Coined ‘The dental rock-star’ by his clients in both New York and Dubai, Dr Michael Apa is the A-lister dentist who’s perfected the smiles of Huda and Mona Kattan, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen and Chloe Sevigny
On average, Dr Apa has worked on three sets of veneers a day, for the past 16 years. He is in demand and his method is both precise and precious. With a patent on porcelain and an in-house technique which allows him to work on a smile inside the mouth, as opposed to inside a lab, Apa is a cut above the rest. “To truly achieve a balanced smile that looks like a real set and compliments the person, I need to read between the lines and understand what would suit both the aesthetic and character of the patient,” says Apa. “They still want them to look like teeth, just better teeth.” Scroll through his Instagram feed (@doctorapa), for a rosta of celebrity clients who’ve upped their teeth game at Dr Apa’s. His method may be meticulous, but Apa has a laugh-a-minute personality and is guaranteed to put a smile on your face (whether or not you’re paying 300,000aed for it…). We met with the dental rock-star to get his dos and don’ts on veneers.
He’s not just looking at your smile…
For Apa, the most important and complex part of the journey is working out what kind of client is in his chair. “First I have to read between the lines, extract, understand and gh-estimate what ‘natural’ means to them,” says Apa. “I’ll check out what they’re wearing, what hair style they have and see what other cosmetic work they may have had done.”
Are you au-naturel?
“I would leave the character of their original set there. Perhaps twist and turn things slightly, leave the right light reflection. They’ll have perfect teeth, but they’ll still look like their teeth,” says Apa. In other words, like a great set of braces and bleaching, but all in one day.
Or are you an Instagram au-naturel?
“Well, not everyone wants them ‘natural’. What natural means to you is going to be very different to the next person sitting in my chair,” he explains. “Someone who is good at this, can identify what someone’s personal definition of natural is. I have to decipher it. Some people may have had a lot of work done and they’re all ready not looking natural. But they say ‘oh I want natural’? If I give them my version of natural, they’ll hate it.”
Experience is EVERYTHING
“I’ve done this three times a day for 16 years, and I still have problems. You’re never going to be perfect at pleasing your patient 100% of the time,” he says. “I think the problem that shows itself is that sometimes dentists aren’t really able to understand how to communicate with a patient. It comes down to what their process is. We’ve worked on ours for thirty years, with a 1% margin of error.” We’re okay with those odds…
Sleep On Your Smile
At Apa’s, trial runs are mandatory. “The important part is that I sculpt the teeth inside the patient’s mouth. I can sit here and listen to someone say ‘I want dominant front teeth, a whiter smile, wider teeth’… process all those things. Most of the time I can translate what they’re saying in to something ‘dentally’, but I have to give them a temporary smile to be absolutely sure,” explain Apa. Before making the final porcelain set, you go away with a provisional smile first. This allows Apa and his patient time to road-test every element. “I bring the patient back in the next day after they’ve lived with the temporary smile. They say what they did and didn’t like, I see it with fresh eyes. I have this tweak time, where I can fine tune my work and what’s in their mouth.”
Skip straight past the braces
Apa argues that embarking on braces or invisaligns for two years, is far more invasive than heading straight for veneers. “The truth is I often end up fixing more with someone who has had braces,” he explains. “The bite might have changed, plates will have shifted, and you can never bleach teeth to the point of what’s achieved with my porcelains.” Makes sense, especially for a generation unwilling to wait for anything.
Your teeth are the most expensive puzzle you’ll ever play
“If you want to patch something up and fix just a few teeth, then yes, it is possible in dentistry, but it’s not possible here,” says Apa. In other words, it’s go big or go home. But it’s for your own good. He explains it like perfecting a puzzle. If, for example, one tooth is corrected, then the chances are its new perfection will only highlight imperfections elsewhere.
This isn’t the hairdressers, leave celebrity references at home
At Apa’s, bespoke means bespoke. Someone else’s teeth will never work with your own smile, Apa creates something unique to fit your look only. “Clients research me beforehand, they understand my work. This is a big investment, they don’t bring pictures.” You’ve been warned…