Interview with Dr Apa: Meet the man Bollywood celebrities go to fix their smile

Lifestyle Asia

What do celebrities like Catherine Zeta Jones, Uma Thurman, Ashley Olsen, beauty mogul Huda Kattan and more recently, Jaqueline Fernandez have in common? Well, they all get their teeth done by none other than Dr. Micheal Apa. No, he isn’t the dentist you think about when you’ve got a nagging cavity – you go to Dr. Apa to get that million dollar smile.

An expert in the highly specialized field of aesthetic dentistry, Dr. Michael Apa, owner of The Rosenthal-Apa Group, a private aesthetic dentistry practice in New York City, splits his time between New York and Dubai bringing his patients his unique procedures. Known for non-invasive cosmetic dentistry, The Rosenthal-Apa Group creates customized porcelain veneers alongside a new approach to aesthetic dentistry called Facial Aesthetic Design (FAD) that is known to create perfectly natural smiles that fit the face and enhance the appearance.

An artist in his own right, he shuttles between his clinics in New York and Dubai (with one in Los Angeles opening soon) and has a long list of fiercely loyal clients which not only includes Hollywood stars but also royalty. He fits the role of a new social media icon easily because he calls himself a “stylist with and extensive background in dentistry”. No wonder Allure magazine calls him the “Instagram dentist”.

Specializing in cosmetic or aesthetic dentistry, he’s particularly known for his style of veneers which are actually hand-made by ceramists in a laboratory within the clinic. They are known to cost anywhere close to $20K. So, when Jaqueline Fernandez posted a picture on Instagram with him, captioned “The secret behind my smile”, we had to speak to the legend himself!

You just did Jaqueline Fernandez’s teeth! What was that like?
She’s such a burst of positive energy. It’s always nice to work on people that spread that kind of good feeling throughout the office.

Which other Bollywood and Hollywood celebrity’s teeth would you want to fix?
George Clooney – he had his done a couple of years ago, but his teeth are very bad.

Who was the first Hollywood celebrity you ever worked on?
Catherine Zeta-Jones it is.

Can you explain the difference between regular dentistry and aesthetic dentistry?
In most instances, patients needing dental work or wanting to see if they have cavities will visit a regular dentist who is skilled in providing basic and preventive procedures. Patients concerned about how their teeth look are more inclined to make an appointment with an aesthetic dentist who is skilled in providing treatments that improves the appearance of a person’s teeth.

How does one maintain dental hygiene on a daily basis?
For me, electric toothbrushes are mandatory – you have to invest in one. Use a mouth rinse twice a day, and you also have to floss twice a day. Of course, being a dentist, I highly advise regular cleanings, check-ups, and the occasional whitening session. If you’ve worn braces, you need to be consistent with wearing a retainer. Avoid certain foods that stain.

Let’s be honest, do home remedies really work for teeth whitening?
Whether you whiten your teeth at home using over-the-counter products, or you get professional whitening treatments from the dentist office, the whitening process typically involves the use of the ingredient hydrogen peroxide. The main difference between at-home whitening products, and in-office treatments is the way and the duration in which the whitening ingredient is applied. I would recommend using my Apa White Duo. It’s the closest to an in-office whitening treatment available on the market. It’s portable and easy to use, with whitening results in just five days.

What is the most effective way to brush your teeth?
I think the most effective one is with an electric toothbrush.

A dental hygiene myth you’d like to bust?
Listerine is really bad for your teeth because of the high alcohol content, so opt for the alcohol-free one. Most products contain fluoride, but soon everything will contain hydroxyapatite, which is what teeth are actually made of. This is being added to toothpastes and rinses, and that’s better than fluoride. Although fluoride isn’t bad, that’s a myth – you’d have to be drinking bottles of it for it to impact your health. Also, I’ve heard lots of people talk about toothbrush abrasion, that scrubbers rub your gums off – not true. That’s from grinding your teeth.

Do you scan people’s teeth when you’re out and about?
Yes, it’s the first thing I notice about them.

What exactly are veneers – everyone seems to be getting them these days. And are there any potential setbacks one should be aware of?
I think veneers are really great and at times important when constructed and implanted correctly in a patient. I do believe they’re not for everyone (especially if not needed) but can be just the right solution for someone who wants to change something about their smile, which makes it more of a cosmetic procedure, or requires some serious restoration work from perhaps years of smoking, or poor dental care. Veneers can be quite expensive to maintain, and they are a lifelong commitment, which can be viewed as a downside.

New treatments in dental care that one must be aware of?
There aren’t really any trendy procedures or services that we offer per se. Certain products sure have come onto the market like Invisalign which has become more popular because people view it as a better alternative to braces, but these procedures need to be done by orthodontists and not dentists.

When someone tells you, they want you to “fix their smile” what does that involve?
We get two types of customers – those who want to look better and those who need reconstructive surgery. We hope to provide whatever people need. It’s about creating something unique to fit their look only.

Did you always want to be a dentist? And how did you end up becoming this highly sought after/celebrity dentist?
I’ve always had a desire from a young age to be a dentist. When I was in college I wanted to focus on the cosmetic part of dentistry. I wanted Larry Rosenthal to mentor me and chased after him. He hired me directly from dental school and the rest is history. I’ve been practicing for 16 years.

How did Apa Beauty come into the picture?
The idea for creating the line came from seeing what and how oral care is currently offered. Quite frankly it’s not very exciting, not luxurious and makes the user feel inclined to use toothpaste rather than excited. I modeled the line after how my offices in NYC and Dubai are. People are excited to see us, excited to take care of their smiles. I wanted everyone to feel that way about taking care of their teeth. A great smile is a beauty essential. I am proud to be a pioneer in introducing a beauty product range that offers both health and cosmetic benefits.

Also, can you tell us more about the Apa Beauty toothpaste?We’ve heard a lot about it.
The Apa White Toothpaste is an advance whitening toothpaste that contains Ultrapolish Technology that helps clean surface stains for a whiter smile, and hydroxyapatite, one of the building blocks of tooth enamel, which works to help rebuild the surface of your teeth.

What is the “perfect smile” according to you?
One that you’re happy with!

Dubai is about 3-4 hours away from most Indian cities – Any chances you might pop in for a visit?
Unfortunately, there is only 1 of me, so unless they come out with a cloning system, I don’t think I’ll open anything anytime soon in India. But you never know. Patients, however, are always welcome to come see us in Dubai.