February 2016

Bluffton Center for Dentistry: Artistry, health, and humanity

Author: KITTY BARTELL | Photographer: Krisztian Lonyai

Scientists, philosophers, mathematicians, doctors, armchair psychologists, and professional psychologists, for that matter, have pondered and prognosticated about why things happen. Why two or more things come together at just the right time, as though they were fulfilling the destiny of many a cliché: It was meant to be. It was fate. It’s all in the plan. It was written in the stars.

The road that led to Richard Porcelli, DDS opening Bluffton Center for Dentistry in 2013 and meeting one of his simpatico professional counterparts resulted from a series of unlikely events that were, quite likely, meant to be. Highly educated and trained, Dr. Porcelli was enjoying a successful New York City dental career when he and his wife Alina, a dental hygienist, considered moving south. “We were thinking Charleston, but before we made that move I thought it would be a good idea to call some dentists in the area,” Dr. Porcelli said. “Periodontist Dr. Alvin Danenberg was on the cover of Dentistry Today, so I called him. He said, ‘Don’t come down here, because it’s saturated with dentists.’” Ignoring the advice, the Porcellis prepared to head south. “I gave up three positions in New York. It was 2008, and two days before moving, each of the doctors I had lined up for work called and said their portfolio had dried up and that I was no longer needed. We came anyway.

Bluffton Center for Dentistry is located on Plantation Park Drive in Bluffton, behind Dairy Queen.

“It may have been the best thing that could have happened,” Porcelli said. “Everyone was in a hiring freeze, and I was jobless for a few months. My wife and I studied business management, and we concluded that we should open our own practice.”

With the help of a broker, Porcelli purchased Beaufort Family Dentistry in 2009. That same broker introduced Porcelli to a periodontist who was interested in talking about joining his practice. “We were having dinner on Hilton Head Island, getting acquainted, when I recognized his voice.” It was Dr. Danenberg. The two dentists connected the dots, and like planets aligning, immediately felt working together was in the cards.

With a common belief in treating the whole patient, Porcelli, a cosmetic general dentist, Danenberg, a periodontist, and Dr. Jay Friedman, an implant doctor, along with their highly regarded professional team, begin each appointment by listening carefully to the patient’s needs and wishes. “We are concerned about function that looks good, works well, lasts long, and maintains a healthy body; that is what really distinguishes us,” Danenberg said. “We’re a holistic dental practice. If you want to improve your dental health, we can listen to you and help you get to your goals.”

“I do general dentistry, but there’s a select group of people that come in with much more complex problems, or they’re looking to recreate a smile through doing a rejuvenation of their older work,” Porcelli said. “That’s kind of the fun part—the more elaborate kinds of cases that involve much more clear thinking as well as a team approach; dealing with the periodontal as well as the implant doctor, we’re able to restore the mouth on very different levels. Having two practices and being as busy as we are allows us to fine-tune our instruments. Working as a team, I think you just get better.”

Their integrated approach is also focused on preventing disease through awareness and education, rather than just treating it. “A few years ago, we decided to incorporate a nutritional aspect to our treatment modality,” Porcelli said. “When a patient comes in, we assess what’s really going on in their mouth. Most likely, if someone has a periodontal problem, there’s a big correlation between a gum infection and some type of a lifestyle change. Sometimes we have patients do a three-day food journal to see if some of the foods they are eating are causing some of the problems they are having, not just in the mouth, but maybe some of their medical issues could be related as well. We’ve made progress even if we can just make people aware.”

According to Porcelli, “The best way of making a change is by removing something negative, but adding something more positive.” Dietary suggestions targeting oral and whole body health, ranging from the benefits of eating organic to the negative aspects of eating processed foods, are incorporated into treatment plans for patients who are interested in learning about these connections.

Many of the dietary recommendations offered in the practice come from Danenberg’s personal research and writing on the evolutionary story of man and food. Currently in the publishing phase, he has authored a book tentatively titled Hunger for Health, and his personal health journey helps to provide anecdotal evidence for the information shared. He also writes regularly for Well Being Journal, found in Whole Foods.

“We are unique because we bring three different personalities as doctors, or three concepts, to the practice,” Danenberg said. “Dr. Friedman does implants and bone grafting and a lot of very extensive surgery. He is an instructor for one of the most prestigious implant institutes in the world, The Misch Institute, and has been on their clinical staff since 1996. He lectures and teaches dentists from all over the world, and professionally has an international following.”

“He’s an amazing guy,” Porcelli said.

“Our entire staff is committed to education at the highest level, and is so full of good people that care about humanity, that care about treating people like brothers and sisters. They’re wonderful people,” Porcelli added.

A student of the Dawson Academy, a multi-year, international program based in St. Petersburg, Florida, Porcelli leads by example. “Right now I’m working with the America Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. It’s a yearly, time-consuming process, but it’s very important. When you have a very highly trained team, you can offer more options,” he said.

Singer, songwriter, John Lennon said, “There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.” Bluffton Center for Dentistry, Porcelli and his team are most certainly just where they are meant to be, and their patients are the better for it. 

Bluffton Center for Dentistry is located at 29 Plantation Park Drive, Suite 303, Bluffton, (843) 593-8123; blufftoncenterfordentistry.com. Beaufort Family Dentistry is located at 1274 Ribaut Road, Beaufort, (843) 524-6363; beaufortfamilydentist.com.

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