Many people, without even knowing it, will be familiar with Dr Michael Apa’s work. He’s the man behind the gleaming, white, perfect (yet not unrealistically perfect) smiles of some of the world’s most famous celebrities and influential heads of state. The US national has made a name for himself as the go-to place for impeccable cosmetic dentistry, whitening, cleaning and his famous veneers. His veneers are handcrafted in his Dubai or New York City offices by ceramicists who blend porcelain – with the direction of Dr Michael Apa – precisely to the patient’s desire and to achieve the most natural look possible.
With studios in Dubai, New York, Los Angeles – and soon to be Miami – Dr Michael Apa finds himself constantly on the move, travelling between them, or, as is typical, being flown in specifically by royalty, heads of state of A-list celebrities – some clients include Huda Kattan, Chloë Sevigny and the Olsen twins. Used to being on the road, but with the added pressure of always being his absolute best, Dr Michael Apa shares his travel tips, how to beat jet lag and what he always packs when travelling to Dubai.
What’s your road most travelled?
For the most part, my time is split between New York, LA and Dubai because that is where I have offices. I spend at least one week each month in LA. The same goes for Dubai, except during the summer months when it’s way too hot. When I’m not in those two places, I’m in New York. It’s the city I call home. And, occasionally, when my schedule allows, I spend weekends in the Hamptons or Palm Beach, depending on the season.
You’re based between Dubai, NYC and LA? Where is home?
New York is home. LA is a close second; I love the vibe and the weather.
If someone were to spend 24 hours in New York City, where would you send them?
24 hours isn’t much when you’re talking about the greatest city in the world, but I’ll throw out some favourites. Cipriani – any of them – you can’t go wrong. A workout or a walk along the West Side Highway. I always say I don’t spend enough time taking in the views. Grab a scone, not a cookie, from Levain. Check out Lower Manhattan; Tribeca is one of my favourite neighbourhoods and has its own unique charm.
What can you not travel without?
When I travel, I have to be comfortable. I spend so much time on the road, without downtime on either side, so it’s important that my time in the car or in the air is relaxing. I love my Brunello Cucinelli loungewear; it always looks good and is comfortable.
For 15 years, I travelled with the same grey mini duffel bag from Brunello, and then my team got me a new bag, a Brunello backpack. It was hard to retire the duffel – a lot of memories – but it was time. In my backpack, you’ll always find an iPad (loaded with whatever I’m watching), Beats noise-cancelling headphones, chargers, and my “Diddy” sunglasses. I also have my Apa Sonic Toothbrush and Barbara Sturm skincare.
I’ve heard you employ a ‘race car analogy’ to your life. What does this mean, and how can others add this to their life and be better for it?
“Everybody has another gear.” When I was in upstate New York, I felt like a race car trapped in a parking lot. Now, I’m a car with the best mechanics, gasoline and team of technicians, unleashed on an open track.
You have to get real with yourself and recognize your own potential. Figure out what’s holding you back or missing, and then make the changes necessary to get where you want to go.
Taking that, how do you work on your engine when travelling to ensure you’re your best self on arrival?
Using travel time to relax is essential, and having a ritual is a big part of making that happen.
Do you have an in-flight ritual?
For trips to Dubai, I have a pretty set routine: two chilled bottles of Evian, orange juice with ice, two pillows and two mattresses. I keep the cabin temperature at 22 degrees Celsius and change into a sleeper suit and slippers. An hour and a half before landing, I take a shower.
In terms of how I spend my time: I look at patient photos, review the office schedule, watch a show and get some sleep.
What is your jet lag cure?
You’re a master of dentistry; what would some quick tips be for achieving a better smile?
I specialise in smile makeovers that use hand-layered porcelain restorations to get patients where they want to be. Veneers are the ultimate solution to achieving your best smile, and the benefits are not just cosmetic. When done correctly, veneers fight to ageing, improve function and, of course, enhance overall appearance.
For patients who like everything about their natural teeth except colour, I recommend whitening. It can be done both in-office and at home. In-office is typically stronger, using 35% hydrogen peroxide, whereas at home, it’s closer to 10%. I recommend a combo; start with in-office treatment to jump-start results and then maintain at home.
Other things you can do: get professional cleanings three or four times a year. Have an at-home oral care routine and make it habitual. Use a Sonic toothbrush twice a day and floss once a day.
As a frequent traveller, have you had a recent travel discovery?
The thing that stands out most is the importance of concierge service and customer care; it can really influence the way you feel about a place. I think about this as it relates to my office. The patient experience is as important as the dentistry.
Where’s on your travel list this year?
This year, it’s all about Miami.
Apa Aesthetic, Umm Suqeim 2, Dubai, UAE; apaaesthetic.com