Bittersweet

After 38 Years, Clymer Dentist To Retire From Practice

Dr. Brent Deuink of Clymer prepares to retire from his private dental practice in April. After 38 years of taking care of locals' teeth, Deuink is calling his farewell to his practice a bittersweet time in his life after countless relationships made and smiles preserved. P-J photo by Eric Zavinski

CLYMER — Dr. Brent Deuink has spent the past 38 years taking care of people’s teeth.

He said he’s formed thousands of relationships over the decades, and while the transition into retirement will be bittersweet, he’s prepared for his golden years as he looks back satisfied at a successful career in dentistry.

“Some of the kindest, warmest, most sincere conversations I’ve had have been in the last six months with people that I’ve seen for 35 years and more,” said Deuink, who’s counted himself privileged that he’s been able to see teeth and people he’s cared for so long remain healthy and bright.

Of the approximately 10,000 patients he’s seen over the better part of the last half-century at 327 Clymer-Corry Road, some have been regulars for that entire time. Patients have visited Deuink from throughout the Corry, Pa., and Clymer area and elsewhere throughout Chautauqua County and sometimes beyond.

“Saying goodbye to people’s been very difficult,” Deuink said. “I really think I’ve dramatically underestimated the emotional attachment that a number of patients have to the office and to the way we deliver dental care.”

Deuink is one of a dwindling population of dentists across the country who maintain a private practice that he said places comfort and patient care as top priorities. Dentistry is moving more toward group practices as time goes on, and he thinks people will miss the relaxing, rural dentistry that many retirees used to provide.

Recognizing that the world of health care is changing, Deuink transitioned his practice and his patient records to Family Dentistry located in Corry and Union City, Pa. Chip Zaleski, Scott Pruckner and Stephanie Mazariegos will offer to take care of all of Deuink’s remaining patients if they want, and Deuink is giving the three doctors his professional endorsement.

Deuink said Family Dentistry combines the large patient capacity group dentistry can handle with some of the philosophical touches reminiscent of Deuink’s office. He plans to finish his final appointments by April 1.

With advancements in health care, Deuink said he is confident he’s leaving the world of dentistry in a better place than he found it in 1981 when he first started his practice in Clymer.

“Kids today, as a general rule, have much fewer dental problems than their parents did, who have more teeth and more health than what their parents did because we can fix things a lot more frequently than we used to remove things,” Deuink said.

In some cases, having taken care of teeth across three generations in the same family, Deuink said he’s been able to witness the evolution of proper dental care on a myriad of occasions. While grandparents might have needed removals and teeth replacements and parents would often need crowns and many feelings, Deuink said it’s refreshing to see that many kids have few to no cavities at all.

Deuink attributes this to how the “dental IQ” of society has increased a lot over time, especially in the past few decades. This means more children are being taught that brushing twice per day, flossing and rinsing the mouth after sweet snacks are all good ways to keep teeth healthy.

He contrasted this to points in history, as recent as around 50 years ago in European countries, in which it was customary to gift high school graduates with dentures.

“Tooth loss was an eventuality,” said Deuink, who now says young people these days will likely not need dentures by the ends of their lives.

Not only has dental care itself evolved over the years, including Deuink’s favorite advancement of feasible dental implants, but his practice has also grown significantly across four decades.

After having graduated from the University of Pittsburgh Dental School with his Doctorate of Medicine, Deuink started his practice with his sole employee, wife, former high school sweetheart and all-around assistant Pam Deuink, in March 1981. Since then, many hygienists and receptionists have come and gone, helping to bolster the practice as the favorite spot for dental care for countless local residents.

“I’m so thankful for all the employees I’ve had,” Deuink said.

Now that his final commitments and appointments are winding down, new patients are officially being referred to Family Dentistry.

The Deuinks’ home and office will remain a home and perhaps turn into the home for another family as they seek to potentially rent out the former office space.

Deuink now intends to spend more time with his four children and three grandchildren. Giving his free time to Kasen, 9, Lenix, 4, and Bowen, 1, will be the highlight of his retirement, Deuink said. He also plans to continue pursuing his interests of officiating high school basketball and traveling.

Hoping to have provided dental care that helped patients eat more easily, gain a winning smile or rid them of dental pain and infection, Deuink looks back at his career with satisfaction and sentiment in his heart.

“We’ve tried to do that,” Deuink said. “I tried to do a lot of good work for a lot of people for a long time, and I think we’ve accomplished that. I’m pretty proud of that.”

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