Restoring Confidence
At his boutique practice in Bryn Mawr, esthetic and implant dentistry specialist Dr. Ernesto Lee excels at repairing even the most compromised smiles
by Bill Donahue

As the owner of a budding restaurant empire, Marsha Brown has made a habit of keeping an eye out for potential growth opportunities. Earlier in her life, however, she was scouting for an opportunity of another sort—namely, access to a master clinician in esthetic and implant dentistry capable enough to solve her lingering dental problems.

Likewise, Danny Govberg refused to let what he calls “a complicated mouth” get in the way of his ability to grow the family business, a 100-year-old institution specializing in exquisite watches and fine jewelry. He knew he needed “a true artist” to make his smile as stunning as the pieces in his stores’ burnished display cases.

Sheila Lewis (not her real name), meanwhile, used to think her compromised smile was holding her back. She has since made quite a name for herself as a designer in the fashion business, where “how you look is 90 percent of the battle,” she says.

Their successes aside, the members of this trio share another commonality: Each called upon Ernesto Lee, D.M.D., of Advanced Esthetic & Implant Dentistry in Bryn Mawr to perform the comprehensive dental work needed to restore their ailing smiles.

When asked about his reputation as someone who excels at cases too complex for all but a handful of dentists, Dr. Lee cites his training, education and artistic eye, all guided by an inner drive to excel. As a result, he has attained an incomparable understanding of the advanced interdisciplinary skills needed to practice his craft at such a high level.

After graduating summa cum laude from the University of Panama School of Dentistry, Dr. Lee honed his skills at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, through which he acquired world-class training in comprehensive surgical/restorative dentistry. In the years since, he has traveled the globe to share his perspective with scores of dentists eager to enhance their skills. Many of these professionals have gone on to further benefit from his expertise by becoming residents at Penn, where Dr. Lee has served as director of the prestigious Periodontal Prosthesis program for nearly 10 years.

Teaching, traveling and lecturing aside, Dr. Lee considers his greatest passion to be improving the smiles of discerning patients through his “boutique” private practice in Bryn Mawr.

“I like that I get to develop relationships with people,” he says. “I want you to come to me because you trust me. Most of my clients are people who have not had luck going elsewhere, and when they come to me their unresolved conditions are finally taken care of. These are difficult cases, with high-risk and sometimes demanding patients, and my goal is to make sure everything is perfect so they are whole—esthetically, physically and emotionally—and confident in their ability to interact socially.

“With me, it’s about passion and commitment to the work I do,” he continues. “Because I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years, I’m confident I can handle just about any situation. I realize what it’s going to take in terms of time and money to bring these patients back [to proper dentition], so I need to make sure the patient has the right expectations. When I work on someone’s mouth, I’m thinking: This is special, and I take great pride in my work, and I want you to take care of it.

Controlling the Outcome
Marsha Brown, owner of her eponymous Creole restaurant in New Hope and Ruth’s Chris Steak House locations Philadelphia and King of Prussia, is a fine example. She once had “every issue you can imagine” in terms of dental problems, and none of the numerous dentists she had visited throughout her life had been able to help. When one dentist referred her to Dr. Lee, her fortunes changed.

“I had a terrible overbite, a lot of bone loss, problems with my jaw—so many other issues, some of which were hereditary,” says Brown. “With the work he [Dr. Lee] did for me, he was an artist and a perfectionist. The thing that really impressed me is that he takes your entire health into consideration. He’ll never do anything that looks good but doesn’t work well long term; as we say in the restaurant business, he takes the approach that form has to follow function. I wish I had met him years ago. He’s a well-kept secret.”

Like Brown, Danny Govberg was referred to Dr. Lee by a fellow dental professional—in this case, LynAnn Mastaj, D.M.D., an orthodontist (also Dr. Lee’s wife) who suggested Dr. Lee might be able to help cure Govberg’s substantial dental woes.

“He likes the complicated patients,” says Govberg, whose family’s business, Govberg Jewelers, has retail locations in Ardmore and Philadelphia. “He’s a craftsman as much as he is a dentist. I needed extensive work—implants, pulled teeth, root canals. In the four or five years I’ve been going to him, he basically rebuilt my mouth. … I think that kind of complexity is what motivates him. He’s not the guy to go to in order to fill your cavity.”

Sheila Lewis knows something special when she sees it. Prior to establishing herself as a designer, Lewis put herself through college by working as a dental assistant. So when it came time to address her own smile, she was a discerning consumer. In the course of “interviewing” a number of different dental professionals, she was impressed with Dr. Lee’s work as director of Penn’s “Perio Prosth” program. Even so, she still asked to see examples of his work to make sure he was “the one.”

“I went to him with the idea of having veneers done,” says Lewis, a patient of Dr. Lee’s since 2008. “He suggested it was not the best course of treatment because it would not rectify some of the issues I had. Instead, he went with porcelain crowns. The entire process took a year because I needed some periodontal work to correct another faulty condition. I found him to be so qualified at every level of dentistry; most people would send you to other specialists, but one of the things about him is that there’s nothing he can’t do, so he controls the outcome.”

The concierge-like care she received was matched only by the quality of her result.

“My friends go to the best doctors in New York, D.C., and Florida, and no one has the results I do,” she says. “People tell me, ‘You look so young,’ but I’m not young; it’s my teeth, because when you change someone’s bite, it changes the facial contours. It took 10 years off my look. Plastic surgery couldn’t have done what he did for me, which is really pretty special.”

Should she need any dental work in the future, Lewis—like Brown and Govberg—has only one name in mind.

“There is no one like Dr. Lee,” she says. “Fixing my smile was not an inexpensive venture, but when all is said and done, you get what you pay for. If you pay for the best, you get the best. And that’s what Dr. Lee gave me.”

Ernesto Lee, D.M.D.
Advanced Esthetic & Implant Dentistry
976 Railroad Ave., Suite 200
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

Photograph by Nina Lea Photography