Decisions: Husband and wife dentists Dawood and Tanner

Andrew Dawood and Susan Tanner, dentists and 3D printing pioneers, reveal their best and worst decisions in business.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013


We've always been interested in technology and we started doing 3D printing long before most other people in the UK. We originally used 3D printers to make models of our patients' teeth, but now we've expanded the operation to help surgeons, architects and jewellers - anyone who wants a prototype made.

In 2008, it became a business on its own - Digits to Widgets - which has just moved to its own premises in Camden.

One of our best decisions early on was to move to Marylebone's Wimpole Street in 1995. We were originally in Cavendish Square, but moving to Marylebone meant we were in one of the best-known medical districts in the world.

We've financed our businesses - which also include specialist image service Cavendish Imaging - ourselves.

We started Dawood and Tanner 25 years ago by borrowing money from the bank, and since then we've slowly built it up. We have nine clinical specialists here now and work with an extensive group of radiographers and technicians.

We're not the kind of business that attracts investors and we don't think expanding quickly is necessarily a good thing - our main focus is providing our patients with the best service.


As early adopters of technology, we can get things wrong. We wasted a lot of money on 3D photography eight years ago. We were just too early.

We spent a huge sum of money to do something that's really now quite straightforward. But, on balance, we feel that committing to new technology early pays off more often than not.

Mostly, our bad decisions tend to relate to members of staff. We're not particularly good at hiring and firing. We see the best in people and tend to keep them on for too long, even if they're not right for the business.

The financial crisis had an impact on our business. People think twice about expensive treatments now. They might have one jaw done and wait a few years for the next one. We cover everything from small treatments to ones where the bill can run to tens of thousands of pounds.

People with that sort of money are now choosing to spend it on something other than their teeth.

Dentists ask to join us all the time, but we've taken a very controlled approach to expanding. At the end of the day, it's teeth.

You can't be too fickle or looking to make a quick profit - we take our patients' care very seriously. Success has happened alongside that.

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