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Starting with Why: A Best Friend’s Smile Story
Written by Dr. Kelvin Mah   

David and a womanOne of the greatest privileges of my job (which never really feels like a job!) is that my patients generously invite me into their lives, so that I can explore the roots of their personalities and preferences, discover their true, authentic smile, and apply my artisan skills to bring it to life through the transformative possibilities of modern dentistry. Indeed, it’s this elevated level of friendship that makes every day at Smile City Square Dental an inspiration, and an experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Of course, while I’m honoured and grateful to consider all of my patients as friends, just like anyone else, there are people in my life who share the joy, provide the support, and admittedly, at times shoulder the responsibility of being one of my “best friends.” And when I have the opportunity to help them find and express the smile they were born to share, it’s more than just a special event: it’s worthy of a Fresh Vancouver Smile Story! And so, without further delay, please allow me to introduce you to David, one my best friends – and one of my best patients, too.

I certainly don’t want to embarrass him (although isn’t that what best friends are entitled to do from time to time?), but I must say that David is one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever known. He’s both highly creative and very grounded, and it’s no surprise to anyone who knows him that he’s enjoying an enhanced level of personal and professional success. He’s worked hard, sacrificed a great deal, handled life’s inevitable challenges with dignity and courage, and is one of those people who always give more than they take. In short: he’s an amazing best friend!

photo of DavidHowever, one thing that wasn’t so amazing about my amazing best friend was his smile. That’s not to say that it was severely or even seriously flawed, because it wasn’t. It was an “okay smile.” Yet in my view, David deserved something much more! He deserved a brilliant smile that aligned perfectly with the upward progression of his life; one that was clearly headed in the right direction. In other words, I didn’t feel that David needed to “fix” his smile; and for that matter, neither did he. Yet after some convincing on my part (OK, you’re right: nagging), he agreed that investing in a better smile was a natural fit for who he was – and especially, where he was going. It was a life choice that simply made sense.

David made that life choice over a decade ago, and since then I’ve performed a few different treatments at various times, such as replacing his old silver mercury fillings with modern ceramic restorations. These not only look and feel natural, they are extremely durable as well. Notably, neither David nor I ever referred to his treatments as “cosmetic” – because we didn’t see them that way. We saw them as a matter of “repairing and improving.” This is important to highlight, because there are some people out there who – quite understandably – balk at or shy away from the term “cosmetic.” It can imply something uncomfortably invasive, or excessively dramatic.

Yet David’s smile story is living proof that augmenting a smile so that it aligns with who someone is – and who they are becoming – is not invasive or dramatic. It’s a natural, sensible step. It’s not a deviation from the journey of life; it’s an integral part of that journey itself.

What’s more, David’s smile story is a perfect illustration of how my approach to dentistry has always been to start with why – because that is profoundly more important than the how and the what. Indeed, my patient’s beliefs, hopes, dreams and aspirations are rooted and embedded in their unique “why.” When I tap into that – not just as a trusted advisor, but also as a caring friend – I uncover a world of possibilities that, eventually, provide the foundation for my patient’s authentic smile; and, in some special cases, the building blocks of an inspiring Smile Story!

“I’ve known Dr. Mah for years – and yes, I get to call him Kelvin. I’m honoured to consider him one of my best friends. He’s outstanding at what he does, and I trust him implicitly. I’m also a big fan of his practice, which is refined and relaxing.

I’ve never felt that my smile was `broken’ – just that it could benefit from being `repaired and improved.’ He understood that as well as I did, and helped me truly take my smile to the next level.

My only regret, if I can call it that, is that I didn’t do this sooner. Of course, my wife would disagree, since my `Smile City Square Dental’ smile is one of the first things she noticed about me, and while I won’t say it’s the only reason she agreed to marry me – let’s just say it didn’t hurt!”

Dr. Kelvin Mah -

Dr Kelvin P Mah is driven to "enrich lives, one smile at a time." He believes in helping people – not merely treating problems – and takes a dedicated, personal interest in the health, wellness and happiness of each individual patient. His award-winning Smile City Square Dental practice reflects an organic and zen-like atmosphere of warmth and relaxation. He is also a graduate of UBC's prestigious Dental School and is an instructor with the Frontier Institute, which offers postgraduate programs in advanced cosmetic dentistry. Learn more about Dr Mah and discover the transformative possibilities of modern artisan dentistry at, and visit Smile City Square Dental on Facebook at


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