“To pull out the teeth of members and non-members alike, with equal impartiality”.
This, according to Mr CV Devan Nair – former Singapore President and NTUC’s first secretary-general – is the reason why NTUC Denticare was established in 1971.
It was on the heels of the Modernisation Seminar in 1969 when NTUC began forming cooperatives in the 1970s – one of the first was NTUC Denticare.
Today known as NTUC Health Denticare, the chain of dental clinics has been creating healthy and confident smiles for all workers and families for 50 years.
From the first clinic in Corporation Drive, it has grown to over 18 clinics island-wide, bringing affordable and quality dental services closer to the community.
Denticare now doesn’t just “pull out teeth”, they also provide a whole suite of dental services for anyone who walks through their doors.
Catering to Members’ Evolving Needs
The post-independence period saw a gradual decline in union membership, and NTUC decided it was time to rejuvenate and ‘modernise’ the labour movement.
Forming cooperatives like Denticare was one of the ways NTUC responded to members’ needs better.
NTUC Health Head of Clinical Services and Residential Care Dr Goh Siew Hor shared: “At that point of time, dental services were not very accessible. They noticed that a lot of workers, they were either absent from work or their work was affected because of very bad toothache.
“So they started Denticare to provide affordable basic dental services for workers who mainly needed to have their teeth extracted.”
But it wasn’t just the members who benefited. Anyone else who needed their services were welcome too.
The number of Denticare clinics grew steadily, setting up branches in different parts of Singapore. But aside from growing its footprint, their scope of services evolved with the changing needs of patients.
Healthy Smiles Within Your Reach
When it was first started, Denticare focused on pain management and extraction of decayed teeth.
Today, they offer a wide range of services from basic scaling and polishing to more complicated procedures like root canals.
But even with this expansion, Denticare has stayed true to its mission of providing affordable, quality dental services to all.
“We have 18 clinics, so we do have some scale. We are able to bring in materials at more affordable rates. We tap on the economies of scale to try to lower the price.
“We also try to get dentists with the right mindset who are focused on really caring for and providing affordable solutions to all clients,” said Dr Goh.
Denticare has also managed to reduce expenses through innovation and automation.
“We have gone digital to reduce the manpower that we need. We try to use technology to also augment manpower and reduce manpower costs,” added Dr Goh.
Beyond providing dental services, Denticare advocates a strong social mission – to patients and staff alike.
Dr Goh shares: “We try to treat everyone within Denticare as though they were our own family members. And we also try to promote a sense of, when it comes to work, we are focused on really taking good care of our patients as though they were family.”
A visit to the dentist is usually not something to look forward to, but with a warm and welcoming environment, it can be quite pleasant and pain-free.
“We do hope that Denticare continues to be a household brand for people who are looking for dental care – affordable, quality, dental care – and that we have a solution that meets their aspirations and desires,” Dr Goh said.