Trish Hammond: Well I’m here today with Dr Mark Levi, who is based in Sydney CBD and we’ve got some amazing, amazing information to share with you today. So, thank you for taking the time today Dr Levi.
Dr Mark Levi: Trish, great to spend some time this afternoon chatting with you, a very great pleasure.
Trish Hammond: Awesome.
Dr Mark Levi: I hear wonderful things about what you do, Trish.
Trish Hammond: I hear even more wonderful things about what you do, so tell us a little bit about yourself, and what do you do?
Dr Mark Levi: Me! Okay, so, I’m Dr Mark Levi, L-E-V-I, and I’ve got a thirty year plus history with a dental degree. So, I’m a dentist inherently, I suppose, from university but, really my … What we do mostly during the day here in my dental office in the city is tooth whitening. We actually, Trish, we whiten more teeth than anybody else in Australia. We do more teeth whitening than anybody in Australia. I’ve got more lasers and machines and toys to whiten teeth than anybody else in Australia. And, actually dentists send their difficult cases to me to whiten. So I’m the go to guy for difficult tooth whitening.
Yeah, I suppose my other claim to fame is that I used to do a lot of judging for the Miss Universe in Australia. So, I’ve got a pedigree there in whitening teeth, getting people looking better and that’s, I think, why the Miss Universe team rang me up.
Trish Hammond: Okay, so with teeth whitening then, why would I go to a professional and get my teeth whitened when I can just go the supermarket and buy a teeth whitening kit? What’s the difference between getting it done properly and getting it done …
Dr Mark Levi: Look, there’s a lot of places to get your teeth whitened. I went on a cruise, that was a long time ago, but I remember going on a cruise and they offered me tooth … I got a haircut and at the same time as getting my hair cut they offered me to do my nails, my toenails and whiten my teeth and something else, a massage I think. And everything cost $100. Trish, it’s your teeth. And if someone is charging you $100 or $50 or $40 or you’re in a mall to whiten your teeth, they’re probably using fancy schmancy toothpaste. That’s going to last about five minutes. That’s the good news. The bad news is, if they using anything more volatile, then we see cases where people get damaged by that process. So, we don’t see people that are happy after that outcome, because really it’s not efficacious. I won’t say it doesn’t work but you’re not getting a net result at all. Does that make any sense at all, Trish?
Trish Hammond: Yeah, so it’s nothing long term standing. It’s, just a maybe, a quick fix that’s not gonna actually have any …
Dr Mark Levi: Maybe it’s a quick one week fix. There’s my … It’s a short term quick fix. And they’re using … Because of the law, they’re using very lightweight materials. The lasers they’re using are actually not lasers they’re lights, and it’s a … You know, I’m doing this podcast interview with you, I’m choosing my words carefully. There’s no way in the world I would have teeth whitened in that genre. Unless it was just for Saturday night, just to boost them a little bit. Does that make some sense, Trish?
Trish Hammond: Yeah, totally. So can you explain to me the process … So someone … You book in, you have a consult, you can get it done straight away? Or do you have to wait? Is it a long time thing? Is there a recovery?
Dr Mark Levi: Tooth whitening. People come in the front door and they say, “Hey doc, heard you are good, can you whiten my teeth?” And let’s go through a boring case, Trish. Let’s go through someone who’s really just needs to spruce up their teeth. Whether they’re 20 years old, or whether they’re 50 years old. They just want to spruce their teeth up and look in the mirror and go, “You know what, they’re looking a bit dull and faded and they’re not really looking that crash hot.”
If people come along, they sit in the chair for half an hour, an hour. We use our … well actually at the moment we are using our Belgium technology, our Belgium laser technology to whiten teeth. The teeth will just pop up, Trish, they would just instantly, in that half hour, hour, they will just pick up and just sparkle to where people are going, “Wow, that’s awesome.” And that technology not only is quick but will last a year, or two, or three, or four. Because we see them, Trish, three or four years later, five years later, six years later, and they go, “Hey Doc, hey Dr Levi, can you do that again for me? I saw you a little while ago, a couple of years ago.” And they say, “What is new in technology?”
And that’s the other issue, that when people come back, technology keeps getting better. So, when people come in the door, there’s six questions that they ask. Do you want me to tell you those six questions?
Trish Hammond: Yes please. Yes.
Dr Mark Levi: You’d like to hear their six questions would you, Trish?
Trish Hammond: Uh hum.
