A conversation with the dentist
What’s your approach to dentistry?
You have to understand what a patient is unhappy with. I ask very specific questions and usually it transpires that it is not just their teeth but something about the lower third of their face. So I explain what role teeth play in controlling the overall aesthetics. Most people don’t have symmetrical faces. There is often something overpowering something else, but you can balance that out with the teeth. It’s imperfect perfection that will make you look great.
Is this approach to dentistry something you developed?
I came out of school in 2003 and practised a lot. I also travelled, lectured and read extensively and kept seeing the same smile. It got me thinking, how can we call this natural? When they do braces they take an X-Ray of your whole face and work out where the teeth need to go in the context of your jaw and face. Well that’s what I wanted to do with veneers. So I wrote a paper on it back in 2005. No one had really broken it down into how facial dentistry could work.
What work do you need to do afterwards to take care of your teeth?
It’s really the same as for everyone. You need to brush and floss twice a day and get them cleaned and polished twice a year.
How much of the original tooth do you have to remove?
Enamel is 1.5 millimetre thick. I cut between 3 and 5 tenths of a millimetre in most cases. Put it this way, most people have ground away more of their enamel than I replace. Veneers form a protective surface so you don’t grind them away any further. Also, you don’t need to mess around with positions so much if you’re not just trying to give everyone the same smile. You’re working within the boundaries of an individual’s bone structure. So these veneers will last up to 15 years.
How much does it cost?
Around $5,000 per tooth and you might need an average of ten doing. That sounds like a lot but I see guys with expensive watches, suits and cars who have bad teeth. And the reality is people see the teeth before any of that stuff. Teeth are a sign of health and a signal that a person takes care of him or herself.
How often do you recommend orthodontics?
About ten percent of the time. We’ll put the teeth to a point where I can then work with them.
Why do you continue to lecture as well as practise?
Teaching at NYU keeps me current and keeps me honest; lecturing in other parts of the world keeps me up-to-date with what other people are doing. It’s insane to see these guys. For example, you usually wait six months between taking a tooth out, putting an implant in and putting a tooth on it. But now you can take the tooth out, put the implant in and put the tooth on it in one day. That’s a massive change.
What about receding gums?
Traditionally you’d have to go through four surgeries of gum grafting, when they cut from your palette and stick it where the root is exposed, after which the gum looks really bad. But now there’s something called AlloDerm [Regenerative Tissue Matrix]. It’s very new but the benefits are outrageous. It’s the same proteins that make up your own gum tissue. You can cut strips of it and do an entire mouth in one surgery.
How important have your celebrity clients been for your business?
Fortunately or unfortunately the press loves to hear about your celebrity patients. The general public also associates your level of status or success with who you treat. The celebrities definitely enhance the public experience, although you can never use their names. It’s cool when you have a big name coming in to the office; people at work get excited, it makes you feel like that you’re good enough for them to have sought you out when they could go anywhere.
Dr. Michael Apa will open his first clinic in the UAE in early 2015To book an appointment call (001) 212 794 9600 or visit rosenthalapa.com.