For dentists wondering how highly-driven innovators embrace the future and move the profession forward, this new series will provide the questions – and the answers. This fall, Incisal Edge dental lifestyle magazine celebrates 10 years of recognizing brilliant achievers in dentistry, ages 40 and under. Fewer than 500 of America’s best young dentists have earned this prestigious designation, including the alumni featured in each installment here.
Prepare to be motivated.
Born and raised in California, Dr. Sako Karakozian returned to his home state after graduating from the New York University College of Dentistry. Acclaim for his professional expertise includes three consecutive years of recognition as Los Angeles Magazine’s “Top Dentist,” a consistent spot on Emmy award-winning daytime talk show The Doctors, and a guest role on CBS series Criminal Minds.
Glacier climber? Nightclub promoter? Dr. Sako checks all the boxes, but says his “passion in life will always be in dentistry.” In October, he’ll celebrate six years at his practice, Dental Design, Studio City on Ventura Boulevard. Read on for Dr. Sako Karakozian’s tips and takeaways from the time since his Incisal Edge “40 Under 40” honor was announced in 2019!
What’s the best innovation you have implemented at your practice since your “40 Under 40” win?
The way we see patients and conduct dentistry has become more sterile, but people still feel comfortable and happy at our practice. We have made a lot of changes to protect our patients, such as installing clear curtains to reduce aerosols, UV lights to sanitize, and air purifiers to kill off contagions.
What did the “40 Under 40” honor signify to you?
Definitely a boost in self-confidence and pride. When we posted on social media, people were commenting, and at the office there was a lot of buzz and excitement.
Advice for other dentists?
Dentistry is not about the dentist; it’s about the patient. Empower the patients so they feel they are making the decision about their treatment. The modern patient is doing research and reading; they have their own opinions. My job is not to tell the patient what they need, but to give options and guidance about the process. With this attitude, you will excel to the next level and change your patient’s perception of you.
Thoughts on leadership?
Empower people, make them feel like they have a choice. The best leaders make their staff feel like equals. We are all the same – I’m not better than you – we just have different roles.
Favorite piece of technology at Dental Design, Studio City?
Right now, I would say the intraoral camera and our iTero 3D imaging machine. We get to view teeth up close, but patients never do. With the camera, they can see a photo of their teeth on the screen. I love pointing out to patients exactly what is wrong, so we can decide on the options together. Visuals always make patients feel more comfortable.
What is the most innovative or unique aspect of your practice?
The practice offers a very niche type of dentistry. As a practice surrounded by the film and music industry, we create a vibe at the office that patients enjoy; they love the young, vibrant style. Artists come through and refresh their displays in the office every few months, like a gallery. Patients gain exposure to new artists, and the artists get some spotlight as well.