Some heroes wear capes, but this one sports a lab coat. Dr. Michael Teitelbaum is not only helping restore confidence to his patients through cosmetic dentistry â€“ with his passion for learning, he is helping patients with sleep apnea wake up refreshed for the first time in a long time. Continue below to learn more about Teitelbaumâ€™s accomplishments and advice.
Dr. Teitelbaum completed his bachelor's degree two years ahead of schedule.
Knowledge is power, and cosmetic dentist Michael Teitelbaum, D.M.D., F.A.G.D., has fashioned a career through his desire to learn not just about affecting a patient’s smile, but their overall health as well.
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“As long as you keep learning, you keep living.”
Those were the words Michael Teitelbaum, D.M.D., F.A.G.D., owner and director at Briarcliff Center for Esthetic Dentistry, heard often from his father. And he took them to heart.
Teitelbaum completed his bachelor’s degree at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in just two years, then went on to become one of the youngest dental students in the country at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine.
Challenging? Yes, but something Teitelbaum says was worthwhile doing.
“Doing college in two years was a lot of pressure, but I just had that goal to do it,” he recalls.
Dentistry is a calling Teitelbaum says he felt since he was an adolescent helping out in his father’s dental practice. He often heard his father tell people what a great career dentistry was. You can work with your hands, be creative, be your own boss and make a good living.
“Why wouldn’t you want to do it?” Teitelbaum asked.
FOCUSED ON EDUCATION
Shortly after Teitelbaum finished dental school, he and his father formed a dental study group that brought in elite dentists to speak for a day. It was circa 1991, and that’s when Teitelbaum first learned about cosmetic dentistry. He subsequently attended an Orlando meeting of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and found the excitement being generated infectious.
“To see how you could change people’s lives was just so incredible,” he recalls. “It was something we knew we had to get on board with. That was pretty much the beginning of the revolution in cosmetic dentistry.”
And Teitelbaum was part of it. He went on to help found the Empire State Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, now known as the Greater New York Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, of which he is president. It is the largest and fastest growing affiliate of the AACD in the northeast.
Meanwhile, Teitelbaum continued his focus on education. Whereas New York State recently passed laws requiring only 15 hours of continuing education each year, Teitelbaum averages more than 100 hours per year. But he does not keep that knowledge to himself.
“When I did my specialty program in prosthodontics, the head of the program was saying that I was getting advanced knowledge, more than any other dentist out there,” Teitelbaum says. “And he told me that my responsibility was to go back out there and educate others and share with them what I’ve learned.”
Which he does, continuing his educational mission by lecturing at dental association meetings around the country, teaching others the latest in cutting edge and cosmetic dentistry.
CHANGING AND SAVING LIVES
Through his thirst for knowledge, Teitelbaum has begun treating sleep apnea. He learned through a friend of a new technology called MATRx, developed by Zephyr Sleep Technologies. He describes it as a very precise, scientific way of determining if an individual’s sleep apnea can be treated with a simple night guard.
“It’s one thing to help people and change their lives by re-doing their smile,” he says. “And that’s very satisfying. But there isn’t very much in dentistry where you save somebody’s life. With sleep apnea, it’s a life-threatening condition. and it’s something that now, as a dentist, I can treat and help save people’s lives.”
He tells the story of a patient who has been using the night guard for about six months. The first night she slept with it, her husband woke during the night and had to put his hand on her to make sure she was still alive because she was so quiet. She was no longer snoring.
“She breathed through the whole night, and when she woke up she was so refreshed and so full of energy,” Teitelbaum says. “She hadn’t felt like that. It’s a really cool story.”
Teitelbaum is also well known for his charitable work. Most notable is his annual Candy Buy Back program done each Halloween. He offers children a dollar for every pound of candy they bring in, which is then sent to U.S. troops overseas.
It was shortly after 9/11 when Teitelbaum learned through one of his Internet dentistry discussion groups that a Wisconsin-based dentist had just initiated the Candy Buy Back program. The next Halloween, Teitelbaum began implementing it locally, and it has grown every year.
“In the last 14 or so years that I’ve been doing it, I’ve probably collected a few thousand pounds of candy,” he says.
One of the nicest parts of the program is Teitelbaum receiving word back from soldiers overseas who dispense some of the candy to young children in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It’s like the kids’ first taste of American freedom,” he says. “And they learn to love the soldiers.”
It also helps the children locally who collect and donate the candy to keep from overloading on sugar.
“I’ll fix cavities on little kids,” Teitelbaum says. “But if I can stop little kids from getting cavities, that makes my life easier, and it’s better for them too.”
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Teitelbaum says many of his dentist friends limit their continuing education, don’t give educational lectures, and don’t engage in charity work.
“And they’re miserable,” he says. “I was just talking to a friend the other day who hates dentistry. He goes around telling people, young people, don’t go into dentistry. Well, I have the exact opposite point of view.”
It’s a viewpoint Teitelbaum passes on. His daughter is now in high school and has expressed interest in becoming a dentist.
“It tells me that I’m doing something right,” he says. “I’m projecting the right attitude, not just with my patients in the office, but at home too.”