If a smile can speak a thousand words, Dr. Apa’s work can speak a million. A perfectionist by nature he approaches each patient as a sculptor would with a piece of clay, to create a perfect set of bespoke pearly whites for celebrities, business leaders and royalty around the world. Impact Wealth speaks to Dr. Apa about his approach to creating a bespoke smile, his burgeoning expansion worldwide, and how his cosmetic dentistry makeovers have impacted his clientele.
IW: What inspired you to become a dentist and what happened along the way to solidify that decision?
Dr. Apa: From the time I was a kid, it was always in my head that I wanted to be a dentist. I couldn’t shake the vision, so I focused on making it happen. In high school, on career day, I shadowed my local dentist and that’s when things got real. He gave me audiotapes of a guy named Larry Rosenthal. He said, “Michael I’m not sure what area of dentistry you’re interested in, but there is something called cosmetic dentistry that is exciting and new. Listen to this guy’s tape; he’s creating the landscape.” Well, I listened to that tape and was hooked. I knew cosmetic dentistry was for me, and more importantly that I had to work for Larry Rosenthal. From there, many things happened, but essentially I became Larry’s associate, then partner and, ultimately, the practice’s owner. It’s all about having real focus on the things you want in life and tuning out the distractions.
IW: You’ve built an international practice that attracts heads of state, international royalty, industry leaders and Hollywood stars. What sets Apa Aesthetic apart?
Dr. Apa: A smile makeover is about so much more than just teeth; it’s about the way a smile controls the overall appearance of the face. When designing smiles, I am considering each unique facial feature and how those features work together. It’s my favorite part of the process and when I feel most creative. I think that holistic approach, combined with the quality of work coming out of my lab, and the patient experience my support staff provide set us apart.
Q: Can you describe a defining moment in your career?
Dr. Apa: On a Tuesday night in September, my New York office had a lab fire that absolutely devastated the space. At the time, I was boarding a plane from Dubai to New York, excited to get home. The news was shocking, and the pictures and videos were a depressing preview of what was waiting for me upon arrival. This fire was a curveball that fundamentally changed me, but it wasn’t all bad. It brought a renewed feeling of strength and the deepest appreciation for my team, the dental community, and our patients. I already knew my team was incredible, and this incident proved it. Just two days later, we were already up and running at a temporary location, where we remained for 6 months. I don’t know if I will ever fully wrap my head around the sequence of events.
The timing was especially crazy; we were about to begin construction on a newly acquired floor in our New York Flagship. I was so excited about the expansion and the opportunity to deliver something one-of-a-kind to patients. We still got it done, but the timeline took a hit.
IW: Speaking of your New York expansion, you just opened the doors to a new floor on E 76th Street. What can you tell us?
Dr. Apa: The vision was a first-of-its-kind, exclusive VIP floor, serving the most discreet smile makeover patients. Kenneth Park Architects, the creative masterminds behind buildouts for Balenciaga, Tourneau, Dior and more, oversaw the project to ensure it was the ultimate backdrop for a dental experience unlike any other, and they absolutely delivered. The space is entirely custom, from its fixtures to the furniture, and there is no check-in desk. Instead, patients are greeted and seated by a dedicated concierge. The space is the perfect complement to our bright, high-energy 5th floor, and is equipped to support more than just the dentistry. There are private offices and a conference room for the corporate team helping me chase the next goal.
Q: You have three locations (New York, Los Angeles and Dubai). How do you juggle the clinical work with the business side of running and growing Apa Aesthetic?
Dr. Apa: I’ve always come from a place of personal passion and inspiration, but sometimes that’s not enough. You really need to have the right people in place – people that are energized by the mission, inspired by their individual work and not afraid to push past comfortable. They need to believe they can make a difference and they need access to me – my time and my energy. On the clinical side, we have systems in place to ensure a uniform experience for each patient, but it takes that group effort to see it continue day after day.
Q: What do you think the future of oral care has in store?
Dr. Apa: There is a lot of exciting new technology on the horizon that will help with efficiency and accuracy. For us, it will always be about how we integrate that new technology into our workflow. Hand-layered ceramic is an old art form, but a part of our DNA. It’s how we replicate nature and deliver the natural aesthetic that we’re known for. The future is all about finding the perfect balance between innovation and tradition.
Q: What’s next for you?
DA: I have my sights set on Miami for my next Apa Aesthetic office. Hopefully, we will have an official open date soon! I’m continuing to invest in Apa Beauty and introduce innovative new skus that deliver on the original promise: oral care products that are simple and effective, enhance your smile and are beautiful enough to display. Continuing to deliver the best-in-care clinically, while raising the bar for dentistry, remains my top priority.
Q: What do you think is the biggest problem industry leaders face today?
Dr. Apa: The limits we place on ourselves.