Joe Kane talks about life in Boston and what it takes to build an empire.
The Well Done Man – Dr. Maged Malecki
The Well Done Man is a biographical interview with a Bostonian who is doing exceptional things. It is meant to give insight and knowledge regarding each interviewee’s vision of success and how, beyond their obvious talents, they have reached this point in their lives and careers.
Dr. Maged Malecki is the owner of Boston Dental the downtown dental practice that is changing the way Bostonians think about oral health and creating beautiful smiles using the latest in technology. Dr. Malecki is an American success story, having moved to Boston from Syria in his early 20’s to attend dental school, he now has one of the most successful dental practices in the city. We caught up with Maged to talk about his journey, the field of dentistry and the city he now calls home.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in Syria and that was where I spent the first 15 years of my life. Later my parents moved to Dubai which is where I went to high school. After high school, I moved back to Syria and went to Dental School. At age 23 I moved to Boston and attended BU Dental School where I got my DMD degree in 2002. After Dental School I started working in Arlington and then five years later I moved my practice to downtown Boston and renamed it Boston Dental. Two years ago I started practicing part time in Dubai where I work with a few patients and focus more on aesthetics. People come to Boston to seek the best medical treatment in the world and people in Dubai really value having a doctor or dentist who was trained in the US. The American educational system has a great reputation internationally especially in the Gulf region. Right now I spend about 30 days out of the year in Dubai and the rest of the year I’m here in Boston.
Why is American medicine and dentistry better than in other parts of the world?
One major part is research. I think Europe is great too especially the Scandinavian countries but the US has the vast majority of pharmaceutical companies, research facilities and hospitals. There are actually hospitals now in the US that are opening branches in Dubai and bringing doctors and professors to work there and train locals. There is a big demand for it.
How did you choose dentistry?
I honestly wanted to be architect but my family really pushed us to get into medicine. I told my dad that dentistry is somewhere in the middle between my passion for building things and medicine. What we are doing with dentistry these days is really the design of the smile, building and engineering so it really is part architecture. I found a happy medium so my dad and I are both very happy, besides my brother became the doctor of medicine.
Was it a tough field of study?
Dentistry has two parts. There is the science and also the clinical portion which is more of a craft and requires you to be good with your hands and have dexterity. The science part of it was very condensed and it was tough but people who love to read will find it to be a little easier. What I enjoyed was the clinical side and that was where I thrived.
How long does it take to become a dentist?
Typically it takes 4 years with 2 years of science and 2 years of clinical training.
What are some of the challenges to starting a dental practice?
Definitely the lack of business education in dental schools. They do not teach any business courses and I think that is very important. You rely on what you learn from your friends or what you learn through experience. Also dealing with banks is challenging. My only exposure was when I was applying for a student loan. You have to convince these banks that you will be successful and there are many things that a dental practice needs. I remember thinking how expensive everything was. Actually we are now building a new office at Government Center that it is going to be state of the art so we are in that same process now.
What is your biggest challenge on a daily basis?
Time is our biggest challenge. Our patients have businesses, important jobs and meetings so we have to be on time. I feel we are 98% on time but there is always room for improvement. We take it very seriously and it is very important to us.
Is Boston a good place to be a dentist?
Yes it is. My brother is a doctor in California and they are in crisis because managed care companies dictate what products you can use and what the compensation will be so they limit practices. In Boston dentistry is still in tact and people can make their own decisions in consultation with their dentist. Insurance companies want to control the cost so they have preferred treatments and materials and anything outside of those options are considered upgrades. In this office there is no upgrade or downgrade, we have a standard to use what we know and what research says works best.
What is going on in the world of dentistry these days?
Aesthetics are in big demand and people are really keen on having a perfect smile. In Romania people are asking for diamonds to be implanted into their teeth.
Will there come a point when we will never have to worry about getting cavities again? How is technology transforming dentistry?
Fluoride and fluoride in water has really reduced tooth decay but we will probably always see some level of decay. Technology today is really focusing on prevention and making treatment easier, faster and less painful.
Every toothbrush and toothpaste product says the same thing. I usually just go with what’s on sale….Do you have a favorite brand?
I use an Oral B toothbrush and my wife uses Sonicare. It doesn’t matter. It’s the same with toothpaste. You should always use a soft toothbrush though.
What inspires you about Boston?
It’s a beautiful city and people are very ambitious and educated here. I recently moved into a new residence at 22 Liberty in the Seaport with my wife and 2 children. Boston is a great place to live and the Seaport is an amazing area.
Any advice for aspiring dentists or doctors?
Our relationships with our patients is very important. Our role is to direct our patients to resources and educate people to what their choices are. Also, I’d say take a few business courses and it will help you when starting out. Just work hard and you will be successful.