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Chip Off The Old Block

Chip Off The Old BlockDick and Rich Miller, both graduates of Tufts School of Dental Medicine, are sinking their teeth into a new challenge: a father and son orthodontics practice. Exeter, N.H.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [06.23.04] Richard Miller and his son, Richard Miller II, share more than a name. The two New Hampshire residents, who both studied dentistry at Tufts, are biting into a challenge - expanding a father and son orthodontic clinic in a new location. A "dream come true," for the senior Miller, the venture is bringing new meaning to the term family practice.

"He was always just my Dad," Tufts Graduate Richard Miller II - who goes by Rich - told the Hampton Union about having his father as a partner and mentor. "It's really an eye-opening experience."

Rich's father Dick feels the same. When the elder Miller opened his first orthodontics practice in 1968 after graduating from Tufts, he had no idea his son would be working alongside him 31 years later.

After five successful years together, the Millers have moved their practice into a new office - triple the size of the previous one which the senior Miller had used since 1968. The new space includes sterilization and X-ray facilities but the best news, for the clients, is the parking lot which holds 33 vehicles instead of eight.

"We have room to go and expand now," Rich Miller told the Union.

The elder Miller added, "It's exciting going into a newer office."

Though separated by 35 years, the father and son share similar views on the direction of their field. The overall dental health of their patients is improving, they told the Union - which the senior Miller attributes to increased insurance coverage and education.

There is a trend toward newer gadgets like battery-operated flossers which appeal to our fast-paced lives, he noted, but said that these new tools can't take the place of the basic techniques to maintain a healthy mouth.

"The thought is you can get in and get out fast," the elder Miller told the Union, hinting that improved speed is not necessarily a virtue in orthodontic practice.

According to the Millers, the secret to their success is not just sound dentistry. The duo says that sometimes just talking to a patient is the best way to allay any appointment fears he or she may have.

They always value "small talk with patients about sports, school or vacation plans," reported the Union.

As the junior Miller told the paper, "They stop seeing you as a doctor and more as a person."

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