Smiles that really show
Dr. John Badolato, owner of Studio B Smiles, counts an array of the Valley's professional athletes among his clientele.
He’s had his own dental practice for 15 years, and profes-sional athletes, the state’s major sports organizations and celebrities are among his patients.
But that doesn’t mean John Badolato is content to keep operating business as usual.
The cosmetic dentist and Studio B Smiles founder’s new Virtual Smile Consultations platform — which offers com-plimentary professional dental consultations for patients from the comfort of their homes — is the latest demonstra-tion of his willingness to embrace something new.
When Badolato opened his practice in 2004, an eye-catching ad in the Yellow Pages was the big get in the indus-try. Around the same time, websites were coming on to the scene. Badolato decided to focus on his new practice’s website and with a friend built one that didn’t look like others and chose to in-vest his marketing dollars there.
Fast-forward to the present day, and Badolato again finds himself ahead of the curve with Virtual Smiles. He gives the same services as he would an in-person consultation, including a video slideshow of before and after photos of other patients who have undergone the procedure requested, an outline of what’s involved and cost. Patients push a button to set an appointment.
“Now, fewer people are using web-sites. The younger generation looks at someone’s Instagram page. We’re con-necting now with patients in a different way,” Badolato said. “The next genera-tion is on this path.”
Since launching the platform seven months ago, Studio B does an average of 10-15 virtual consultations a month with about a 40 percent conversion rate, Ba-dolato said. He’s always had patients who live out of town and come in for procedures, and this has increased that demographic. Some patients walk into his office for the first time and head straight to the procedure.
This is the latest amenity in the line-up of the practice that Badolato launched in Scottsdale in 2004. In 2017, he opened a Phoenix office.
Studio B is part of a booming cosmetic dentistry industry with a global market that’s projected to reach $17.6 billion by 2023, according to a Global Info Re-search study.
Badolato’s high-profile status as the team dentist for the Phoenix Suns, Ari-zona Diamondbacks, Phoenix Mercury, Phoenix Suns Dancers and the Arizona Hotshots of the new Alliance of Amer-ican Football league was sparked by old-fashioned word-of-mouth by two satis-fied patients.
Former Phoenix Sun Raja Bell and his wife, Cindy, were patients of Badolato before he was affiliated with any profes-sional team. Their glowing reviews brought in Bell’s then-teammates Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire. Word spread throughout the organization, and in 2008, Badolato became the offi-cial team dentist. He is still in the locker room for every home game.
From there, the other teams followed, as did Major League Baseball players and PGA athletes and their families who call the Valley home.
“It’s pretty awesome to be part of these organizations, and we’re proud and privileged to take care of them as our own family,” he said.
As the head trainer for the Suns and a personal patient, Aaron Nelson has known Badolato and his staff for more than 10 years. Every tangible and intan-gible detail is what has earned Nelson’s confidence professionally and personally.
“His equipment is state-of-the-art. When you’re working with a profession-al team, you want to have the best,” Nel-son said. “He has a great personality and is very accommodating. His staff is tremendous.”
Badolato has done several proce-dures for Nelson, including a filling, In-visalign and routine cleanings.
“You immediately feel comfortable from the time you walk into the waiting room to when you’re back in the chair and leave,” Nelson said.
Former MLB pitcher Mark Mulder, his wife, Lindsey Mulder, and their ex-tended family are also patients. Lindsey was one of Badolato’s first veneer paients. She has been a patient ever since and is very pleased with her veneers, which she said still look amazing.
Lindsey raved about Badolato and his staff’s professionalism and congenial-ity. She said everyone she has referred to him has nothing less than the most positive responses about their experiences.
“Dr. B. and I have become great friends over the years, and without hesitation I can say that he is one of the most genuine individuals I know. This trait shows in everything he does,” said Lindsey, who lives in Scottsdale. “He treats all of his patients like family in giving them the absolute best care.”
The St. Louis native with a passion for his craft has a history of steady suc-cess right out of the gate.
After graduating from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Den-tistry, Badolato worked for a year as an associate for another practice before moving to Arizona and opening Studio B.
Eighteen months later, Studio B experienced a positive cash flow, with growth every year since, Badolato said. The practice generated a gross revenue of $3.75 million last year.
He credited a core team of six staff members who have been with him since that first year with his practice’s success.
“It’s a testament to our core group. We work well together and together we built a great company that services the community,” he said.
Originally, Badolato planned on be-ing an oral surgeon. In his first year of dental school, an instructor suggested he’d make a good cosmetic dentist.
His response: “What is a cosmetic dentist?”
His instructor connected him with a Beverly Hills cosmetic dentist who mentored him while in school. He spent weekends flying to California, where he received cosmetic-dentistry training.
That dentist is Bill Dorfman, known for his work on the ABC show “Extreme Makeover.” Later, Badolato would be the official cosmetic dentist for “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition.”
“He showed me what’s possible. A light bulb in my head was lit. It was plas-tic surgery for the mouth. I felt like it was my calling,” Badolato recalled.
While cosmetic dentists do every-thing traditional dentists do, Badolato is aware of misconceptions about his spe-cific field. One is that his patients needs are purely superficial and not vital to their health or well-being.
“Twenty years ago, there was a stig-ma … that you’re being vain. But I assure you, there is a need for improving peo-ple’s teeth for looks but also for health that’s really important for our society,” Badolato said.
He talked about people who have ge-netic, medical or other health condi-tions that affect their teeth, and there-fore their self-esteem or ability to so-cialize as much as they would like. He cited studies about what people per-ceive as beauty or what they look at first when they assess someone. A person’s smile is toward the top of the list.
And in this age of social media where pictures do the talking, this has become especially crucial.
“We have patients who feel self-con-scious for years and can’t do anything about the size, shape or color of their teeth. We do different things to change their appearance to help them feel bet-ter about themselves,” he said. “The smile is something."
Over the years, Badolato has seen countless examples of how people’s lives have changed after being put in a position to feel good about their smile. He called the change dramatic and up-lifting.
“It’s hard to describe in just words to see someone who has been hiding their smile, covering their mouth when the camera comes out. … When that change happens, it brings them to tears, jubila-tion and happiness,” he said. “The re-lease of emotion … that’s truly the best part of our job.”