Dr Mark Levi: Okay. So, the answers are, and this is for the average run-of-the-mill patient, Trish. It’s not for someone who’s got black teeth or something. It’s run … Patient is number one … We go through this list, we go: it’s safe, very, very, very safe. It won’t damage anything. It won’t damage anything at all. It’ll last a couple of years, Trish. That’s the important bit. You want to whiten and last a couple of years. The other question people ask is, they won’t look stupid. You know, they won’t end up with streaky mess, or patchiness or blotchiness or a burnt gum. So, they’re not going to look stupid. They’re gonna look great, really. But people always ask, “I don’t want to be too white. I don’t want to look like an idiot. I don’t want to glow in the dark at the discotheque.” So safe, won’t damage anything, lasts a couple of years, won’t look stupid and here’s the one of the clangers. Won’t hurt, Trish.
Now, did you hear that, Trish?
Trish Hammond: That’s what I wanted to know? Does it hurt?
Dr Mark Levi: Trish, won’t hurt. I’ll go back to that in a sec. So the next question is, “Will it hurt?” and we say, “No.” And I think there’s … and I always say we’re dentists. We’re not 15 year olds or 28 year olds that have been trained for two hours, and we’re using technology that is, Trish, a couple of years old. This is newish technology that keeps improving, and that’s really … That’s really, really an awesome bit. So, I’m going to stop for a sec because you’ve got some good questions there and I’ll go back to two questions you asked. You asked me about … you implied before, where we get this stuff from, and technology, you also asked about pain? Is that right, Trish?
Trish Hammond: Yes, that’s right.
Dr Mark Levi: So, which would you like me to ask first?
Trish Hammond: Okay, definitely the pain first, because I’ve had my teeth done about four years ago and I did the usual. You go to the dentist, they’ll get your gums, your teeth measured up. Then they give you some stuff, take it home, do it for six weeks. My teeth were sensitive, and after the end of six weeks it was like, “Oh my God, I just spent nearly 1000 bucks, I’ve got no result.”
Dr Mark Levi: Okay.
Trish Hammond: And it hurt.
Dr Mark Levi: Hurt like hell. So, let me answer the question. There’s three questions there, and I’ll come back to … No I’ll come back to that now, let me just digress for half a second. Do you know, Trish, the product … The technology we’re using now comes out of Belgium. Our favourite tooth whitening technology comes out of Belgium in Europe, and if you’d told me that 15 years ago I would have laughed at you because we were using so much American technology.
The Americans started this technology, Trish, out of California, I mean, that’s no surprise. That the American technology was awesome, well, for the day, but it was awful, it hurt, it was … You know, patients rang up complaining. It was just … Look, we did it, and we got great results, but it was inconsistent and man did we hurt some patients. So we, … That’s the old pain story.
Today’s pain story is this. The Belgium technology we particularly like to use, for the average patient, when they sit in the chair with a laser and we put the goo on their teeth and it takes half an hour, an hour. Trish, we don’t get any phone calls any more, we don’t get any phone calls or discomfort. We get a pretty much zero factor, because when we do it we just don’t get people complaining. Which to me as a clinician, as a dentist, as a doctor, I mean, I am excited off my skull to put someone in the chair and say, “Hey, Trish, sit back, relax, watch the TV on the ceiling, chill out. You’re going to be here for about 45 minutes.” And know that I can leave the room and you’re not going to be miserable in pain, and you’re not going to ring me that night, miserable in pain. So it doesn’t hurt sitting in the chair, got that bit?
But, here’s the digression for you. If I made those … Because, what you haven’t asked me, Trish. And here’s the next question you want to ask me. “Hey, Dr. Levi, I’m a bit confused. I got the stuff to take home but you’re talking about sitting in the chair.” So, can we discuss that for four seconds, Trish?
Trish Hammond: Yep.
Dr Mark Levi: Okay. We’ve always whitened teeth in the chair, but about five years ago the technology really, really, really got good. So, if you’re at home, or you’re listening to Trish, the talented Trish, if you haven’t whitened your teeth in a dental … If you haven’t whitened your teeth in my office in the last five years you haven’t seen technology at it’s best. That’s number one, okay? Five years ago it probably would have hurt, six years ago it would have hurt, seven years ago it would have hurt. Now, doesn’t hurt.
But, here’s the second thing, Trish, we don’t use those home trays anymore, we just don’t use them. Tell you why, they tend to hurt, they’re expensive for what you get. If you were to spend $500 to $1,000 to whiten your teeth, what are you going to spend … Depends what we do … Depends … The price point of what we do for people. But, if you’re going to spend $500 to $1,000 or a bit more to whiten your teeth, you want a great result, you want it to last, you don’t want to be hurt, you want it to be there in two years.
