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Cosmetic Dentist Gives Patients Alternative to Traditional Insurance

A Manhattan dentist joined the profession to change peoples' lives. Now he's working on changing the payment model for oral healthcare.
Ed Rabinowitz
PUBLISHED: Thursday, October 6, 2016

When you grow up surrounded by oral health professionals, it’s not surprising when the success they’ve experienced and their enthusiasm for their careers rubs off.

That’s the case for Jeffrey Rappaport, a cosmetic dentist, whose father is a dentist and whose uncle is an orthodontist.

“I’ve always been around dentistry, and my father was happy, so it just seemed like a good fit,” Rappaport says.

But Rappaport, together with his wife and partner, Michelle Katz, a board-certified orthodontist, has taken his avocation to another level that is impacting not only patients, but other dentists as well.

Two-step Strategy

Rappaport noticed that dentistry was moving from treatment to prevention. Dentists were doing “a great job” promoting how to prevent cavities and gum disease. But what was perhaps overlooked was patients wanted to have their teeth cleaned several times a year, which could prove costly.

“My wife and I really wanted to open a business that was able to provide affordable cleanings for people,” Rapport explains.

They opened Lavaan, a New York City-based dental spa that specializes in providing dental cleaning, whitening and straightening services in a relaxing, spa-like environment. But that’s not all they did.

The Lavaan model, Rappaport explains, was designed to get people through the door for high quality service with affordable pricing. And when services were needed outside the scope of their practice, patients were referred through a network of dentists throughout Manhattan.

“But what we were finding is that most of our patients did not have insurance,” Rappaport says. “And when they were going to the dentist it would be expensive. So we wanted to come up with a better system. We wanted to give patients affordable pricing for the services they needed, and fair pricing for anything needed outside of that.”

Rappaport and his wife developed a plan where patients would receive cleanings at Lavaan, x-rays and exams at a dentist’s office, and a set fee schedule for all other services. And over several years, the plan grew.

“It was becoming too big to handle in-house,” he says. “So we decided that we wanted to serve more people and reach a wider audience.”

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