAM and Cerona and your wife, Miss Universe, if you can't advertise?

 

Matthew:

How do we do that? Basically, actually word of mouth, that help us a lot in many, many years. However, we do use a bit of social medias to help us. I think, at end of the day, what had helped us is actually we have done a good job. Patient are happy with what we do, so word of mouth help us tremendously.

 

Howard:

I think word of mouth is the most important form of advertising anyway.

 

Matthew:

It is.

 

Howard:

I think that in countries where you're not allowed to advertise, I think it's actually better for the dentists, because you have to work on your game. You have to be a good dentist. You can't just rely on doing some advertisement, getting 50 new patients. You've got to worry about keeping your 50 old patients.

 

 

I notice on your wall, you have more certificates I think of any dentist I've ever seen. You literally have a hall of fame. What courses? ... You've been a dentist for 20 years?

 

Matthew:

Yeah. It will be 20 years next year, so yeah.

 

Howard:

What courses have you taken? What types of dentistry have you learned looking back over the last 20 years? You're really glad you learned those courses, learned that technology. What do you like to do?

 

Matthew:

First of all, I will say I embrace technology. That's why I think the best course I've ever taken is by Invisalign, which is a 3D type of invisible braces. Also Cerec 3D training of prosthetics. Those actually benefit me a lot, because as in Malaysia not a lot of people have the access to all 3D dentistry, so I'm glad I know I started that. I want to be the first adopter and pioneer for 3D  dentistry.

 

Howard:

You like 3d dentistry?

 

Matthew:

Definitely. Computer-aid design, computer edits, manufacturing I think that's actually the way to go long-term.

 

Howard:

Are you doing other types of 3D? Are you placing implants?

 

Matthew:

Yes I do. We are embracing technology to achieve better implants. Using 3D technology the implants placement will be very accurate, will be very easy to handle and also right now we can actually produce prosthesis a lot of time within the same day. That's what patient want now.

 

Howard:

What would you say in Malaysia is your most popular dentistry? What do you do the most of?

 

Matthew:

I would say as per now right now patient actually more after cosmetic dentistry. I would say orthodontics and probably full-mouth cosmetic corrections.

 

Howard:

Do you also do root canals?

 

Matthew:

I do. In fact, in our own practice right now we do all aspect of dentistry.

 

Howard:

You do everything?

 

Matthew:

I do basically everything.

 

Howard:

You don't refer out anything?

 

Matthew:

We try to keep everything in-house. This is actually how we practice in Malaysia.

 

Howard:

I love your practice. I also notice this is the only dental office I've ever been in in my life where everybody takes their shoes off at the front door. I don't know if you can pan to the front or whatever.

 

Matthew:

That's a lot of pair of shoes.

 

Howard:

Is that a Malaysian custom? Talk about that custom. I've never seen it anywhere in the world.

 

Matthew:

In fact, first in all, this is the Asia way. In Malaysia right now, we practice this as well. In my clinic I want to make patients feel more comfortable, in fact, most patients feel that when they should take off shoes and walk to a clinic, they feel more at home, so that's actually why we practice that.

 

Howard:

That's what I do when I get home, when I get home I take off my shoes.

 

Matthew:

Yeah. This is our clinics, this our home.

 

Howard:

Very nice. I wonder if I pitch that to my staff what they would say if I asked everybody to take off their shoes, what do you think they would say? He's right, we do that at home, why don't we do it at our dental offices?

 

Speaker 3:

Some people would be, "yes," some people would say, "it's weird."

 

Howard:

I also noticed the girls behind your front desk, they're just all smiles and all giggles. Every time I asked them a question, they just giggle and smile. You seem to have a very happy team.

 

Matthew:

Yeah. I'm sure that they're happy to see you. All of you, actually.

 

Howard:

You like to do endo, you like to place implants, you do Invisalign, you like to do Cerec. You're a man of many missions.

 

Matthew:

We like to call ourselves super GP. I still like and enjoy all aspects of dentistry. If I can, I think to treat patient as a whole, so you have to actually be able to tackle all patient's problem. A lot of time, patient in Malaysia especially, they like to be seen by the same dentist from start to finish. Also I found it's easier for us to build our rapports with patients if we actually do everything from start to finish for them.

 

Howard:

Do you use a hygienist to clean the teeth or do you prefer to clean the teeth yourself?

 

Matthew:

We do not have hygienists in Malaysia as per now.

 

Howard:

You do not have hygienists?

