I remember my mother’s words when I told her at the age of 39 that I was going to get braces. She said: ”Are you normal? That’s what you do when you’re young. And what’s wrong with your teeth anyway?” I said: “The ones in front are racing, one is missing on the right side, and the one on the upper left has crept in like a squatter and doesn’t want to go out. If I don’t do something, I’ll look like an Alien.” Mother: “You’re having a midlife crisis. God wanted you to have teeth like that. It’s not that bad. Well, I have periodontal disease and I’m not complaining. It’s too late for you now. You are too old.” The rest of the household agreed with the mother.

Luckily I didn’t listen to them. I may have had a mid-life crisis, but since I couldn’t afford a Ferrari, I decided on braces. Namely, Croatia is known in the world for top athletes, for the fastest electric car, for corruption, but few people know that we are also known for great dentists, and one of our most recognized dentists in the world is Daniel Baketic, the owner of the Esthetic Dental Center polyclinic in Zagreb. I thought: “If it’s good for the world, it’s good for me.”

Since dentistry is as interesting as the Eurovision song contest, I decided to do an interesting interview with Daniel, and also to thank him that my teeth are now as straight as a Gold Digger before the breast surgery.

You were born in Canada, but you returned to Croatia, studied here and opened the Esthetic Dental Center – Boutique dental clinic. Wouldn’t you make more money if you went back to Canada? A more populous country, a better standard, less bureaucracy… The only reason I can think of why you stayed here is the moment when you thought: “What a country, such teeth. Everything is rotten in Croatia. I will earn more money if I stay.”

I was thinking of returning to Canada or America after college, but it was a challenge for me to start in Croatia. Here I managed to start something that I imagined. Also, here are the people I love – my family and friends, but also a better way of life than in the west, which suits me better.

Daniel Baketic – Esthetic Dental Center
Photo: EDC

I’ve heard of Boutique Hotels, but not Boutique Dental Clinics. What does that mean? After grinding, do I get toast and caviar, and instead of water, I brush my teeth with Dom Perignon?

Just as they are extremely dedicated to their guests at the Boutiqe hotel, so at the Boutiqe dental clinic we are also completely dedicated to the patient. Therapy is carefully planned, every detail is looked at and therapy never goes quickly. The meaning of the whole concept is “no half smiles” – which actually means not to “fudge”, not to work half-heartedly so that the patient can get a new smile as soon as possible, of questionable quality. We try to persuade patients to complete therapy, even if it takes longer, even if it is more expensive, but knowing that in the end the patient received a therapy that is of high quality and complete – functionally and aesthetically.

Esthetic Dental Center
Photo: EDC

Speaking of toast and caviar, I always do gastro interviews. I got hungry after two questions, so I suggested to Daniel that we continue the interview at a nearby restaurant. He took me to Bota Sare. I started off cautiously with the tomato soup, but when Daniel insisted on paying the lunch, I ordered another plate of sushi and tempura prawns.

Restaurant Bota Sare – tomato soup
Photo @DearLeaderJoe, Flash.hr
Restaurant Bota Sare – Sushi
Photo @DearLeaderJoe, Flash.hr
Restaurant Bota Sare – Tempura Shrimps
Photo @DearLeaderJoe, Flash.hr

In my youth, dentistry was reduced to: “What the hell do you want an injection for?” Don’t be a pussy. Be a man, what are you whining about? It’s not like I’m pulling all your teeth. Sister, give me a pair of pliers and a chainsaw”. I feel like we’ve moved from analog to digital dentistry. Is there even such a term and why did we have to suffer pain before, but today going to the dentist is painless? If I suffered as a child, let others suffer too.

It’s a shock for me to hear this, since I lived in Canada and when I was little, going to the dentist was like going to a playhouse where the dentist greeted me in a box with Mickey Mouse and we were often sedated. So I really didn’t have any traumatic experiences as a child. At the Esthetic Dental Center, we have the option of starting therapy with patients who are very nervous through some kind of easier procedures at the beginning, and in this way we try to break that fear, and if it doesn’t work – we have various sedation options so that the patient can do everything without any stress.

Esthetic Dental Center
Photo: EDC

As for the transition from analog to digital – the new guidelines in dentistry today are that everything is going digital. For example digital planning is done through various so-called software. smile design, where we take a picture of the patient already at the first examination and use that photo to design his smile before we do anything to him. There, the patient can actually see what the work will look like before we start, and if he likes it, we go to the next step where we “transfer” that design to his mouth using a model. In this way, the patient can “try and see” the appearance of the final work “live” in his mouth. This will later serve as a guideline for how the final work will look like. This is a very convenient thing because in this way I have greater predictability and ultimately maximum patient satisfaction.

EDC photostudio.
Photo: EDC

Clients of Esthetic Dental Center include Luka Nizetic, Maja Bajamic, Marijana Batinic, as well as numerous famous people like me. Why would someone pay more to go to a private dentist like you, when they can get free dental services through HZZO? The drill is the same everywhere. I like to pay more to provoke those who have less than me, but I am anything but a normal person.

