Dentists spend most of their waking hours in their practices, so they usually don’t get many opportunities to see what it’s like inside another doctor’s office. Dentaltown magazine’s recurring Office Visit profile offers a chance for Townies to meet their peers, hear their stories and get a sense of their practice protocols. In this issue, we interview one of the most famous Townies out there—Dr. John Nosti.
Since he became a member of Dentaltown, Nosti has contributed almost 8,000 posts to the message boards and amassed more than 400 followers. Known for his skills as a cosmetic dentist, he has wowed countless dentists with his cases, shared his knowledge and expertise through his continuing education program, and inspired doctors through his teaching, positive attitude and fitness.
Tell us where you grew up and how
you ended up becoming a dentist.
Dr. John Nosti: I grew up 15 miles from New York City in Nutley, New Jersey—a predominantly Italian town that was featured on The Sopranos. Remember those silly career reports you had to do in high school? I did one on oral surgery my sophomore year and it stuck. From then on, I made my mind up to be an oral surgeon.
I changed my mind during my senior year in college when I did an externship at a dental office, where I learned a thing or two about the dental profession. For example, once you’re a specialist, you can’t do anything else.
While in dental school I subscribed to every dental publication I could get my hands on. Seeing some of the things that were starting to come out in the mid-1990s regarding cosmetic dentistry really interested me, along with (of all things) TMD. Oral surgery dropped off my radar because it wouldn’t allow me to do the cosmetic procedures that interested me.
To what do you attribute your near-celebrity status among your peers?
Celebrity? Get out of town! I would never say that. I do love the interchange, camaraderie and, frankly, the honesty of Dentaltown. I love to share. Commuting from my house to my office is a nearly one-hour drive each way. I have listened to (and read) a ton of books! There is often a commonality that speaks to me in the majority of the books I read: giving back. I’ve always had a passion for volunteering and donating my time.
I’ve been privileged to take CE courses in my career where the doctors seemed generally interested in your success. Those were the CE courses I loved; it gave me such a great feeling that there is true camaraderie in dentistry. Then I found Dentaltown. If there is a site designed on sharing, helping others grow and building camaraderie, this was it! When I started posting on Dentaltown, my goal was to share information to help others grow.
I can easily relate to my peers; I practice full time like they do, deal with team issues, deal with the same patients and deal with insurance issues. I think people sense my positivity, my willingness to share and my genuine desire to have others succeed.
You also teach, mentor, stay involved with various associations, serve as a KOI. You’re in an enviable position where, if you didn’t want to practice full time, you probably wouldn’t have to. What keeps you passionate?
I still love dentistry! Things happen in my office on a daily basis where I get that glowing feeling inside. It’s having patients hug me because no one spent the time to listen to them like I did. Seeing patients with tears in their eyes because the temporary veneers I just placed gave them a smile they never had. Even doing an occlusal restoration on a 5-year-old—during that time I get to be the biggest goofball on the planet to entertain them. When the practice of dentistry is like that, who wants to give that up?
What’s the average day like at
your practice(s)? How does it compare to when you first started practicing?
I’ say it looks very similar from the outside. I think there are people who think all I do is cosmetic dentistry and full-mouth reconstructions. I may do a lot more of those now than when I started in practice, but my average day is still filled with general dentistry: new patient exams, restorations and single-tooth dentistry. (Thankfully, having great “average days” makes the big-case days that much better.)
Tell us about your Clinical Mastery Series.
How did it start and what’s it up to now?
Clinical Mastery Series started with a few of my friends who love teaching together, and who have a passion for helping others succeed. It includes Drs. Jason Olitsky, Mike Smith, Eric Farmer, Jenn Janicki, me and a handful of handpicked faculty who practice what we preach. We are all friends outside of Clinical Mastery, too—we vacation with one another, share common interests in life, and act like we’re a family of sorts.
Our courses are geared to increase the amount of comprehensive dentistry that clinicians perform in their offices. All of our courses are hands-on with immediate, practical applications, instead of just sitting there listening to a lecture.