 

Matthew:

No, we don't. I do even dental prophylaxis for patient as well.

 

Howard:

Do you like doing cleanings?

 

Matthew:

I do not mind, I don't mind it actually.

 

Howard:

You don't mind it?

 

Matthew:

I don't mind it. In fact, it's not the thing I enjoy the most, but I do not mind.

 

Howard:

It's very common in all of Asia to not really use hygienists. Most dentists all do their own cleanings in Asia.

 

Matthew:

That's right.

 

Howard:

Would you agree with that?

 

Matthew:

Yes. In fact, I think only in Australia they do have dental hygienists. In many part of Asia dentists do basic cleanings, prophylaxis for patients.

 

Howard:

Since you've been out 20 years, I want to ... A lot of the fans of the podcast are ... They're still in school. They just got out of school for a couple of years. They're sitting there, they're just graduating, there's so much to learn. What order do you think these kids should learn? You can't go out and learn how to place implants, do Invisalign, do Cerac, read a ... You can't do it all at once. Is there any order that you like, that you would give advice to the young kids?

 

Matthew:

Coming to that, I do agree that you do need to learn your skills step-by-step. I think for the first 3 to 5 years, basic dentistry is very, very important. We went through it ourself, we start doing cleaning for patient, simple fillings, simple root canal, simple crown to start with. That enabled us to actually improve our skill, which we haven't learned that much during dental school. I think for the first 3 to 5 year, really it's actually the time to actually stick to the basic, do the basic, do it every day, day in day out, get yourself very, very good at it, so they become imprint to you, so nobody's going to take it away from you.

 

 

Then, after 3 to 5 year, when you think that oh, I'm actually open up for more challenge, I can do something more complicated. Then that's where orthodontic come in, that's where implant come in. For example, implants, a lot of people thought it's easy, but it's not. You have to know your basic anesthetic skill, your surgical skill, your prosthetic skill and occlusion as a whole. It involves many, many things, which I think maybe for the first 3 to 5 years is very difficult for a young dentist to understand and grasp the concepts.

 

 

I think, 3 to 5 year basic, after t3 to 5 five year, then you know, you see, what aspect of dentistry you're more keen of. Get a lot of training, go to classes, talk to people and learn the correct way. Looking back, I went to many, many, many, many course, you can tell from the stuff on my wall.

 

Howard:

Yes.

 

Matthew:

I realize that the good thing is I really spent time learning, and I really benefit from that. Every time talking to somebody, spend time to actually going to the course, I learned something. Not only a new knowledge, actually a good refreshing of what we have learned and just talking to people we get a bit of connections and then we get feedbacks and knowledge [inaudible 00:13:40] how I benefited.

 

Howard:

I want to ask you another question, you live in a part of the world where there's many different races and cultures. There's Malaysian, there's Chinese, there's Indians, you've live in Australia. Do you see different decay rates for different cultures based on diet? Do you think that the diet's not as important as the home care? Have you seen any variance in disease, missing filled teeth, decay rates among all the different races in Southeast Asia from diets?

 

Matthew:

No, in fact. I work in different countries for the last 20 years. I do not see a big differences in different races. I think it all points out to your dental health conscious. In many country there are a small portion of patient that really never taken care of their teeth. Then they are the patient that actually really suffer from decays, periodontal disease. Most of the patient that we see, especially our setting, actually their dental hygiene is quite good. I don't have a lot of problem in term of that.

 

Howard:

You would say the difference in decay rate is more related to how you take care of your teeth, not on what your mom and dad are cooking you for dinner?

 

Matthew:

That's right, yep.

 

Howard:

Okay. Interesting, interesting. In your 20 years, going back from two decades ago to today, would you say Malaysia, the average child 20 years later has more cavities than twenty years ago? The same number as 20 years ago? Or less cavities than 20 years ago?

 

Matthew:

I would say no, compared to 20 years ago, there would be less cavities.

 

Howard:

You see the decay rate going down?

 

Matthew:

Going down. I think because patient now that they understand the important of, I think at least, personal dental hygiene. If they take care of themselves, in fact, dental decay is actually quite little now.

 

Howard:

Some people say that the whole world is drinking like more Coke or Pepsi or soda than 20 years ago. Some people think because of that, there's actually more cavities now than 20 years ago, but that's not what you're seeing?

 

Matthew:

No. Not in our Malaysian context.

 

Howard:

Not in Malaysia?

 

Matthew:

Maybe not yet, who knows?

 

Howard:

Do you think there's less cavities in Malaysia now than 20 years ago?