The trays are expensive for what you get, I think. And you know what, they hurt, because you put the tray in your mouth, you put the goo in that tray, you wear it at home every night. Even if you wear it at home for 10 minutes, the goo sort of gets on your gum. It just hurts.
Trish Hammond: Tastes like shit too.
Dr Mark Levi: Tastes not pleasant. So, we had so many complaints about that stuff 10 years ago. Here’s the other thing with that, 15 years ago we used to give away for free. We’d whiten their teeth with the laser, and we’d give it as home magnets for free. And we found after about 2 years, even though we gave it to people free, no one used it. If they used it they complained, they stopped using it. So, we just don’t … Well, that’s not true, the amount of times I give someone a tray with goo to use at home is not very much at all.
The majority of people that turn up, want to sit in the chair for an hour and know they’re seeing the best that … Someone who knows what they are doing. Look, Trish, you’ve got people that come to you for advice on their eyelids, or their eyes, or their breasts, or their bum, or their … They want to feel better, look better, or maybe there’s something that needs tweaking. You wouldn’t trust … You want to get it done properly. So, you want to get it done properly with a Macquarie Street … The only reason I can say we’re at the Macquarie Street of Tooth Whitening is because we are. Because people … The dentists send us their difficult cases.
Although, I’ll give you one caveat for your research base, Trish. My mentor is the illustrious Professor Laurie Walsh, Associate Professor, Laurie Walsh out of Queensland University. Laurie Walsh is a … Well, he’s my mentor. There you are, he’s my mentor and I … Look, you want to get your teeth whitened, you want to make sure they know what they’re doing.
Trish Hammond: Can I ask another question?
Dr Mark Levi: Sure.
Trish Hammond: So, I can actually come and get my teeth whitened and actually get it done in the chair, and walk out with white teeth, in the same day? Like it’s a walk in walk out procedure?
Dr Mark Levi: Yep. Let me say that again slowly. Walk in the door, get explained to you what you’re going to get done, sit in the chair, hang out for forty five minutes in the chair. Get up, not be fussed, bit bored, but not fussed. Get the mirror in your hand and go, “Hoop de do, they look better.”
Trish Hammond: Wow.
Dr Mark Levi: And then walk out the door.
Trish Hammond: Okay.
Dr Mark Levi: Now that’s pretty good. And we couldn’t do that, Trish, five years … We couldn’t do it 10 years ago, that’s for sure. There is another story, Trish. When people come to me we haven’t discussed people with really, really, really bad teeth. Really, really bad teeth. Look, we’ve got some other technology, we can whiten … You’re in a lovely black outfit today, Trish. We can actually whiten a black front tooth.
Trish Hammond: Wow.
Dr Mark Levi: Yeah, we can whiten some really ugly stuff. Now, if we’re doing that technology we’re using a different machine, a different laser. Sometimes that can hurt. But, we’re talking about … Actually that’s not true … Actually, I reckon we’ve hurt people, one in every … One in every six months, we might hurt, Trish. You know, 10 years ago every single person that walked in the door, all day long was hurt. So, we don’t hurt people but, we’ve got different technology, Trish, to use, if they’ve got a more complicated type problem.
A lot of the dentists especially send me young people, you know, 20, 30, 35 year olds with a … Maybe getting married, often. Often getting married with a front tooth that’s a funny colour or … And we can get that tooth to blend with everything else. Really, really, really cool.
Trish Hammond: Wow.
Dr Mark Levi: My favourite patient comes from Wagga Wagga, Trish. My favourite patient comes from Wagga Wagga and we still occasionally get … When she’s in town, we still … Louise pops in with some fruit and some local produce. That’s where my favourite patient comes from at the moment.
Trish Hammond: Oh, that’s fantastic. So, one last question. Is it … Because I know what I paid last time to get the gum … What do you call these things?
Dr Mark Levi: The Home Whitening Trays.
Trish Hammond: Yeah. Well it cost me nearly $1,000.
Dr Mark Levi: How much?
Trish Hammond: Nearly $1,000.
Dr Mark Levi: Oh my God.
Trish Hammond: I did them for a couple of weeks, got painful, never used them, never noticed a difference. So, can you give me a price point?
Dr Mark Levi: Yeah, no, sure. Can I mention brand names, Trish? Is that appropriate?
Trish Hammond: Sure.
