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Starfish Dental Updates


Dr. Zapatero named to JDT's "Who's Hot List 2018"

Journal of Dental Technology January 2018

Here is an exerpt of Dr. Zapatero's interview:

Why do you most like working with dental laboratory technology?

The technology is incredible. I can push a button and a radiograph instantaneously appears, with little to no patient radiation exposure, onto a computer screen.Technology is simplifying processes and creating ef ciencies in the way dental technician, Rick Winegardner, CDT and I work. However, I still get a great thrill seeing the margins I prepared captured on the dental impression. My prepared margins have become a sense of pride; digital impressions do not give me that same satisfaction. Machines will never replace the wisdom found in people, and aren’t good at gaining an understanding of a patient’s wants, needs, or desires.They just produce what they have been programed to do.

Who has had the most influence on your career?

My parents and grandparents. Both of my grandfathers left Spain after WWI and made their way to Cuba at the ages of 17. Both became successful businessmen, until the Communist Revolution took everything away. The need for opportunity and the desire to create success runs deep in my family. My grandmother made deal with a Castro brother to gain safe passage for 13 family members out of Cuba so that the next generation would have a chance at opportunity. I think about the courage my grandfathers, my grandmother, and my parents possessed in order to give my brother and I a chance at success.They are my heroes.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I am an adjunct faculty member at my alma mater, University of North Carolina. I experience great joy interacting with the brightest students anywhere. I have been on a mission to share my knowledge of occlusion and to push them to excel. We have to make it OK for students to make mistakes in order to facilitate learning. If you just color within the box you will never grow as a person or practitioner. I love for students to have that same appreciation while pursuing excellence. Sometimes it feels like teaching is where I would like to be, but then I’d have to leave my practice and I’m not ready for that, so for now teaching is my mistress.

Do you have any industry trend predictions?

Many factors are converging on dentistry. The cost of a dental education places a heavy burden on students and their families. Dental management organizations are not going away. They are in a much better position to purchase dental of ces, due to the high student debt young dentists are carrying.The evolution of dentists going from being practice owners to being an employee is profound and is having unintended consequences. Our profession must continue to place the best interest of the patient before ours in order to remain a most trusted professional. Secondly, the decreasing dental technology workforce and the increased volume of work going off-shore is a huge concern for dentistry. I have pushed for point of origin and patient contact material disclosure in Virginia and have failed to this point to get it into legislation although it is part of administrative rule. We know where our cars, electronics, and building supplies are manufactured, yet no such acknowledgment is required for dentistry placed in a patient’s mouth. Patients don’t have a clue that their work is being made offshore. Disclosure and consent should be required. 

Dr. Dag Zapatero co-authors Virginia Dental Lab Safety Act


Virginia Beach, VA, September 30, 2011 – Under the stewardship of Dr. Dag Zapatero, DDS, MAGD, visiting faculty at The Pankey Institute, in coordination with the Virginia Dental Association Task Force and the National Association of Dental Laboratories, the Virginia Dental Laboratory Safety Act was passed by nearly unanimous vote in the Virginia Dental Association House of Delegates.  The Act now moves on to the Virginia State Legislature, in January of 2012.

Do you know where your crowns and dental work are fabricated?  You would think by a local dental lab, but you would be wrong.  It is estimated that 38% of all dental work prescribed in the U.S. is coming from one of 27 countries involved in offshore fabrication of dental work.  Virginia does not currently register, nor regulated dental laboratories.  There are no national or international standards for how dental work should be produced.  China is by far the largest exporter of dentistry to our shores.  It may not seem to be much of a problem until you look at the numbers.  Of the roughly 70 million crowns produced in the US each year 27 million are coming from an offshore producer, and those numbers are increasing.  Not all offshore labs produce poor products, some are actually state of the art, and some have campuses of 400 to 800 technicians.  Dental labs doing business in Virginia are not required to tell dentist who produced the dentistry, nor what materials it contains.  

Dr. Dag Zapatero felt compelled to act by addressing the concern for point of origin disclosure, the decline of the American lab technician workforce and patient safety concerns.  Over the course of ten months, he presented before a number of governing organizations, was appointed to a Virginia Dental Association Task Force, and partnered with Eric Throne of the National Association of Dental Laboratories to co-author new legislation that would become the Virginia Dental Lab Safety Act (VDLSA).

The Virginia Dental Association and its member dentist have spoken with the nearly unanimous passage of the Virginia Dental Lab Safety Act.  The VDLSA requires registration of dental laboratories with the Virginia Board of Dentistry to protect the public health and safety by establishing clear communication channels between dental laboratories and dental manufacturers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  In short, laboratory registration is the most cost effective way to ensure materials, and point of origin disclosure while maintaining choice and allowing for technological advancements in dentistry.

Members of the Virginia Dental Association Task Force included:

Dr. Scott R. Miller (Chair)
Ms. Karen Crace, CDT
Dr. Craig B. Dietrich
Dr. Michael J. Link
Dr. Michael Morgan
Dr. Dag Zapatero


Dr. Dag Zapatero again named to America's Top Dentist List for 2017

The Guide to America's Top Dentist, again named Dr. Dag Zapatero to their list for the 7th straight year.  The selection process is based on education, training and reputation is the field of dentistry.  We are proud of Dr. Zapatero and know you will agree with his selection to the Top Dentist in America List. 



CHICAGO (August 20, 2009) –The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) is pleased to announce that Dag Zapatero, DDS, MAGD, of Virginia Beach, Va., received the 2009 Lifelong Learning & Service Recognition (LLSR) for his commitment to lifelong learning, volunteer services to communities in need, mentorship to associates and new dentists, and participation in organized dentistry. Dr. Zapatero received this award along with thirty-four other dentists during the AGD’s 57th Annual Meeting & Exhibits, in Baltimore, Md., July 8-12, 2009.

