Gone are the days when patients would dread going to the dentist—in fact, arriving at Dr. Apa’s Apa Aesthetic on the Upper East Side feels more akin to checking in to a boutique hotel. Right down to the ability to pick what music you would like during your visit! The dental world pioneer needs no introduction to most, thanks to his global presence and robust social media and celebrity following, and now there’s a new star smile-maker at the company. Award-winning Dr. Nick Mavrostomos is a cosmetic dentist to watch, ensuring each mega-watt grin makeover is given the utmost attention to detail. We spent a few hours in his chair hearing where that passion for his craft comes from!
What’s your backstory? What did you think you wanted to be when you grew up?
I grew up in New Jersey, just outside of New York City, and, until college, I cared exclusively about sports, specifically soccer. My dad was a general dentist, so in many ways dentistry was in my blood. I knew from an early age that I was more likely to continue in my dad’s footsteps than become the next David Beckham! Interesting fun fact…for my first job when I was in middle school, I ran a barbershop out of my parent’s garage. I learned to cut hair from YouTube videos and actually made a decent amount of spending money. I kept it up through high school, college, and dental school, cutting hair in various dorms and apartments.
Why did you want to follow the same career as your dad?
I think my earliest memory of my dad at work was just his genuine satisfaction. I grew up seeing him in a career that he truly loved and that made a strong impression on me. When it came to dentistry, I always loved one specific aspect of my dad’s work: the cosmetic part. I decided to make an unorthodox move and instead of taking over my dad’s practice, I chose to pave my own path. Proclaiming that I wanted to solely do cosmetics went against the dental grain, so to speak, and, to be honest, I got a ton of push-back throughout dental school and residency from professors and educators. Nobody thought it was possible or sustainable, and, quite frankly, I was told I was over ambitious and out-of-line. Needless to say, that wasn’t true. To put it simply, I am extremely passionate about what I do—it was in my blood and something I’ve long seen for myself.
What’s the path of study like to becoming a dentist?
The path begins with a four-year undergraduate program, where you take prerequisites in all the pre-medical sciences (biochemistry, organic chemistry, physiology, physics, etc.), which I did at Boston University. After that you take your DAT exam—the dental version of the MCAT—and apply for dental school. I did a one-year Masters program at BU in biomedical sciences before I started dental school. I then attended NYU Dental, which, like all dental schools, is a four-year program. After dental school, I completed a one year residency at the Brooklyn VA. So ultimately my path took 10 years between college, my masters, dental school, and residency.
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Wow! When did you first come across Dr. Apa and why did you dream of working alongside him?
I love to tell the story of the first time we met! I was a 19-year-old freshman in college at Boston University. My dad called me on a Friday night and told me that there was a world-renowned cosmetic dentist speaking at nearby Tufts University the following morning at 9AM. He said I should try to find a way to see him speak, even though the seminar was restricted to licensed dentists, who had paid significant money and registered to attend. I was very close to blowing it off to enjoy my weekend but something about the opportunity made me feel like I should try. I snuck into the conference through a side door and pretended to belong, which shockingly worked. That decision to attend, no exaggeration, changed my life. I sat and listened to him speak for a few hours and was blown away by a world of cosmetic dentistry that I didn’t know existed. Hearing him speak made me imagine a future that he was creating. I dreamed of working beside him. He’s a pioneer, trying to create something in this field that had never been done before. I had to be a part of it! That day lit a fire in me and defined my singular goal: to work with Dr. Apa. A goal which I would spend the next 10 years working towards.
How did it happen?
Dr. Apa was my mentor from afar, so to speak. Long before I even set foot inside his office, I studied his work and teachings, no differently than a young basketball player studying film on Michael Jordan. I learned an incredible amount from watching his videos, analyzing his work, and attending his lectures. Fast forward 10 years and I am now working alongside Dr. Apa in his Manhattan office. I still think about how crazy it is that one small decision, like sneaking into a lecture, can shape the rest of your life. His mentorship in dentistry, business, and life, is priceless.
When did you eventually join the team?
Dr. Apa offered me a job on the team about two-thirds of the way through my residency. Just one week after graduation, I started working in the NY office.
What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
I have two favorites: the design process and the patient interaction. I’m genuinely passionate about creation and really love the work. Envisioning an end goal and bringing that vision to life, by hand, is an art form that will never get old. Another favorite part of the job is working with my patients. I meet so many different, interesting people every single day, and, being a social person, that day-to-day interaction gives me energy. I get to do something that I love that positively impacts people’s health, beauty, and confidence.
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Tell us about some of the awards you’ve won and what they mean to you!
My two most meaningful awards are from dental school because that was the first time my work was recognized. First was the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry HEAPS Award, for the best cosmetic case across all dental schools. The second award came shortly after, when the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry recognized me with their annual award for having the most outstanding ability in esthetic dentistry at NYU Dental.
Do you find there’s a difference in what people mostly come to you for in NYC versus LA?
While I am primarily based in NY, I am able to treat patients out of Apa Aesthetic’s LA office. I have definitely noticed subtle aesthetic preferences in the different cities, but ultimately what patients want is really the same—to look their best, feel their best, and be the healthiest they can be. I’d say on average New York patients like to keep a lower profile about getting work done than those in LA, which means preserving as much natural character as possible.
What are your top three rules that everyone should adhere to when it comes to taking the best care of their teeth at home?
Switch to an electric brush, switch to an alcohol-free mouthwash, and stop using whitening toothpaste regularly!
Are there any misconceptions about dental care that you want people to know?
There are many, but one we hear a lot is that veneers are simply and solely for ‘aesthetic’ improvements. In actuality, a smile makeover, when done properly, addresses all of a patient’s various dental health needs comprehensively, with a final result that yes, also happens to be beautiful or aesthetic. Traditional general dentistry follows the cycle of one tooth having an issue, fixing that one tooth, waiting until the next tooth has an issue and then addressing it, etc. The mouth is unlike any piece of machinery; fixing problems one at a time won’t address the interactive issues within that system. When we conduct veneer treatment, we are able to address all of the patient’s cavities at once, re-create the environment of their bite for better function, and alleviate issues like TMJ pain from bad positioning. It is much more than giving someone a pretty smile…it’s giving someone a fresh start!
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What takes the experience at Dr. Apa to another level, versus other practices in the country?
Dr. Apa built his practice on excellence. An excellent team, excellent experience, and excellent environment. He changed the game, taking dentistry from need-based to want-based and continues to raise the bar everyday.
We heard you’re fluent in Greek! Where’s the best place to get Greek food in the city?
Choosing my one favorite Greek spot in the city is probably the toughest question you’ve asked me so far. At the moment it is Kiki’s on the Lower East Side.
We gotta show off our new smile! What’s one thing that always makes you laugh?
It’s an old classic but I think I’ve watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall 50+ times and I still crack up like it’s my first watch. I’m a big movie guy.
Lastly, what’s your biggest career dream?
My number one goal is to be a part of something in this industry that’s never been done before. I want to be known as a top cosmetic dentist, yes, but I think being a part of something bigger than me or my own personal reputation and resume is my true dream. I don’t know exactly what that is yet, but it’s on my mind everyday, and it is why I knew I had to work alongside Dr. Apa. He’s taken this field to a new level and I want to be a part of what comes next!
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