All About Smiles
by Chris Kridler
Paul Ouellette’s business is about smiles, and it’s about family.
The family business is aimed at making smiles shine, and the founder of Merritt Island’s Dental Specialists has passed on his love of those smiles to his four children. His sons Jason and Jonathan are dentists, his daughter Danielle is applying to dental school, and Cindy has retired from the business.
Paul’s wife, Patricia, is “the glue that holds the practice together,” says Jason.
Whether patients need braces, implants, dentures or cosmetic dentistry, “we do all specialties under one roof,” Paul Ouellette says. He’s an orthodontist who graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 1970, where he got braces as a kid and became interested in dentistry while illustrating slides for his doctor. In a year he’ll become a fellow of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry.
“He’s very outgoing and funny, very good with patients, great rapport with patients,” Jason says. “I hope that someday I’ll be as good as him.”
Paul taught at Emory University and worked in Atlanta, then started dividing his time between there and Florida.
Jonathan remembers hanging out in his dad’s Winter Park office when he was about 10 years old, then going next door to play in a video arcade. “It just kind of molded me into what I’m doing today . . . and I love what I do.”
He plans to specialize in pediatric dentistry. “I really love working with kids,” Jonathan says.
Jason, who’s studying to be an orthodontist at Jacksonville University, has similar sentiments. “I want to follow in the family business because I saw what orthodontics can do for a child’s life,” he says. “It’s a great atmosphere to work in as well. My father has always been happy at work.”
Paul’s children say he’s shared with them an ability to relate to people. “We see our patients as members of our own family from the day they walk in,” Jason says.
Dad is modest about his role. “My whole focus for the last two years is, I’m a placeholder for the kids,” he says. “The boys are running the practice.”
The family has renovated its inviting office, whose large windows overlook the Indian River Lagoon, and it’s reveling in new technology. The Ouellettes’ iPhone app (braceshelp.com) helps patients with everything from brushing to remembering where to apply rubber bands on their braces. Paul demonstrates by running his finger over the screen, putting the virtual bands in place.
“I can save this and send it to the patient,” he says. Patients can e-mail the doctor images of a problem tooth, and with a new version, the dentist will be able to send out reminders.
Their multimedia iPad book about 3-D dentistry — the Ouellettes make diagnoses with 3-D digital X-rays — is coming soon to Apple’s iBookstore. “All dentists work in three dimensions, but only dentists who embrace and understand the (technology) can see in three dimensions,” Paul Ouellette says.
He works hard, but he has other interests. He’s run 17 marathons and played guitar in a band.
“Dad is like the Energizer Bunny,” Jonathan says. “He’s still going, still going, still going; he’s always doing something. He has so much energy. Amazing.”
The family’s work grows out of a desire to help others. The dentists have applied their skills on mission trips and through their charity earnyoursmile.org, they’ve allowed people to get free care in exchange for volunteering in the community. “It’s a wonderful program,” Jonathan says.
“You really affect their lives in a positive way,” Jason says of patients, “and it’s just a great feeling to do that as a career, as a job — to make people smile.”