Zen and a New Era of Dental CareAug 01, 2013 11:11AM ● By Jon D’Auria
Dr. Michael Malek
Dr. Michael Malek ushers in the next wave of dentistry by merging breakthrough technology with holistic care and elegant spa services at Tucson’s Smile Spa.
A dentist’s office often conjures images of bleak waiting rooms, long wait times and an feeling of anxiety and discomfort caused by the arsenal of buzzing drills and painful treatments that await every appointment. Most dental visits are the furthest place from solace for patients, and the fears that accompany the practice have given the field of dentistry a bad rap since the inception of the trade. But now, thanks to Dr. Michael Malek and his practice at Smile Spa, which uses breakthrough methodology that merges comfortable, cutting-edge technology and a patient-first mentality, things are finally changing.
An acclaimed practitioner in his field, Malek spent seven years conducting research to identify the biggest concerns that patients have with dentist visits and the results led him to redefine the dentist/patient experience, starting with his own practice. “The issues on the top of the list are cost, anxiety, inconvenience and practicality,” explains Malek. “We took the results from our research and applied them to designing a practice that includes remedies to all of the concerns and fears of our clients.”
The results are evident in the impressive facilities of Smile Spa. A large, open interior plan makes the waiting room and other facilities resemble the lobby of a four-star resort, with beautiful pillars, sky-painted ceilings, serene art and a plush waiting area at the front end of the space. Without conventional walls to separate the rooms, the circular structure instills a peaceful mindset, minus any loud dentistry tool sounds to send chilling frequencies up the spine.
“We’ve designed our premises with attention to every detail, so that our patients feel relaxed, calm and welcome. We’ve eliminated the typical smell of most dental offices and have aromatherapy and natural fragrances throughout,” says Malek. “When people go into most typical dentist offices, they notice the way it smells, they see the dated reading materials, they see the way the reception area is kept and they see dead plants, and they wonder if the service they’re getting is reflected in the way they handle the little things at their offices. Patients subconsciously ask and answer a lot of questions about a dentist office without even knowing it when they walk in. When we take care and intention with all of the small details, think of how far we will go with the big things for you.”
Malek has also addressed one of the main gripes people have with dentist offices, which is the wait time that patients have to endure. “We have realized that one of the most important things for our patients is convenience and respecting their time. When a patient comes in, we don’t throw a clipboard at them and make them wait. We automatically take them back to the treatment area, where we provide them with refreshments, and then we fill out all of their charts and paperwork for them. They don’t even have to lift a finger.”
Smile Spa offers every kind of dental service possible to ensure that patients don’t have to drive from one office to another just to retrieve one procedure from multiple specialists. “We have full comprehensive care here at Smile Spa regardless of what your needs are,” says Malek. Whether it’s braces, gum disease, a smile that needs improved upon, extractions, root canals—we offer everything. We’ve pioneered procedures that allow us to do things in one appointment. A lot of our clients come from out of state just to see us, so we do everything we can to accommodate them in one simple visit. There is literally nothing that you could possibly need or be diagnosed with and not get therapy and remedy in one modality here.”
Malek is also a highly praised painter. Growing up in an artistic family, he has been a lifelong artist, and it was his late wife who gave him the most inspiration to continue his craft, even with the intensity of his dentistry work. The beautiful paintings that he hasn’t donated to charities or given to clients are currently on display hanging on the walls of Smile Spa. “I was an art student before I became a dentist,” he says. “I’ve been painting my whole life, and it’s a passion that runs in my family. It is very natural to me. I was thrilled to discover at a young age that dentistry embraces the skills and gifts of an artist. When you are working on a filling or reconstruction, it takes a skilled technician that makes a lot of judgment calls that are artistic and creative. Painting helps me focus on my work and putting attention to every small detail of my focus, but it’s also very relaxing and meditative to me. I can get lost for hours in my studio, and I’m very grateful that I can share that with my patients.”
Malek completed his vision by adding a full-service spa that offers Swedish, deep tissue, sports and reflexology massages, soothing stone treatment, facials, body exfoliating treatments, Botox, Juvaderm, haircuts and waxing in every form–from eyebrow to Brazilian. Clients even earn credits towards spa treatments that they can gift to friends and family and receive free treatments on birthdays and anniversaries. “Why not pamper our patients?” says Malek. “We offer a VIP plan where you get spa service every time you come in. It’s a $120 service that we’re giving and it allows our clients to visit us under a non-threatening premise.”
Malek incorporates holistic treatments into his practice to insure the health of his clients is the first priority. Reducing toxins and deadly elements of the antiquated past of dentistry, Smile Spa offers natural methods that produce the finest results. “We embrace practices that work universally for our clients, from old methodologies to new technology,” he says. “We find overwhelming success to our approach towards wellness and health centers around naturopathic or homeopathic remedies. We focus on avoiding all forms of toxicity–whether it’s bio-toxicity caused by materials used for root canals or toxicity from mercury in fillings from older cavities. We eliminate protocols that have been outdated in dentistry like fluoride use. We eliminate all of the toxins we can with our state of-the-art equipment which is promoted by the holistic community.”
Malek thinks that too many dentists still use materials that are too toxic, saying, “We take care of patients of all ages, from newborn to the golden years, and it is our greatest responsibility to care for each client the best way possible.”
Whether executing a mouth reconstruction surgery in two days that typically takes four to five months for other dentists or offering luxurious spa treatments and a tranquil environment for his patients, Malek is rewriting the book of dentistry with every change that he offers through his practice. While the praise and scientific articles published about his work are appreciated, Malek’s true inspiration comes from his relationships with and ability to enhance the lives of his clients.
“Most all of our clientele is gained from word of mouth references. The reason we have become so successful is because of the way our relationships evolve with our patients,” says Malek. “Early on, we felt that instead of just being a doctor in a white coat, we would create a spa environment and treat each like a guest at a luxurious resort—we treat every client like a VIP client. Relationships are everything to us here. Our customers go quickly from being our patients to being our guests, to friends to family. Our clients even stop in just to say hi when they haven’t seen us in a while, because they miss us.”
Smile Spa is located at 2498 E. River Rd. For more information, call 520-529-8000 or visit GoSmilespa.com.
Jon D’Auria is a frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings.