All in the Family

Brothers, fathers and sons, husbands and wives—when it comes to setting up and running a dental practice, family can often be the best way to go.


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Endodontists, New Britain

In case you’re wondering how long a family dental partnership can last, say hello to the record-holders for this feature: Brothers Chet, 63, and Ken, 58, have logged 28 years and counting. “Neither of us is a type A personality,” says Chet. They’re certainly loyal to each other; Ken jokingly notes that their agreement goes as follows: “If one of us hits the lottery big, he has to give the other enough money to retire, so that neither of us gets stuck with the practice. That wouldn’t be fair.”
Not that they’re unhappy. “I think our working relationship is based on genuine respect, for each other and our skills,” says Ken. Adds Chet, “Ken is extremely ethical, extremely reliable; I never have to worry about what he’s doing when I’m not in the office.” Enhancing the ambience is the staff who, like the Kowalskis themselves, are drawn from New Britain’s sizeable Polish community. “It’s almost a mafia; they all get along like family,” Chet says. “Some of them have been with us since the beginning.”
Both trained at UConn, though only after some years of working at general dentistry did Ken decide that endodontics—root canal—was for him. “You have more control over the success of procedures than in other specialties,” he says. He jokes with frightened patients. “I tell them, ‘Don’t worry, this is not my first day on the job.’ And when they come back for the second visit, they’re much more relaxed because the pain’s gone. It’s instant gratification.”

Father and Son

General Dentistry, South Windsor

Talk to the doctors Grilli, and the overriding message you come away with is that doing dentistry is the key to family happiness. Grilli père—also known as Gary L., 65—got his DDS at Temple University in Philadelphia and has been in general practice 41 years. His son Gary F., 36, earned his DMD at Tufts University, and joined forces with his father after completing his residency at UConn 10 years ago. The partnership seemed preordained. “I spent a lot of time in Dad’s office growing up,” Gary F. says. “I saw him come home with a smile on his face every day and thought, ‘This can’t be bad.’ It just seemed the right fit for me.”
According to Gary L., the only disagreements the two have center around “what I do with his children.”  (The doting grandfather goes to all their school sporting events and takes them to breakfast when they have mornings free.) He and his son share the same passion for primary care—“What piques our interest every day is the different procedures we do on each patient”—and both particularly like restorative dentistry. “Implants are phenomenal nowadays,” says Gary F. “Intriguing and fun.”
The pair’s mutual respect is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that each is the other’s dentist. “I can go to anyone, but I’ve chosen him,” Gary L. says. Off hours, they enjoy family dinners and excursions to the beach. “I admire my son’s dedication to his profession, our staff, his wife and children and our family—his commitment to doing things right,” he adds. “When you respect a person that much, you want to be around him.”

All in the Family

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