Remember the days of disliking going to the dentist when you were growing up? Well today, dentistry has evolved for the better. The technology is so much more advanced, treatments are pain free and the dentists today, are that much more knowledgeable in their professions. In big cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, most dentists are specializing in cosmetic dentistry. Cosmetic dentistry is generally used to refer to any dental work that improves the appearance (though not necessarily the functionality) of teeth, gums and/or bite. It primarily focuses on improving dental aesthetics in color, position, shape, size, alignment and overall smile appearance. Today, cosmetic dentists are also focusing on injections, fillers and other non-invasive facial treatments that can enhance your appearance.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Edward Alvarez, DDS, PC. and discuss his practice and how he became one of the top cosmetic dentists in New York City.

PA: What made you get into Cosmetic Dentistry?
EA: Initially in dental school I thought I was going to become an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon. As I went through my post graduate residency training in general dentistry, I saw the power of being able to give someone their smile back. People who were shy, depressed, or hid their faces, now could shine. Giving someone a great smile instantly made them feel better about themselves, and it improved their lives immediately. I remember a patient who I did 6 veneers on in 1999. When I saw her for her 6-month recall visit, she had lost weight, had a new love interest in her life, and was literally a new person. She said having a new smile, one in which she didn’t have to be embarrassed about, opened the world to her. That is exactly why I became a cosmetic dentist.

PA: What Are Some Reasons for Getting Cosmetic Dentistry?
EA: Your smile is your business card to the world. Unfortunately, people will judge your intelligence, cleanliness, socioeconomic level, friendliness, attitude, and many other things based on your smile. If you do not have a beautiful smile, it will negatively impact people’s first impression of you. As we know, first impressions are of utmost importance not only in business, but also in your personal and romantic relationships. Having a great smile, versus a damaged unsightly smile, can be the difference between getting that job or not, finding that love of your life or not, winning that big case or not, or closing that deal or not.

Patients who typically elect to have cosmetic dentistry procedures may have yellow or stained teeth that they wish could look whiter. Their teeth might also be misshapen, chipped, or crooked, leading to an embarrassing smile. Some patients may also have missing teeth, abnormal gum lines, or gaps between teeth.

Whatever the reason, having a smile that people are confident in can theoretically add seven years to their life. Additionally, smiling has been proven to boost a person’s immune system and help them feel better about themselves.

PA: What is the latest breakthrough you are most excited about?
EA: One of the most wonderful things to happen to dentistry, both to dentists and patients alike, is the advancement in digital dentistry and in particular CAD/CAM technology to make crowns, veneers, and other ceramic/porcelain restorations in the office, in one appointment. CAD/CAM stands for Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Milling, and is a technology widely used in other industries such as robotics, aerospace, architecture, and engineering design. In Dentistry, the CEREC CAD/CAM system has been on the market for over 30 years now, and over 250 scientific studies have confirmed the clinical safety of tried and tested CEREC tooth restorations. Worldwide, more than 30 million tooth restorations have been produced with CEREC. I am one of the few dentists in New York City that has advanced certification and training from the prestigious Scottsdale Center for Dentistry, in Scottsdale, Arizona, and has been reconstructing smiles with the CEREC since 2009.

My clients do not have to deal with impressions, there are no more temporaries that can fall out and that you must wear for weeks, and there are no more second visits. There is complete control by me in the design and fabrication of someone’s veneers and smile. There is nothing lost in translation between a dental laboratory and me. I can account for everything including a patient’s facial features, gender, and even their skin tone in my design, and the patients can also tell me exactly what they want as I am designing it on a virtual 3D model on the computer screen. Everything from an onlay, to a single crown or veneer, or even a full mouth reconstruction can be done in one day. You walk in with your current smile, and by the end of the day, you will walk out with a whole new one. It is not uncommon for one of my patients living in Los Angeles to take the Red Eye into NYC, come to my office for a set of veneers, and that night, they are back on a flight to LAX. CEREC CAD/CAM has allowed me to better serve my patients, particularly those who may live in Los Angeles, Miami, London, Paris, and so on.

PA: What is your key to success?

EA: Professionalism. Genuine care. Education. Advanced techniques. A relaxing, friendly and stress-free environment. Dedication to providing the best aesthetic results. Understanding my patient’s fears, needs, and desires. Making every patient feel like they are being taken care of by a caring team at all times. I strive to achieve this every day at our practice for our patients. I treat every person in the chair as if they are a loved one. I know that sounds cliché, but it is the truth. I never lose sight that there’s a patient with different feelings, fears, anxieties, and expectations sitting in that chair. Many times, doctors and dentists can forget that they are treating a patient, and only focus on treating a condition or a symptom. That can never happen in my opinion.
As far as running a practice and a business, my keys are faith and determination. I have complete faith in my abilities as both a cosmetic dentist, and as a businessman. I also have tremendous faith in God, and there’s always lots of prayer involved. I don’t think it matters if you are Catholic, Jewish, or Muslim, or whatever you choose to practice. I feel that a strong sense of faith will carry you through the tough times you may face in business. I also have an undying determination in success. I do not entertain the possibility of failure. Of course, failure in any profession, be it dentistry, politics, athletics, or whatever is a reality, but I focus on success and nothing less. There is an unofficial motto of the US Marine Corps, “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome”, and that is how I truly look to live and run my business every day.

PA: What advice would you give to the dental students looking to break into your field?

EA: I think that students should follow their passion, and if Cosmetic Dentistry is what they want, they should focus on learning as much as they can. Learn about technology. Just like any other field, technology is not the future, it’s the present. The way veneers and crowns were done by some of your professors years ago, is not the way they are being done in “the real world” today. Become familiar with CAD/CAM, lasers, and other advanced techniques that you will be expected to know. Second, find a mentor in cosmetic dentistry and ask him, or her, questions. Pick their brains. Someone who is doing this every day, in many ways, can teach you more than what you’d get from reading a book. Yes, you must know your fundamentals, and know them well, but every successful professional will have a mentor or coach to help them get to the next level. Third, and this is very important, if you want to give beauty, you must know what beauty is. When I was doing my post graduate training, a very successful and well known cosmetic dentist brought out a book and said, this is the best text book you can have as a cosmetic dentist. That book was, “The Art of Makeup” by Kevyn Aucoin. It is a makeup book, but it is also “a celebration of beauty”. It features many supermodels, and regular people alike, and shows what beauty truly is. Study Vogue, GQ, and other fashion and beauty magazines, because they will show you what beauty is, and it will tune your eye to what you should be giving your patients.

PA: Thank you for your time and I wish you continued success.
EA: My pleasure.