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George Wu always loved drawing with a pencil and paper, but he never thought that would translate into crafting the reconstruction of a patientâ€™s mouth. Blending his two passions, Wu sculpted his career into a newly opened ClearChoice office in greater Los Angeles. And he uses his artistic insight to benefit every patient he meets.
Dentistry or art, Wu is exceptionally adept at both.
He’s an artist. Whether holding a pencil or a drill, the goal is still the same: Perfection.
George Wu, DDS, CAGS, MSD, FACP, is a Los Angeles-based prosthodontist who puts an artistic touch to every tooth he crafts. It’s an approach he has taken ever since working toward his doctor of dental surgery degree from New York University College of Dentistry in 2008.
“My colleagues would say, ‘Let’s hang out,’” Wu recalls. “But I would say, ‘No, I have to get this right. I ended up spending more time in the lab than my colleagues trying to figure out how to make the perfect denture, or make this smile work for my patient. It’s like art. It’s like sculpting.”
Dentistry or art, Wu is exceptionally adept at both.
EVER THE ARTIST
Wu admits that in his youth he never thought of becoming a dentist. Instead, he envisioned archeology, or perhaps becoming a comic book artist. His mother was an artist, and it rubbed off. Wu would often be found with pencil and paper in hand, drawing. And by the time he attended Occidental College in Los Angeles, he began to see how he could blend his two passions—art, along with biology and the health sciences—into one.
“I was able to draw and transition from dragons and comic book characters to hyper-realism, which is like portraits and anatomy,” Wu says. “I was thinking about how I could see myself in a career that merges those two passions together. And that was dentistry—a perfect amalgam of those two passions.”
But Wu’s creative side doesn’t start and end with drawing. Even before he began his dental career he taught himself HTML, web design and web building. His older brother who obtained a degree in computer science was always building computers, spending time coding in Java or HTML.
“I didn’t understand it at the time,” Wu recalls, “but he brought me to computer stores to pick up parts, and I was able to learn how to build a computer and dabble in things like HTML. Having that background in software was good because today, I can show my team and the patient the computers and technology we have.”
When it comes to drawing, Wu talks about the “weird sensation” he gets when he starts to work on a blank canvas. He describes it as his brain shutting out the rest of the world while he focuses on the tip of his pencil and the paper—at times for four or six hours straight without eating, which he acknowledges is strange because he does get hungry.
But the drawing, he says, is incredibly relaxing.
“If I’m stressed and end up drawing, it does help me filter things out,” he says. “And I’ve been doing that for a while now.”
That ability to focus, to block out things around him, contributes in no small way to the artistic nature of his dentistry. Wu refers to himself as “the architect of the mouth,” explaining that he utilizes the same type of focus he has with art and translates it into his dentistry. For example, he begins envisioning a procedure even while looking at a patient’s CT scan.
“Even when I see a patient for the first time, and they smile, and the first thing they say is, ‘I don’t like my smile,’ but it helps me to see and envision where we want to be,” Wu explains. “I’m already closing my eyes and envisioning a beautiful smile that will match the patient’s face. And I feel my artistic talent really helps with that.”
A CLEAR CHOICE
Wu, who has been a prosthodontist in private practice since 2012, recently opened a ClearChoice office in Los Angeles. He explains that for his dental specialists, staying in one location is not an option.
“They are usually travelers, or work in multiple locations,” he says. “No one location will offer a full-time job for prosthodontics, because they don’t need it.”
ClearChoice, he says, offered not only the opportunity for a full-time job but the ability to work on specialty and complicated cases like full mouth reconstructions with every resource under one roof.
“It’s not only convenient for me as a practitioner, but also for the patient because they’re able to save time,” he says. “Since we’re all under one roof, they don’t need to visit multiple offices. There’s always an oral surgeon on site full time. I always have full-time lab technicians on site. This is the perfect place for me to be.”
Somewhere else Wu has been is outreach trips to Jamaica. He describes the experience as life-changing—visiting destitute areas, and together with a team of about 15 dentists, providing care for people who had never seen a dentist.
“They’re in pain, and they don’t know what to do,” he says. “When we’re able to help people like that, it’s very rewarding.”
Ever grateful, the locals would feel as though a weight had been lifted from their shoulders. That type of work, Wu says, is what he’d like to do more of.
“I like being able to bond with other dentists, and share the passion.”
It’s what drives Wu, being able to see and transform a patient’s life. Talking with them first, and being able to visualize the changes he can create for them.
“Now they look like they did when they were younger, and they start crying,” Wu says. “It makes the hairs on my skin stand up thinking about it. Being able to do that on a daily basis is what keeps me coming back. Because you can see the immediate results of how it changes patients both emotionally and physically.”
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