Dr. Avi Sajnani crafts beautiful smiles by combining dental science and artistic precision.
By Ayush Madan
Our smile is the first thing people notice when they look at you. A beautiful smile is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also a reflection of your oral health and well-being, capable of boosting your confidence and leaving a lasting positive impression on those around you. Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down with a seasoned cosmetic dentist who has a decade of experience in transforming smiles, Dr. Avinash Sajnani. Avinash runs his own private practice called Prosmiles, with locations near Don Muang Airport, and in Rama IX.
As someone who has worn Damon braces since 2018, I have a vested interest and fascination with dentistry. I was the first in my family to undergo teeth realignment, and not only has it changed the way I smile, but it also fundamentally changed my jaw structure and overall craniofacial development. Since I started my treatment, however, a lot has changed. Modern dentistry now utilises laser mapping and 3D printing to dramatically reduce treatment time and cost for patients. Moreover, dentists now know more than ever about how our diet and lifestyle affect our teeth, and are able to create better preventative measures against plaque and cavities, ensuring our teeth remain clean and pristine for as long as possible.
Originally from Kota Bharu, Malaysia, Avinash was born to a Malaysian mother and Sindhi father. Despite his diverse background, Avinash’s Thai language skills are remarkable, comparable to that of a native speaker. Greeting me at the sliding door of his clinic in scrubs, with a dental loupe around his neck and a big pearly smile, Avinash’s infectious positive energy and playful attitude immediately put me at ease. As I sat down to learn more about him and his field, Avinash told me how his journey to dentistry had taken him across the world, from Queensland, Australia; to Bangkok; to Lisbon, Portugal; where he specialised in dental implants and restorative and cosmetic dentistry.
About a year ago, tragedy struck when Avinash lost both his parents in a fire. Despite this devastating event, he has shown incredible resilience, shouldering the responsibility that came with it. In addition to caring for over 100 patients, he also takes care of the hotel business his parents left behind, managing five different properties in the Ratchada area. Moreover, Avinash not only navigates the challenges of his professional life, but also balances his roles as a devoted father, showing his unwavering commitment to both his family and his profession. Dr. Sajnani tells Masala more.
Did you always know you wanted to be a dentist?
I always knew science was my forte, and I always had a great passion for art. Initially, I explored the idea of being a medical doctor but the long hours, the work-life imbalance, and the lack of any artistic aspect in the job ultimately made me decide not to pursue that path. The reasons I turned away from medicine are exactly the reasons I decided to be a cosmetic dentist. I love this career because cosmetics starts from an artistic approach, which then requires science to achieve the end result – a perfect blend of the two. I’m really passionate about my job, and I love doing it. Ask my wife if you don’t believe me [Laughs] – I could be in bed at night, and I will still be watching videos about dentistry, constantly learning more about my craft so I can improve.
What did your education look like working up to this position?
I was in Queensland, Australia for my secondary education, and followed that up with a Bachelor of Science at Griffith University. After leaving Australia, I came back to Thailand and enrolled in the International Dentistry programme at Rangsit University. I say that withsome hesitation, because it really was not ‘international.’ The first few years of the programme were all in Thai. Suffice it to say, I got rick-rolled into it. I took Thai classes every day in preparation for the dental exam. But after that, I ventured into my speciality, which ended up being in cosmetic dentistry. I was then trained in Lisbon, Portugal by my mentor Dr. Paulo Maló, who is renowned in the field of dentistry for his All-on-4 implantation technique. I would say it was far from a traditional mentorship. The man had his own farm, made his own wine, his own cheese, and even his own olive oil! We would go hunting and drive around on his tractor. It was an incredibly cool experience.
Do you think modern diets have worsened people’s teeth?
Before we think about diet, it’s important to acknowledge human anatomy. Unlike carnivores who have sharp canines and a hinging jaw, and herbivores whose molars grind side to side, humans have teeth which translate in four different directions. Hence, we have adapted to eating everything, so the best diet is what works for you. What I will tell you about is foods to avoid. Foods which are high in sugar or acidic foods are more likely to wear your teeth enamel. Even more important is the frequency of our food intake, which people tend to overlook. Every time we eat, our mouths become an acidic environment to help digest the food. Grazers who snack throughout the day end up creating an acidic environment and allowing it to neutralise multiple times a day, eventually causing teeth decay. Eating less frequently means better dental health and less cavities.
What does your day-to-day routine look like?
I prime my day by waking up early and getting some sunlight. Next, I hop into a cold shower and then go to the gym. I love working out in the mornings and I try to go as much as I can. It sets me up for the day and gets me in the right mental state to give quality treatment to my patients. Imagine trying to stitch a garment, except it’s an extremely small hole in the back of someone’s mouth, with a sloshing tongue, saliva, and even blood all swirling around. And you have to do your best to try not to hurt them. No pressure, right? That is why I try to be in the best possible headspace before I come in. After the devastating tragedy of losing both my parents, I stepped back from dentistry a little to look after the family business and so that I could spend more time to spend with my family. So when I get done with work at around 8pm, I go home to spend the few hours I have with my wife and my two-year-old son, Rish.
Have modern advancements like 3D printing and laser dentistry changed the way your job looks?
I have always wanted to do ‘sexier’ dentistry. I am trained in Europe, and that differentiates the way I approach patients compared to many dentists in Bangkok. The biggest difference is I spend a lot of time talking to the patient when they first come in, getting to know them and addressing any concerns or anxiety. This is where the modern advancements have helped the most. I like nice stuff, and most of the equipment I use in the clinic is imported and state-of-the-art. If you walked in for a consultation today, using the intraoral scanner I could create a 3D map of your mouth within 10 minutes. Next, I use nature’s ratio of beauty — the golden ratio — and apply it to the length, shape, and width of your teeth to create the ideal mock-up. Once the model is complete, I can project and overlay it on top of the scan of your current teeth. By doing this, every patient understands where they are starting and what the end result will look like. I can then go over treatment options, cost, and other issues or concerns they have. Additionally, modern dentistry saves the patient a lot of time. Procedures like ceramic restoration once required numbing the patient, taking a silicone impression, pouring in plaster, burning out the stone, pumping in blindingly hot ceramic, removing it, then finally inserting into the crown. Traditionally, this procedure could take a week or more. Today, we simply scan the teeth, send it to the lab, wait for the design to be approved, mill the crown to the exact millimetre, and it can be implanted in the patient in a matter of hours with no stitches.
Will Invisalign replace traditional braces?
Absolutely not. Invisalign and braces act very differently. Something to consider also is that orthodontists have different proficiencies and experience. An orthodontist who has been doing traditional and Damon braces for years will be far more confident continuing to use this method of realignment, because it is something they have done a million times before. Switching over to a newer method would only slow them down. Furthermore, with traditional braces, the cost is low, and the patient pays a monthly fee which is economical for students on a budget. In comparison, Invisalign costs significantly more and requires a large deposit before treatment can begin. Lastly, more complicated cases still require traditional braces.
Dr. Avi Sajnani’s practices for maximising oral health:
- Brush twice a day for two to four minutes
- Do not rinse your mouth completely after
- Wait 30 minutes after brushing before eating acidic food
- Preventive measures will always be easier and more economical than treatment
- Get a professional cleaning every six months
- Smoking is bad and can lead to gastric reflux, which wears down teeth enamel
- Hydrate often to keep the oral environment moist