A smiling heart for dentistry
What can you tell us about your background?
I was born in Armenia. When I was 9, a war broke out and impoverished the country economically. When I was 13, my family and I were fortunate to be able to immigrate to the United States and start our lives over, knowing almost no English. After 4 years, I graduated from Sammamish High School in Bellevue, Washington, with honors, and at the same time, was involved in a Running Start Program at Bellevue Community College. I received a Cell and Molecular Biology degree from the University of Washington. As I wanted to continue to stay at home while going to dental school, I studied very hard to be accepted to University of Washington School of Dentistry, one of the hardest schools to get into (at which I received first place in the U.S. clinical exam scores in 2005). My interviewer asked why with my scores I did not want to get a scholarship in a private school like Harvard or Stanford, and I told him I wanted to stay close to my family. I graduated in 2006.
At the same time, I was blessed to marry the best friend of my life. Fresh out of school, with God’s help, we were able to open a startup practice in a very competitive city, Redmond, Washington. We named it “A Smiling Heart Dentistry,” where we would work to bring smiles from people’s hearts. With patients whom I could count on my hands, I was paying the lease during the first few months with credit card checks. My wife was my first assistant, front desk person, office manager, and mother of our newborn daughter, Anahit. As we stuck together through hard times, we were blessed with wonderful staff. Together with them, we were able to bring many smiles to our patients’ faces. Currently, we have a 14-member strong team. An interesting part of my family history is that I am the grandson (on my mother’s side) of a famous Armenian composer, Stephan Nagdyan, so music and art have played a significant role in my life. I even considered becoming a concert violinist but was happily steered in the healthcare direction by my parents. I still love music and play violin, saxophone, and sometimes piano.
Is your practice limited to implants?
Our practice is a one-stop office, meaning we perform most of the common procedures in dentistry from full-mouth smile makeovers to full-mouth implant reconstruction, internal and lateral sinus lifts, root canals, orthodontics (traditional, ceramic, and Invisalign®), dentures, crown and bridge, TMJ procedures, and soon 1-day crowns through E4D (Planmeca/E4D Technologies).
Why did you decide to focus on implantology?
I enjoy implantology, as it can have a dramatic, positive change in a patient’s quality of life. We almost can resurrect patients’ teeth.
How long have you been practicing, and what systems do you use?
I have been placing implants since 2009 and have used Ankylos (Dentsply Implants), NobelReplace™, NobelActive™ (Nobel Biocare®), ASTRA TECH, ASTRA TECH Implant System™ EV, and Hiossen.
What training have you undertaken?
I started placing implants through the Ladera Ranch Implant Institute, where we received hands-on experience placing implants on live patients. I was also trained in bone and soft tissue grafting through the same institute. I have had training through Dentsply’s STEPPS™ program. I have received several certificates from gIDE — A-Z Restorative Implant Dentistry Series, Edentulous Patient Certificate Series, Esthetic Implant Therapy, A to Z in Implant Dentistry, Advanced Implant Therapy — and Sinus Lift from the Advanced Implant Education Center. I have also completed the implant track from Dr. John C. Kois, giving me immeasurable insight into almost every aspect of implant dentistry. Currently, I am a clinical and didactic instructor for the Advanced Implant Research and Education Center. I am also a clinical instructor for Restorative Dentistry at the University of Washington School of Dentistry and Lake Washington Institute of Technology.
- Having a purpose-driven and health-focused life
- Family, friends, and co-workers
- E4D milling unit
- DEXIS™ CariVu™
- NSK electric handpieces
- Hiossen Crestal Approach Sinus Kit (CAS-KIT)
- Occlusion, which can affect a great deal of the patient’s health, toothaches, grinding, headaches, neck issues, posture, TMJ, etc.
- Continuing education
Who has inspired you?
My parents, especially my father, planted the seed for me to become a healthcare provider in the earlier part of my life. My wife had great faith in me and inspired me to achieve great heights in my dental career, not sparing finances for continuing education and always wanting me to be the best dentist that I can be.
What is the most satisfying aspect of your practice?
Having a wonderful dental team makes our lives so much more enjoyable. With their help, we can take care of our patients. Making a patient smile from the heart is the most rewarding part, even if it does not have to do with dentistry. The patients feel that they are valued and cared for from the warm reception at the beginning to a nice cup of tea at the end.
Professionally, what are you most proud of?
I can’t say that I am proud, but I am grateful to God for the opportunities we have in this country — to be able to get the kind of education that we have and to be able to afford the kind of equipment and technology to give the best possible dental care in one office.
What do you think is unique about your practice?
The most important factor is that we make sure the patient is taken care of from both the emotional and physical aspects. Our team really cares for the patient’s well-being. As a Kois Center® graduate, we try to give the very best dentistry possible. I have invested an enormous amount to implement the latest and best equipment.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Time is one of my biggest issues. As I strive to take as much continuing education as possible and stay on top of dental innovations, I notice that I am running short on spending time with my family.
What would you have become if you had not become a dentist?
Before getting into dental school, my biggest decision was to decide if I should pursue a career as a cardiac surgeon.
What is the future of implants and dentistry?
I think it is an amazing field, where we can bring part of a patient’s body back and bring back the function of chewing properly, which affects the rest of the body. Perhaps as people become more concerned about their health and what goes into their bodies and as ceramic-fused-to-metal crowns get replaced with full ceramic crowns, titanium implants will increasingly get replaced with ceramic implants.
I believe that in the future, implants will be coated with hydrophobic material to attract blood cells and encourage faster healing. Growth factors most likely will play a big role, either through a platelet rich fibrin (PRF) technique collected from the patient or manufactured with the coating of the growth factors. It will shorten the healing time by half, which will mean instead of waiting 3 months to get the final tooth, the patient might get it in 1.5 months.
What are your top tips for maintaining a successful practice?
In order to be successful, I believe a person has to have inner peace, a great relationship within the immediate family, and a wonderful staff that they love and care for. If the light that is in us is bright, then we can brighten up the rest of the world.
If the light that is in us is bright, then
we can brighten up the rest of the world.
What advice would you give to budding implantologists?
CBCT has made a huge impact on my implant practice. I believe that cone beam is one of the most important technologies needed for safe, successful implant dentistry. With the current 3D scans having lower and lower X-ray doses, they can be utilized much more and give better, safer outcomes. Implants can make a very big difference in a patient’s life, but they can also cause serious trauma. So be very careful, and do not rush, especially when working near vital structures, such as nerves.
What are your hobbies, and what do you do in your spare time?
My hobbies include playing sports, (volleyball, soccer, table tennis), spending time with family and friends, traveling, taking walks, and being in wonderful nature. Also, I enjoy doing wood carvings. As a youth, my parents didn’t have to buy birthday gifts for friends and family because they wanted to receive my wood creations, and that was very flattering!