World-Class Smile Makeovers on the Main Line
Bryn Mawr dental implant specialist Dr. Ernesto Lee uses his extensive training to offer patients the latest innovations and more
by Leigh Stuart

Ernesto Lee, D.M.D., has traveled the world lecturing as an expert in dental implants and esthetic dentistry. Whether in Madrid, Shanghai, Athens, Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Barcelona, Singapore, Manila, Buenos Aires, Beirut, Mexico City or Bogota, to name a few, dentists flock to his dynamic seminars and in many instances follow him to Philadelphia to become his students at the University of Pennsylvania.

As a master clinician in esthetic and implant dentistry, he is in continuous demand throughout the United States, lecturing to audiences of practicing dentists and specialists. He also dictates courses to the faculty of several dental schools, including Columbia University, New York University, Loma Linda University, University of Southern California, Ohio State, Rutgers and Creighton University.

And, while Dr. Lee could utilize his skills to build a career in any of these locations, he—much to the benefit of residents of southeastern Pennsylvania—set down roots in the Philadelphia area.

Born and raised in Panama, Dr. Lee graduated summa cum laude and was class valedictorian at the University of Panama School of Dentistry. His drive to excel brought him to Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious Periodontal Prosthesis program. The comprehensive surgical/restorative training appealed to Dr. Lee because of its advanced interdisciplinary approach for the treatment of the most complex cases.

In 2007, following an academic career at Penn spanning nearly two decades, Dr. Lee was appointed director of the iconic “Perio-Prosth program,” as it is known in dental circles, in a classic student-becomes-the-master tale. As such, his responsibilities include overseeing the clinical and didactic education of approximately 35 residents from all over the world who are certified dentists already practicing in the field and seeking to enhance their skills.

Dr. Lee is also an author of multiple articles, chapters and textbooks, and he has served on the editorial boards of several Spanish and English language professional journals.

As one can imagine, this extensive involvement in not just university-level academics but also continuing education for the foremost professionals across the globe keeps Dr. Lee at the cutting edge of innovation in his field.

In addition to all of these commitments, Dr. Lee continues to reserve time to treat patients in his own private practice. As a dual specialist, he is able to provide all surgical and restorative phases of implant and esthetic Dentistry.

“My vision from the beginning was to develop a private practice where I could actually do the kind of quality dentistry I enjoy—one where I can apply what I consider to be the best clinical practices without being encumbered,” he explains. To this end, Dr. Lee sought a location close to the family residence in Bryn Mawr, where he has been in private practice since 1995.

Even with his busy schedule of lectures and teaching responsibilities, Dr. Lee continues to place the utmost priority on the patients he sees in his practice. “I prefer to sit with my patient and focus on their treatment for an appropriate period of time, rather than alternating back and forth between several patients,” he says. “This is an approach that lends itself better to my personality and the kind of work I enjoy, while providing the level of results I like to achieve.”

As a dental implant and esthetic specialist who has been practicing on the Main Line for 20 years, Dr. Lee also understands the unique needs of the individuals in the area. “People have lifestyles,” he says. “Just because somebody may not work, it does not mean they don’t have other commitments. Whatever treatment I provide, I need to make sure that my patients are comfortable and look good.” This includes adapting to summer and winter travel schedules, patients referred from out of state, as well as the requirements of the many dentists who seek treatment for themselves in Dr. Lee’s practice.

With this in mind, Dr. Lee is keenly sensitive to the esthetic desires of his patients. As an expert in smile design, he knows how to create a more youthful smile and understands the nuances of gender appropriate appearance. “A great smile involves a lot more than white teeth or straight teeth,” he says. “Teeth that are designed in harmony with the lips and face enhance the naturalness and beauty of the entire composition, with the additional value of providing a rejuvenated appearance.”

Dr. Lee explains that throughout the treatment process, he puts a priority on solutions that allow patients to function as normally as possible, so that there is minimal impact on their professional and social lives. Whereas it is common for dentists to place implants and have the patient wear dentures or go without teeth for months, Dr. Lee is able to avoid this situation in most cases. “People don’t want to wear dentures while they wait for their implants to heal,” he says. “So we always find ways of making sure that temporary teeth remain fixated through the process. We have developed techniques where we can restore implants immediately, rather than having the usual three- to six-month wait. We have refined the esthetic aspects of these techniques to the point where a failing front tooth can be immediately replaced with an implant and a restoration that will be strikingly similar to a natural tooth. This is what I frequently teach at my courses, but it is a technique sensitive procedure that requires an appropriate level of skill and experience.”

Dr. Lee notes that implantology is a “completely different field now” compared to when he started.

“We are using 21st century technology and materials to provide patients with better outcomes than ever before. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to learn and share experiences with other key opinion leaders throughout the U.S. and around the world. It allows me to remain at the forefront of the latest innovations and make them available to my patients on the Main Line.

“In the beginning, I used to say I specialized in creating healthy and beautiful smiles,” he continues. “I quickly learned that I actually specialize in easy transitions. Not only do I strive for an excellent result, but I also need to make sure that my patients remain comfortable and look good throughout the process.”

Ernesto Lee, D.M.D.
976 Railroad Ave., Suite 200
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

Photograph by Meghan O'Neill