Whether he is creating a more beautiful smile for one of his patients or carving a stone sculpture for pleasure, Dr. Darrin Cupo of Cupo Orhtodontics in Cutler Bay is an artist at heart. It’s a passion that began when he was a child, always fascinated with taking things apart and examining the tiny parts to learn how they work. Over time, his love for using tools and working with his hands naturally led him to a career in dentistry and orthodontics, as well as to artistic hobbies such as painting, sculpting, and carpentry.
“I do consider myself an artist,” Dr. Cupo said. “I think that’s why I enjoy what I do so much. It never feels like work to me. It’s fun. I essentially get to be an artist who uses science to help people achieve what they want to achieve, whether that’s a great smile or in some cases, changing someone’s life by correcting a more serious medical or dental issue. That is incredibly rewarding.”
Cupo Orthodontics is now in its 22nd year of serving patients of all ages with a wide variety of needs. They start with children as young as 7 years old, providing parents with advice and a long-range plan, and have even helped patients in their 70s. They offer braces and Invisalign® and address everything from the typical crooked teeth to medical syndromes. New patients receive free consultations.
Dr. Cupo first came to the area in 1989 when he entered the U.S. Air Force as a dentist and was stationed at Homestead Air Force Base. He had grown up in New Jersey, graduated Rutgers University, and earned his DMD from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). It wasn’t long after he came to Homestead that he fell in love – not only with the Florida palm trees and climate, but also with Marie, who he met and married within nine months.
After serving three years in the Air Force, Dr. Cupo went back to UMDNJ to earn his specialty certificate in orthodontics and then returned to Miami to start practicing and start his new family with Marie. He opened Cupo Orthodontics in 1996 in Cutler Bay, which was then known as Cutler Ridge. For years, he practiced all over South Florida, but is now devoting his full time and attention to his original Cutler Bay office.
“I’m at a point in my career where I really just want to take time and enjoy the process,” Dr. Cupo said. “I’m spending more time and providing more individualized treatments. We are less hurried and more patient focused than ever before. My patients are getting more quality time than ever. It’s probably the best time to be a patient here.”
Dr. Cupo, an active member in the American Dental Association and the American Association of Orthodontics, also prides himself on seeking continuous education in orthodontics so he can provide the latest techniques and technologies that enhance the patient experience. For instance, he recently completed a continuing education course about the “smile arc” which is a newer idea that a more aesthetic smile has teeth that arc in relation to the lower lip rather than straight across.
“Now we can place the brackets to create this arc, which is a more natural, beautiful look. We are definitely incorporating this and taking our work to the next level,” he said.
Another new technology Cupo Orthodontics is utilizing is “indirect bonding,” a process in which the braces can be put on to a plaster mold of the patient’s teeth before putting them directly on the patient. While the process involves a little more time on the laboratory end, it means less time and discomfort for the patient.
“Patients used to have to sit there in the chair with their mouth propped open for a half hour to 45 minutes while we put the braces on, one by one. But with this process, they may be in the chair for 15 minutes,” Dr. Cupo said.
After more than 20 years in Cutler Bay, Dr. Cupo says he loves being part of the community. When he’s not practicing, he enjoys spending time at the gym and mountain biking. He loves being in nature, hiking, and gardening. And of course, as an artist, he paints and sculpts when he can. He has even taken painting lessons with Miami’s renowned artist, Miguel Padura, whose children were also patients with Dr. Cupo.
He and Marie have two sons, Michael and William. Dr. Cupo and his family have always enjoyed supporting and sponsoring local community causes and organizations.
Today, Dr. Cupo says he looks back and is thankful he wound up in Homestead and found the home where he would establish roots for his business and his family.
“What’s amazing is that now I’m starting to treat children of patients I treated when they were children,” he said. “I knew that would happen one day, but the fact that it’s here is a strange feeling.”