Father and Son Dental Practice Thrives in Iowa

April 25, 2016
Ed Rabinowitz

One grew up certain he wanted to become a dentist. The other grew up looking to do anything else. But both halves of this father-son duo ended up in the same place -- indeed, the same practice.

For Kent and Corbin Brady, the apple didn’t just fall close to the tree. It landed smack dab in the same dental practice.

Kent and Corbin Brady, a father-son team, own Des Moines, IA-based Brady Dental Care. Both graduated from the University of Iowa College of Dentistry. Kent has been practicing for 37 years; son Corbin joined the practice four years ago.

“He definitely left it up to me to decide,” Corbin says of Kent’s influence on his son’s career choice. “I think he really encouraged me to look at everything else. But he was also a very good example of what the job could be.”

And all you have to do is visit the practice’s website, read some of the doctors’ blogs, and check out some of their self-described “cheesy videos” to know that that these two practitioners not only enjoy what they do, they enjoy working together.

Career Choices

Kent wanted to become a dentist every since he was a little kid. He would play dentist with his neighborhood friends, sitting on the porch and picking at their teeth. But there was a time in high school where he briefly had second thoughts. When he saw how much schooling was involved and thought there had to be something easier. But he kept coming back.

“I get to meet with people every day, and nothing that I do is the same,” Kent says. “For each person it’s something different. It’s just a sense of enjoyment knowing you’re helping people.”

Corbin says his father played a huge role in his career choice, but not because he openly advocated for his son to follow in his footsteps. When Corbin was in high school he considered everything except dentistry. He even looked briefly at pharmacology, but found that the pull of dentistry—the combination of working with his hands and the application of science—was too much.

What Kent did demonstrate were all the positive elements that a career in dentistry could be.

“He really exemplified the best parts of dentistry, which encouraged me to keep going after it,” Corbin explains. “He clearly demonstrated what the potential was.”

Comfortable Dentistry

The Brady Dental Care website positions both Kent and Corbin as nationally recognized experts in comfortable dentistry. If you’re old enough to recall dentistry from the 1960s and 1970s, you’ll remember that it was anything but comfortable.

“Most times comfortable dentistry is an oxymoron,” Kent acknowledges. “But I think it’s about making people feel relaxed; the way you speak to them, the way you try to prepare them for certain procedures that potentially may be uncomfortable, by reassuring them that you’ll do everything you can to make them comfortable.”

Decades ago, even the sound of the drill could send chills up and down a patient’s spine. But much of that has changed.

“We offer headphones for that,” Kent says. “When we provide anesthesia, we use a topical anesthetic first; it helps numb the surface of the tissue. I think the whole goal is to keep them from feeling things, and assure them verbally that you’ll do everything you can by keeping a calm voice, and the surroundings are calm and more tranquil.”

Staff plays a huge role there was well. Kent and Corbin understand that they couldn’t do what they do without their staff. From the front office staff to the hygienists, everyone has a valuable role to fill.

“We consider them friends,” Kent says. “We don’t think of them as workers, even though they are our employees. But we enjoy each other’s company. And when somebody is behind, someone else can pick up the slack. We try to make it a good work environment for them.”

Instituting Change

To say that Brady Dental Care has been successful in its three-plus decades of existence is an understatement. Before Corbin joined the fold, the practice was so successful it was unable to take in new patients. But recently Kent built an addition to the practice that has enabled him and his son to increase their capacity by more than 100%.

They’ve also made changes internally.

“We’ve started taking all the charts and going digital,” says Corbin, who handles most of the technical and IT issues. “I’ve also got different interests, like doing minor orthodontic, some dental implants, different types of procedures. And I’ve always had a passion about all the systemic issues you run into in dentistry, looking at all the health implications that affect the teeth.”

Father and son also work well as a team. Corbin says he has been blessed, noting that his father is “pretty hands off” and lets his son do his own thing. And Kent loves working alongside his son.

“Both of us bring different thoughts and ideas of different procedures to each other for insight,” Kent says. “That’s been a real help, just having somebody to interchange different ideas with that work.”

Enjoying the Life

Kent says that having his son around has enabled him to take more time away from the practice, which is a nice break. He doesn’t have any specific hobbies, pointing out that he and his wife “are best friends” so they do a lot of activities together. That includes watching St. Louis Cardinals baseball.

“There are mostly Cubs fans here,” he says. “Des Moines has a farm team for the Chicago Cubs, but we’re Cardinals fans because I grew up a Cardinals fan. And my wife is probably a lot crazier about it than I am. We hardly ever miss a game.”

Corbin enjoys hiking, biking and doing some gardening. But next spring he’ll take up a new hobby, of sorts, as he and his wife are expecting their first child, a girl.

“I figure most of my hobbies will have to go on hiatus for a while,” Corbin laughs.

But one thing that won’t take a back seat is the dental practice and the appreciation each of them has for their patients.

“Seeing people when they’re in so much pain and being able to relieve that—I appreciate that aspect,” Corbin says. “And being able to make them smile—that’s something simple that I take for granted sometimes.”

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