Tooth Gourmet: International Dentist Dr. Tony Hsu balances a love of food with a passion for his profession.
Dr. Tony Hsu is an elite Hong Kong-born dentist with deep knowledge of globally cutting-edge treatments, which help him give his patients healthy smiles. But all that expertise doesn’t make the Head of Sanfine International Hospital’s dental clinic a stickler who forbids patients from indulging their sweet tooth. In fact, he frequently succumbs to his own cravings, sampling a spectrum of regional cuisines while travelling the world to brush up on the latest dentistry innovations.
“I tell my patients: ‘Enjoy your favorite foods, just be sure to brush and floss before bedtime,’” Dr. Hsu advises, adding that many people don’t realize how strong their teeth, mouths and gums naturally are. “During the daytime you have a lot of saliva flowing, and that helps to protect your teeth because it removes a lot of bacteria … So it’s crucial to brush and floss at night.”
While regular evening cleaning can ward off the harm of daytime treats, Dr. Hsu says there are still certain menu items that patients should avoid, especially carbonated sodas that can seriously damage your teeth.
A true foodie, Dr. Hsu it’s possible to “have your egg tarts and clean teeth to”.
“You should try to avoid drinking soft drinks excessively, because they’re very acidic and detrimental to the enamel,” he says. Instead, Dr. Hsu recommends drinking naturally squeezed juices and fresh fruits. “Anything fibrous — like most fruits — are very good for your teeth. The old saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ is very true, in part because the fiber in apples stimulates the saliva that protects your teeth.”
An extensive world traveler, Dr. Hsu has sampled different cuisines from around the world, but he still loves Cantonese cooking and dim sum the best.
Dr. Hsu’s preference for fresh fruits over sugary desserts is rooted in the culinary culture of his hometown (“Most Hong Kong natives don’t like sweets,” he explains), which helped with his foodie fixation during his youth. He says that of all the cuisines he has tried, “Cantonese is still my favorite because it emphasizes the freshness of the ingredients – especially in the seafood … the seafood you get in Beijing simply can’t compare!” He adds that his favorite hometown restaurant is the Ah Yat Harborview Restaurant. “It’s on the pricey side but the dim sum is fantastic! The quality of the food is very high, but I also love its ambiance.”
Dr. Hsu’s foodie passions are not just limited to his hometown cuisine. An extensive world traveler, he waxes lyrical about Sri Lankan fish curry and chili crabs, along with Moroccan lamb tagines “They were truly delicious!” he exclaims when recalling the latter, “It’s not that different from Cantonese cuisine, because the tagines are steamed and the amount of fried food is limited, so the ingredients are fresh.”
“Owning a dental clinic in Hong Kong is survival of the fittest. If you’re not strong, the competition will weed you out,” explains Dr. Hsu
When it comes to his field, Dr. Hsu is just as passionate – growing up in Hong Kong also gave him a tireless work ethic and high standards for excellence.
He opened a clinic in his hometown early in his career and successfully built up an extensive network of clients (many of whom he networked with at the city’s best restaurants). But he insists the process wasn’t easy: “Owning a dental clinic in Hong Kong is survival of the fittest. If you’re not strong, the competition will weed you out.”
To stand out in that cutthroat environment, Dr. Hsu sought out plenty of international know-how. He already had a solid head start, having studied Dental Surgery and Pedodontics in the UK. As his success grew, so did his wanderlust, prompting him to attend numerous seminars in various locales and learn from the world’s top dentists.
On one of those trips, Dr. Hsu traveled to Switzerland to learn about Straumann implants, which are among the world’s best and far superior to the local knock-offs that degrade over time and cause patients pain and problems down the road. “I visited their production line and saw that everything from the concept to the delivery of these implants was all top quality – they take great care with the minor details.”
Dr. Hsu is also an expert in water lasers, which allow him to treat patients with minimal pain and discomfort
Dr. Hsu’s learning trips have also taught him about water lasers, which he now regularly uses to treat his patients at Sanfine. “The device’s water cools its beam as the power is adjusted to cut enamel, gum tissue, or whatever else may need treating; and it is this reduced temperature that minimizes pain,” he explains.
This expertise has not only made things easier on his patients, but has also quite literally saved the life of his own mother, who was suffering severe diabetes back in Hong Kong, leaving her doctors to prescribe a treatment that left Dr. Hsu deeply troubled.
“She had been stricken with a case of gangrene in her feet because of the disease, and her doctors wanted to amputate,” he recalls. Faced with such a horrific procedure, Dr. Hsu did some hard thinking: “I knew an amputation would be her death warrant, the poor soul.”
Instead, he decided to take matters in his own hands by applying his expertise with audacious ingenuity. Over the next 12 months, he gave his mother regular laser treatments on her foot. The results were dramatic: “Not only did the gangrene in her toes heal up, but the laser also exfoliated the skin on her feet naturally by increasing the micro-circulation,” he says.
Creative ingenuity and expertise have allowed Dr. Hsu to use his water laser to heal a worker’s wounded hand and also treat his own mother’s gangrenous foot
Dr. Hsu has also had opportunities to help patients at Sanfine with his innovative use of the water laser. “One evening, back before we opened, one of the workers here accidentally sliced open his palm,” says the doctor, who was the only senior medical staff member on site at the time. Seeing how deep the cut was, Dr. Hsu did some quick thinking: “I knew if he went to a local hospital with this kind of injury, they would simply put iodine on the open wound, which would really hurt,” he says. “So I used my laser to cleanse the cut, before compressing it with a bandage.” Amazingly, the worker didn’t feel any pain and the wound quickly healed without any infection.
Dr. Hsu’s innovative use of that technology should not only be attributed to his well-rounded medical knowledge, or his ingenuity. The truth is, even after all his satisfying accomplishments, Dr. Hsu still hungers for more. “I’m more than sixty years old and have forty years of experience – I don’t need to do this – but I want to do something for China, by honing my laser surgery skills with the world’s best experts.”