The Military Dentist With 150,000 Instagram Followers

Dr. Nicholas Toscano could just as well have been reviewing a fashion week catwalk — “This one’s a model, she’s a model” — rather than looking over his appointments on Tuesday in his dentist office on Central Park South in Manhattan.

Lithe and leggy patients with good bone structure populate his waiting room and the feed of his Instagram account, which lists him as the official dentist to a gaggle of prominent modeling agencies.

His 150,000 followers see a feed that mixes the bloody and the beautiful: a surreal juxtaposition of glamorous models posing with him in his office, next to graphic images of procedures on diseased gums.

“I have probably one of the largest followings for a dentist” on Instagram, said Dr. Toscano, whose post-treatment selfies with supermodel patients go out to their huge followings, making him well known in the fashion world and the go-to dentist for many models.

Standing in his green scrubs outside his examination rooms, he pulled out his phone and showed selfie shout-outs from models such as Abigail Ratchford (7.6 million followers), Mara Teigen (764,000) and Jasmine Tookes (1.5 million).

Dr. Toscano is also a darling of many popular contemporary artists, such as Harif Guzman, who recently posted a selfie with Dr. Toscano with an unprintable shout-out.

“So he writes that, and I might get five more new patients,” Dr. Toscano said.

His fashionista niche is a departure from the 13 years he spent as an active-duty dentist with the Navy, treating patients such as sitting presidents, war-ravaged troops and SEAL teams preparing for covert missions.

Now with patients at the top of the fashion and street art worlds, he can rattle off details about supermodels with the ease of a savvy night-life columnist.

“You talk to people in the chair, small talk, and you pick up stuff,” said Dr. Toscano, who grew up on Long Island and found his calling early, after an orthodontics project for an eighth-grade science fair.

Coming from a Navy family — his father was a member of the SEALs and his brother, Christopher Toscano, is a Navy lawyer working in the Pentagon — Dr. Toscano attended Columbia University School of Dental Medicine on a Navy scholarship. He became a dental officer performing facial reconstructions on severely injured troops, doing dental work-ups on crews preparing for extended submarine deployments and treating special forces entering dangerous missions.

Serving at the Washington Navy Yard and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Dr. Toscano treated Bill and Hillary Clinton and George W. and Laura Bush, he said, adding that his congressional patients included Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Arlen Specter and Strom Thurmond.

Like war and fashion, politics can also take its toll on teeth, he said. During the 2008 financial crisis, members of Congress would come in with ground down and broken teeth after long, stressful legislative sessions.

With prominent political patients, “you have to stay apolitical,” said Dr. Toscano, who left the military and began private practice in Manhattan in 2009 as a specialist in periodontal work and oral surgery. He treated lesser-known models from smaller agencies for bargain rates.

As a civilian dentist, emergency teeth bleachings during off-hours and other “model emergencies” have become the norm, he said. On Wednesday night, he dashed back to the office to fix a model’s broken tooth before a fashion shoot the next day.

The difference between tending to soldiers and models comes down to, he said, “going off to war versus a shoot in a bikini.”

Still, he said, “It’s different, but it’s the same.”

Other challenges include accommodating models’ unreliable schedules. On Tuesday, Romee Strijd, a Victoria’s Secret model, was due at noon, but had just messaged him on Instagram to cancel for the fourth straight time, because of a last-minute shoot.

“These people hang out on yachts in Cannes with billionaires — they don’t have the same life as we do,” said Dr. Toscano, whose office walls are covered with mementos and commendations from his Navy career, including tributes from presidents and SEAL teams.

They share wall space with provocative pieces from the many street artists he treats, including Jojo Anavim, Tripp Derrick Barnes, Harif Guzman, an artist known as Layer Cake and Bradley Theodore, whose portrait of Karl Lagerfeld hangs in a hallway.

On Tuesday, a model, Cindy Guyer, was in his dentist chair. Another, Meri Gulin, left just as the model and actor Tanz Watson walked in.

Mr. Watson said he had referred several models to Dr. Toscano.

Dr. Toscano called the military good preparation for treating New York City’s modeling elite.

“Serving during a war, you put a lot in perspective, and that’s one reason many models and celebrity types come to me,” he said. “Because I don’t get caught up in the New York nonsense and all the hubbub.”

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