Scottsdale dentist helps athletes save their teeth
Dr. John Badolato of Studio B Smiles has built his Scottsdale practice catering to the needs of athletes of all ages. He is the team dentist for the Suns, Diamondbacks, Mercury and Grand Canyon Men’s Basketball.
It didn’t take long for Dr. John Badolato to become one of the best-known cosmetic dentists in the Valley.
“My career took off and I became interested in sports dentistry,” Badolato said. “Raja Bell was one of my first patients.”
Bell, who played for the Phoenix Suns 2005-09, connected Badolato with the organization. In 2007, Badolato became the official dentist of the Suns, a role he has held since.
Badolato’s partnership with the Suns led to similar partnerships with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Phoenix Mercury and Grand Canyon University’s men’s basketball.
He became the go-to dentist for athletes on those teams and for other professional athletes. Badolato has treated Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and most recently Mercury center Brittney Griner, among others.
“We do a lot of cosmetics, especially natural cosmetics, so if there is damage from the court or field we make sure it looks as real as possible,” Badolato said.
Cosmetic dentistry wasn’t always on Badolato’s radar. There was a point when he envisioned a career in pediatric open-heart surgery.
“I didn’t know if I was going to go to med school or not,” Badolato said. “I talked to some guys and they said to give dentistry a shot. I became interested in the cosmetic side.”
Badolato obtained his degree in dentistry from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. For years he was dentist for the television show “Extreme Weight Loss” before he moved to the Valley and opened his practice, Studio B Smiles at 8952 E. Desert Cove, Suite 108, in Scottsdale in 2003.
While playing in France for Team USA Basketball, Griner chipped her tooth while on the court. Griner made light of the situation, posting pictures on social media of her chipped tooth. She insisted on seeing only Badolato to get it repaired.
“She posted pictures and everything but we have since fixed her tooth and now she is finally going to wear a guard,” Badolato said. “I’ve been trying to get her to wear one for years.”
Like Griner, numerous athletes who are patients of Badolato refused to wear a mouth guard. Usually it takes an injury, such as Griner’s, for them to agree to it. Even that doesn’t do it for some.
Badolato provides three types of guards, from one that isn’t noticeable and is similar to Invisalign, to one that is a custom fit, the Under Armour Bite, which provides adequate airflow. He also provides the Pure Power Mouth Makkar Advantage, which provides stability in an athlete’s jaw while in action.
While most of the athletes who use the guards from Badolato are professionals, he has seen a rise in youth-league and amateur-athlete fittings for his guards.
“Our practice is predominately adults but we do have a lot of kids of our patients that come in to get mouth guards,” Badolato said. “I have young kids and I will make some for their teams. We are starting to get more into youth sports and a lot of people will seek us out because of our partnership with the Suns.”
Badolato and his staff use various machines to fit each guard to the patient’s mouth.
Using an impression from a mold, the Drufomat Scan Pressure Machine uses pressure and suction to create a model with precise fit to an athlete’s mouth. Badolato can then send the mold to a lab where the mouthpiece is made. This process allows for custom mouthpieces to be made with various designs.
Badolato and his staff also use the iTero Scanner, which takes a three-dimensional model of the patient’s mouth, which is then sent to a lab where mouthpieces are made.
Badolato takes joy in helping athletes protect their teeth, especially since he has witnessed firsthand what can happen without adequate protection.
That, along with his own children beginning to play contact sports, causes him to espouse the use of mouth guards.
“It’s rewarding to know that you are keeping athletes safe,” Badolato said. “I have patients that whenever I see them driving into the lane or taking hits I fret for their teeth when I know they aren’t wearing a mouth guard. Now we have the ability to help with youth sports and even my own kids.
“Just knowing that it is something that is useful to them feels great.”