In 2008, Dr. Sonny Torres Oliva was profiled in the New York Times for his services and the spa-like environment in his mid-town Manhattan, NY dental office. Dubbed the "Zentist," his operatories feature soft lighting, gently vibrating dental chairs and New Age music. Patients—some of whom are celebrities—are routinely treated to hand and foot massages, hot towels, hand lotion and lip balm during their hygiene appointments.
Two floors down from this stress-free office is his in-house laboratory that employs five technicians, including Dr. Oliva's father, Sergio, a former lab owner, and his father's cousin. Oliva grew up in his father's laboratory and worked as a technician for years before earning his dental degree in Manila in 2000 and his prosthodontics degree from New York University in 2003.
Because of his background, he's passionate about creating the most lifelike restorations possible. He spends much of his day between the office and the laboratory, checking on work and consulting with the technicians. "My goal is to practice 'Artisinal Dentistry' and to perfect handcrafted works of art uniquely specific for each patient. I put my heart and soul into every single step," says Dr. Oliva.
Oliva and the technicians look at each restoration as a team effort and the office and lab are networked so Dr. Oliva can take a picture and call a technician's extension to have him look at a contact, for example, and decide if it needs to be adjusted while the patient is still in the chair. The technicians do all of Oliva's work—mainly high-end esthetic cases and implants—as well as casework for about 10 other dentists.
This arrangement greatly benefits Dr. Oliva's practice. "Having a laboratory within arms' length of my dental operatory gives a unique dimension to my practice. It spurs creativity and gives us the ability to provide a much more personalized result and quick turnaround time that's essential to a lot of our busy clients," he says. "And having a team who understands these principles is key to earning my patients' trust."
Click here to read Partnership and Patient Interaction: The Payoff for In-House Technicians