A Delhi family of modest means
left familiarities and flew overseas
to a country known for maple trees
syrup, snow, and civility.
Where hard work promised prosperity
and the kids could have opportunities.
But none than Fate could foresee
how cruel Canadian kids would be
to the young daughter, who was constantly
bullied because of her ethnicity;
because she was behind academically;
because of her accent; because of her teeth.
And her story could’ve been a tragedy.
But Fate intervened. And Fate loves Irony.
Enter Dr. Kai Chau who, through dental wizardry
Fixed the young girl’s teeth (at only half the fee).
And she finally found comfort in her own beauty.
Her new personality: rebellious and ready
(to prove herself worthy).
At school, her confidence grew ferociously.
So to satiate it, she learned to sing symphonies,
Like Don’t Stop Believin’ and Bohemian Rhapsody
And she even fearlessly
(despite the blasphemy to her conservative pedigree)
sang and strut on stage to Beyoncé and Britney!
Her popularity and grades rose dramatically
To the point where she would eventually
study and practice dentistry.
And when COVID-19 locked down society,
She posted witty, funny and sometimes spicy
songs to throngs of her fans about oral hygiene.
Dr. Sanya Arora’s destiny to be
Canada’s Singing Dentist began humbly.
And through adversity, Dr. Chau’s charity,
and her refusal to sit back idly
she’s now reaping all the opportunities
– a promise fulfilled (thanks to Mommy, Daddy and a Blessed Country).
And since Fate laughs with Finality:
Can you guess where Sanya works presently?
LOL! And never forgetting what set her free,
she too welcomes opportunities to help those in need.
And in 2023: she’ll do dental outreach with DMC
in Grenada with Dr. Chau and his lovely wife, Jenny.
What Makes Dr. Sanya Arora Tick (Tok)?
When I first met Dr. Sanya Arora at my law office, the first thing I noticed is how down-to-earth she is. Yes, she’s only around 5 feet tall, but I’m not talking about her physical presence; Sanya has an aura about her that exudes comfort, confidence, and compassion.
For example, knowing that I was into fragrances, she brought me a scent diffuser she had concocted herself – comprised of flowers, dried fruits, herbs and spices (you just add hot water to the glass jar and it fills the room with the pleasing smell of natural aromatics). I loved it!
She also made a caricature sketch of me that was pretty darn good! I got the “GQ” sketch, compared to the funny sketch she made for her brother, who is also a dentist, guitarist and clinic owner, Dr. Saj Arora (GP, Arora Dental, Brantford).
Thoughtful. Creative. Funny. Great family values. That’s Sanya. Today.
But she doesn’t really have to be any of these things, given her large online persona as Canada’s singing dentist (her @doctor.singer Instagram account currently boasts about 10,000 followers) and given her traumatic backstory captured above (i.e. difficulty immigrating and integrating in her teens). She is an anomaly to what she could have otherwise easily become. And that was intriguing.
Pressure And Time
When she first came to Canada in 2001 at 7 years old, Sanya didn’t fit into her Richmond Hill surroundings: “I was surrounded by people who were not of colour. I was very dark skinned. I had an Indian accent. My family didn’t have money. I was also behind in school because, when my parents were preparing for us to leave to come to Canada, they needed to save money so they pulled me out of school for a few years. I basically didn’t know how to read or write properly when I arrived. I felt like a disappointment. And because I was sad, I couldn’t make friends. So I was getting bullied a lot. I became rebellious and I stopped caring about doing well in school.”
“Oh and my teeth were all messed up too. My mom accidentally banged the door on my face. So I had to get my front baby teeth pulled out and my adult teeth came in all wonky. I had the ugly duckling phase mixed with Bugs Bunny.”
And things stayed like that for Sanya for years.
Then, at 11 years old, her family found out about a dentist (Dr. Kai Chau) who helped people who desperately needed, but couldn’t necessarily afford, dentistry. “He gave my brother and I half-price braces. When I finally got them off at 13 years old, my whole world changed! Dr. Chau gave me the best gift I’ve ever received -CONFIDENCE!”.
Sanya couldn’t believe the person who was smiling back at her: she was beautiful.
And that’s when she decided to make a big change in her life: “As embarrassing as it sounds, I thought that if I found a talent, I would be cool and the other school kids would stop bullying me.”
Rejection Breeds Obsession
Sanya’s path to becoming a singing phenom didn’t come easy. “At the start, I sucked at singing. I turned to YouTube to learn how to sing because my parents couldn’t afford lessons. I’d do all these weird vocal exercises in the house, driving my parents crazy. They’d tell me that singing wasn’t a career that they could invest in and that I’d never be Beyoncé. And when I auditioned for a school talent show at age 13, I got rejected; the judges told me to find another talent and try again later.”
All of that could have put an early end to Sanya’s hopes and dreams.
But that only led her to be more determined. “I’m glad the talent show judges rejected me; it made me realize that you’re not born with a talent. But you can learn a talent. I kept at it and eventually I did sing at the school talent show – to much fanfare. And when my parents didn’t support my singing career aspirations initially – and I’m kind of glad they didn’t at first – I practiced even harder. Nowadays, my parents are my biggest fans, having sat through many hours of my performances over the years.”
Sanya’s vocal range is quite vast. Some of her favourite songs to sing include Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats”, John Lennon’s “Imagine”, Guns ‘N Roses’ “Sweet Child ‘O Mine”, Niki Minaj’s “Super Bass”, Ettaa James’ “At Last”, and Selena Gomez’s “Love You Like a Love Song”.
