Ambitious Dentist: Dr. Catrise Austin

Dr. Catrise Austin is from Flint, Michigan and is currently practicing general dentistry in New York City at her office VIP Smiles. Her future goals are professionally to open an additional practice in a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center.

What are your future goals? 

My goals are to continue to expand my New York dental practice as one of the top cosmetic dentistry practices.  In addition, I want to continue to build my reputation as an expert in this field as an author, speaker, and coach as I believe that with my 20 years in the field of dentistry I have learned a myriad of things in this industry that can help dentists become successful and have a fun and rewarding career.

What makes you ambitious and sets you apart from being average?

I’m extremely passionate about dentistry, It’s not just a job for me; I truly believe it’s my life’s mission. So everything I do is with purpose to either help people achieve optimum health, look better, and feel more confident in life.

I think that there are 2 key things that makes me ambitious and sets me apart.  The first being my personal story and why I got into dentistry.

When I was a young child I noticed that my teeth were different. By the time I reached high school, I really started to feel a bit self-conscious about my smile. But what could I do? At that time, I thought that because of my mom’s financial limitations as a single parent, braces were out of the question. Knowing that my smile bothered me all my life, my mother decided to make the sacrifice. And at the age of 15, I got braces! When the braces were removed, my life completely changed!

In just a year I experienced a complete turnaround in how I viewed the world. Where before I was hesitant and timid, now I had the confidence and hope, I no longer had to hold my hand over my mouth or smile without showing teeth, just to avoid embarrassment. My orthodontist had given me more than straighter teeth and a normal smile; he had literally given me my life back! The feeling of gratification and compliments that I received boosted my self-esteem and help me discover my life’s calling – to become a cosmetic dentist so that I could provide the same life changing experience to others. Today, as I hear my patients’ personal stories and change their lives every day with a healthier or new beautiful smile with cosmetic dentistry, I am certain that I am truly living my dream!

The second is my strategic positioning. From the very start in 1998, I began positioning myself as an expert in the field of dentistry and bringing dental health information to the general population using the media and my status as a celebrity dentist or what I’ve now coined as “dental megastar”. Since 1998 I’ve appeared on national tv shows like the Today Show; have been featured and quoted in multiple national magazines from Glamour, Black Enterprise, and Essence Magazine to name a few; and since 2009 I’ve been writing dental consumer books and public speaking professionally to share dental health information globally.  I just released my new book this month in honor of October being National Dental Hygiene Month.  It’s called “GetSmiled:  The Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Image With Your Greatest Asset–Your Smile!”  I’m so good now that they can’t ignore me!   Now I have major dental brands like Colgate Total who seek my expertise and use me as their National Brand Spokesperson because of my influence.

What is your favorite quote or motto?

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”  Calvin Coolidge

Any advice or biggest thing you learn about being in real world dentistry?

The biggest thing I’ve learned that you don’t learn in dental school is that dentistry is a business!  Whether you own your own business or are an associate in a business, you absolutely MUST learn the business of dentistry in order to be successful.  So what I did early in my business was hired a dental consultant.  I hired Sally McKenzie first because I used to see all of her great articles about practice management in the dental trade magazines.  That was a game changer!  It gave me the foundation for running my business by setting goals, creating budgets, and keeping track of practice stats.  Once I got to a certain threshold, I then hired The Levin Group, who really helped take my business to the next level.

The other advice is that you have to think outside the box and figure out what is going to set you apart from your competitors?  Is it your customer service?  Do you offer services that other dentists don’t?  Do you serve a certain niche?

Then think about how do you want your dental brand to be viewed and valued?  Are you the H &M of dentistry offering the lowest fees, sales, and lower perceived value?  Or are you the Macy’s of dentistry offering good quality at an intermediate price and perceived value? Or are you the Saks Fifth Avenue of dentistry offering the highest quality and highest perceived value?  It’s a really important decision to make early on because your financial bottom line, quality of practice, and ability to have a good work-life balance is partially based on this.

But whatever you do, never stop learning! The profession is constantly evolving and you must be on top of what’s new and changing in the field to remain in the game.  That means reading those dental trade magazines, going to conventions, taking CE courses, joining dental organizations, and networking.

What do you do to ensure a positive work life balance?

Well I’m a social butterfly so I don’t have problems with work-life balance at all! Because my career is tied to the entertainment industry, I frequently go to concerts, plays, and entertainment industry parties not only in New York, but often across the world with my clients.  I love traveling. It’s a passion.  I probably travel way more than the average person, it’s an escape and I love seeing and exploring other cultures. I also love staying at home watching tv and cooking for friends and family.  I can turn up with the best, but I also enjoy turning down and relaxing.  Because I have a 3 day work week, working Tuesday-Thursday, I have plenty of time to balance work and life.

Where can dentist contact you for future questions?

I can be reached by email at

You can follow me on social media too:

Instagram: @drcatriseaustin