A NEW dental practice is aiming to remind people of the cafe Central Perk from TV’s Friends rather than the traditional surgery.

Smile Stories – which has taken over from Castle Lane Dental in Bournemouth – is designed to look more like a cafe or bar, with the 1990s sitcom played through TVs on the ceiling over the dentists’ chairs.

The dental practice texts patients on their birthdays, sends thank-yous for referrals and uses emojis on WhatsApp.

Co-founders Gareth Edwards, 33, and Zak Kara, 34, have both worked in dentistry for years, travelling across the world to train in restorative and aesthetic dentistry.

Mr Kara said: “I’ve been lucky enough to be trained by the best in my field and have worked in some of the top clinics in the world. When I came to Bournemouth, I knew I wanted to open my own practice, and I knew I wanted it to be different. Dentists don’t have to be scary or cold, they can be warm, inviting places that still offer you the very best treatment.”

Mr Edwards grew up in Bournemouth and attended Bournemouth School, where at age 15 he spent two weeks at Castle Lane Dental for work experience.

He said: “I don’t believe in fate – you make your own fate – but it certainly feels very apt that my first ever experience in the workplace was in this very dental practice over 15 years ago.”

The two met during a social in Poole pub the Grasshopper in 2018, when they were working at different clinics for the same group of dentists.

Mr Edwards said: “When I met Gareth, I knew we were on the same page, because unlike most other dentists he ‘gets it’. We both shared the same ideas when it came to the future of dentistry, but at the time we were working for competing clinics. I realised our audiences were the same, and then I knew I had to find out if we’d work well together. We did. And since then, we’ve never looked back.”

Mr Kara said: “Our clients end up being our friends. We know their dog’s name, house move woes, and even get feedback from their Tinder dates. My dad had a record shop my whole life, so I grew up chatting to people and getting to know their stories. It’s relationships that matter, and that’s what we’re all about at Smile Stories.”

Mr Edwards added: “Smiling and confidence are so closely linked. The feeling of receiving a smile from a stranger, or from someone you love and giving your biggest, most beautifully confident smile right back is what we live for. We want everyone to feel that good all the time. That’s our mission.”