Bonding Singing and Dentistry
If you glance at her Instagram profile (@doctor.singer), you’ll find yourself smiling, grooving and sharing her witty dental parody songs. Who could resist, with titles like: “If Coffee Addicts had a Theme Song”, “If Adele Was a Dentist”, “Why is Dental Work Expensive?” and “Biggest Lie In Dentistry: I Floss Everyday”?
She definitely found a niche to educate the masses about the world of dentistry. But it wasn’t by design. You could say that Sanya failed her way to success.
During COVID-19, when she was finishing dental school in Australia (before returning to Canada), she wanted to share her dental knowledge – and those of other dental specialists – with the general public. So she started a blog (www.TheDentalPen.com) which featured well researched, neutral (no pushing products or services), and SEO-compliant dental articles on trendy topics (e.g. snacks for kids, canker sores, pacifiers, teeth whitening products, popular diets, etc.) from various professional contributors.
The results were lacklustre: Sanya would have to do most of the work herself (including editing others’ submissions) and the foot traffic and engagement just wasn’t there. As Sanya discovered, the general public didn’t really care to be educated through this medium.
One day, she tried a different approach. During her usual shower singing performance, she replaced the lyrics of a popular song with patient education about oral health care. “I just find the syllables and come up with words that fit. It could be about root canals or extractions and everything in-between.”
And on September 30, 2020, she posted an Instagram video of herself singing to Tones and I’s “Dance Monkey” but with a twist: donning white scrubs and a picturesque smile, she changed the lyrics to “Floss for Me, Floss for Me, Floss for Me…Brush for Me, Brush for Me, Brush for Me….”
The results were staggering.
“At that time, I had about 1,000 followers. And I remember walking into my parents’ and my brother’s rooms the morning after posting, saying: ‘I think 10,000 people just watched my video overnight’. Our collective jaws dropped.” That one song has been played over 25,000 times to date.
And then the irony of it all dawned on her: instead of spending countless hours researching, writing, and optimizing written content for virtually no one and no money (it actually cost her to maintain www.TheDentalPen.com), she could put out a catchy parody dental song she made herself in 20-30 minutes and quickly get thousands of followers and likes. She even started getting paid by companies to feature floss, scrubs, and toothbrushes in her Instagram posts.
P.S. Not everyone was a fan of her shower-song writing process: “I got yelled at a lot by my parents. They would say: ‘The whole street is going to run out of hot water because you used it all!’”
Sometimes There Is No Glitz
Sanya is a walking-singing irony of sorts. Despite thousands of online followers, she admits she only has a few “real” friends – her parents and dentist brother and a “soul-friend” who just happens to be a 70 year old woman who lives in Australia (who Sanya talks to weekly). Sanya describes her as a “selfless, positive, limitless and badass teacher of life and fine arts”.
On April 15, 2020, Sanya was even brave enough to put out an Instagram post of herself looking fashionable, professional and confident. But her caption was the exact opposite: “… please don’t let my social media game fool you into thinking that everything is picture perfect in my life.” She went on to share her own vulnerabilities of being rejected over the years, getting nasty comments about her singing or physical appearance, and that she should even find friends her own age. She concluded: “I refuse to let rejections stop me… if you have something NICE to say, PLEASE say it, because your act of kindness can truly change someone’s life…”
In our last conversation, Sanya admitted that since coming back to Canada, she’s been so busy working as an associate dentist (including at Dr. Kai Chau’s office, another irony!) that she hasn’t made time for herself. “I have a career now, but I haven’t been living. I have all these pressures on me now – to practice dentistry, to keep putting out online content, to own certain material things, to get married and have a family, etc. And I see others with their picture-perfect worlds on social media. And I can’t help but compare myself and think that I’m behind or lacking.”
Sanya’s vulnerability and bravery are both commendable and exemplary. No one’s life is perfect; and openly admitting our struggles is part of the learning and healing process.
Fate Loves Irony
And therein lies the final irony: charity brings us full circle. One of Sanya’s role models is, naturally, Dr. Kai Chau. She talks about him constantly.
Yes, he established two very large and successful dental practices in Mississauga. And, yes, because of his charity, Sanya got her teeth fixed, learned to sing, became a dentist, and now associates at his practice. Almost a full circle.
But, per Sanya, it’s all the dental outreach that Dr. Kai Chau and his lovely wife, Jenny, do that they truly cherish above all else. And Sanya sees charity as what she now needs, not just to be more content and complete, but to be amplified.
So in a final ironic twist of fate: Sanya will be joining Dr. Kai Chau and Jenny on a dental outreach trip this August in Grenada with my law firm, DMC. Now it’s a full circle.
Sanya is at the tail end of one stage in her life and the start of a new and exciting one: where self-love and self-awareness of all that she has done and can do (e.g. cleverly combining singing and dentistry to educate the masses) become her anthems.
I (for many) am excited to see the next platform for Canada’s singing dentist.
About the Author
Michael Carabash, BA, LLB, JD, MBA, CDPM is a founding partner of DMC LLP, Canada’s largest dental-only law firm that helps dentists sell and buy practices in Ontario. Michael leads DMC’s annual Caribbean dental mission trips (Grenada, Jamaica, and Turks) Michael is now organizing Sint Maarten and Philippines dental outreach trips for 2023. Michael can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 647.680.9530.