Aaron Kelsey, D.D.S.
By Ellen Paris
Do you long for the days when your dentist was like your family doctor and took care of all your dental needs? Then Dr. Aaron Kelsey, D.D.S., is for you. Walk into Bliss Dentistry in La Quinta and you immediately notice a difference. Posted hours read: Monday – Friday 9ish to 5ish. The quaint lobby’s centerpiece is an oversized photo of three surfers laughing it up in the Huntington Beach surf. One member of the group is Kelsey at age 23. A few decades later the former international fashion model and surf enthusiast is a general and cosmetic dentist with 2,500 patients in the practice he started in 2008.
Kelsey is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, American Dental Association, and California Dental Association. “I am very serious about dentistry and pretty much hang loose about life. That’s what I have incorporated into my practice,” Kelsey explains.
WIDE RANGE OF SPECIALIZED SERVICES
Kelsey graduated from San Francisco’s University of the Pacific School of Dentistry. Thanks to his broad-based education, he delivers general, advanced, and cosmetic specialties not usually found in a solepractitioner dental office. “Our patients appreciate not being referred to other dental offices,” Kelsey observes. Patients receive the same level of care from him as from individual specialists. When a specialist is required, he ensures that specific goals and expectations are met.
The University of the Pacific offers a varied course of study. Due to the absence of specialty residents, students perform all phases of dentistry and surgical procedures. Kelsey’s patients rely on him for routine to complex dental issues. Advanced procedures include treating periodontal disease, full coverage crowns, dentures, implants, bone grafts, root canals, bridges, TMJ facial pain treatment, and a full range of cosmetic procedures. “My school was very different from traditional dental schools. We did everything ourselves. You graduated as a practitioner with a well-rounded understanding of results and strong surgical background,” Kelsey says.
Kelsey practices, “old-time chairside manner” using the latest techniques and equipment. For advanced periodontal problems, he utilizes the Waterlase MD all-tissue laser. “I’ve found this is much less painful than traditional flap surgery with equivalent results for my patients suffering with severe gum disease. It’s essentially a deep scaling and root cleaning that incorporates laser therapy, resulting in better cosmetic and gum reattachment results,” Kelsey notes. The October issue of the Journal of the California Dental Association conducted a study on the subject. In summary, it concluded, “The closed-approach therapies which use lasers resulted in less gingival recession than the open approach (traditional flap closure).”
PERSONALIZED PATIENT EXPERIENCE
Kelsey learned his old-time chairside manner from his father, a Huntington Beach dentist, by helping him during weekends and vacations. “I understood the importance of a real patient connection from him,” Kelsey says. “Working with him when I graduated really confirmed that my approach to treatment was sound. That confidence as a young dentist was hugely important in my professional growth.”
From the front office on, spending quality time with a patient is key to Kelsey’s personalized practice. “I want people to rediscover the doctor/patient relationship. We are not a volume type practice, and we consistently strive to be underbooked.” Kelsey’s three hygienists do one-hour appointments, not necessarily the norm for some dental practices. Patients are emailed satisfaction surveys after each visit. “It is really nice to have someone take the time with me, which is hard to find in this fast-paced world,” comments one patient.
CREATING PERSONALIZED SMILES
Kelsey’s longtime love of science and watercolor painting helps him achieve customized results with cosmetic dentistry. “I get to be an artist with my patient’s smile. Everyone is diff erent and needs various shading and contours to their veneers to look natural and not like they belong in someone else’s mouth,” observes Kelsey who prides himself on not doing “cookie cutter restorations.”
He points to his fashion industry career as an asset when framing a patient’s smile by bringing various components together, including skin tones, contours of the face, and eye color. “I pull a lot from my former career on how the smile can have a dramatic impact, whether someone is viewed to be feminine and youthful or masculine. The importance is in what you accentuate and what you minimize. That’s what separates great cosmetic dentistry.” Kelsey’s cosmetic options include whitening, smile design, recontouring of the shape of the teeth, veneers, bonding, and all ceramic/porcelain crowns.
Bliss Dentistry’s success has allowed Kelsey to give back. His practice is open to 200 patients with HMO dental insurance. Many dentists do not accept HMO patients because of lower contracted reimbursement rates. “These people are young or elderly, and this is the only way they can afford dental care,” Kelsey says.
In February, Kelsey returns to Haiti where he spearheaded the building of a dental clinic four hours south of Port Au Prince. He was moved by the fact that Haitians still die from tooth infections. This clinic will eventually be run by Haitian dentists delivering routine care to prevent devastating infections. “The success of Bliss Dentistry has allowed me to do this work in Haiti, and I am incredibly grateful to all the people that have embraced this practice in La Quinta,” says Kelsey, who, with his wife of 12 years and two children, loves the community of La Quinta and the Coachella Valley.
Old-fashioned values combined with modern dentistry proved the right career choice for Kelsey and benefits many, both in the valley and beyond.
46-660 Washington Street, Ste. 10, La Quinta, CA 92253