Dental School: State University of New York, Buffalo
Years in Practice: 19
Cool name! Is Axx German?
It’s Dutch. It was originally just “Ax.” But my great grandfather was the black sheep of his family, so he moved away from his family in Ohio. Then he added the second “x” to his name to start his new life and be separate from his family he left behind.
Root canals are obviously the defining service provided by endodontists. What other procedures do you perform?
Root canals make up about 90 percent of what I do every day. Other services I provide are re-treating prev-ious root canal procedures and treating cracked teeth. [I also perform] surgical procedures involving roots of teeth, and treating traumatic injuries, such as re-inserting teeth that’ve been knocked out, or repairing teeth that’ve been broken. I’m also one of the few endodontists that will extract teeth that are beyond repair and replace them with dental implants.
What steps or practices can people take to prevent root death? Is there a genetic component?
Sometimes it’s unavoidable, especially in patients who’ve had crowns and fillings in the past. A good regimen of brushing and flossing, and keeping current with your regular dental cleanings and checkups, are the best prevention.
You established a scholarship fund for LGBTQ youth and volunteer with one-n-ten and Big Brothers Big Sisters. What inspires you to give back to young people?
I feel very lucky to have been able to achieve what I have, and I didn’t do it on my own. I had a team of support – a loving family, friends and mentors – that each played a role in my success. To be able to pay it forward and provide that mentorship for tomorrow’s leaders is my way of expressing gratitude and staying grounded. I know firsthand how stressful growing up in the LGBT community is, and how daunting the world can be when you feel alone.
You are a diplomate of the American Board of Endodontics, a title that less than 20 percent of endodontists can claim. Why did you choose to go the extra step to get board certified?
I’ve been a perfectionist since I can remember. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to reach the top. That’s part of the reason that I didn’t stop at being a general dentist and went on to specialize. Getting board certification is the pinnacle of my profession, and patients can feel confident that they’re getting the best available treatment in my hands.
You’re a native New Yorker and went to dental school in Buffalo. What are your favorite spots in the Valley for wings?
No one compares to Duff’s [Famous Wings] and Anchor Bar in Buffalo. But Pizza on 40th is my favorite here, and Wingstop is a close second.
Who is your favorite dentist in popular culture?
Without a doubt, it’s Hermey in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer! He’s the earliest memory I have that being a dentist was something I could do.
Going to the dentist regularly appears on popular phobia lists. What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is swimming or being in water that I can’t see the bottom of. I love the ocean, and I love to swim, but only if I can see.
“If I wasn’t a dentist, I’d be…”
Building or selling real estate. I love the thrill of the deal!