Dr. Robert Aslan with his “patient” Fr Richard Ddumba, who celebrated the first anniversary Mass for the surgery on 13 June. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

The Inspiring Journey of Dr. Robert Aslan and St. Anthony Dental

A Sydney dentist decides to devote half his time to providing free dental treatment for the disadvantaged, dedicating his new practice to St Anthony. He considers it a blessing working with those in need, using his skills to make a difference.

Born in Khartoum, Sudan, and raised in England, Dr. Robert Aslan qualified as a dentist in Sydney, worked in a remote Aboriginal community in Western Australia, then returned to Sydney, where he established a successful practice, with two surgeries.
After three decades of professional and financial success, he reached a moment of crisis – in the original meaning of “decision”. “I kept seeing St. Anthony repeatedly,” he explained. “I would see him when I prayed, and I felt he was saying, ‘Stop and go out on your own.’” The medieval Franciscan friar and patron saint of lost things, became a persistent influence in Dr. Aslan's life, urging him to pursue a lifelong calling to help the poor.
His wife supported him, saying, “You know you’ll have to forgo income now, but if you feel driven to do this, then that’s what you must do.” About two weeks after Dr. Aslan stopped working, his wife was diagnosed with a serious illness. He dedicated a year to supporting her, and she is now cured. Dr. Aslan believes that St. Anthony played a crucial role in enabling him to be there for his wife during her trials.
Dr. Aslan left corporate dentistry, sold most of his properties, and opened St. Anthony Dental, named after the patron saint. Incidentally, or maybe not, the practice was inaugurated on the saint’s feast day on 13 June 2022.
Dr. Aslan now dedicates 40-50% of his work to helping people with acute and chronic oral issues who cannot afford dental treatment. He already performed over $250,000 worth of volunteer work for some of Sydney’s most disadvantaged individuals, including refugees, domestic violence survivors, and those in rehabilitation for drug and alcohol addiction. All are welcomed by Dr. Aslan and his compassionate team.
I want to use my talents to bring happiness to the poor, the homeless, and the lost. Like our patron saint, we’re inspired to return lost teeth and smiles, and our ultimate goal is to restore confidence and dignity through smiles to all our patients. Our dental practice is committed to bringing the best service with excellent facilities, while giving back to our communities” he explained.
Although not everyone expresses gratitude for the free care, Dr. Aslan emphasizes, “It gives me great satisfaction, and it’s such a blessing to help people who really need it without mentioning money to them. Especially when I hear their stories, I think, ‘My goodness, I can’t imagine what I would be like going through that.’”
The charity work has meant a drop in income but Dr. Aslan remains steadfast in his commitment. “I’m happy just to earn my daily bread, and I won’t ever stop.”
He has seen his faith grow along this journey, stating, “I used to go to Mass occasionally, sometimes confession. I’d be happy to go to Mass every day now because it’s brought me closer to God and my faith has increased a million times since I started doing this.”
For those interested in supporting Dr. Aslan and the work of St. Anthony Dental, attending the practice for regular dental work contributes to income that aids the disadvantaged. Financial assistance and volunteering opportunities are also welcomed.
So when you’re next in Sydney, call in for a dental check-up at: Suite 1/ 63-65 Ramsay Rd Five Dock



Content from this article includes extracts from “Fixing smiles for nothing brought me closer to God”, The Catholic Weekly, 14 June 2023