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Celebrity Dentist Dr. Bill Dorfman Explains the Importance of Oral Health

Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Bill Dorfman

Dr. Bill Dorfman is the world’s most famous cosmetic dentist. He’s the featured dentist on the ABC series “Extreme Makeover” and a guest co-host on CBS’s “The Doctors.” He also wrote the NY Times Bestseller “Billion Dollar Smile.” We talked to him about why oral health is so important and what he’s doing to provide more people with quality care.

Innovations in cosmetic dentistry continue to dominate the industry. What are you most excited about right now?

The most exciting news I can think of is the advent and utilization of computer-guided implants, and the ability to fabricate complete or partial implant-supported bridges to restore missing teeth with a beautiful, naturally appearing, functional, comfortable, long-lasting, and permanent solution.

With an influx of at-home aligners, teeth whitening products, and more, why should patients still seek out the advice of a dentist or cosmetic dentist? 

As far as whitening is concerned, as long as the product you use has a neutral pH, you will not damage your teeth. The main difference between in-office and at-home systems is in the speed with which you will attain maximum results. All teeth have a maximum whiteness they will attain, so at a certain point (usually after two weeks of take-home, or one or two in-office whitening sessions) you have hit the limit.  

At-home aligners are tricky. With minor rotations, they can solve a problem, HOWEVER, it always makes me nervous when a treatment that takes a dentist four more years of advanced training is performed without the dentist monitoring progress. I highly recommend going to a dentist for orthodontic treatment.

The appearance of one’s teeth carries significant weight. Why is that? Why should we value our smiles? 

Your smile says a lot about you. In addition to fitting into our concept of “beauty,” it also is often a reflection of our health, hygiene, happiness, and social status. People who are ashamed of their smiles may cover them up or just refrain from smiling, and thus are judged differently than how they really are.

Tell us more about your philanthropic work with the LEAP Foundation, and the ways the organization has evolved and gained new momentum during the pandemic.

For the past 14 years, we have held the country’s No. 1 weeklong motivational/leadership program at UCLA for students 15-25+ called LEAP. At LEAP, we teach students the skills they need to be successful in life that they typically don’t learn in traditional education. Over the years, we have attained a lot of support from community leaders and celebrities alike. Past speakers include Mark Wahlberg, Paula Abdul, Michael Strahan, Kathy Bates, Anthony Hopkins, Jason Alexander, Usher, Eva Longoria, and many more.

Typically, we have over 450 students attend in person at UCLA. In 2020, we had to make a quick pivot and switch the program to be fully virtual. The advantage is that we were able to enroll more than 1,000 students, and in 2021 we did a hybrid in-person/virtual program. Going forward, we will continue the hybrid approach and try to reach as many students as possible.

Access to oral healthcare is still a huge issue in the United States, predominantly because of barriers like cost and geography (i.e., lack of dentists in rural areas). What are some organizations or movements have you been involved with that are addressing these issues?

Some of the organizations I have been involved with that provide care are:

  • Operation Smile (operationsmile.org): They send a team of doctors, nurses, and assistants all over the world to help repair cleft lip and palate birth defects.
  • Smiles for Life (smilesforlife.org): A group of Dentists in the United States and Canada have helped raise over $45 million through a teeth whitening campaign to deliver dental care and healthcare to children. This same group plans trips all over the world to deliver humanitarian healthcare to impoverished areas.
  • ABC’s “Extreme Makeover” and CBS’s “The Doctors”: All of the dental cases I did, and continue to do, on these shows are provided free of charge to the patients.
  • Rodeo Dental (rodeodentaltexas.com): One of my closest friends, Dr. Saam Zarabi, has over 30 dental clinics in Texas and neighboring states that provide quality dental care for free to children of impoverished families.
  • AACD Give Back A Smile (aacd.com): The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry has several thousand dentist members who volunteer to give free smile makeovers to survivors of domestic violence.
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