By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Dr. John Badolato became one of the Valley’s most prominent cosmetic dentists since he opened his practice in 2002.
“My career took off and I became interested in sports dentistry,” Badolato says. “Raja Bell was one of my first patients.”
Bell, who played for the Phoenix Suns from 2005 to 2009, connected Badolato with the organization. In 2007, Badolato became the official dentist of the Phoenix Suns.
Now working with the Mercury and Diamondbacks as well, Badolato recently moved his office to the Dominican Republic for a week to work on coaches and players who are part of the DSL D-backs Boca Chica. The D-backs’ baseball academy also provides schooling.
While there, Badolato and his staff treated 110 players and coaches for free.
“We are the first franchise to try to bring American doctors down to do dental work — and a lot in a short amount of time,” he says. “It’s awesome for me and my team. We get to do something different and break out of the daily grind. We can see a different part of the world and, most importantly, contribute to the D-backs organization.”
The one area dentist can’t handle the work of nearly 120 coaches, player and staff, he adds. Badolato instead performed hundreds of fillings, cleanings and exams.
“We work in their villages and removed teeth,” Badolato says. “With the D-backs, these kids’ mouths have a lot of decay. They eat a lot of sugar because of the number of sugar plantations. They chew on sugar cane.
“They put sugar in their Gatorade. Their palates are keen to sugar and sweets. When we went with the D-backs, we didn’t have suction. Imagine us drilling teeth with water, each kid sitting on a folding chair, leaning his head back, sitting up and spitting every 15 seconds. That took a lot of time. The mouth needs to be dry.”
To remedy that situation, Badolato’s equipment techs built a suction system with a shop vac and PVC pipes. This year, the team had “actual suction.”
“Each year it gets better and better,” he says. “Working with the baseball staff is great. The whole D-backs training staff is awesome. We really complement each other well. We do it in a very efficient way. Next year will be our third year. We’re hoping to get better and do more. So far, we’re knocking it out of the park.”
But Badolato wasn’t the only specialist. Orthopedic surgeons traveled to the Dominican Republic to examine the players.
“They prefer to have American doctors take a look at these guys,” Badolato says. “One kid down there had a $2.5 million signing bonus at 16. Some of these guys are potential stars. They want them to be as healthy and have access to the same stuff with the highest standards of care as the guys up here—from Zack Greinke to the guys who are 15 and 16 taking that next step toward a career in baseball.”
As a child, Badolato wanted to be a medical doctor or dentist. He envisioned a career in pediatric open-heart surgery, but cosmetic dentistry was his calling.
He earned a degree in dentistry from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
“It was the path I wanted to go, and it grew from there,” he says. “I have a lot of patients and clients who are professional athletes. That’s been a fun part.”
The St. Louis native has treated Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Mercury center Brittney Griner.
“We do a lot of cosmetics, especially natural cosmetics, so if there is damage from the court or field, we make sure it looks as real as possible,” Badolato says.
For years, he was dentist for the TV show “Extreme Weight Loss,” before he moved to the Valley and opened his practice, Studio B Smiles at 8952 E. Desert Cove, Suite 108, in Scottsdale in 2003.
Badolato takes joy in helping athletes protect their teeth, especially because he has witnessed firsthand what can happen without adequate protection. He has watched his three children play sports and that causes him to espouse the use of mouth guards.
“It’s rewarding to know that you are keeping athletes safe,” Badolato says. “I have patients that whenever I see them driving into the lane or taking hits, I fret for their teeth when I know they aren’t wearing a mouth guard. Now we have the ability to help with youth sports and even my own kids.”
Information: studiobsmiles.com. ν