Dr Mark Levi: Look, we’re using products out of Belgium. And specifically I’m using … I tell you what I’m not using a lot of. People know the brand name Zoom. Now Zoom’s a brand name, Z-O-O-M, Zoom. Came out of California, they started it all, I don’t know, 25 years ago or something, 20 years ago, who knows? Look, a lot of dentists still have Zoom machines lying around their office. I used to have three, Trish. These days I’ve got one, I gave two away, Trish. And I want to make a point. Technology’s changed, and in the dental community a lot of it’s got, not burnt, but really annoyed. This technology was awful, it’s really lousy and it was expensive, cost $1,000. So, a lot of dentists won’t whiten teeth because all they’ve been exposed to is this awful technology, Zoom technology. That’s number one.
Number two is, to make a point, and I’ll go back to your question about money. We’ve got a couple of machines in the office, now a Zoom machine costs me, I don’t know, let’s say $5,000. I don’t think I use it very often at all, almost never. My next machine cost me $20,000, Trish. So, there’s a big difference in technology between $5,000 piece of equipment and $20,0000 piece of equipment, and my next favourite piece of equipment after that is $80,000 laser. So, it’s a matter of investing money into really, really whizz bang technology to get the outcome.
Now, having just told you how much money we’ve got tied up in the office with technology, here’s the good news, Trish. Hooley dooley the good news. The price of whitening’s come down like crazy. I mean, the average person that walks in, they’ll probably get a bill for $750. And they’re here for an hour and, shazzam, white teeth. Occasionally it creeps up to $1,100, $1,200, $1,400. When I say creeps up, that’s because we might get them back another … A week or two later, and we might do it another time to kick it a little bit. We might spend a little bit of time cleaning and scraping, and cleaning and polishing their teeth. So, the base price though for the sit in the chair let me whiten your teeth … The base price has come down. We used to charge around about $1,000 mark, maybe a bit more. And the price has come down, all the way down to about $750.
Trish Hammond: Why?
Dr Mark Levi: That is because we do so much. We just pass on the manufacturer … I don’t know, not kick back but … You know the price has come down. We can get great, great, wonderful results. But the other question you asked related to, what should people spend? Trays at home … Look, if you live in Woop Woop Ville and you never come to Sydney, or you never go to a major city, then, trays are a viable option, maybe. But they should cost you $200, not $1,000.
The other issue is … I lecture around the country, I’ve been known to lecture in the country, Trish, in relation to tooth whitening. And it’s interesting when you lecture round, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth. If I’d a choice tomorrow, Trish, because I know that you’re national. If I’d had a choice tomorrow, I’d be happy to see … Well, see me in Sydney. There’s some good guys I know in Perth, and there’s some great guys in Brisbane, and Adelaide’s not too bad. But, funny enough, Melbourne’s probably the last place in Australia I’d want to get my teeth whitened.
Trish Hammond: Wow.
Dr Mark Levi: I don’t have someone down there who is clever at whitening teeth.
Trish Hammond: That you’d be happy to suggest someone to go to.
Dr Mark Levi: Correct.
Trish Hammond: No one in Melbourne.
Dr Mark Levi: And people ring us from Melbourne, Trish. You know, people ring us from Melbourne and say, “Hey, doc, you know, I’ve read your website and you’re really, really clever and oh my God I’d love to get you to whiten my teeth but I’m in Melbourne.” I’d go, “Are you.” They’d go, “Yeah.” They go, “Can you recommend someone.” And we say, “Yeah. Ring up Virgin Australia, book an aeroplane ticket, and it’s cheaper to see us on a cheap $89 flight. Because there’s no one in Melbourne that I’m not going to favour to whiten your teeth.”
Trish Hammond: Right.
Dr Mark Levi: That does a lot. That’s only because, historically when I’ve done my lecturing around the country, there’s a great guy in Perth, there’s a great guy in Brisbane. So, I’m not the only one in all of Australia that’s a genius. But, we’re in the middle of the CBD, we’re near Hyde Park so we’ve got a little bit of that Darlinghurst cosmetic thing happening, so, we do a lot of tooth whitening. I suppose, the more you do the more you get good at it, and that’s how the careers gone.
But, to see people … We see a lot of 50 and 60 and 70 year olds, Trish, and that’s really cool. Because you’ll see, maybe, a lady at 60 or 70, getting a bit of maturity under her belt, and they come in and go, “Look, I don’t want to be vain or anything, but the grandchildren … The grandchild said my teeth were brown. It was so embarrassing.” That’s really, really, really joyous, joyous medicine.
Trish Hammond: Yes.
Dr Mark Levi: To get someone like that, and we whiten their teeth up and to get that really awesome result. Now that’s really, really exciting.
