Dental School: University of Southern California
Years in Practice: 27
What are your most challenging prosthodontic cases?
My simple definition of prosthodontics is “construction in a biologic matrix.” As with any building project, the goal is to establish a proper foundation from which you can predictably construct upon. My most challenging prosthodontic cases have been those unfortunate patients lacking such foundation, be it bone for implants or reliable tooth structure for crowns.
How can people avoid or minimize dental attrition?
I assume you mean, “wear.” Limit intake of sodas and “sport” drinks, drink water with every meal and wait at least 30 minutes for teeth to re-mineralize before brushing are easy fixes. Breakfast is a challenge, but if you brush before you eat, obstacle cleared. If the tops and edges of teeth are flattening, that’s attrition and sleep apnea may be a factor; see your dentist, as it can be serious.
What about the dental healthcare industry has changed the most since you graced our first Top Dentists cover back in 2003?
The “smile makeover” craze has been replaced with conservative dentistry; I view this as a positive, healthy trend. Our understanding of sleep apnea as a health risk and its relation to both nighttime grinding and reflux erosion has been a paradigm shift. Certainly angling implant placement and immediately restoring them has changed the way we approach terminal dentition.
You deliver a lot of lectures on your field. What are some of the topics you speak about frequently?
Most requests are for treatment planning and restoration of dental implants. My focus is to teach dentists simple and predictable procedures and to develop efficiency in using these methods and materials to improve the patient experience. I make a point of showing my mistakes but also what I learned from them.
When was the last time you filled a cavity? Do you still perform routine dental procedures in addition to your highly specialized work?
Last week I filled two cavities for a patient – that pretty much was it for June. I really limit my practice to prosthodontics. There are so many excellent dentists that can do as well or better with these “routine” procedures than I can.
You’re a big Radiohead fan. What you think of the new album?
“The Numbers” is simply fantastic, but it’s definitely a headphone song; the piano and strings are amazing! “Burn the Witch” is good as well. The rest seem to focus (lyrically) on Thom Yorke’s break-up, which I think is a bit tedious for everyone but him.
What are your hobbies and passions outside dentistry?
Between full-time practice and lecturing across the country weekly, it doesn’t leave many hours to play. Family is the focus of my discretionary time, but if there’s a little left over for me, then I run, swim, read, paint and tinker with my inventions. Oh, I was very briefly, a few years back, the top-ranked Angry Birds player in the world, which is kind of a dubious distinction; I have a screen shot of the moment.
“If I wasn’t a dentist, I’d be...”
A fry cook on Venus.