- Celebrity-loved dentist Michael Apa is known for his boutique veneers, which can cost clients up to $80,000 for a whole smile.
- Apa’s worked on the smiles of celebrities including actress Chloë Sevigny, Victoria’s Secret model Elsa Hosk, Vinny Guadagnino of “Jersey Shore,” and Kyle Richards of “Real Housewives.”
- We visited Apa’s New York City office to see how the veneers are customized and handmade by a team of in-house master ceramicists.
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Following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: This is Michael Apa. He spends most of his days flying between New York City and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. He works on the smiles of Hollywood actors, reality-TV stars, fashion models, and even royals. He’s most sought-after for his boutique porcelain veneers, which cost clients $4,000 a tooth and up to $80,000 for a full smile reconstruction. So how did Apa become the world’s leading celebrity dentist, and what makes his signature veneers so pricey?
Michael Apa: So, when I first started in cosmetic dentistry, one thing that was being taught was something called smile design, which was a golden proportion of the mouth and tooth form to create an ideal smile. And I think that’s where the term “chicklets” and such came from, is because everybody kind of had this cookie-cutter, perfect smile.
Narrator: According to Apa, what makes a perfect smile is actually, well, an imperfect one. Embracing the imperfections is key to Apa’s signature method, called Facial Aesthetic Design. Here, he’s using Facial Aesthetic Design to create a straighter, more confident smile for his client Andrea.
Andrea Ahern: I find that my teeth are a little uneven, they kind of slant this way, and I don’t like my gumline, and they’re uneven underneath.
Apa: Maybe four veneers on top, four veneers on bottom. And we would be able to straighten the teeth out, and we would also be able to use a laser where we would reshape some of the gum so that you wouldn’t see as much to make it more proportional to the rest of your teeth and your smile.
Narrator: The method uses a client’s unique facial features to determine their most flattering smile. This personalized way of designing the smiles means no two are the same and is just the first reason why they’re so pricey. After the number and shape of veneers are decided and the client undergoes any preliminary dental work, like fillings or gum reshaping, Apa takes a mold of the client’s teeth. The mold will be used to create a set of temporary inserts for the client to test-drive their new look.
Andrea: That is insane.
Apa: Looks like big fake teeth, right? [Andrea laughs]
Andrea: That’s amazing.
Narrator: Once a client is happy with the results, their smile moves into the hands of Apa’s in-house team of master ceramicists. Having an in-house team at this skill level gives Apa full control over how each smile is made and is probably the biggest contributor to the teeth’s price tag.
Apa: When you talk about this process, it’s almost like we’re creating individual jewelry for the teeth, and that is the level at which it’s crafted.
Narrator: The ceramicists shape the teeth out of a special blend of porcelain, applying it carefully layer by layer with attention to pigment.
Apa: The interesting part about white teeth: There’s really no such thing as white. It’s all a matter of value and opacity.
Narrator: While bright-white veneers may have four to five shades, Apa’s teeth use 17 to 20 different shades and opacities. The deepest pigments are layered toward the base of the gum, becoming gradually lighter and more translucent toward the tip. The overall effect so closely mimics natural teeth that, when inserted, there’d be no reason for the average person to believe the teeth are anything other than real. The custom teeth are typically ready in under a week, but those from out of town can get a new smile in as little as 24 hours. The convenience is a major plus for his high-profile clients with jet-setting schedules. The bespoke level at which Apa’s veneers are designed isn’t the only reason they’re so expensive. It also comes down to the method in which they’re actually inserted. At any other dentist’s office, Apa says a client can expect to set aside an entire day for an insert. But here, it’s in and out in under two hours. Part of what makes Apa’s process so quick is what he calls a minimally invasive approach.
Apa: So, when we talk about being minimally invasive in someone’s mouth, it means cutting away as little tooth as possible and saving as much healthy tooth as possible. That in turn is what makes the veneers last longer. So, the less invasive you are in the mouth, the stronger the bond of the porcelain to the natural tooth.
Narrator: This minimally invasive method is supposed to cause less pain and discomfort, too.
Apa: I’m gonna lip-assist you, because you’re really numb. Smile. And now you can pull it up.
Andrea: Oh, my God.
Andrea: Oh, my God!
Narrator: With proper care, clients can expect their designer smiles to last anywhere from 15 to 20 years.
Andrea: I feel extremely confident with my teeth now. I’m smiling more in pictures, I just seem to be opening my mouth a lot more and not closing my lips. It’s just life-changing.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in December 2019.