You Should Know… Wesley Citron

Photo by Karen Zargar

For anyone convinced that there’s nothing worse than a root canal, endodontist Wesley Citron has news for you: there is. But drill deep into the biography of this 39-year-old Fairfax County native, and you’ll learn that he attended Boston University’s School for the Arts on a trombone scholarship. We managed to extract the story from Citron. It didn’t hurt a bit.

A trombone scholarship?

When I was deciding on undergraduate school, I did what came easiest to me and that was playing the bass trombone. I received a full scholarship to Boston University as a musician and decided that if I could get an education at B.U., while doing something I enjoy, I would follow that path and see where it took me. Originally, I intended on majoring in pre-med, but that quickly became a secondary thought once I started excelling with music.

Where did being a classical musician take you?

I spent most of my music career in New York City. I lived there for about five years before going back to school for dentistry. I traveled and toured most of the country until about 2006, at which point I decided it was not fulfilling me as much as it had in the earlier years. I decided to completely redirect my career path and start from scratch. I was just hoping that someone would accept me to dental school at that point in my life. And I was pretty fortunate.

Yeah, you ended up at University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine.

I saw it as I put all of this hard work into music. You lock yourself into a practice room for eight hours a day. You could do the same thing studying. It’s the work ethic. It’s not so much an acquired skill. It was kind of scary going back to school and not really knowing if I’m going to succeed or not succeed after giving up pretty much, quit all of my music career and all of the different ensembles that I was in. I kind of decided one day, I was going to quit everything that day and be done with it — and never look back. No regrets.

Following dental school graduation and a general practice residency, I gained acceptance into the endodontic residency program at NYU Lutheran Medical Center, in order to specialize in root canal treatment and diagnoses.

You joined your father’s practice, which became your practice.

My dad opened Vienna Endodontics over 40 years ago and was practicing until the end of last year. My father and I worked together for three years before he retired. Now I’m working together with my wife [Karen Zargar]. We make a good team.

How many times should we be brushing and flossing per day?

I think brushing at least twice a day is extremely important. If I were to make a recommendation to anyone, it would be to purchase and use an electric toothbrush. I would also say that flossing is equally as important as brushing; they go hand in hand.

If you take care of your teeth with good oral hygiene you can usually avoid problems. But if you are in need of root canal treatment, the goal is to save your tooth. Our goal is not just to treat those people but to educate them as to what happened. I’m going through a three dimensional image that we’re taking of the tooth just to show them where the infection is and why it may not be causing pain; but understanding the science behind the whole tooth and pain process. That’s not so much the treatment part as it is the diagnosis and educating patients so they don’t fear that kind of procedure.

What you’re saying is that this isn’t your grandparents’ root canal.

The technology has come a long way. The pain management has come a long way. There are different types of anesthetics and anesthetic techniques that weren’t around 20 or 30 years ago. The newest addition to what we do is the microscope in the 3D imaging. It makes our job about 10 times easier than it used to be.

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