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Boston Red Sox team dentist gives back to community through baseball, benevolence

May 13, 2019

By David Burger

Luis Tiant, David Ortiz, Jim Rice and Dr. Spitz
Teamwork: Dr. Steven D. Spitz, right, poses for a picture with three Boston Red Sox legends at spring training: from left, Luis Tiant, David Ortiz and Jim Rice.

Boston — Dr. Steven D. Spitz is a man of all seasons — especially the baseball season.

Dr. Spitz, the founder of Smileboston Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry, has been a baseball fan ever since his little league days, and a Red Sox fan since he moved to Massachusetts when he was 18 years old.

Now his baseball dreams have come alive as he has been a team dentist for the Red Sox since 2014, treating the 2018 World Series champions throughout the 162-game season and beyond for any and all dental emergencies.

Not only that, Dr. Spitz is dedicated to helping others, through baseball and other endeavors, from running children’s sports programs to helping Holocaust survivors receive the dental care they deserve as president of the Alpha Omega International Dental Fraternity.

“I have worked with Dr. Spitz since 1990, and his creativity, humility and understanding of issues make him an excellent dentist,” said Dr. Bruce Donoff, dean of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. “Dr. Spitz’s extensive participation in professional leadership organizations, philanthropies and educational training demonstrate his commitment to bettering both the dental and Greater Boston community.”

Dr. Spitz’s commitment to baseball and children continued in late April as he helped run the 14th annual Pitch Hit & Run event in Needham, Massachusetts. PHR, the official skills competition of Major League Baseball, is a program designed to provide youngsters, 7-14 years old, with an opportunity to participate in a competition that recognizes individual excellence in core baseball and softball skills; pitching, hitting and running.

“PHR enables kids of all ages involved in baseball and softball to compete regardless of their ability,” said Dr. Spitz, who has helped run the Needham program since its inception. “All participants end with a positive score and a sense of accomplishment. For those that play at a higher skill level, it allows them to participate and showcase their skills in a positive, supportive environment.”

Winners of the Needham competition receive the opportunity to advance to the sectional level of the contest, as well as a chance to compete at the Red Sox’s home of Fenway Park in June and then the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Cleveland in July. Smileboston, along with Needham Baseball and Softball and the Needham Village Club, hosts the Needham PHR event each year.

Dr. Spitz said his PHR involvement began when he first moved to the Boston suburb. “I was new to my community in Needham, as we just moved, and I wanted to be part in a way that meant something. All three of my kids played baseball or softball, and having a past experience with the PHR, and the fact that it is a free event for the kids, I decided that I could create a local event. We tied it into opening day of Needham’s baseball and softball festivities, and we have been part of that tradition for the last 14 years. This is truly a town-wide program. The hope is that kids, no matter what their ability, can enjoy the festivities. No child leaves without a score and, if they compete every year, they will absolutely see their improvement.”

It was at a PHR event where Dr. Spitz first connected with the Red Sox. “I was a sponsoring dentist for the Red Sox and the MLB Pitch Hit & Run back in 2003 and part of the sponsorship was the ability to have a tour on the field at Fenway,” he said. “The day we showed up, the medical coordinator was showing us around and someone from the team they were playing that night came up to him and asked who they used as a dentist, as someone on their team lost a crown. He said they didn’t have one, but I mentioned that I was a dentist and my office was in walking distance of Fenway. The team player came that afternoon, and that is how we started. Crazy but true.”

Being an official team dentist for the last half-decade has been the experience of a lifetime and allowed him to share his expertise for the team, Dr. Spitz said. “With a professional baseball team, the benefit has been to share how important oral health care is in regards to overall health,” he said. “Over the years, we had discovered a few minor issues that, when treated, did not become bigger issues. As well, we found that mouthguards can have a big impact on the field, and actually, in every sport. Releasing pressure on the jaw during the game made a difference.”

Outside baseball, Dr. Spitz is the current international president of Alpha Omega International Dental Fraternity. Alpha Omega has been a part of his life since his first year in dental school. “In my second year, I was elected to international student officer and have made it a part of my life ever since,” he said. “Almost 30 years later, I am honored to serve as international president and am so proud of all the amazing work that our members take part in all over the world.”

The Alpha Omega-Henry Schein Cares Holocaust Survivors Oral Health Program is a program that Dr. Spitz said he is proud to take part in, treating holocaust survivors who would not otherwise be able to afford dental care. The Holocaust Survivors Oral Health Program dates to 2014, when then-Vice President Joe Biden called attention to the estimated one-third of the 100,000 Holocaust survivors in the United States living at or below the poverty line, Dr. Spitz said. Since the partnership with Alpha Omega was launched in January 2015, it has expanded to 20 cities in the U.S. and Canada and given care to more than 1,200 survivors. The value of the work is estimated at nearly $1.6 million.

Dr. Spitz is also the treasurer for the Metropolitan District Dental Society and vice president on the board of directors of Bright Spirit Children’s Foundation, which helps seriously ill children by providing gaming and entertainment technologies to hospitals across the country.

His treatment isn’t limited to batters and pitchers and even humans. He is a past advisory board member of the Peter Emily International Veterinary Dental Foundation, working on exotic animals in sanctuaries and zoos throughout the country; and member of the advisory board for Zoo New England (Stone and Franklin Park zoos), being the dentist on call for the animals.

“Dr. Spitz has been amazingly generous with both his time and talents in helping us to provide optimal oral health for the broad array of animals for which we have stewardship,” said John Lenahan, President and CEO, Zoo New England. “He has also developed funding to purchase new equipment that enhances our abilities to care for the animals’ teeth. He is one of those rare people who ‘puts his money where his mouth is’.”

Dr. Spitz is the founder at Smileboston Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry, a Boston-based dental office specializing in full-mouth dental care. Clinically, Dr. Spitz’s focus is dental implants and dental lasers. Smileboston began in in 1997 with five team members and is now home to almost 30 as a multi-specialty, four-dentist practice.

Dr. Spitz received his dental degree at the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and his prosthodontic certificate through the Harvard School of Dental Medicine/VA program, following a general practice residency through Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital/VA program. He has served as clinical professor of prosthodontics in the post-graduate prosthodontic department at Harvard and is an on-hands teaching site for the Applied Professional Experience program for Boston University, mentoring more than 15 students to date.

“One of the greatest benefits of an organized group in dentistry, or any field, is the camaraderie and sharing of ideas, working together to make the profession better,” Dr. Spitz said. “It is an important part of any field.”