Dr Varghese Nechupadam: Mending Smiles n’ Touching Lives
A 17-year-long passionate love affair with dentistry and about 100,000 smiles of relief and satisfaction, perfectly sums up Dr Varghese K. Paulose, who has redefined versatility. He is the photographer and tech maven among dentists and the dental surgeon among shutterbugs and technology wizards. This young doctor is redefining dentistry by bringing in global standards and technological advancements with the right blend of empathy and passion so much so that his Nechupadam Dental Clinic in Kolenchery is blazing a new path in dental care.
A veteran dentist, orthodontist, implantologist and tech wizard all rolled into one, Dr Varghese Nechupadam is at the helm of the Kolenchery clinic, which is the flagship of the Nechupadam brand in dentistry. Be it among Keralites, expatriate Malayalis or Arabs and Europeans, the multi-specialty dental clinic he runs is synonymous with top-notch treatment modalities, awe-inspiring innovations, quick results and empathetic doctor-patient relationships and it is surging light years ahead of competitors in providing top class care in dentistry. In an exclusive interview with Unique Times, Dr Varghese Nechupadam opens up about the Nechupadam brand he has created, the cutting-edge technology used in new dental therapies, contributions to health tourism and his multi-pronged approach to treatment not to mention his unique hobbies which further galvanise his treatment methods.
*Extending the Frontiers of a Glorious Legacy*
A rare blend of versatility, professional acumen and technical prowess that manifests in top-notch dental care, Dr Varghese Nechupadam is extending the frontiers of the glorious legacy he has inherited from his illustrious father, Dr K.T. Paulose, who established Nechupadam Clinic almost 60 years ago.
Legacy empowers passions. That is how Dr Varghese Nechupadam chooses to define his love for the profession when asked about his prime passion. “I am passionate about dentistry as there is a great legacy in the family and it spans more than fifty years,” he quips, pointing out that all his four siblings have followed in the footsteps of their father. When asked why he chose to follow his siblings, Dr Varghese Nechupadam explains that he had two career options in mind as a student. “One was becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon and the other was becoming a neurosurgeon. Being a family-oriented guy, I came to realise that both those professions did not provide enough time for the family. So, I opted for dentistry. I needed ample time to pursue my hobbies as well as to be with my family. Dentistry gives you a lot of time for yourself. I saw my dad having lots of time for his passions,” he says with a smile. “The legacy was already there, all we had to do was take it to the next level.”
*The Birth of a Versatile Dental Professional*
It was in 2001 that Dr Varghese Nechupadam bagged his BDS degree from Coorg Institute of Dental Sciences and six years later, he clinched his master’s in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopaedics from Yenepoya Dental College in Mangaluru. It was during his stint there that he was mentored by Dr Akhtar Hussain and Dr Rohan Mascarenhas. It was the former who taught him basic and advanced photography and videography which later came in handy. On the other hand, Dr Rohan was into technology and clinical excellence in dentistry.
Dr Varghese Nechupadam gratefully remembers Dr Ajit Shetty and Dr Sangamitra under whom he had done implant training during his undergraduate course. Later, he underwent advanced training at the University of Buffalo, NY, USA in 2015. During his studies, Dr Sajeev Bhaskar was a great mentor for Endodontics. This branch of studies was later galvanised with microscope-assisted root canal therapies and new-age regenerative biomaterials at the University of Florida in 2016.
The suave sculptor of smiles also got himself updated on CAD CAM dentistry & 3D Dental Imaging at the Nordic Institute of Dental Education under Turku University, Helsinki in Finland & Dr Andrea Kurbad in Benshiem, Germany. From 2017, he has been a Certified Invisalign Provider and among the top Invisalign providers in Kerala. Perhaps, he is one of the very few trained dental surgeons in the non-surgical management of complex malocclusion using self-ligation braces and mini implants to convert most surgical orthodontic and dentofacial abnormalities with a non-surgical approach. He is also keenly interested in the disimpaction of impacted teeth and was inspired by Bjorn Zachrisson using piezoelectric surgery and simplified traction techniques.
*Battling the Storm*
A chip off the old block, Dr Varghese Nechupadam did not allow studies and updates to take a back seat when he began practicing. It was a time of technological progress with new gadgets coming into the profession and Dr Varghese’s technical bent of mind was quick to cash in on new gadgets and instruments to revolutionize dental care at Nechupadam. But what really made him the achiever he is today was a bitter feud in the extended family.
“It was a crucial time as it gave a platform for upgradation. We lost the old family clinic and we had to start from scratch. We had to start anew by buying a plot, constructing a new building, designing the clinic and transplanting our practice to the new facility in Kolenchery itself,” said Dr Varghese Nechupadam as he reminisced those stormy days. “We had to overcome plenty of slanders and rumours that we had shut our facility and ceased practice and so on,” he said.
*Forged in Fire*
“For me, it was like letting go of all that we endured and suffered and the ill feelings towards those who hurt us. By letting go of everything I grew to put it in a simple way. I learned it the hard way. It is not that everything was given to me on a golden platter,” says Dr Varghese who battled it out and resuscitated the Nechupadam Clinic and chiseled and honed it into the global brand that it is today. During that rough patch, his wife Dr Joolie, her family, and Dr Paulose remained strong like pillars giving strength and encouragement to tide over the crisis.
Armed to the hilt with technological know-how in the latest developments in dental treatment modalities, Dr Varghese relaunched the clinic in 2018—the year when Kerala witnessed its biggest deluge in recent history. “At that time of our rebranding, there was no opportunity for marketing as any sort of expenditure in that avenue was frowned upon,” he reminisces. They had a humble start with a fund-raiser for the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. “From then onwards, by the grace of God, there has been no looking back. From what we were in 2018, we have been able to double our total turnover,” he quips with a smile of triumph.
