2014 Top Dentists - Smile School

Written by Niki D’Andrea, Judy Harper, Leah LeMoine & Craig Outhier Category: Health & Fitness Issue: August 2014
Group Free

Open up and say “ah.” Our 12th annual guide to the Valley’s best dentists features 171 peer-selected practitioners in nine specialties, including a new category: TMJ and orofacial pain.

Choosing the Top Dentists
Every spring, PHOENIX magazine mails 1,600 surveys to randomly selected dentists throughout the Valley. The survey asks the dentists to write the names of three dentists whom they deem the best in each of nine specialties. They mail the surveys back to us, and we tally the votes in each category. Once the top vote-getters are determined, we obtain the dentists’ contact information from the Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners, and our fact-checkers verify their information.

PHOENIX magazine does not give any preference to dentists who advertise. The Top Dentists are determined purely based on the number of votes they receive. Our sales staff does not see the list until the magazine is printed; if there are instances when a dentist on the list also has an ad in the magazine, it is merely coincidence. With the exception of the five randomly chosen dentists profiled, the dentists also have no advance knowledge of whether they made the list.

Smile School
More than ever, Americans are choosing to fix the teeth that God gave ‘em. Cosmetic dentistry has become giant business over the past decade, with Americans spending $2.75 billion to improve their smiles in 2012, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Is a capping or bleaching in your future? Consult this primer before pimping out your pearly whites.

60% of cosmetic dental patients are female.
40% are male, but the gender gap is narrowing...
33% ...as males comprised just 33 percent of patients in 2001.


Cosmetic dentistry corrects the color, size, shape and function of teeth, and improves spacing and gum display. A few options are at your disposal:
1 - Crowns, or “caps,” are durable but require extensive reshaping of teeth and removal of enamel. They generally cost between $500 and $1,500 per tooth, according to WebMD. Most are made of porcelain, which is stain-resistant and easily tolerated by gum tissue.  

2 - Porcelain veneers require less shaping of teeth than crowns, but may chip or crack more easily, and are not recommended for people who grind their teeth or have bad dental health. They generally cost between $500 and $1,300 per tooth.

3 - Full dental implants, in which an artificial tooth is anchored directly into the jaw, can be used to replace severely damaged or failing teeth. Implants are relatively expensive at $1,500 to $7,000 per tooth. The trade-off: They’re designed to last a lifetime.


Anatomy of a Smile
PHOENIX magazine Top Dentist John Badolato has garnered national notoriety as the smile makeover specialist on ABC’s hit show Extreme Weight Loss. “Dr. B” took a break from his drills and epoxy compounds to school us in the art of a great grin.

> According to Dr. B, the average person flashes eight teeth while smiling, but a “great smile” can include extreme outliers. Movie star and noted grinner Julia Roberts, for instance, “shows 12 teeth when she smiles” – among the most of any celebrity.



Which Valley celebrities have a great smile? Dr. B picks one of his own patients: Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic. By reproportioning Dragic’s upper teeth, Badolato was able to soften the player’s imperfect midline and create natural dimensions, with limited gum exposure. “To avoid looking fake, we kept Goran’s teeth more natural in color.”


The Eyes Don’t Have It
According to a poll conducted in 2014, Americans cited the following physical features as “most important” in terms of overall attractiveness.
• Smile 47%
• Eyes 27%
• Physique 16%
Source: Delta Dental


>Although “no two great smiles are alike,” the industry baseline for creating attractive tooth and gum dimensions is rooted in the geometric concept of the golden ratio, according to Badolato. Popularized in The Da Vinci Code, the golden ratio – or “golden proportion” – uses a fixed numerical value to determine optimal aesthetic proportions, including teeth. One example: Central incisors should generally exhibit a width-to-length ratio of 75 percent.

>According to Badolato, other components of a great smile are “proper amount of tooth and gum display, pleasing color, straight alignment, and a smile symmetrical to a patient’s facial shape,” i.e. round, oval, square or tapered.

>Is there such a thing as “too-perfect” teeth? Definitely. “Most great cosmetic dentists will tell you that the trend currently is to make teeth look natural,” Dr. B says. “If a smile is too perfect, i.e. too symmetrical, too proportionate, too white, the smile can look fake or unnatural, like a bad denture.” We’re looking at you, Hilary Duff.

>And what celebrity has – or had – a not-so-excellent smile? Before a series of cosmetic dental procedures in the late ‘90s, actor-director Ben Affleck had undersize, widely-spaced teeth that displayed a prodigious amount of gum. Other celeb bad-teeth success stories: Céline Dion, Chris Rock, George Clooney, Demi Moore, Nicolas Cage, Oprah Winfrey and Robert Downey Jr.

>The earliest known examples of cosmetic dentistry? As early as 2,500 years ago, ancient Etruscans in northern Italy used both human and animal tooth extractions to fashion partial dentures and dental crowns. Remnants of sea shell presumably used to create crude dental implants were also found in a 1,400-year-old Mayan jaw fragment.


Meet a few of our featured 2014 Top Dentists on our Top Dentist profile page.