Celebrity Patients Provide Their Own Rewards and Challenges

Dentistry Today


Located in the exclusive Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, Dr. Jon Marashi has treated movie stars like Tom Hanks, Ben Affleck, and Cher, as well as musicians like Clint Black and Justin Timberlake, in addition to CEOs and other influencers from across the globe. Yet he still treats these patients with a highly personalized approach as he crafts each and every smile. Recently, he shared some of the insights he has gained in working with such luminous clientele. 

Q: What excites you on a daily basis about being a cosmetic dentist?  

A: First and foremost, it is about consistently delivering the highest level of dentistry and patient care possible. I’ve made it a personal mission to strive to do better, be better, and, equally important, have a strong commitment to continued learning. At the same time, the patient relationships that I have developed over the years are priceless. Dentistry, and especially cosmetic dentistry, is very intimate. I spend a lot of time with my patients, and while earning their trust and confidence, friendships often result from it. That has become such a bonus for me in my personal life. And if you think about it, it makes sense. Why wouldn’t you want to be friends with the great people you get to take care of?

Q: Have you always wanted to work with celebrities?

A: Even in dental school, I envisioned myself being a cosmetic dentist to celebrities. I thought it would be a great group of people to work with, people whose looks and smiles are key to their success. Being part of it has been a tremendous honor and privilege. 

Q: You have worked with a lot of big names. What kinds of treatments do stars look for most?

A: The most requested procedures, as most would guess, are porcelain veneers and teeth whitening. Interestingly enough, about half of the veneer treatments that I am doing are revision work. Unfortunately, many celebrities have fallen prey to oversized white chiclets, so I have developed a niche in restoring these smiles to a much more natural aesthetic. Sometimes I also get to do cosmetic work for their roles in a movie. Most recently, Joaquin Phoenix had me do his smile for his movie Joker. That was a blast, and his teeth looked pretty gnarly for the role. I have many celebrities who do not have veneers nor want them, so my practice is still able to support them with proper routine dental care so they can successfully maintain what they have.

Q: What are the clinical and practice management challenges in treating this population?

A: Clinically, the stakes are high and there is a lot of pressure, as the expectation is a superior result in a timely manner. For celebrities, time is their most valuable commodity, and they often have crazy schedules in a variety of locations. So, coming back often for multiple appointments is rarely an option. You have to be able to get a lot done in a very short amount of time. And this transitions perfectly to the second part of the question, practice management. Celebrity schedules can change on a moment’s notice. Everyone is competing for their time—their managers, agents, movie studios, corporate brands, and families. Your dental practice needs to have extreme flexibility in scheduling. I can’t tell you how many times you will get a same day cancellation treating this population. So in my office, we have learned to keep a deep roster of standby patients on a priority call list to keep the schedule from imploding. It is tough, but ultimately it all works out.

Q: How does the Hollywood market compare to New York City, where you originally developed your craft?

A: Los Angeles and New York City are both great locations to practice cosmetic dentistry. I would give LA the edge for having the highest concentration of celebrities because it is the epicenter of the entertainment industry. But many celebs are bicoastal, and NYC has no shortage of financially affluent people who appreciate high-quality aesthetic dentistry. In fact, one of my good friends from dental school, Brian Kantor (we both went to NYU), has the most successful cosmetic practice in Manhattan. Over the years, we have been able to cover for each other’s clients if needed.

Q: What new trends have you started implementing in your own work? 

A: The biggest trend is the digital workflow, hands down. I have implemented digital scanning in my practice, and that is a one-way street. Digital scanning, digital design, and digital fabrication are the future of dentistry, but it is here now. When it comes to cosmetic dentistry, though, I am a hands-on artist. I like to hand-sculpt my provisional restorations in the mouth. For veneers, I like hand-layered feldspathic restorations. It’s becoming a lost art, for sure. The finest art collectors will always prefer an original from the artist over a digital copy. I think the same is true for cosmetic dentistry.

Q: Tell us about your company, byte.

A: Byte is my direct-to-consumer clear aligner company that straightens and whitens your teeth at home for a fraction of the cost of traditional options.  It has been an incredibly exciting adventure for me! In dentistry, there are two main problems that really don’t get talked about much. The first is cost. Dentistry is expensive. Period. Second, access to care is limited, but not just if you are in a rural area. Many people cannot get time out of their workday to go to the dentist. I have thought long and hard about how I could provide quality dental treatment to a broader audience and make it easily accessible and affordable at the same time. Our product and service is dentist-supervised, and the patient response has been overwhelmingly favorable. The direct-to-consumer market is growing due to patient demand, which has led to disruption in traditional delivery models. It is important for dentistry to grow with it or risk getting left behind.

Q: How important is social media these days in running a successful practice and connecting with your clients, including celebrities?

A: Social media is extremely important for visibility among your existing patients and a huge opportunity for connecting with new potential patients. In many ways, it has made it easier for dentists to showcase their work and some of their personality—much more effectively than a traditional website can. The celebrity side of my practice, however, continues to grow by word of mouth, as opposed to social media. They are most commonly referred by other celebrities, and they look for a known and trusted friend or colleague for this type of referral. Social media, though, allows me to engage with them and vice versa, and I find value in that to nurture the relationships. Now my celebrity clients even like taking photos with me on social media, which I never would have dreamed of asking for in the past. In fact, my first Instagram post ever was a repost from a selfie that Ryan Seacrest took of the both of us in my office!

Q: What is your ultimate goal and your advice to other cosmetic dentists looking at working toward the success you have found?

A: My long-term goal in dentistry is to continue to take great care of my patients and push the envelope as far as I can to advance patient care and quality cosmetic dentistry. I view success in dentistry as being about the journey, not the destination. You have to work hard along the way, but also find enjoyment while you are doing it. My entire career, I have tried to surround myself with great mentors. Without the valuable teachings, advice, and support of these people, I would not have gone very far. Success can mean many different things to all of us. So once you determine what is most important to you, then it’s time to chase after it! 

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