Implantando Sonrisas - Implanting Smiles
Doctor Santiago Gonzales of Implaesthetics
By Henry Noel - Photographs by Luis Nieto and Juan Diego Vélez
There was a time when, destination United States, was the go-to place for medical and dental needs, but with skyrocketing costs and insurance limitations, people are now seeking alternatives to the United States. Ecuador has become that destination, and Cuenca the go-to place, and with the talents of professionals such as Dr. Santiago Gonzales it’s no wonder at all.
Few professional titles can illicit as wide a variety of preconceptual reactions in people as the title “Dentist”. From anxiety to down-right fear, dentists carry the stigma that turns children and most adults into cringing, mouth-grabbing toddlers. This may have been a justification in the past, but now knowledge, technology and talent has completely changed the dental profession.
There is no better exemplification than Dr. Santiago Gonzales of Implaesthetics whose motto is “Implanting Smiles.” A native of Azogues, Dr. Gonzalez, being and artist and sculpturist in his youth, received encouragement from his sister-in-law to use his talents and study dentistry. At 17, and through the support of his mother, brothers and sisters, Cuenca became his new home, sharing an apartment with friends and attending the University of Cuenca studying dentistry.
As a child he wanted to be a priest, but, as he grew up, a mentor explained to him there were many ways to serve God, for example, being a missionary. This longing to help others stayed with him, and, upon graduating, when it was time to perform his internship, he chose a place where no one wanted to go—the border with Peru in medical centers working with the Shuar communities. Seldom requiring his dental skills, he assisted with pregnancies, snake-bite and scorpion-sting victims. But the most important learning he received was survival. Purifying water to drink, traveling through the jungle, hunting and fishing for food were everyday events for him—the same as for everyone in the community. His initial desire to help never waned and this humanizing experience instilled in him a gratitude for the conveniences we all take for granted like water, electricity and food, and throughout, his experiences fanned the flames of his desire to help others. He taught himself Portuguese to prepare himself for his postgraduate studies in Brazil where he specialized in aesthetics at the University of Uningá, in Baurú, São Pablo and later, oral implants at the Metropolitan University of Santos in Santos, São Pablo. Always a frequent reminder of his humble time serving in the Shuar community, he finds ways to help everyone regardless of their resources.
“Implantando Sonrisas” is the motto of Implaesthetics. And implanting Smiles is exactly what they do. Implaesthetics is derived by combining the two specialties Dr. Gonzalez loves, that of implants and aesthetics. Dr. Gonzalez explains, “Many people aren’t able to smile because they don’t have any teeth, so the first step would be to place dental implants and then the teeth will be placed on top until finally a smile is designed according to the patients face size and gender.” He continues, “So the name ‘Colocar Implants’ is for placing dental implants and designing smiles, so everything will be in harmony. The saying in the clinic is ‘Implantando Sonrisas,’ Implanting (Placing) Smiles.”
With the assistance of several professionals the clinic offers many services: Cirugía Oral (Oral Surgery), Endodoncia (Root Canal), Estética Dental (Cosmetic Dentistry), Odontopediatría (Pediatric Dentistry), Ortodoncia (Orthodontics), Periodoncia (Periodontics), Implantes Oral (Oral Implants), and Rehabilitación Oral (Oral Rehabilitation).
This is a “state-of-the-art” clinic with the latest in new equipment. Each piece of equipment is specific to each of the areas of dentistry performed in the clinic. “Our way to show respect to our patients is to have a place equipped the right way so they can feel comfortable and satisfied with the attention they’re getting,” says Dr. Gonzalez proudly.
Dr. Gonzalez explains how nowadays dentistry is a compliment of all areas covering all specialties, and he recommends this practice because it wasn’t long ago when a person would graduate from a dental school and began performing specialty treatments they were not qualified to perform, and this was wrong. That is why the staffing of his clinic is with specialists in all areas of dentistry. This assures the patient will receive the best attention and attain the best results.
Dr. Gonzalez has built relationships with the best dental laboratories in Cuenca, Guayaquil, and Quito assuring the patient receives the best quality components. “The dentist and the dental lab must complement each other because, if a crown is being placed in a patient’s mouth, and it is made wrong, then your job as a dentist is also compromised,” says Dr. Gonzalez emphatically.
Dr. Gonzalez appreciates honesty and believes it is a value everyone should have. When he performs a treatment, he prefers to tell his patients exactly what their condition is, what his diagnosis is and the pros and cons of the treatment, so everything is clear and addressed from the start. “Many times, a patient comes to the office with unrealistically high hopes for a certain result. This must be explained truthfully,” Dr. Gonzalez states passionately.
Dr. Gonzalez is limited verbally in English, but he understands English well and makes himself understood. He is studying English, so he can better express himself and provide better attention and service to his clients. The other professionals in the clinic do speak English.
Meet the Dentists of Implaesthetic
Dr. Santiago González Periodontics, Oral Implantology, Dental Aesthetics
Dra. María Daniela Adnrade Solis Pediatric Dentistry
Dra. Diana Monserrat Marín Arias Orthodontics
Dra. María Paz Piedra Zavala Endodontics