It’s not like other CE courses; we’re in it to inspire the profession with our mantra: “Rock the Drill.” It isn’t just about being a better restorative dentist. It’s about being more confident, loving what you do and lighting the way in dentistry.
The Clinical Mastery Series faculty, from left: Dr. Eric Farmer, professional development director; Dr. Mike Smith, faculty director; Dr. John Nosti, clinical director; Dr. Jason Olitsky, program director; and Jenn Janicki, executive director.
You’re also a certified personal trainer and weight management specialist, and you and your wife own a gym?
I’ve always been into physical fitness and total body health. (When I was 30, I had my picture in Muscle and Fitness for an article about physiques in healthcare.) This came to a halt in 2010 when I had back surgery—twice. The physical fitness side of me went away for a while because I’d been advised by two surgeons to not lift heavy weights like I had been. Rather than lifting smarter or finding different ways to work out, I stopped going to the gym altogether and developed the “dad bod.”
Three and a half years ago, I started to slowly get back into it. First, I began a wellness program, then I started back at the gym. About a year into it, things all clicked. Throughout this time, I had been treating sleep apnea in my office and feeling like I was giving some patients a crutch when I provided an oral appliance. The best solution for some patients isn’t an oral appliance—it’s weight loss. When you ask them what their physician believes to be the cause of their sleep apnea, patients routinely say, “They tell me I should lose weight.”
I’d then ask them, “What’s your physician doing to help you?” and they’d reply, “They tell me I should lose weight.” I started offering to help my patients with the same turnkey wellness program I started with, but I knew I needed something more than my dental degree to guide them into customized plans.
The American Council on Exercise has many health/wellness certifications someone can do at home, which are great adjuncts for interested dentists. The first one I completed was for weight management specialist. My wife knew I had a passion for fitness, and after a long talk one night, we agreed to buy an Anytime Fitness franchise. The ball just kept on rolling; next came a personal trainer certification.
Dentistry is tough on our bodies—we twist, turn and contort ourselves into positions so we can perform our best. This takes a tremendous toll on our bodies and is one of the primary reasons people retire sooner than they expected. Helping others get to a healthier place at the gym and performing virtual coaching online to other dentists is something I find extremely rewarding. When we feel better, we perform better, our confidence is increased and our case acceptance increases. It’s a win/win! Coaching others in this area is another reason that I don’t get burned out with dentistry.
It might surprise readers that
despite being predominantly a cosmetic dentist, you still participate with some insurances. How haveyou maneuvered the world of insurance and cosmetic cases to make it all work for you?
Bottom line: Know your contract, know your contract, know your contract. There are insurance agreements that once the patient’s plan is maxed out, you’re allowed to charge your UCR fee. Others don’t allow for cosmetic services. Bread-and-butter dentistry can certainly pay the bills, but over time the more cosmetic dentistry you start doing takes your practice to another level.
I’m not a lawyer, but I would recommend everyone reading this to truly understand the contacts you sign or to get help from someone who can advise you. There are plenty of people on Dentaltown willing to help in this area who are far more knowledgeable on a state-to-state level regarding this. You should also reach out to your state dental association for help.
What aspect of your work are you most proud of?
This might sound cliché, but I truly can’t choose just one. I am equally rewarded and proud of the cosmetic dentistry I perform and being a part of the Clinical Mastery series. In my office, there’s nothing like having a patient hug you and tell you that you’ve changed her life. The transformation that I see in some patients is amazing. That’s why I love to share and teach.
Helping other dentists experience that feeling with their patients is equally rewarding. Having them share their stories with me, seeing how they touched the lives of other people, and in return seeing how it has touched their life—that lights me up!
In dentistry, what never ceases to amaze you?
How people don’t believe you when you tell them they grind their teeth. They would prefer having their teeth buzzed down to nothing than invest in a night guard. These are the same people who, of course, have the latest and greatest smartphones. At some point in time, all you can do is educate and do your best. Some people want you to help them, and other people aren’t ready yet. Always keep the door open for those patients so that when they are ready, they know who to go to.
