We welcome Dr Soh Shean Han, Dental Specialist in Orthodontics, into the Specialist Dental Group family on 6 August 2022. After coming in as the 7th graduate who received BDS honours in the history of National University of Singapore dental school since 1929, Dr Soh furthered her studies in the area of Orthodontics and is board certified by the American Board of Orthodontics, United States of America.
She is also an Adjunct Senior Lecturer with National University of Singapore and a Visiting Associate Consultant at National University Centre for Oral Health, Singapore.
Why did you choose to be trained in Orthodontics rather than the other specialty areas?
Knowing I could give my patients a great smile and the effect this has on their self-esteem was extremely appealing. I enjoy the long-term relationships orthodontists build with their patients over time. I also relish the opportunity of being able to work with, and complement the work of other specialties, when managing complex multi-disciplinary cases.
What was one of your most memorable cases that you’ve experienced in your years of practice?
A 7 year-old boy, who had impacted upper front teeth (buried central incisors) in the jaw bone – he felt embarrassed because of his missing front teeth. Through braces, the buried teeth were finally brought through the gums. Both patient and mummy were so happy and grateful which made me realize orthodontic treatment can have a real and huge impact on the quality of life of patients, even at a very young age.
Share with us something that is not widely known about your specialty/ profession.
A common perception in the society is adults are too old for braces or the worry about the unaesthetic look of and discomfort from traditional braces. However, there is no age limit to orthodontic treatment. With advanced technology, more aesthetic and convenient options such as fixed ceramic braces, invisible lingual braces (fixed), or invisible and removable “braces” (aligners) are available and suitable for all ages. Everyone deserves and can achieve a great smile, including patients with missing or broken teeth or gum disease.
If you didn’t become an Orthodontist, what do you foresee yourself doing?
Law or counselling. Law because I love the intellectual stimulation that comes with the job. This interest also motivated me to take a diploma in law before studying for my dental degree.
On counselling, I was told I have an ability to ask good guiding questions that lead to deep conversations. It involves understanding an individual’s perspectives and how this has shaped their life journey and outlook. I firmly believe there is no right or wrong in which direction we can steer our life towards. It is always an eye-opener to hear differing viewpoints from all walks of life. Being able to share an alternative perspective and/ or serve as a pillar of support, which I experienced first-hand as a mentor/advisor to my students, gives me a strong sense of gratification.
What is your favourite dental quote?
“A smile is a curve that sets things straight”.
You received more than 20 awards during your training. Amongst all that you received, which are you most proud of?
Dr F.A.C. Oehlers Medal, where the best clinical student is awarded with a gold medal. I always viewed myself solely as an academically-inclined and theoretical person. Having achieved this award gave me the reassurance that I was able to provide excellent dental care to my patients.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I don’t think I have the most interesting personality. I enjoy reading, café-hopping and hiking. Exploring new places, be it nature or a quaint café, helps me unwind from the hustle and bustle of life.
The most memorable café to me would be Le Jardin at Fort Canning Park. They serve good, affordable food with an amazing atmosphere. Imagine Victorian-styled interiors, air plants, fresh blooms and dried flowers. Typing this reminds me that I should plan for my next visit.
As for hiking, I enjoy the routes at MacRitchie Reservoir, Henderson Waves/Southern Ridges, and Marina Barrage (though the latter doesn’t really count as a hike, it offers a breath-taking view of the sea).
I generally read non-fiction books that are related to self-improvement, family & relationships, and psychology.
What are some fun facts about yourself?
I still do not have a valid driving license despite studying and training for a few years in the US. I prefer to be chauffeured around (just kidding!). One of the reasons I did not learn driving is because public transport in Singapore (and Seattle) is so convenient. It is environmentally friendly and saves me from the financial liability of owning a car. I also love having that “me-time” while finding/creating my own headspace when I walk between destinations.
I also have a new love, which is my baby nephew! He has the most beautiful eyes. His innocence, adventurous spirit and sense of mischief makes me adore him even more.