As a general rule of thumb, if someone asks you if you want to speak with “Weird Al” Yankovic’s dentist, you say yes. Dr. Dustin Cohen, owner of The Practice | Beverly Hills Boutique Dental, is more than just a set of steady hands inside your mouth – he’s also a pop culture aficionado, a hardcore sneaker collector, and one hell of an interview.
We recently sat down with Dr. Cohen to discuss dental misconceptions, the reality of reality television, and if in fact liquor will make our teeth sicker.
TrunkSpace: You’re our first dentist featured at TrunkSpace. Can you promise us a pain free interview?
Dr. Cohen: That’s my specialty! But I am a dentist, so I hope I don’t bore you to death.
TrunkSpace: In all seriousness, some people genuinely do have a deep-rooted fear for visiting the dentist. In your experience, where does that fear stem from? Do you feel like dentists get a bad wrap?
Dr. Cohen: Yeah, the dental office definitely triggers a rise in blood pressure and stress for a lot of people. I think old school dentistry was pretty barbaric and scary. I don’t think their customer service experience, equipment, or use of numbing agents was up-to-par in the old days, then that fear gets passed down from one person to the next amongst family and friends. Those horror stories stick in peoples’ heads, causing anxiety that the same thing may happen to them.
At our office, anyone who walks in feeling nervous, walks out questioning why they were nervous in the first place. We’re similar to Dentist New York City in that way. We are on a mission to make it unimaginable for anyone to go to a dental office other than ours. That means we do anything and everything possible to change the stereotype of the scary dental office.
TrunkSpace: What is your particular approach to making patients feel at ease when they step foot (and mouth) into your office?
Dr. Cohen: This would be what we call the Bespoke Dental Experience. This starts off with something that is incredibly unique amongst doctors & dentists… we start on-time! Seriously, who likes waiting for an hour before being seen? We start and end on-time, every time. We have a lot of very busy patients who don’t have time to be late, but it also helps to minimize the stress associated with waiting around worrying about what’s going to happen.
We also like to have you fill out our “personalize your visit” form. This lets us know if you want a pillow or blanket, maybe some water or some headphones… then we’ll have it ready for you when you come to the office! A comfortable patient is key to quick, easy, and painless procedures.
TrunkSpace: What is the biggest misconception that people have about dentists and/or going in for dental work?
Dr. Cohen: Patients rarely recognize how precise dental work must be to feel, look, and function correctly. We work in fractions of a millimeter! A half of a millimeter can make all the difference between a perfect looking front tooth or a snaggle tooth. A filling that is a quarter of a millimeter too high can feel like you are biting on a rock! So sometimes people get upset if things take a bit longer to adjust than they anticipated or if they need to come back for a bite adjustment. It’s a common complaint I hear from friends who work across the country. One of them’s had work done at a Dentist in Bay Harbor Islands, and they were talking about this to me, and they’re friends with a dentist so this says a lot. Still, you have to set proper expectations, because those things are very common. Your mouth is a tough place to work!
TrunkSpace: One of the things that makes you so interesting is that you’re not our parents’ dentist. And by that we mean, you’re hip and you’re plugged into the world of pop culture. Do you think having that knowledge of the pop culture landscape makes you more relatable to patients and able to connect in ways that other doctors can’t??
Dr. Cohen: Yeah, I mean, I hope so! I have always naturally been attracted to the pop culture landscape. Probably because it always seems so fun and cool… and how can you hate fun and cool? Los Angeles is the perfect place for me to do business. LA and Beverly Hills are the epitome of pop culture: lots of hype around new movies, TV shows, music, and restaurants. I believe a big part of the reason we are popular with the “in the know” crowd is because I can relate so well to what those patients are interested in.
TrunkSpace: You’re also an avid sneaker collector. How many pairs are in your collection and how do you view the shoes themselves? Are they art? Are they pop art? What is the allure for you?
Dr. Cohen: I do love me some sneakers. I have around 100 pair of shoes right now. I view them as a way to show people that I have some creativity and style. When I was in dental school I bought about 30 pair of brightly colored sneakers to contrast the boring scrubs that all 126 people in our class had to wear. Sneakers also have a pop culture niche that attracts a hip crowd and I like being part of that.
TrunkSpace: You named your son Jordan after your favorite sneaker brand. Are you nostalgic for the old Jordans or are the new versions just as exciting to you as a collector as those you wore as a kid?
Dr. Cohen: Yeah, my little dude is named Jordan. My wife hates it when I say it’s because of Michael Jordan or Jordan Brand sneakers! (Laughter) Before we were even married she said she liked the name Jordan and I quickly agreed. It’s just a coincidence that it’s the same name as my childhood idol, wink wink.
Anyway, I tend to wear the older Jordans like the III’s & IV’s mostly. The new ones are cool, but a little too sporty for me these days. The older ones have become more of a stylish casual sneaker and that fits me better since I don’t really get to play basketball anymore.
TrunkSpace: You and your wife Stacey work together and your practice (The Practice) is based in Beverly Hills. You have a list of celebrity clientele. This seems like the perfect recipe for a reality show. Has that idea ever been floated around?
Dr. Cohen: We’ve asked some patients who are reality TV stars & producers about the business, but not really about us having a show. Looking at it from a business perspective, it would probably be fantastic for our office. Looking at it on the personal side, we’d be concerned about the potential family issues that it could cause working with that type of schedule. I think we would have to consider it if the opportunity arose, but we already have big plans of where we want to take our business that have nothing to do with TV.
TrunkSpace: One of your patients is none other than “Weird Al” Yankovic. We have to ask… and hopefully this doesn’t break doctor/patient confidentiality… but have the two of you ever discussed his dentist-themed song “Cavity Search?”
Dr. Cohen: I did ask him about it! I asked if he thinks about the song when he goes to the dentist. Thankfully, he does not. Cool little secret from that song, he said they actually brought a dentist to the studio to use the drill during the recording.
TrunkSpace: As previously noted, your practice is based in Beverly Hills. One of our favorite places for a martini when in town was Nic’s, which closed down fairly recently. So, related but unrelated at the same time… how bad is alcohol for our teeth?
Dr. Cohen: I think the biggest problems you are going to have from drinking alcohol is the sugar in the mixers and if you pass out without flossing and brushing your teeth! Diagnosis: dental cavities due to drunken behavior. That’s a surefire way to land yourself with an emergency visit to a dentist, like this dentist in Tallahassee or myself!
TrunkSpace: Playing off of our previous question, as a doctor, do you find that people will randomly ask you professional advice in a non-professional atmosphere? (This question seems very Larry David-like, but it seems this may be a very real occupational-meets-social hazard that doctors face.)
Dr. Cohen: Luckily, I don’t get a whole lot of that. Or is it because I’m good at keeping my dental degree a secret from the crazy people I meet?
TrunkSpace: Finally, Dr. Cohen, this is a pop culture magazine, so we have to end with a pop culture-related question. Your practice is called The Practice. There was also a show called “The Practice,” which starred Dylan McDermott and is no doubt available on some streaming platform somewhere. Which Practice is more fun? (This is total layup question but we have our Jordans on so we are prepared for the layup!)
Dr. Cohen: The Practice | Beverly Hills Boutique Dental is way more fun! Even a dental office looks exciting compared to a law firm!