Interviewed by Luke Shapiro, DDS
She is the creator of Tooth Tuesdays on IGTV that gets thousands of views each week. She’s from Miami, attended the University of North Florida for college and then Midwestern University in Illinois for dental school. She graduated this year and will start work August 1st in Chicago through the National Health Service Core.
So how does one become a dental influencer? It’s not an easy task by any means – requiring hours upon hours of hard work and dedication. For Dr. Alim, known as @smile.leey, it wasn’t her goal at the beginning. She started Instagram as a personal account, initially posting about food and life. She was then accepted into dental school and started posting about that. “I then slowly started to see a rise in followers, and it was interesting because I wasn’t trying to be a dental influencer in any shape or form,” she said.
But then around the third year of dental school, when things started to slow down (relatively, because it was after having finished boards), she started spending more time on Instagram to build something and saw what it could become. Dr. Alim believed it could be a real source of inspiration, especially for people who could identify with her – anyone who is Black, a woman or a visibly religious minority. She said, “There would be moments when I would think about not posting on Instagram, but then I would get inspiring messages. That’s what kept me going.”
Her account now has over 13.5K followers.
She has worked with major players in the industry, such as Pronamel and FIGs. Her most popular content is Tooth Tuesdays, which started in February 2019. It started from a conversation with a friend – a bright, educated, grown woman who doesn’t floss, let alone even own floss. After that conversation, it dawned on her that there are so many intelligent people that don’t know key things about oral health. From there, she started a weekly video about flossing, mouthwash, Invisalign vs. braces, etc.
Most recently, she had a Tooth Tuesday video entitled “We Need You.” It garnered over 27,000 views, as she recounted her experience with racism while also stressing the importance of having Black providers in medicine. “It’s very important that as providers we check our biases – like why don’t you believe a patient when they say something?” she said. “That extra step can help you discover and see where those feelings come from.”
Dr. Alim is very excited to enter public health dentistry and help a community that needs it the most. Unlike Instagram, public health doesn’t get a lot of glitz and glamour. A lot of it is the bare bones of dentistry. She encourages providers to give a day or week or whatever possible to help these communities.