These days, it's fair to say that visiting a doctor to get plastic surgery, Botox, fillers, or one of the many other procedures meant to "improve" your look, has become completely commonplace. And now, there's yet another facial tune-up out there — but this one comes courtesy of the dentist. Michael Apa, DDS has developed Facial Aesthetic Design (FAD), a revolutionary way of fitting veneers that will actually enhance your facial features, rather than just giving you some straight (and often fake looking) new teeth. FAD can help "fix" anything from a crooked nose to drooping eyes to sagging cheeks. Want proof? Check out the before-and-afters on his website. Dr. Apa always knew he wanted to be a dentist, and after graduating from NYU, he began to work for Larry Rosenthal, DDS — his idol and one of pioneers of porcelain veneers in the 1980s. The two are now partners of the Rosenthal Apa Group in NYC, and Dr. Apa also practices out of a new office in Dubai. But these FAD veneers are different than older versions that often got a bad rap for looking artificial. "I wanted people to look natural," Dr. Apa says. "The mouth is too small of an area to be able to create something different for each person, so everyone [used to] basically get the same looking veneers." His thought was that everyone's teeth are different, and it would stand to reason that everyone should get different veneers. Makes sense, right? Dr. Apa began looking into how orthodontists treat their patients and discovered that they work based on skeletal structure. "An orthodontist takes a cephalometric study of [the patient's] bone structure and says 'Okay, where are we supposed to put the teeth in order for them to be in the best position for the patient's face?'" And thus, FAD was born.
Dr. Apa explains that veneers are all created around the simple principle that what we perceive as 'beautiful' is harmonious or symmetrical. Before FAD, dentists were simply creating perfectly straight or symmetrical teeth, and not thinking about the rest of the face. Instead, Dr. Apa stopped focusing on the idea of perfect symmetry and worked from the outside in, taking stock of the entire face before creating his veneers, which made the final look more about a symmetrical face — not a symmetrical set of teeth. For example, if an older woman has lost a lot of elasticity in her cheeks, Dr. Apa would use the veneers to widen her smile by setting her teeth further back in her mouth. This would give balance to the face, and make the woman's face appear fuller. "But if someone younger came in, and I did the same thing, their face would appear chubby, since they haven't lost that fullness yet," he explains. Every case is different. Quite often, if you were to pop the veneers out of someone's mouth and lay them on a table, they wouldn't be perfectly flat, even though they appear perfectly straight in the mouth. Some people have a dominant side of the face, and Dr. Apa will adjust the veneer design to counteract that with one side longer than the other. Everyone who comes into his office walks out with a custom job. Rather than only getting an impression of the teeth (which is common practice for dentists who don't follow FAD), Dr. Apa goes in and sketches out the intricacies onto the teeth themselves, creating a detailed roadmap for the ceramist who creates the veneers. Before the final fit, he sends his clients home with a set of temporary teeth, cut to their specifications, to see how well they work.
Aesthetic dentistry isn't regulated by the American Dental Association, so any dentist can place veneers. For this reason, a majority of Dr. Apa's clients are corrective cases — patients who saw a non-FAD -trained dentist, received veneers they weren't happy with, and went to him to get them fixed. FAD has truly revolutionized the way the dental world is looking at veneers, and Dr. Apa lectures on the technique internationally, teaching others how to do it. If you're considering veneers, it's important to do your research. "I always say to look at [a dentist's] befores, and then to look at their afters and ask," says Dr. Apa. "'Does that look better? Everybody can see that. I think that speaks the loudest." You should have an idea about what you're unhappy with at the onset of your consultation, but it's also important to listen to your dentist's advice. "90% [of clients] have no idea why they're really there," he explains. "They know they don't like something about themselves, but they don't know if they should be in the plastic surgeon's office, the dermatologist's office, or the dentist's office. " A dentist who has learned Dr. Apa's FAD technique will be able to tell after just talking to you and taking note of your face — and will be able to show you what he/she plans to change. Dr. Apa even films his consultations, before and after placing the temporary teeth, so that clients can get a first-hand view of what they're in for. "I always talk to my team about how the most important [part of the] story is the consultation." Which is probably why Dr. Apa stands out. And if FAD continues to spread and become the preferred type of veneer placement, who knows — you may start to look forward to a dentist appointment.