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In an interview with Cosmetic Tribune, Dr William M. Dorfman, the face of modern cosmetic dentistry, discusses his chosen career, his business, his television show — and his penchant for treating all of his patients as if they were celebrities.
Dr Dorfman, you’ve become the face of modern dentistry for millions of people. What made you choose dentistry as a career?
I don’t feel like I chose dentistry, it chose me. When I was 2 1/2 years old, I fell and hit my baby teeth so hard that they were pushed back up into the gums. As a result, I had to have multiple surgeries to prevent damage to the adult teeth. The entire experience intrigued me, and I decided at that age that I wanted to help people the same way.
Is it true you were a cheerleader in college? What made you do that, and how did it affect the way you practice and started a business like Discus?
When I was in high school, I was on the swim team and started gymnastics. One of the cheerleaders in my math class asked me to be her Yell Leader partner and I had a blast and instantly had a whole new group of friends. When I started at UCLA, I felt lost. So I tried out for Yell Leader and made it. Believe it or not, I learned more about how to run a business working with all the ‘Type A’ members of the squad than in any other class.
You were one of the first ‘top tier dentists’ to advertise your services. Was it effective?
I started advertising right when I started my practice. I was hardly a ‘top tier’ dentist. I was passionate about wanting to do cosmetic dentistry, but knew I needed patients. So I started an ‘educational’ advertising campaign to drive patients into the office.
Can you tell us more about your new TV show?
Right now, I feel very fortunate to be a part of the No. 1 new daytime talk show, ‘The Doctors,’ on CBS. It is a show with a panel of four doctors and occasionally I am the fifth doctor on the panel. The show is a spinoff of Dr Phil and deals with medical issues much the same way as Dr. Phil deals with relationships.
How do you manage everything: your busy, multiple doctor practice, your speaking schedule, Discus Dental, your TV show and your personal life?
I don’t sleep much, only four to five hours a night. And I have a lot of help: a great office manager, and an awesome nanny, a brilliant publicist, an incredible personal assistant and a competent team at Discus.
You see a lot of celebrities as well as everyday people. Is there a difference between the two?
You kidding? Like night and day when it comes to the patient’s demands. The hard part is trying to treat all the patients like “stars.”
Do you have any hobbies?
I used to paint, draw, sculpt and write. Then I had three kids, two dogs, 25 employees in my dental office and 500 employees at Discus. Hobbies ... they can wait.
Any funny anecdotes from your ‘Extreme Makeover’ days you’d like to share?
Once I was flying from New York to Los Angeles and a flight attendant was looking at me and finally came up and asked, “Aren’t you that guy on Extreme Makeover?” Just as I was about to say yes, her co-worker looked at me and said, “What did they do to you?”
Where do you think dentistry will be in five years? How about in 10?
Dentistry keeps getting better and better. Today, 90 per cent of what I do in my practice I did not learn in dental school. As materials and technology continue to evolve, our profession becomes more interesting and fulfilling every day.