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New faces for longtime dental practice

After more than 40 years in business, Dr. Gregory Mason became a household name in Elmira. The dentist earned a reputation as a good doctor and caring man in the community.

On Aug. 22, his office changed hands from Mason to Dr. Anh Le and Dr. Linda Vo, a husband and wife team who have spent the past few years working in Kitchener-Waterloo and who were looking for their own practice.

They say that Mason’s tradition of exceptional care and community-oriented dentistry will not change under their watch.

CONTINUITY Dr. Lindo Vo (left) and her husband, Dr. Anh Le, have purchased the dental practice formerly owned by Dr. Gregory Mason. The couple has retained all the original staff, including longtime office manager Doris Snelling (right).

“I believe he was one of the first ever to open an office here in town and he has been providing excellent service to the community for over 40 years,” said Le. “Everyone knows who Dr. Mason is; he’s famous within the community.”

The couple first contacted Mason about acquiring the office through a private sale last March, and Mason – who was considering retirement at the time – agreed to meet with the couple to discuss the possibility of selling it.

Vo said they were humbled when he decided to transfer ownership to them.

“The first time he met us, he said this was like his baby because he built it from scratch and he wanted to find the right people to continue it on,” she said, adding that the market for established dentist practices is definitely a sellers market and that sellers can afford to be choosy on who they sell to, and the couple is honoured he chose to sell to them.

“It’s a compliment to us that he let us have his practice.”

For now the couple will continue to commute from their home in Mississaugua, but they are already planning on buying a home in Waterloo Region so they can be closer to the community they serve.

They said they love the atmosphere of the small-town setting and the slower pace of the rural neighborhood.

“We’ve always been big-city people, but we’ve never wanted to work in the big city,” said Vo.

“We find the people that live in the smaller communities have a personality that we like. We like the pace of life here.”

They have retained all of the staff, 10 employees in total, and praised Mason’s training. They wanted to keep the jobs in the community, and strive to make all staff and patients feel like part of a family.

They have a vision for the future of the practice in mind already, one that includes updated technology and equipment, and they also want to keep more of their procedures like root canals in-house, rather than referring patients to outside specialists.

Mason will even be staying on for a couple of days of work per month to treat patients who require braces.

Vo has been a practicing dentist since 2001 when she graduated from the University of Toronto, but the profession is a relatively new one to Le. He worked for many years in the hi-tech industry before deciding to go to dental school. He graduated from the University of Montreal in 2008 and honed his skills in New York City for a couple of years after that before returning to Canada.

The couple is also excited to work together – despite some concerns from their friends and colleagues.

“They’ve been saying working with your wife can be a little bit tougher,” laughed Le, “but so far we’ve had a very good relationship because we compliment each other.

“She loves to see children and kids and they love her, but I tend to do a little bit more complicated procedures such as root canals and extractions.”

As for daily oral care, Le said the simplest thing anyone can do to avoid seeing the dentist for more than their regular checkup is to brush twice a day and floss at least once.

Typically everyone should see a dentist once every six to nine months, with a thorough examination done every three years to examine the neck, jaw and other soft tissue, searching for cancer or other problems.

“It’s not just about teeth nowadays but general oral health because your mouth affects everything,” said Vo.

The couple welcomes established customers and new ones alike to come and check out their office, located at 77 Arthur St. S.

Every new client will also receive a one-on-one consultation with their dentist so they have a better understanding of the type of care they require, and to have a better idea of what their teeth and oral history is like.

“We believe that everyone has different needs. We cannot do mass dentistry,” said Le. “Different people have different needs, so we have a questionnaire and interview each other. The patient will interview the dentist and the dentist will interview the patient to see if we have a match in the treatment.”

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