Changing the Game
Dr. Ernesto Lee, a master clinician in the field of dental implantology, uses advanced techniques and cutting-edge technologies to create world-class smiles for his patients
by Bill Donahue and Leigh Stuart

Born and raised in Panama, and now living in suburban Philadelphia, Ernesto Lee, D.M.D., is a man of the world. Dr. Lee has traveled the globe lecturing as a master clinician in esthetic and implant dentistry. Dental professionals have flocked to his dynamic seminars in Madrid, Shanghai and Athens, in Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo, in Barcelona, Singapore and Manila, and in Buenos Aires, Beirut and Bogota, among others. Some have even followed him to Philadelphia, where they have sought his expertise by becoming his residents at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has been director of the prestigious Periodontal Prosthesis program since 2007.

Few speakers, at any level, are as sought after as Dr. Lee. This year, for example, he will be lecturing to audiences of practicing dentists and specialists at a number of respected gatherings, including the University of Southern California Periodontal Symposium, the Spanish Society of Prosthodontics Meeting, the New York University International Esthetic Symposium, the Loma Linda University Dental Implant Symposium, the International Symposium on Periodontics and Restorative Dentistry, the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry Meeting and the Greater New York Academy of Prosthodontics Meeting.

It’s easy to understand why dentists of all skills levels seek to enhance their clinical skills through Dr. Lee. After graduating summa cum laude and earning the title of valedictorian for his graduating class at the University of Panama School of Dentistry, he went to Philadelphia to acquire world-class comprehensive surgical/restorative training as part of Penn’s “Perio-Prosth” program. There, he gained an intimate understanding of the advanced interdisciplinary approach to implant dentistry that would enable him to treat even the most complex cases. Along the way, he never stopped teaching.

“I always liked education, and I always taught others, even when I was still in high school,” says Dr. Lee, who founded his own Bryn Mawr-based practice, Advanced Esthetic & Implant Dentistry, in 1995. “I enjoy lecture-based teaching, but I’m particularly good at clinical teaching. I can stand at the front of a room all day and quote facts and figures, but when I sit with a patient or I’m doing hands-on teaching with a student, I am in my element.”

This is the primary reason he founded the Elite Center for Implant Dentistry Training and Education. Located in the same building as his private practice in Bryn Mawr, the Elite Center for Implant Dentistry Training and Education enables Dr. Lee to bolster his reputation as a leader, mentor and educator of other practicing dental clinicians throughout the Greater Philadelphia Area and beyond.

In addition, Dr. Lee recently formed a relationship with Dental XP, the leading provider of online education for dental professionals. Through Dental XP, thousands of dental professionals around the world will benefit from Dr. Lee’s expertise—and receive continuing education credits—without even having to leave the comfort of their offices. Although he says online opportunities can never replace the personal interaction that comes from sitting across from a fellow clinician, he sees tremendous value in the Dental XP courses. 

This year is shaping up to be a significant one for Dr. Lee. He has served as one of three editors for the third edition of “Esthetics in Dentistry” by Ronald E. Goldstein, D.D.S.—often considered the “father of modern cosmetic dentistry”—which will be published later this year. The honor is the latest in a long line of Dr. Lee’s personal achievements in publishing, as he has authored numerous articles, chapters and textbooks, on top of serving on the editorial boards of several Spanish and English language professional journals.

In Harmony

By necessity, Dr. Lee has had to become an expert at balancing the many demands for his time and attention. Patients in his Bryn Mawr private practice, where he provides all surgical and restorative phases of implant and esthetic dentistry, remain a priority.

“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. “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. 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.”

Dr. Lee is keen 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.”

He also understands that people don’t want to wear dentures or otherwise feel esthetically “compromised” while they wait for their implant site to heal.

“Since 2004, we have developed techniques where we can restore implants immediately, rather than having the usual three- to six-month wait,” he says. “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. With the right protocol, it is the best option to achieve an optimal esthetic result; and this opportunity should not be squandered. 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.”

In fact, one of Dr. Lee’s minimally invasive techniques involving bone grafting for the extraction and immediate restoration of teeth in prime esthetic areas—i.e., the front teeth—is in the process of being published in a respected academic publication. He cannot yet go into detail regarding the revolutionary technique due to intellectual property issues, though he can say it involves a combination of highly specialized materials and techniques he has perfected over time. He also says the technique lends more predictability in bone growth surrounding an implant area, thereby leading to reduced trauma for the patient and measurably improved esthetic outcomes.

Compared to when Dr. Lee first began his career, dental implantology has become a “completely different field.” He should know, as he has been among the field’s most influential pioneers.

“We are using 21st century technology and materials to provide patients with better outcomes than ever before,” he says. “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.
Advanced Esthetic & Implant Dentistry
976 Railroad Ave., Suite 200
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

Photograph by Nina Lea Photography