Dread going to the dentist? Fear no more! We hear how this Hong Kong orthodontist is doing things differently in her clinic to ensure patient visits are stress-free.
Within moments of sitting down with orthodontist Dr Louise Wong, we are in deep discussion about choosing schools, how to get kids to eat properly, and the benefits of vitamin B for busy professionals. It’s quickly apparent why people lose the stereotypical fear of visiting the dentist when dealing with someone as warm and friendly as Louise. And it comes as no surprise to hear patients keep in touch long after their treatments have been completed.
The story behind the orthodontist
Louise is among the small clutch of qualified orthodontists in Hong Kong. There are about 2,000 dentists in HK but only three to four percent of them are trained orthodontists. “After 16 years being an orthodontist, I love my job; it’s so rewarding to see the patients’ lovely smiles after their braces are removed and the difference it makes to their personalities,” she says.
Louise’s interest in dentistry – and her desire to prove it could be done differently – was a direct result of personal experience. As a child, she had bad teeth made worse by lots of cavities, leading to a staggering 12 extractions on the National Health Service (NHS). “I was terrified of going to the dentist,” she recalls. “To this day, I still remember the faces of the two people holding me down and extracting my teeth. I decided I was going to be a dentist that was different to that.”
Born in the UK, Louise studied dentistry at The London University before spending five years working in Tonbridge in Kent where her interest in orthodontics was rekindled. Deciding to undertake the additional six years of study to become a specialist in orthodontics at the University of Hong Kong, Louise met her San Francisco-trained husband, Dr Raymond Lee, in the Hong Kong dental licensing exam.
Family life in Hong Kong
Now settled here with their two children, aged eight and ten, and dog Bella, Louise is like all working parents, managing her job and family life. “I’m really lucky to be in a profession that I love and that’s also very family-friendly in the working hours as well,” she says. “Now the children are in primary school, my typical working day starts after the school run and finishes when the kids return from their after-school activities. I believe meal times are the most important part of the day, to relax, unwind and share, so we always have breakfast and dinner together as a family.”
Her experience as a mum is evident in her Central clinic, which aims to be as welcoming and stress-free as possible for patients of all ages, from the ambience to the customer service. “I really feel for patients who are nervous or scared as I’ve been in their shoes before,” she says. “That’s why I opened my own practice and made sure that my patients are treated the way I would want myself or my family to be treated.”
“My daughter wants to follow in my footsteps as she thinks I have so much fun at work – which is true! I love what I do and love changing people’s smiles for the better. But out of the three ‘hats’ that I wear – orthodontist, wife, and mother – I find being a mum the most demanding. As my kids approach adolescence, I can imagine some challenging roads ahead – but one of the important things I’ve learnt as an orthodontist is that a good relationship starts with being a good listener and having effective communication. It’s all standing me in good stead for my ‘mum’ hat.”
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This article first appeared in the December/January 2018/19 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.