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2023-11-21 00:00:00 Avenue Magazine The Future of Your Health Can be Found in Your Teeth

The Future of Your Health Can be Found in Your Teeth

Dr. Hector Sarmiento was destined to be a doctor. Growing up in Los Angeles, his brother and grandfather were dentists. “I knew I was going to do this,” he says. “What I didn’t know is that I was going to dedicate the rest of my life only to surgery.” Dr. Sarmiento, who is only 38 and practices on the Upper East Side, is no ordinary dentist, filling cavities and recommending regular flossing. At the cutting edge of oral surgery and gum disease, he uses methods like stem-cell technology (for bone and gum grafts), 3D printing, and computer-guided surgeries — not only improving patient’s teeth, but their overall health. “Computer-guided surgery is used when doing dental implants,” he explains. “Instead of doing things freehand, we plan the whole surgery on the computer and then we 3D print a surgical guide that tells us where to drill. That way we have less margin of error.” No one knows more than Dr. Sarmiento that a healthy mouth means a healthy body. “We treat people who are in a delicate state that’s associated with their gums,” he continues, his voice calm and soothing. “We know that Alzheimer’s is linked to gum disease. Erectile dysfunction, cardiovascular, and blood pressure problems are linked to gum disease. We help treat all of this to make patients better.”

Dr. Sarmiento lives in Greenwich, CT, with his wife and three small children and teaches clinical surgery every Tuesday at his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania. “I’m super passionate about it,” he says of teaching. “A true professor is someone who wants you to grow and be better than them. I always tell this to my residents. That’s what I’m trying to project. I’m trying to make people better so our profession can stay healthy.”

A leader in his field, Dr. Sarmiento is almost impossible to reach on the phone. He performs surgery nearly every day of the week. He has also written numerous articles and textbooks on his surgical techniques. “I wish I had more time to golf or something,” he laments with a chuckle. The ever-busy doctor is also in high demand as a guest speaker all over the globe. “I lecture in almost every country,” he says. “I usually do that on Friday evenings and I’m back Monday working.” Any free time is spent playing with his kids in the yard in Greenwich. “The only passion I have outside the office I dedicate to my family. My eldest is five and I have twin girls who are turning four.”

For most people, oral surgery can be scary. But Dr. Sarmiento’s cool bedside manner means no horror stories. His practice is popular with movie stars and former U.S. presidents (he won’t name names). “People come in so nervous,” he admits. “We have a lot of phobic patients. That’s one of the most important parts of our field—the way we guide them through the procedure to make sure they are comfortable.” Is it more nerve-racking to treat an Oscar winner? “I never get starstruck,” he says. “To me, it’s a human being. It’s work and we want to do the right thing for everybody.”

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