What do you think is the biggest
problem dentists face today?
The biggest problem I see facing most dentists is their mindset and being limited by circumstances or limiting their beliefs in what they can accomplish. Rather than focusing on what’s possible and what they can achieve in their careers and in life, they choose to focus on reasons why they cannot.
I could have followed the negative mindset—practicing in a blue-collar city, looking like Doogie Howser when I started—but instead I surrounded myself with people who helped me shatter the ceiling that others had set for me. I listened to dentists and mentors who weren’t negative but full of possibility. The key is surrounding yourself with people who elevate you, want to see you succeed, and actually help you do so. I had plenty of people in my career, including Townies, who did that for me.
What are the greatest advancements in cosmetic dentistry you’ve seen in your tenure?
The overall advancements in digital printing, the availability of CBCT in offices, and how implants have become routine and mainstream in practices, as well as their general acceptance by the public. Since I graduated, implants have probably been the greatest advancement in all dentistry, not just cosmetic dentistry.
What would you like to see dentistry do differently/better in the next 5–10 years?
I think it’s so important for dentists to stay organized and protect our profession. Look at what is happening to medicine: Less than 40 percent of medical professionals belong to the American Medical Association, and its lobbying power is reflective in what has happened to it. My hygienist’s daughter had her gallbladder removed and the surgeon was paid less for that procedure than my PPO insurance participation pays for an anterior root canal. Now, I am not trivializing what we do, but come on, folks—an anterior root canal vs. lifesaving surgery? It’s insane!
You might not realize it, but the ADA has a strong lobbying power and has prevented many issues from affecting our profession. If you aren’t a member, you won’t realize how many times this has happened. I am an active member with the ADA and still I’m only aware of the day-in, day-out performance of our political action committee when I attend the meetings. Trust me, it all could be a lot worse. Our PAC is a strong one, compared with other medical professionals’ committees.
I’d highly recommend that everyone join the ADA! It helps us stay united and protects our profession. (OK, off that soap box.)
What’s something that
remains a challenge?
I hate endo! (Do I really have to say more? It’s endo!)
Give us a snapshot of your
life outside dentistry.
I am a family man! I am a husband (my wife, Jennifer, is a retired hygienist and now a gym owner) and a dad of two of the greatest kids on the planet (Isabella and AJ), and I have a huge immediate family. Once a week since my 13-year-old daughter, Isabella, was born, my sister’s family and my family have dinner at our parents’ house. It used to be Sundays but that became too difficult with everyone’s schedule, so when my daughter turned 2 it became a Tuesday tradition.
Living on the Jersey shore, we love being at the beach, going boating, fishing and hanging out with my cousins or friends and their families on the weekends. I have college buddies and friends from dental school who I see routinely as well.
What advice would you want
to give to new dentists?
1. Educate yourself and grow. I was told to be a consummate learner and always be willing to learn. A better way to look at this is that you should always want to be growing. When you grow yourself, your business grows too.
2. Stay in shape. Dentistry is tough on your body! It’s so important to stay physically fit so you can not only perform your best on a day-to-day basis, but you also can practice until you want to give it up, instead of your body deciding for you.
3. Give back in life. There are tons of people out there who are less fortunate than you are. Help out a patient in need now and again, donate your time in your community, or help raise money for a great cause. Giving makes you feel great, and when you feel great, great things happen.
4. Have a confident mindset. I believe these two things go hand and hand. You have to be a positive person in life. Nobody likes a negative individual. Focus on being positive! Believe it or not, this is a significant part of case acceptance.?
See this speaker live
at Townie Meeting!
Headed to Townie Meeting? Don’t miss
Dr. John Nosti’s CE course, “Disillusioned by Dentistry? How to Avoid the Dreaded Regret
of Choosing Dentistry As Your Profession.”
For more, visit