 

Matthew:

Yes, because when I first started, because I think, patient are not exposed to dental health, so that is why a lot of them don't have a chance to take care of their teeth. We see much more then the decay and much more hopeless teeth in the future, in the past, sorry. As per now, I do see a lot of improvement.

 

Howard:

Does Malaysia ... does like. I'm sorry, the name-

 

Matthew:

Johor Bahru?

 

Howard:

Johor Bahru, how many people live in Johor Bahru? It's a big town.

 

Matthew:

I would say the whole Johor, which is the state, is about two million.

 

Howard:

Two million?

 

Matthew:

Johor Bahru is about a million, plus minus three hundred thousand, because we have a lot of transients resident. They come from all over Malaysia. They stay in Johor Bahru, but they are working in Singapore.

 

Howard:

How many people live in Kuala Lumpur, the capital?

 

Matthew:

Kuala Lumpur, we're looking about at least three millions.

 

Howard:

Three million?

 

Matthew:

Plus minus, because they have a lot of transients residents as well.

 

Howard:

Does Kuala Lumpur or this city, do they use water fluoridation?

 

Matthew:

We do have fluoride in our water.

 

Howard:

Is it natural or is it adjusted by the government?

 

Matthew:

It's adjusted by the government.

 

Howard:

Adjusted by the government?

 

Matthew:

Yep.

 

Howard:

How long have you guys used water fluoridation?

 

Matthew:

I do not remember the exact date, but as long as I remember. I think since 1970's, we do have it.

 

Howard:

When you got out of school, it was already in the water?

 

Matthew:

Yep, It was already in.

 

Howard:

Where I live in Phoenix, Tempe put it in in 1973. You think it's about the same time period?

 

Matthew:

I think so. This is quite correct for Malaysia countries.

 

Howard:

Is community water fluoridation in Malaysia, is it controversial? Do some of the people in Malaysia want it taken out of the water?

 

Matthew:

No. In fact, this hasn't actually created big debates.

 

Howard:

It's not a debate here?

 

Matthew:

No.

 

Howard:

Very interesting. Anything else you want to talk about? I know you're a busy man, you're getting ready ... Tell us this, you're getting ready to fly to China.

 

Matthew:

That's right.

 

Howard:

You were telling me that China has 3 big meetings a year. Will you talk about those 3 big meetings and why you're going to them?

 

Matthew:

In fact, China they have 3 big dental meeting in a year. I'm going tonight actually to one in Guangzhou.

 

Howard:

Guangzhou?

 

Matthew:

Guangzhou. Another one in Beijing.

 

Howard:

Beijing.

 

Matthew:

June this year. There will be another one in-

 

Howard:

Shanghai.

 

Matthew:

Shanghai, October this year. Normally, because they are quite big in scale, so we like to actually go in meet people, get ourself familiar with the newer technology. I think I'm sure that every time I go in there's more advanced CAD/CAMs gadgets coming out, so which I'm quite interested in. Also not to forget, I love the food in China. Half business, half leisure.

 

Howard:

Yeah, so you're flying there tonight?

 

Matthew:

I'm flying tonight.

 

Howard:

You'll fly from this city straight to Shanghai?

 

Matthew:

In fact, no. I need to actually commute to Singapore [crosstalk 00:19:22] Chinese airport to Guangzhou.

 

Howard:

To Guangzhou?

 

Matthew:

Yep.

 

Howard:

How long of a flight's that?

 

Matthew:

I think about 4 hours.

 

Howard:

4 hour flight?

 

Matthew:

4 hour, yep.

 

Howard:

How many days is the meeting?

 

Matthew:

It's supposed to be 3 days, but as I say, I enjoy the food there, so I extended my trip, so I'm going to stay there for 8 days.

 

Howard:

8 days, wow. Are you going by yourself or taking-

 

Matthew:

No, I'm going with my wife.

 

Howard:

Taking your wife with you? You're going to have a vacation.

 

Matthew:

Yep.

 

Howard:

I'm in your way, right? You're in a hurry.

 

Matthew:

No, no. I'm glad you dropped by.

 

Howard:

Thank you. Is there anything else that you're passionate about that you want to talk about?

 

Matthew:

Of course, apart from basic dentistry work, I'm actually also very passionate about facial aesthetic. I'm actually one of the few dentists that actually has been trained to do facial aesthetic. We do Botox, filler, chemical peel for patients, and as per now, myself and another dentist in Singapore, we actually conduct course to actually teach dentists how to use Botox in dental practices. That's actually where my current passion is.

