Meet the Master of the Natural Smile
From the tender age of five, Dr. Michael Apa knew that dentistry was his calling. Today, he is a partner in the Rosenthal-Apa Group in New York City, a practice that specializes in non-invasive dentistry. In fact, Dr. Apa is a pioneer in the new approach called Facial Aesthetic Design, which focuses on creating a natural smile to transform the entire facial appearance. A graduate of the NYU School of Dentistry, Dr. Apa’s achievements are many, including teaching at NYU and editorial mentions in publications such as Harper’s Bazaar, Men’s Vogue and Redbook. He is a member of the American Dental Association (ADA), The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) and has been published in the AACD’s highly accredited Journal of Cosmetic Dentistry.
Tell us a bit about your background. How did you choose dentistry as your career?
I grew up in upstate New York. At the young age of five, I realized I wanted to pursue dentistry. It’s a long story, but nonetheless, I continued to focus on being a dentist. As I grew older, I found out about cosmetic dentistry and learned of Dr. Larry Rosenthal. In high school, I set a goal to work in his practice. I was accepted into a three-to-four year program in college that put me in Le Moyne College for three years and automatically put me into University at Buffalo Dental School. Knowing that I needed to be closer to Dr. Rosenthal, I dropped out of the program and went to NYU College of Dentistry. As a student, I began the first student chapter of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. It brought lecturers from all over to the student body at NYU to introduce this new concept of cosmetic dentistry. After school, I worked in Dr. Rosenthal’s office and soon after became partners with him.
We understand you are a specialist in non-invasive cosmetic dentistry. What is that exactly?
Non-invasive cosmetic dentistry utilizes Facial Aesthetic Design to evaluate tooth position and allows the practitioner to be as conservative as possible. It allows us to prepare teeth less and use the underlying tooth structure to add both strength and esthetics to the veneers. The tooth is what gives natural color and strength to the veneer, not the other way around.
Please describe Facial Aesthetic Design?
Facial Aesthetic Design (FAD) takes into account a person’s entire face and the aging or development that has occurred over time. The idea is that teeth control the lower third of the face, including lip support, facial height, wrinkles around the corners of the mouth and upper lip as well as volume in the cheeks. All of these can be addressed by ensuring the teeth are in the right position. They can also be used to bring harmony or symmetry to someone’s face.
What makes a smile beautiful?
A perfect smile is one that complements and adds beauty or harmony to the individual’s face. This is accomplished by teeth position and color, along with healthy gums. Dark, stained teeth, swollen gums or chipped worn teeth are all signs of not living a healthy life. A clean, healthy, beautiful smile should be your best feature. It speaks volumes about self-confidence, health and gives each person a certain character.
What are the most harmful things people do to their smiles?
People degrade their smiles by avoiding regular dental checkups and cleanings, bruxism (teeth grinding), drinking coffee and smoking.
How has aesthetic dentistry changed in the last 20 years?
Technology has played a role in how we can diagnose dentistry along with research. We now utilize implants much more for tooth replacement. We also have become much less invasive in our preparation and treatment of the dentition. The look has become much more natural, the days of big and white have come and gone. The education of our patients has grown, which has pushed dentistry to become technically and aesthetically better.