Trish Hammond: I had a young boy contact me last week, he’s 19 years old and he hasn’t looked after his teeth, and he wondered whether he was too young to get teeth whitening and if he did get it done would it set him … Would it be a good way for him to start looking after his teeth? Go in, get them whitened and start on his path to start looking after his teeth.
Dr Mark Levi: I’ll say yes. I’ll say yes to that one. Walking in the door …
Trish Hammond: I’d said yes too. I said yes.
Dr Mark Levi: We see a lot of brides. We see a lot of people that have stopped smoking. The Stop Smoker Reverse. So we see a lot of people that have stopped smoking saying, “Doc, Dr. Levi, you’re my ticket, or you’re my reward, or you’re my whatever to stop me smoking.” So we take all the stains off their teeth, all the black stuff off their teeth, all the little black lines and then we whiten them up and they go, “Wow, I’ve got an incentive now not to smoke.”
Trish Hammond: Yep.
Dr Mark Levi: We see to the brides, we see bridal parties, that’s exciting always. We always say to the brides, “Don’t come the week before the wedding, come two months before the wedding.” They go, “Really?” “Ah, yeah, two months before the wedding.” You know this stuff’s longterm. We’re not doing that cheap … We’re not doing cheap and nasty.
We see different age brackets, we see young age, old age. We see people that want to stop smoking, we see the brides and the bridal party. If you’re getting married you want to get them whitened two months beforehand. We see people that get given whitening as a present, birthday present, anniversary present. It’s a longterm strategy.
Here’s the other point. Let’s just say, Trish, that someone rings you up with your talented background and they say, “Look, I’ve got awful teeth from some childhood injury or some childhood disease.” Or, “I’m getting married and I really want to look prettier.” Your choices, Trish, are … We’ve just discussed a lot of choices within tooth whitening and we discussed that. How, you want to get … Sit in the chair, get it done for an hour use some great European technology. Not have any pain and get a long term result. Correct?
The second choice, which is not a great idea, is to spend $10,000 or $20,000 and maybe have porcelain veneers made or some other manmade intervention. Are you with me, Trish? Now, what would you prefer, Trish? Would you … And that’s rhetorical, would you prefer something non-invasive or would you prefer something invasive that needs to be maintained and repaired and fixed?
Porcelain veneers are stunning, but there’s a lot of downsides to it. Partly the money, $10,000 $20,000. Partly all the maintenance involved. Partly that you want it done really … I’m sure … There’s a lot of problems in the world … In Australia in the world of porcelain veneers, there’s a lot of unhappy patients. So, I’m just saying if you had a choice, Trish, of spending $1,000 or less and getting your teeth looking stunning, or spending $10,000 and $20,000 and going through a whole invasive procedure, what do you reckon you’d prefer, Trish?
Trish Hammond: Yeah, I know which one I’d prefer. I’m going the less invasive, cheaper.
Dr Mark Levi: Less invasive, cheaper, proven. And I wouldn’t get it done on the cruise ship and I wouldn’t get it done in a Westfield’s and I wouldn’t get it done at the corner milk bar, because you want it done in an office, a dental office where they do it regularly. They’ve got really whizz bang technology.
Trish Hammond: And they’re good at it.
Dr Mark Levi: And they’re good at it, yeah. That’s correct.
Trish Hammond: Yep. Awesome. Well thank you so much for your time today.
Dr Mark Levi: Pleasure, Trish, anytime at all. I hope I was informative, maybe I should come back another time, I’ll give you a better summary so that people don’t have to waft through my long winded answers.
Trish Hammond: I will. If you’re looking to get your teeth whitened or you’re looking at any … If you’re looking at getting your teeth whitened and you want somewhere to go and you want to make sure you get a great job, definitely look up Dr. Levi. You can find him here in Darlinghurst, or you can just drop us an email to email@example.com. Thank you so much.
Dr Mark Levi: You know the other thing you want to do, Trish?
Trish Hammond: Yeah.
Dr Mark Levi: This is a complicated one, you want to go back to the office and dream up a prize, and have them run a competition.
Trish Hammond: That’s a great idea.
Dr Mark Levi: Run a competition and we’ll whiten some teeth up and whatever you do in your plastic hub.
Trish Hammond: Yeah.
Dr Mark Levi: Just show the results of what we can do, and do a bit of a makeover.
Trish Hammond: All right.
Dr Mark Levi: You must have some great people out there and that’d be a pleasure to help you out. Because I thing you’re doing some great stuff out there in … I think what you’re doing is wonderful stuff.
Trish Hammond: Thanks so much. I’ll take you up on that, that’s great, awesome.
Dr Mark Levi: Thanks Trish.
Trish Hammond: Thank you so much.