I don’t like to discuss it – there are doctors in one and the other sector who work professionally or in a different way. In our clinic, we try to be maximally dedicated to the patient precisely through slow dentistry. This certificate (which we also received among the first in the region) guarantees the patient that he will receive work that is carefully planned, safe, and minimally invasive – which is one of the biggest focuses of our clinic.

Maja Bajamic – Esthetic Dental Center
Luka Nižetic – Esthetic Dental Center

Once you get or buy a dental degree, it’s not like you have to continue to improve. Brushing your teeth is like riding a bicycle. Once you put a drill in your tooth, you never forget it. How can a average Joe find out who is Yugo and who is Ferrari in dental circles? Who and how evaluates your work? Do you have any dental Oscars or Grammies like actors and singers and have you ever won anything? Are your assignments broadcast somewhere in the media? You are as mysterious as a nightstand.

My education after college has been continuous for 20 years. This is where ESCD (European Association for Aesthetic Dentistry) helped me the most, where I became their Country Chairman in 2008, and in the last two mandates I have been in the board itself. There I met a team from Europe and the world – people who are exceptional experts in modern dentistry, people from whom you can learn a lot and people who have also become my very good friends. Through ESCD, I trained professionally for aesthetic dentistry, and at the same time, through ESCD, I came to the point that today I am a Key Opinion Leader for Dentsply Sirona (the largest dental company in the field of restorative dentistry in the world) and I am also a Key Opinion Leader for a large company. in digital dentistry.

ESCD certificate
Photo: @DearLeaderJoe, Flash.hr

Dental tourism is very popular here. Buses of Italians arrive to Istria every week, going in and out of dental offices as if on a track. Are you also engaged in dental tourism and how do you reach clients from other countries? What is the ratio of domestic to foreign clients and how much can they save here? Like in Dubrovnik, do you have cheaper prices for locals and more expensive prices for foreigners?

Prices are the same for locals and foreigners and there is no discrimination. We work with websites, but we do not do dental tourism in the sense that we do low cost dentistry, hyperproduction, that everything is done quickly and that only the price is looked at, in fact, I run away from that and I don’t want to do that. I am glad that people from all over the world come to us and that they recognize us as a clinic. We have a lot of foreigners, foreigners living in Croatia, diaspora and expats. These people come to us because they will still save something, of course, the prices outside are much more expensive, but they know that they will get quality work and we are glad that they have started to recognize and appreciate quality.

At one point, Daniel’s cell phone rang. On the other side was his worried wife. She cried into the phone as she said: ”What are we going to do now? God himself sent you Dear Leader Joe to EDC. He had 20 cavities, analgam fillings, teeth that were running… Such a client is found once in a hundred years. The boy is Eurojackpot. Now that all his teeth are healthy and straight, what will we live on? I was really looking forward to the new house and sailing this summer, but now none of that. Why does misfortune always knock on the dental door?”

Daniel put on his dentist smile and said, “Don’t worry about anything.” I have a plan. All is well. We will have a house and go sailing. I just ordered him a dessert, rozata. It doesn’t get any sweeter than that. He will come back to us in a month, I guarantee.

Daniel Baketic – Esthetic Dental Center
Photo: @DearLeaderJoe, Flash.hr

At that moment I was as naive as a little girl with matches when she thought she was going to warm up. Daniel asked: “Are you up for dessert?” I modestly answered: “I’m not.” I’m full.” Daniel was adamant: “Take a cake. It’s on me.” I didn’t want to be rude and refuse. I could feel the caramelized sugar breaking through my tooth enamel, but I was happy. I have only two questions left for the end of the interview.

Restaurant Bota Sare – Rožata
Photo @DearLeaderJoe – Dragi Vođa, Flash.hr

As far as I have noticed, only female dentists work in EDC. You are something like Gaddafi in the dental world. Is there a special reason for this and how does one become part of the EDC team? My neighbor, the cashier Zeljka, asked me about her daugther, little Mirjana, who would really like to get a job because she knows me.

Haha, I’m not the dentist’s Gaddafi. That’s not true. I also had men in the team, but by chance there are now only women. I get along very well with my employees. There is understanding, synergy and love between us and I think that’s great.

Esthetic Dental Center team
Photp: EDC

I have to praise the dentists from EDC. When I first came to them, I was so nervous because of traumatic experiences from my childhood so one of the nurses sang one of Axel Rose greatest hits to me before she gave me painkiller injection. If that’s not boutique service, then I don’t know what is. I have only one most important question left for the end.

Where were you in ’91?

In Croatia!

Daniel Baketić and the owner of the most beautiful smile in Croatia – Dear Leader Joe aka Vin Diesel for the poor – Oil on canvas.

Restaurant Bota Sare – Daniel Baketic and Dear Leader Joe – Esthetic Dental Center
Photo: Flash.hr


Author: Josip Novosel aka Dear Leader Joe aka Vin Diesel for the poor, self proclaimed spell caster from Croatia, correspondent member of the magazine “Painful dental experience for everyone, anesthesia only for the rich”, first and foremost a man, and only then a tycoon and Gastro Snob.



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