Day in the life: Truth about the tooth from Abu Dhabi dentist

Dr Rocco Arzoumanian, the head dentist and founder of Dr Rocco’s Specialized Dental Center, came to Abu Dhabi 18 years ago and has run his own practice for the past 12 of those.
Dr Rocco Arzoumanian says most of his patients want to know about ‘the Hollywood Smile’. Delores Johnson / The National
Dr Rocco Arzoumanian says most of his patients want to know about ‘the Hollywood Smile’. Delores Johnson / The National

Dr Rocco Arzoumanian is the head dentist and founder of Dr Rocco’s Specialized Dental Center, which is located in Abu Dhabi’s Al Muhairy Centre. Dr Arzoumanian is a specialist in prosthodontics. The Canadian-Armenian, who is 42, came to Abu Dhabi 18 years ago and has run his own practice for the past 12 of these.

7.20am

I live in an apartment on Abu Dhabi’s Corniche with my wife, my 13 year-old son and 10-year-old daughter. Breakfast is a banana and sometimes an apple or dried cake – I never think about what I’m going to eat – and a beautiful fresh juice, that’s very important. I always loved the idea of being a doctor. In grade 5, I used to make albums from the medical sections of newspapers. I decided on dentistry because you can be more independent than as a physician – you don’t have to be affiliated to a hospital.

9.30am

I arrive at my practice, which is a seven-minute drive from my home. Most days we’re fully booked and sometimes I pray for a cancellation, to get some rest. I’m a prosthodontist, which means I specialise in crowns, bridges, fillings and veneers. Nowadays most of my patients want to know about “the Hollywood Smile”. The phrase just means “beautiful teeth”. A lot of the time I have people who already have beautiful teeth come in saying they want a Hollywood Smile. Often I tell them, “Madam, you don’t need to do anything”.

10.30am

I have to rectify a woman’s veneers after the procedure was messed up by another dentist. A lot of my work is rectifications. The Hollywood Smile is about the smile line, and the mistake is often in putting in teeth that are too white and too big. Whether it’s veneers or crowns, a smile needs proportions, and it makes a difference whether you’re tall, short, fat, thin, and your complexion. I cannot make the same big smile for everybody. Dentists should educate patients in these matters.

11.30am

A patient comes in for a consultation. Nowadays there are lots of diagnostic and design tools to help make a better smile line. We make a picture of the patient’s teeth on the computer and discuss what they want, then I decide if I want to proceed. I can lie every day and people will not know that I’m lying, but the most important thing to me is integrity. It takes me some time to decide whether to go ahead with a cosmetic procedure.

12.30pm

A patient comes in for crowns. I have some machines that are very fast, they do the crowns in one session. But of course, everything has limitations and it depends on the individual case. In my time in Abu Dhabi, dentistry has become more about cosmetics. Nowadays we have very powerful veneers, strong glues and fillings made from new materials.

2.30pm

I don’t come home for lunch until my kids are back from school, so we can eat together – that’s sacred for me. I want them to learn how to talk at the dinner table, because this new generation is unfortunately too much into their iPads. I dream of giving my kids the human touch.

4.30pm

I come back to the clinic for my next appointment. I like to do the more aggressive or tricky work and big decision-making in the morning, because that’s when I’m more comfortable and patients seem a little more stressed in the afternoons. In my clinic I’m lucky to have with me three other specialists – for root canal, braces and a world-class surgeon for implants. I haven’t had any cosmetic work done on my own teeth. When I was 14, back in Canada, I even appeared – smiling – in a commercial for toothpaste.

5.30pm

A patient comes to see me for the first time, and I take an X-ray, which we look at on the computer. I listen to the patient first, to hear what they want. That’s very important and a lot of doctors miss this. Then I do a thorough external and internal examination with cameras.

7.30pm

I try to leave work, although it’s later when I have VIPs who want me to work on them when the clinic is closed. I’ve treated many Arab celebrities, mostly female singers from Jordan and Lebanon, and some sports celebrities, including Italian football players. I couldn’t give you names without their permission. My kids often ask me to get their autographs. I’m too shy to ask, unless I feel really comfortable with them.

8pm

Four times a week I go swimming, to ease my back pain. Most dentists get back pain because we’re sitting hunched over. Last year I was doing 6km runs along the Corniche, but my doctor said jogging wasn’t good for my back, so I’ve shifted to swimming. I’m dead once I’m finished. I’m often too fast because I want to come home and spend time with my kids, as my only day off is Friday.

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Published: August 20, 2016 04:00 AM

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