2019 Top Dentist
Q&A with Philadelphia Magazine
You have a lot of very long-standing patients. Why do they keep coming back?
Without exception, patient feedback centers on how comfortable they feel in our office, how well they’re treated by my staff and their confidence in the quality of dentistry that’s delivered. In both my Manhattan and Bucks County practices, the overwhelming majority of new patients have been referred by existing patients. In Newtown, my team members have worked beside me for an average of over 15 years, allowing us to optimize continuity of care. I’m constantly hearing how professional, compassionate and knowledgeable my staff is. We’re proud that patients, who have moved to various parts of the country, elect to stay with us for continued dental care.
How does your patient-centered approach affect your patients’ experiences?
In my practice, one size does not fit all. Every patient that I see has different medical conditions, physical abilities, dental histories and concerns. Whether their needs are clinical or cosmetic, spending time talking to and getting to know each patient helps determine the way forward. This is how I practice every day and it’s the way I taught dentistry at Mt. Sinai Hospital. Carefully reviewing past dental procedures and experiences, and evaluating the successes and challenges for each individual, greatly influences future treatment planning. Patients’ lifestyles are also a determining factor; I need to be sure that I’m recommending treatments that will work for my patients. That’s what makes for the most successful outcomes.
What are your feelings about the use of technology in dentistry and the benefit it provides to patients?
I’ve always viewed dentistry as the perfect combination of art, science and technology; all three are equally important. It’s what initially sparked my interest in dentistry and keeps me fascinated to this day. When porcelain laminate veneers were invented, I was one of the first dentists in Manhattan to be trained in their design and placement and I’ve since placed thousands. Recent advances allow me to create smiles that are both beautiful and functional. There are so many options, whether it’s whitening, minor reshaping of uneven teeth or fully rebuilding broken down or missing dentition. The materials that I use today are stronger and more realistic than ever. This, combined with talents of my master ceramist, lead to virtually endless possibilities. Enhanced digital photography, lighting and color calibration means I can match color and shade, in a way that’s never been achieved before. This allows me to give patients their best smile and the ability to be proud of the way they look.
What is one of the most important dental habits you often see patients failing to do?
Dentistry has gotten to the point where almost any issue can be addressed, so the most important thing for patients to do is to ask questions, seek care and realize that it isn't about what's been done in the past, it's about what we can do going forward. In my practice, I compliment patients for making the decision to seek care; they’ll never be chastised for not doing so sooner. With advances in dental technology and clinical and aesthetic techniques, patients no longer have to settle for “good enough”. It's never too late to start addressing a problem or concern.
Which cases are you most proud of and why, either from a technical-challenge perspective, or in terms of how it affected the patient?
The cases I’m most proud of are the ones that involve patients, who on their initial visit, exhibit a dental phobia or feel as if they are past the point of rehabilitation. I lead them through the process of accepting dental care, rehabilitation of their teeth and restoration of their function and esthetics. It’s deeply rewarding to see how happy and confident these patients become. I never tire of hearing about that moment when someone realizes they’re smiling without hiding behind their hands - it’s a pretty emotional experience for me, the patient and my entire team.
When your patients move out of the area, too far to travel to your office, how do you suggest they go about finding a dentist that will provide them with quality care?
When patients move out of the area, they do usually ask us how they can find a dentist near their new home. We always advise them to seek recommendations from their neighbors and co-workers and to speak with the area’s dental specialists. 100% of my patients have come directly from referrals from other patients, physicians and dental specialists in the Bucks County, Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York areas. We suggest going in for an initial consultation with a new dentist prior to starting any work to get a feel for the practice and their philosophy. Patients should evaluate the cleanliness of an office, verify that the staff is receptive and knowledgeable, that the instruments are bagged in sterilized pouches and that the treatment rooms are covered with barrier tape to protect against disease transmission. Patients are advised that there is nothing wrong with asking a dentist to see a functioning sterilization area.
How does your background, experience and approach to dentistry, allow you to provide your patients with the best clinical and cosmetic results?
After graduating from NYU Dental School and completing my dental residency at Mt. Sinai Hospital, I accepted a teaching position at Mt Sinai, in conjunction with starting my private practice in New York City. For more than 30 years I continued my private practice in Manhattan, focusing on dental cosmetics and advanced restorative techniques. During the past 8 years, I've practiced with a prestigious dental group on Fifth avenue, overlooking Central Park, with an in-office Master Ceramist as part of our team. I’ve always taken an interdisciplinary, patient-centered approach to dentistry, so when I opened my Bucks County practice many years ago, I was thrilled to learn that there was a world renowned Periodontist and Implant Surgeon close by. Over the years, our area has been fortunate to have the addition of the finest oral surgeons and endodontists that I've had the pleasure to work with. Many of my New York patients have traveled to Bucks County over the years to receive the excellent clinical care offered by this incredible team of specialists. Though I've recently made the decision to devote all of my time to my Newtown practice, I continue to work closely with the lab technicians in New York, with whom I've partnered to produce beautiful cosmetic restorations. Of course, in both Manhattan and Bucks County, I have always used the most effective technology and highest quality materials to ensure superb aesthetic results.
Having served as Chief Dental Consultant for the National Benefit Fund of New York, what drove you to acquire the knowledge of dentistry required to act in that role and what drove you to accept such a position?
As the Chief Dental Consultant to the National Benefit Fund, it was my responsibility to set the standards of care for several hundred thousand patients. This required a constant review and understanding of all new dental materials, technology, and procedures. In addition, I supervised a team of dentists who reviewed dental claims and x-rays to determine proper treatment plans. The ability to positively affect the dental care received by such a large population of patients, was extremely rewarding.
Dr. George Kivowitz has been recognized by Philadelphia Magazine as “Top Dentist” in 2019.