 

Howard:

Botox?

 

Matthew:

Botox.

 

Howard:

Botox and dermal fillers?

 

Matthew:

Yep.

 

Howard:

Wow. Is this a significant portion of your office? It is more than 1% of your practice or 5%?

 

Matthew:

Yeah, I would say maybe between 3% to 5% of practice.

 

Howard:

3% to 5%?

 

Matthew:

I'm glad that I have another skill, another weapon I can use. If patient needs it, they do not have to be refer out. As you know, I like to keep everything under the same roof. If I can do it for them, [inaudible 00:21:07] situations.

 

Howard:

It is the most exciting thing about dentistry, is there's never a dull day. There's never a dull patient, there's never something you can't learn. You can just keep learning and learning and learning. Anything else you're passionate about?

 

Matthew:

I think for dentistry that would be what I'm actually happy for the time being.

 

Howard:

I want to ask you another question about the state. Malaysia's a big country, thirty million people. How many dental schools and how many dentists do you think?

 

Matthew:

As per now, we have 15 dental schools.

 

Howard:

15 dental schools.

 

Matthew:

There is a big increase compared to just maybe 5 to 7 years ago. We have only less than 5. We have maybe 5 government dental school and we then have about 10 private dental schools. As per now, we are [training up 00:21:53] maybe 1,000 to 2,000 dentists a year. As per now, I think the registered dentists number is about 9,000 in Malaysia.

 

Howard:

9,000 thousand dentists?

 

Matthew:

Yeah.

 

Howard:

What is the state of silver fillings? In Malaysia, what percent of the fillings do you think are done with amalgam and what percent are done with composite?

 

Matthew:

I don't have the exact number, but looking at that, I would say still 20%, 30% of that [crosstalk 00:22:22]

 

Howard:

30%?

 

Matthew:

20% to 30% of that will be done in amalgam, which I do not like to see. For myself, since after I actually set up my own clinics, I do not use silver filling at all.

 

Howard:

How many dentists did you say there were? 9,000?

 

Matthew:

About 9,000.

 

Howard:

9,000.

 

Matthew:

As per now, registered dentists.

 

Howard:

You don't like silver fillings? Why?

 

Matthew:

First of all, they don't look nice. Second of all, I do not like the idea of you're putting mercury and metal inside of body. A lot of time, eventually, the tooth is going to have a lot of problem. I do see a lot of cracks. I do see a lot of necrotic teeth, because of amalgam. Of course, most patient do not like it because of the color.

 

 

As per now, in our practice, we do not practice amalgam filling at all. We're using tooth colored filling, GIC composite, which have improved tremendously for the past few years. We have Cerac, we have aesthetics crowns now, which is a good replacement for that.

 

Howard:

For a standard MOD composite on a first molar, what would your standard material be for that? What would your [crosstalk 00:23:45]

 

Matthew:

Most probably put in a composite.

 

Howard:

What brand?

 

Matthew:

What brand?

 

Howard:

Yeah, what brand?

 

Matthew:

We are using GC.

 

Howard:

GC, General Chemical out of Japan?

 

Matthew:

Yeah, Japan.

 

Howard:

They just moved their headquarter to Switzerland.

 

Matthew:

That's right.

 

Howard:

Why was that? I thought that was a very long, old Japanese company, did it get bought or-

 

Matthew:

I'm not sure, but I don't know why they do that, because I love Japan. I thought Japan is a beautiful country. Maybe, because they are starting to tackle maybe European country, so probably by shifting the HQ to Switzerland may be a good idea, I'm not sure. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Switzerland's not beautiful. I haven't been there. I've seen photos, it's beautiful. I love Japan, because food is fantastic, I love their cultures. I'm an avid traveler. I go to Japan once or twice a year.

 

Howard:

Fantastic. I know you're pressed for time. Okay. I just want to tell you it was-

 

Matthew:

You're also pressed for time.

 

Howard:

-just an honor to let me and my two boys in your office today.

 

Matthew:

Thank you very much.

 

Howard:

That you for taking time out. I hope-

 

Matthew:

Thank you very much.

 

Howard:

-you and your lovely wife have a blast in China.

 

Matthew:

Thank you very much.

 

Howard:

If you're ever in the United States, you've got to come by to my home and say hello to us.

 

Matthew:

Sure, all right. Okay. Thank you very much.

 

Howard:

All right. Thank you very much.

 

Matthew:

Thanks for driving by.

 


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