It is with great pleasure I introduce Dr Sandra Garcia Martin – a warm, talented and inspirational dentrapeneur. You may know her already on instagram as Sandra Big Smile. Sandra is launching an exciting project shortly. In this interview, I explore her dental journey and her quest to further herself.
Tell me about yourself
I come from a family of doctors in Spain. I was never interested in going to medical school. I was always creative, producing music, painting and photography – anything to do with art. My parents wanted me to try internships of everything that I liked. I went to a hospital for a month. I couldn’t deal with someone dying and it wasn’t for me. I did music production which I loved. I went to a vet. When I went to a dentist, I saw a patient leave the practice as a different human being, I thought wow, how incredible is this. You could change a life. I was taken by it and decided to become a dentist.
I hated dental school. All the subjects I disliked at school. I thought I would leave dentistry. My mother told me that anything you do, at first, isn’t going to be nice. I didn’t have a plan b. I finished and wanted to study more. I didn’t want to get a job, get married and have kids at that point. I wanted something else for myself. I wanted to make a difference. I always loved New York. My father said no. My mother was ok with the idea of furthering onself being a doctor. I went to the bank and got a loan. I bought my ticket and told my father that i’m leaving to New York. He didn’t talk to me for a month! I moved to New York and had the best time. My heart said yes and I had to go for it.
I went into implants and periodontology. I wasn’t passionate about it and was coming home very stressed. I thought, this is not why I chose to do dentistry. And so I changed to cosmetic dentistry. When I moved to the UK, I set up a charity abroad. There I realised that I want to give back. I had this beautiful idea of getting the government to get students to give back to dental charity.
What does female empowerment mean to you?
It means we all come together to better ourselves. Not for us to go against men. We are biologically different and we have beautiful things to complement each other. The biggest thing is competing against each other. We then undermine. I come from a family of very strong women. My mother was always empowering women around me. Whenever I heard women criticising other women, I was shocked as I never had the critical inner voice inside me. She was always praising women. Negative talk I didn’t relate to it as I never raised up that way.
How do you empower yourself?
I’ve worked a lot on myself. I did a very interesting life coach, where I stopped my negative thoughts. I started my self life journey. It was painful and difficult. It needs you to be consistent.
Every morning, I wake up and have a cold shower. I meditate, even if I’m running late. I have a wish book, where I write my wishes for the day. Each day there is a mantra or positive affirmation and each day you live that day according to the mantra. I then go back and see how many wishes have come alive. My morning ritual I always keep.
I also listen to other people, go to workshops like Tony Robbins. Meditation gave me balance and peace. I found myself attracting people telling me their stories, and I wasn’t good at creating boundaries.
How did you get to a point to explore your spiritual side?
I always had a spiritual side. I was recommended by a friend to try a different type of yoga – called naam yoga. I went to a class when I was in America and was given mantra to chant the meaning. I thought I was in a mad house! I then had a one to one session with a naam yoga guru. I was blown away. There was a shift in my mind. He gave me meditations and I felt so much better within myself.
Do you feel that women are not being represented in conferences presently?
Yes. I went to a conference in the US recently on periodontology, implants and cosmetic dentistry and I was shocked. There was only one woman! 60% of the audience were women. Why I don’t know. It may be because it takes a lot of time travelling around the world.
Do you have female role models?
I don’t have any. I have colleagues that I love. I think female role models are really relevant. As women we can have a lot of fear. When you see a woman in a mans world, we think we can do it.
What have your experiences been like teaching?
My first experience speaking at the BDA was terrible! I was already thinking before I gave the lecture of all the colleagues, peers and potential judgement. My mind was not in the right state. There was one guy who completely destroyed my lecture. He said to me that I didn’t even have 5 years of experience. I allowed him to destroy me. Another woman stood up and said we should be making positive comments and thank you for this lecture. She came up to me after the question session and told me not to give up teaching. I left that place, never wanting to lecture again. Companies don’t always push towards women. I’m not sure why.
I’ve had to slap a man before for inappropriate touching at a conference after party. I was told if I played along I could get further. I see things like that happen all the time. Some men feel like they can abuse power. We need to have some difficult conversations. Its happening at the moment with Harvey Weinstein.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Always be humble towards others and yourself. To never lose that drive. To never think you are not good enough.
How did you come to challenge the ‘I’m not good enough’ thinking?
I was bullied at school. I had an amazing childhood but i was the tall one, wore braces, I wasn’t the popular one. I had that inner self critic. I stopped paying attention at school as i was worried about doing better. Then there was a girl who joined our school. She changed my life. She spoke up. She started talking to me in a positive way. There was a switch inside of me. I started getting the best grades at school. Instead of self sabotaging, I started paying attention. I started thinking more about myself. It took time to put it in practice. There are moments where you go back to that place. It takes daily practice.
Tell me about your Big Smile Box?
It would be a subscription based dental box receiving items every 3 months approximately. More and less when you change your tooth brush. You will be able to select electric toothbrush heads or a full organic range of bamboo toothbrushes. There will be toothpaste, floss, an organic lip balm and dental strips.
How did you come up the idea?
I saw at my practice, every month, my nurses would receive other subscription boxes and would get so excited. I liked that concept of a gift for yourself. I thought of the idea before joining a seminar by Tony Robbins. Afterwards, I thought this has to be done. I bought the domains. Everybody had already bought the domains I wanted. My email address from young had been Sandra Big Smile and so I came up with Big Smile Box. The difficult part at the moment is getting the flavours right with a good chemist and making good products.
Whats your dreams for the future?
I would love to teach more and give back. I want to promote a holistic lifestyle within dentistry. I want to empower women.