If you’ve been to the New Jersey Center for Aesthetic Enhancement in Englewood Cliffs, you’ll know that it’s not your typical dentist’s office. Maybe Chief Wisdom Tooth, the life-sized Native American sculpture sitting next to you in the waiting room is the first sign, but Dr. Bruce Freund just isn’t your typical dental physician. The Queens native and New York University College of Dentistry graduate is also an artist. In fact, most of the abstract artwork in his office was sculpted or painted by the same man who just put a crown on your tooth, or gave you a Botox or Restylane injection. Inspired by Paul Terry’s “Mighty Mouse” sketches as a kid, Dr. Freund thought he would grow up to be a cartoonist. By the time he was only 12 years old, he would take the subway into Greenwich Village and spend Saturdays enjoyingthe artistic environment. One of his uncles was a dentist in the city, so Dr. Freund went to him for his regular visits. Since he liked working with his hands, and had been exposed to the craft by his uncle, by a very young age he decided that he could succeed in the field of dentistry.
Dr. Freund’s artistic skills have served him well in his chosen profession as a dentist. For more than 25 years, he has been a pioneer in cosmetic and restorative dentistry. Before moving to his current location in 1992, Dr. Freund had a practice in New York City and in Fort Lee. He taught in the residency program at Mt. Sinai Hospital and at NYU in the prosthetics department. He loves teaching as much as he loves learning.
“If you can teach something new to someone, it’s really a major accomplishment,” said Dr. Freund. And it all goes back to using your hands, just like an artist.
Over the years, Dr. Freund has volunteered his services in times of need. While practicing in New York, he became certified in forensic dentistry through the armed forces, and worked with the New York City Medical Examiner’s office. In the aftermath of September 11, Dr. Freund volunteered his services in the victim identification unit. “It was difficult,” said Freund,“but satisfying to help families get closure.”
Maureen O’Brien, one of Dr. Freund’s dental assistants, has worked for him for 14 years. Nancy Gonzales, another dental assistant, has worked for Dr. Freund for over 13 years. “The office is more like a home, and not like a dental office,” said O’Brien.“I’ve worked for other dentists, and he is, by far,the most understanding of his patients’ needs,” said Gonzales. “He cares about his patients and treats
them with understanding and concern.”
Dr. Freund actively seeks out more training and the best, most cutting edge technology to better serve his patients. For instance, Dr. Freund always did implant prosthetics, but not the implant surgery.He decided he wanted to learn how to do the implant surgery himself, so in the early 1990s, he applied for a two-year post-grad program at NYU. He was accepted into the program, and gave up a full day of his practice each week in order to learn the surgical techniques. In the end, it was well worth it. Dr. Freund now could do both procedures, benefitting his patients further. Yet he still wanted to learn more. Once dental lasers were introduced to the market, Dr. Freund became certified in its use and introduced it into his practice.
Then about ten years ago, Dr. Freund’s career took a very interesting turn. His patients started asking him if he could administer Botox injections. This took him by surprise.“I said, ‘I can’t do Botox injections. I’m a dentist,’ and they said, ‘you give such a good injection; you know my face so well and you inject me all the time,’” Dr. Freund explained. So Dr. Freund took numerous courses and,soon, he started performing facial injectables. It wasn’t long before he realized he loved it. From there, Dr. Freund started to actually train people in how to do the procedures.
Dr. Freund met two other dentists who were conducting similar procedures,and the pair formed the American Academy of Facial Cosmetics. The Academy’s goal is to train healthcare professionals, primarily dentists, in the art of facial injectables.“Who knows the facial proportions better than the dentist?” Dr. Freund asks. Now Dr. Freund is a certified trainer for both Allergan, the company that manufactures Botox and Juvéderm, and Medicis, the company that manufactures Dysport, Perlane and Restylane. He is likely one of the only dentists in the United States who can say that he is a trainer for both companies. This past November, Dr. Freund trained dentists from all over the world on how to give facial injectables at the Greater New York Dental Meeting, held at the Jacob Javits Center. In a glassenclosed classroom, Dr. Freund and his partners trained more than 150 dentists from countries as far away as Greece and Russia. “It was a lot of work but also a lot of fun, and I love doing it,” he said. Dr. Freund really has the artist’s touch when it comes to being a dentist, and his assistants agree. “He’s got an eye for it, just like he’s got an eye for drawing or painting,” Maureen O’Brien said. Dr. Freund’s artistic talents—born out of his love for drawing Mighty Mouse cartoons when he was a young kid back in Queens—are apparent with each dental implant or facial injection. Dr. Freund wants to make you look great and feel better, and for years he has shown that he really has the ability,drive and compassion to do just that.
Justin Davidson is a senior at New York University where he is majoring in Journalism and History. He has served as the sports editor for NYU’s daily student newspaper, and has also interned at amNew York and WABC TV.