strive for progress, not perfection.
Sarah Merza is an orthodontist, licensed Botox and Filler provider. She is also an entrepreneur and business owner from Kuwait.
Sarah grew up in Kuwait and moved to the UK when she was 16 years old and moved back 12 years later.
Sarah describes herself as a perfectionist, beach lover, traveler, avid reader, passionate cook and a terrible dancer! Let’s get knowing more about this wonderful and multi-talented person.
Tell us about your education.
I graduated with Distinction from Kuwait English School in 2003 and gained a scholarship to attend the University of Dundee in Scotland where I completed my Bachelor of Dental Surgery. After practicing dentistry for a few years, I felt that I wanted to pursue a more specialised career in Orthodontics. I got accepted to study Orthodontics at the prestigious University College of London and I jumped at the opportunity! Not only because UCL is an excellent school but it is also located in the heart of my favourite city, London. I obtained my Master of Clinical Orthodontics from UCL in 2014 and my Membership in Orthodontics from the Royal College of England in 2015.
I could have very easily come back to Kuwait with these highly respected degrees; however, I had a feeling I could do more and was motivated to have a more specialised degree to distinguish me from the rest of my collogues when I came back to Kuwait. I decided to pursue a Fellowship in Orthognathic Orthodontics which is a field in Orthodontics that focusses solely on patients who suffer not only from problems with alignment of their teeth but also have more significant issues with their jaws that have led to the problems in alignment. Their treatment commonly involves braces and surgery to their jaws to correct these problems.
During the time I was undergoing my fellowship I also decided to become a licenced Botox and Filler provider. I wanted to be able to provide my patients the full package when they came to see me. And that is indeed what I do now.
What got you into medicine and motivated you to pursue a career in dentistry?
Ever since I was a child, I had a passion for science, I always knew I would pursue a career in the field. When the time came for me to decide which specialty to pursue at university there were two factors driving me. I wanted to study in the UK and I wanted to be in the medical field. I applied for medicine, dentistry and pharmacy. My name came up in the newspaper a few days later stating that I had been accepted to study pharmacy in the UK so I decided to take up the offer and go ahead. Shortly after I arrived to the UK, the Kuwaiti Cultural Office sent me a fax (yes I am that old!) with all of my details including the specialty I had been sent to the UK to pursue. That very day I received a phone call from the student advisor at the cultural office saying that I had filled out Pharmacy as my specialty when all my documents from Kuwait came stating that I was accepted to study dentistry. Turns out there was a typo on the newspaper! So I decided to pursue dentistry. I didn’t choose. I guess it was always meant to be!
What is your area of expertise?
Orthodontics – braces in all forms, metal, ceramic and Invisalign
Surgical Orthodontics – correction of jaw problems that need surgical intervention along with braces
Facial botox and fillers
What kind of common dental problems do patients come to you with?
Mostly people come to see me with problems with the alignment of their teeth, crooked teeth, spaces between their teeth and sometimes issues with biting or chewing. What my patients do not realize is that they come to see me mostly because they are insecure about their smile. They come to me seeking confidence. What could be better than being able to give people back their confidence? I create smiles for a living! It simply does not get any better than that.
What advice would you give to our readers for better maintenance and hygiene of their teeth?
Its very simple – eat well, make healthy choices and reduce intake of refined sugars. Brush your teeth twice a day, not less than 3 minutes every time. Floss at night before bedtime and see your dentist for a regular check up every 6 months.
Tell us about some of your most difficult experiences?
I would have to say managing peoples expectations is the most difficult situation I find myself in every day. With clear communication and experience, this has become a lot easier!
What type of work do you do the most of?
I am mostly providing Invisalign treatment – clear aligner orthodontic therapy. It has become a lot more popular now for people especially in their 30s and 40s who feel “they’re too old” for regular braces. For the record, I don’t think anyone is too old for braces! Studies show that people will get the impression that you are more intelligent and aware of the health benefits of taking care of yourself if you have braces on compared to having crooked teeth and not doing anything about it.
What’s the most popular thing people come in and want to have done?
There are so many issues that people come to me with. A lot of children come to me because they are being bullied at school because they have crooked teeth, teenagers come to me because it is fashionable to have braces (not all of them!), adults come to me because they want a better-looking smile or because they need to improve their bite due to health issues that may have affected their teeth over the years.
What are some key signs that someone needs the help of a cosmetic dentist?
This is a quite common misconception that people have. There is no such thing as a cosmetic dentist. We are all trained to treat our patients and do no harm. There has been a trend lately to get “cosmetic dentistry” done. In most instances there are other underlying issues with the health of the teeth that need to be treated with veneers which are perceived as cosmetic treatments because the result ultimately provides the patient with a better-looking smile. However, it is quite simple! If you are unhappy with the way your teeth look or feel insecure about your smile, go see a dentist!
What career path would you have chosen if you hadn’t pursued dentistry?
I would love to be a chef. I am a major foodie. I love exploring different flavors and I am very adventurous with food but this isn’t the only thing I love about it. Growing up in the Arab world, food has always been a major player in gatherings with friends and family. Food brings people together, it is social. Food brings people closer, we have all experienced different cuisines from around the world whether we have been to visit the country it is from or not. When we are upset or sick we have comfort food. When we want to get closer to people, we break bread. I feel that being a chef, you could reach out to people and connect with people even if you do not come from the same background or speak the same language. You can communicate through flavor and sensation. To me, that is a beautiful sentiment.
