Know Your Neighbor: Dr. Carolyn Clemenza, Dentist, Chappaqua

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Dr. Carolyn Clemenza
Dr. Carolyn Clemenza

It made perfect sense that when it came time to make a career choice, Carolyn Clemenza would turn to dentistry.

As a student, Clemenza was always intrigued with science and for a time had thought about attending medical school. But she already had a role model in the family, which influenced her decision.

“Since I was a kid in high school, science was my thing,” Clemenza said. “I thought about medicine but my uncle, my mother’s brother who still practices at 81 years old, went to Georgetown. I’ve been exposed to dentistry from a young age, so it sort of guided me to that path.”

Her uncle not only had an impact on Clemenza, but apparently her two siblings as well. Her brother and sister also became dentists.

After earning her bachelor’s degree from Fordham, Clemenza, a New Rochelle native, once again followed in her uncle’s footsteps by going to Georgetown School of Dentistry.

She returned to Westchester following dental school and soon found work at a l practice in Pleasantville. It was there that Clemenza took on a large number of patients who wanted cosmetic dentistry or needed restorative work.

“All the cosmetic patients came to me,” recalled Clemenza, 53, a longtime Chappaqua resident who lives with her husband, Tom Dixon. “(The dentist I worked for) did some of it but that’s really where it began. I had exposure to doing that.”

Despite enjoying her time while in Pleasantville, more than 15 years ago Clemenza decided it was time to explore going out on her own. For a number of years she had been reluctant, but looking back she realized she probably should have made the leap sooner. Her husband had also tried to convince her to make the jump.

“I had a very good situation there,” Clemenza recalled. “I got along extremely well with the doctor and I was very happy there and I was hesitant to leave, but in retrospect it’s really nice to have your own office and to do everything your own way.”

When Clemenza did decide to take the plunge in 1998, she chose Mount Kisco. Her office is located on Main Street, in the heart of what has become a medical and healthcare hub.

Part of operating her office in her own way was to continue specializing in cosmetic dentistry, along with doing general preventive work.

Clemenza explained that cosmetic dentistry are for those who want to improve their smile or the color or shape of their teeth. For those patients who have had accidents where they have sustained lost or damaged teeth, she can also perform restorative work.

Clemenza regularly takes ongoing courses to stay up on the latest techniques. With cosmetic dentistry serving as her focus, she refers her patients that need other types of treatments that are often done by most general dentists to colleagues.

“General dentists can do anything–root canals, extractions. I don’t do any of that,” said Clemenza who loves to cook and bake whenever she has the chance. “I refer that to specialists.”

Preventive care is an important component of Clemenza’s practice. With roughly 70 percent of the population prone to bacterial plaque, today it’s recommended for patients to have checkups at least three times a year. In fact, bacteria can reappear within 90 days, she said, making quarterly visits the most preferable option, although patients with dental insurance generally don’t make visits that often.

Throughout the year Clemenza also provides free screenings for oral cancer, and in February as part of Children’s Dental Health Month, youngsters receive complementary fluoride treatments as part of their teeth cleaning.

Aside from dental health, for the past few years Clemenza’s office has focused on another medical matter. After her sister, Mariann, was diagnosed with breast cancer, Clemenza has raised money for Support Connections. She first participated in its annual Support-A-Walk at FDR State Park in Yorktown in 2012.

However, the following year, her sister died. For Clemenza, seeing her younger sister pass away was a difficult experience.

“She was a very healthy individual, no risk factors,” she said.

For Clemenza’s birthday, instead of a gift her office and family have joined her in her dedication to raise money for breast and ovarian cancer research.

In addition to that effort, the community-minded also has donated her time to domestic abuse centers.

To learn more about Clemenza’s practice, visit www.clemenzadds.com.

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