*Turning Crisis into Opportunity*
The following year, COVID came as a whammy and Dr Paulose took an abrupt break from practice after almost five decades. But Dr Varghese Nechupadam was unfazed and he remained strong at the helm to make sure the brand shone bright and reached more people. When clinics were closing their doors during the surge of the COVID pandemic, Nechupadam remained an exception. “We turned adversity into opportunity by leveraging our infection prevention measures. We became known as one of the safest dental clinics for consultation as our infection rates were minimal thanks to our state-of-the-art interior design and germ-control facilities. Our infection control benchmarks were noticed in the West they were astonished at the sterilisation design and implementation. Little wonder that Nechupadam Dental Clinic Kolenchery was given the award for Best Clinic Interiors by FAMDENT Excellence in Dentistry Awards.
*Patients are Family*
Perhaps one wonders why Nechupadam has struck a chord with patients making it immensely popular both within and outside the realms of Kerala. The answer lies in how Varghese and his team handle each patient on the orthodontic chair. “We are God-fearing, empathetic and passionate people working with technology to better the lives of patients. This clinic is my second family to be precise. We work together as a team to give the best possible results. The way we treat them with care, and concern and the assistance of cutting-edge technology at a reasonable cost gives us great momentum,” he says with pride. “We do not pull out a tooth unless it is necessary. For us, saving a tooth is like saving a life.”
On average, Dr Varghese gets between 300 and 350 new patients a month not to mention the regulars who come for follow-up treatment. He has the rare distinction of having mended around 100,000 smiles over the course of his career. Although his clientele mainly consists of NRIs, upper-middle class and middle-class folks, he ensures that financially backward patients are treated for free at the Kolenchery facility.
*Blazing a Trail in Dental Health Tourism*
Technical prowess apart, Dr Varghese has the unique distinction of giving health tourism in Kerala a twist. Leveraging on the comparatively low cost of dental procedures in Kerala, its quick results and almost-nil hospitalisation, he has been successful in creating dental healthcare tour packages. “We have a lot of patients from around the globe who come to savour the beauty of Kerala and undergo dental procedures within the span of a week,” explains Dr Varghese. If they need a check-up after the procedure, they go on a tour around Kerala and then return. Even annual follow-ups become an opportunity to holiday in God’s Own Country,” says the doctor-entrepreneur.
What makes NRIs and foreigners knock on the doors of Nechupadam is the astonishingly low cost of procedures compared to the Middle East and the West and the global quality that it religiously maintains. “The maximum time taken for a patient during a visit is three hours. In most cases, the patients do not have complications, thus enabling them to have good food, enjoy, go places and so on,” he says with an impish smile.
*What Foreigners Want*
“A big chunk of our clients is from the Arab countries. The rest are from Europe, Australia and New Zealand. In dental tourism, we have full-mouth rehabilitation where there is comprehensive intervention when the patient has a lot of bad teeth. We still finish it in a week’s time. It comprises root canals, crowns and bridges or full mouth implants. So within a week, they go from no teeth to fixed teeth,” he says.
The other part is cosmetic correction and for that, there is something similar to a test drive where the projected result of the treatment is shown to patients to get their approval. “Patients either opt for digital smile design or they go for aligner treatment. The former is all about orienting your smile and your teeth to your face with the help of digital technology. For major alignment issues, we can make use of aligners. Or they can even go for thin ceramic veneers on top of the tooth. They are tailor-made based on their smile. ”
*Orator Par Excellence*
Dr Varghese Nechupadam wears many hats with aplomb and one such role is that of an orator/educator. His acumen in macro photography in the dental realm and his way with the most advanced instruments and their proper care have made him a much sought-after subject expert within his circle. He also takes part in a lot of webinars and conferences. He also gives one-to-one sessions with dentists on the proper care of reusable instruments and their sterilisation. It is all about cleaning, washing, drying, packing before being sealed, autoclaved, numbered and stored. This stringent way ensures that there is no cross-contamination in a clinic.
*Of Lens and Ragas*
Dr Varghese Nechupadam, whose clinic has won an array of excellence awards, is passionate about music. When not wielding the dental drill or mouth mirror, he finds time to indulge in the world of ragas in the company of his beloved Korg PA700 and Casio Privia Digital Piano. “My passion for music is linked to relaxation. I play the keyboards and I do sing a bit. Whenever I feel drained out, I go to the keyboard and play a tune,” says the talented doctor, who loves the numbers of Yanni. He also devotes time to uplift his soul by listening to Christian devotionals played by bands such as Petra and Elevation Worship.
An avid shutterbug, Dr Varghese loves to experiment with macro photography with his Canon M50 Mark 2, Nikon D750, and Nikon D3100. Be it magnifying the head of an ant or the contours and texture of a tooth, his skills in macro photography have fetched him rave reviews. Photographs of procedures and close-up shots of the tooth and various treatment modalities have made it to the covers of medical journals.
When asked how he maintains a work-life balance, Dr Varghese says his wife, Dr Joolie, takes care of most of his worries as she manages the clinic and its human resources. “Indeed, she was my biggest support in my worst times,” says the loving father of Timothy and Tabitha. Replying to the question about future plans for the brand, he says he will spare no efforts to ensure that a tooth looks better, functions better and lasts longer. “Our plans are to be the best and continue to be so. We focus on becoming better and better to ensure healthy smiles for a lifetime,” says Dr Varghese as he signs off.
*Kuttydentist YouTube Channel*
Dr Varghese Nechupadam is equally passionate about sharing his subject expertise and creating awareness about dental health. With this in mind, he launched a YouTube channel named Kuttydentist in Malayalam. It showcases case studies while ensuring the privacy of patients. It also enables people to understand how technology can benefit their dental health and wellness.