What inspired you start a dance studio?
When I moved back to Kuwait, I joined a gym and continued my normal routine of exercising at least 3 times a week. While this is something, I encourage everybody to do to stay physically healthy, I felt there was something lacking. I was getting a little bored with the same old routine and realized that what I was missing was an element of passion, femininity and fun!
When I was in the UK, I used to go out dancing at studios with my girlfriends a lot! I am a terrible dancer! But non the less it provided me with the feeling of empowerment and femininity that exercise alone would not provide me. So I decided to create Omni, a dance and movement studio where we provide dance, fitness and yoga classes. I wanted to give the women of Kuwait a place to feel empowered, a place to get their cardio in while feeling girly and having fun, to create a sense of inclusivity. I wanted the girls to feel comfortable no matter their weight, height, or background. I wanted to create a safe space that would be an outlet for women from their normal day to day dealings. I am incredibly happy to say we have a beautiful Omni Family who attend our studio for just that!
Much love to the instructors at Omni for sharing their talent, energy, and beautiful souls with our clients. Without them, Omni would not exist.
What style of dances does the studio offer?
We offer so many different styles of dance including afrobeats, hip-hop, burlesque, salsa, Bollywood, heels and many more! We also provide fitness classes tailored specifically for women, with any fitness background, such as Zumba and STRONG. We also offer aerial and floor yoga classes to help you find your zen. The studio offers classes for children as well as adults.
What made you start dancing? What is your favorite type of dance?
It was a way to spend time and simply have fun with my girlfriends when I was in the UK. It very quickly became something we all looked forward to every weekend! We still travel together every year (pre covid times!) and most of our days and nights are spent dancing together! I am a terrible dancer but I enjoy it non the less and I love the feeling of letting go and just letting my hair down.
What is your most memorable moment?
Probably when I got told I passed my Membership to Orthodontics exam! I was so happy all my hard work had paid off!
What have you accomplished?
I have managed accomplish everything I have put my mind to so far and I am so blessed to have been provided by the means to do so. Whether it was obtaining my degrees, buying my first property, becoming a partner at Smart Dental Center or setting up Omni Studio, I worked consistently to realize the vision of what I wanted to achieve and I made it happen. I have a few more things up my sleeve for the future, but for the time being I need to focus on what I have now to be able to create what I want for the future!
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Every day is a blessing. Every day is a day to enjoy. I wake up everyday ready to experience what comes. I am curious. I guess my curiosity gets me out of bed.
And what keeps you awake at night?
I try my best not to worry about things I have no control over, however, I am human and sometimes you can’t help but get overwhelmed with certain situations. I find that as my parents get older, I worry more and more about their health.
Where is your favourite holiday destination and why?
Where do I start! There are so many places that I love! Its too hard to pick one! My favourite city destination would have to be London. I love that London is a melting pot for so many different backgrounds! The city has amazing restaurants and nightlife. On top of that the city is always changing and there is always some new place to try brunch or a new hotel with a bespoke lounge or a new shop with eclectic items you couldn’t possibly find anywhere else. I love it mostly because I have beautiful memories down many roads and alleys of London and many of my favorite people still live there so its always a great time when I go to visit. However, saying this, I am a beach fiend! When I travel I mostly enjoy summer destinations. Top of the list for me right now would have to be Mykonos and Croatia!
Mykonos has beautiful beaches; amazing restaurants and the night life scene is always fun! In the summer, no matter what time of day it is you will always find something to do! A beautiful sunset at a sun lounge, fresh seafood at a local restaurant in the old town or beautiful beaches to explore.
I recently discovered Croatia and it has become a destination I will be going back to! It has only recently become a place where tourists have been exploring. The beaches are gorgeous, the food is like no other and their national parks are simply heaven on earth!
How do you unwind?
I love to read novels. It has always been a way for me to escape reality and engross myself in a different reality for a little while.
What’s your favourite film, TV programme and book?
Favourite film: Scent of a Woman
Favourite tv programme: Curb your enthusiasm
Favourite book: Little Women
Do you play any sports?
I used to be on the basketball team when I was in high school! But I don’t play sports anymore, however, I do strength training at least 3 times a week to keep myself active.
What kind of music do you listen to?
I appreciate all kinds of music, I love the poetry in old Arabic music. I think I learned to appreciate this genre in particular from my mom. She used to play oldies while she painted or ran errands around the house. Every time I listen to certain songs it takes me back to my childhood and I love that. But, my favorite kind of music has to be deep house. I am always reminded of being by the beach at different destinations around the world when I listen to it.
Tell me something about yourself that others might not know?
I hope to live abroad one day, own a small local restaurant, and cook! I enjoy what I do now, but I feel I would love to explore alternatives.
Any future goals/plans?
I would love to expand on Smart Dental Center and Omni Studio locally and internationally!
Plans to expand the dental center are already in motion!
Your message for us at CP magazine.
Thank you to everyone for taking the time out of your day to get to know me better! I hope I was able to inspire those reading to chase their dreams.
Dear reader, strive for progress, not perfection.