The LLSR is a formal acknowledgment of the AGD Mastership awardees. AGD Masters who receive this additional recognition must have completed more than 1,600 hours of continuing dental education in all disciplines of dentistry, including 550 hours dedicated to hands-on skills and techniques and more than 100 hours of service to the community.

“The Academy of General Dentistry is pleased to present this award to Dr. Zapatero who serves as a great example of a loyal and dedicated member of the dental profession,” says AGD President, “David F. Halpern, DMD, FAGD. “Dr. Zapatero demonstrated commitment to lifelong learning and service to the community has positioned him as an inspiration to other dentists.”

This prestigious award symbolizes Dr. Zapatero’s desire to give back to the community. By embracing the core beliefs of the AGD throughout his career, Dr. Zapatero sets a higher standard that all general dentists are encouraged to emulate.

Dr. Zapatero graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1990 and currently practices dentistry in Virginia Beach, Va. In addition to the AGD, Dr. Zapatero is a member of the American Dental Association, the Pankey Institute Alumni Association, University of North Carolina Dental Alumni Association, Southeastern Academy of Prosthodontics, International Congress of Oral Implantologists and the American College of Oral Implantology.

The AGD is a professional association of more than 35,000 general dentists dedicated to staying up-to-date in the profession through continuing education. Founded in 1952, the AGD has grown to become the world’s second largest dental association, which is the only association that exclusively represents the needs and interests of general dentists.

More than 786,000 persons are employed directly in the field of dentistry. A general dentist is the primary care provider for patients of all ages and is responsible for the diagnosis, treatment, management and overall coordination of services related to patients’ oral health needs.

For more information about the AGD, please visit ###

Virginia Beach Dentist Named Pankey Scholar by the L.D. Pankey Institute

Key Biscayne (Nov. 6, 2009) - The L.D. Pankey Institute awarded Dr. Dag Zapatero and 6 other dentist the title of Pankey Scholar, at its biannual meeting held in Miami, Fl.  The Pankey Scholar title is the highest level of educational accomplished given by the Pankey Institute, and signifies completion of a vigorous educational program and oral defense and patient care presentation to a panel of dental educators and Pankey Institute faculty members.
Dr. Zapatero joins a select group of 50 dentist nationwide who have completed this program which demonstrates a commitment to excellence, personal growth and outstanding patient care.
The award was presented by Dr. Irwin Becker the director of education at the Pankey institute. Following the presentation Dr. Dag Zapatero was inducted into the Academy of Pankey Scholars, a group made up of Pankey Scholars dedicated with raising the level of dentistry and dental education. 

Dr. Zapatero makes America's Top Dentists List for the Last 5 Years!

Dr. Zapatero, has once again been selected by the Consumer Research Council of America as one of "America's Top Dentists" for 2009. This marks the fifth straight year that Dr. Zapatero has made the list.

The selection process is based on a scale system that awards points for education, years in practice, professional affiliations, and board certification. The company publishes its "Guide to America's Top Dentists" annually as a guide for consumers and corporate human resource departments via a downloadable e-book format.

The Consumer Research Council does not accept any fees, sponsorships, donations, or advertising from dentist, dental treatment facilities, or dental referral organizations to insure an unbiased selection of "America's Best".

Dr. Zapatero appointed to the North Carolina Dental Foundation Board

Dr. Dag Zapatero was elected in July of 2006 to the non-profit foundation chartered in 1950 by the UNC School of Dentistry's founders, the Dental Foundation of North Carolina. He will serve a term of three years, and will be eligible to a second term. The School of Dentistry is currently getting ready for an expansion of class size and a new building and he is looking forward to the challenges. Dr. Zapatero has served in the School 's alumni association, and is a member of the Dean's Club.

During its 55 year history, the Foundation has raised funds from alumni, friends, corporations and foundations to provide exclusive support for the students, faculty, programs and facilities of the UNC School of Dentistry.

Dr. Zapatero named to Chesapeake Bay Wine Classic Board of Govenors

The Chesapeake Bay Wine Classic was started in 1991 when Bob and Eleanor Stanton were having diner at the Lucky Star and Butch Butt presented them with the idea of a fundraiser. The first Wine Classic raised $11,000 for local charities. Today, the Chesapeake Bay Wine Classic has grown into a celebration of wine, attracting hundreds of enthusiasts from across the country to attend one of its events. The Grand Auction, held each year on the seven acres of rolling green fields outside of the Stanton’s Bayville Farms home, is the largest and most successful of its kind in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Gala Dinner, featuring award-winning chefs from restaurants around the country, emerged as the premier dining event in Hampton Roads. Each February, hundreds gather in Norfolk to taste wine and attend seminars from premier sommeliers at the Grand Tasting.  The CBWCF has raised more than $3Million for local charities which help educate young people, including the Miguel and Caroline Hernandez Memorial Scholarship at UNC School of Dentistry.

Butch Butt pasted away in 2007, but his spirit and memory will live on through the Wine Classic and his friends. Butch's friendship with the Zapatero's goes back to 1985. Dr. Zapatero is also a sponsor of the Butch Butt's Crabcake cookoff help in the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  This annual event has become a fund raise for conservation efforts in the Chesapeake Bay.  The event is now in its 4 year and attracts the regions best chef and foodies. 

To find out more about the Wine Classic or to attend the 20th CBWC please visit

Dr. Zapatero served on the Board of Directors from 2004 - 2010


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