Thursday, October 16, 2003

Place is the same, but methods have changed

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer contributor

[IMAGE] Dr. Fred Peck offers his patients 3-D movie glasses that will keep their minds off the drilling.
(Tony Jones photo)
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Some people relive family memories by browsing through old photos. For Fred Peck, a quick flip through his dental charts is all that's needed to bring his father and grandfather to mind.

"I know my grandfather's handwriting, and I know my dad's handwriting," the third-generation dentist said. "It's like looking at my dad's and my grandfather's work."

Peck sees patients in a well-equipped suite of rooms in the Presidential Plaza on Garfield Place downtown. He uses computers and digital technology in a big part of his practice, cosmetic dentistry. Fifty years ago, his grandfather pondered the realities of tooth decay and gum disease in an office right across the corridor.

Some of Aaron Peck's patients now entrust their dental care to his grandson. Other patients of Fred Peck are children or grandchildren of Aaron's original clientele. But despite the continuity of place and name, much has changed in a half-century.

New look for teeth

Although he offers traditional preventive and corrective treatment to patients he sees year after year, Fred Peck's real joy is giving problem teeth a new look.

"That's my passion: getting someone who's unhappy with their smile to feel better about not only their smile but themselves," he said.

The office's conference room is filled with photos of patients whose appearance has been enhanced through tooth implants, porcelain coatings and other cosmetic techniques.

"Three things I like to think I do very well are cosmetic dentistry, ensuring that the bite is correct and full-mouth reconstruction, so it looks and functions right," Peck said.

Begun in 1931

Devotion to dental care seems to be in the genes. Aaron Peck started his practice in 1931 upon graduation from Ohio State University dental school. Six years after he moved to Garfield Place in 1953, his son Arnold joined the practice. Fred began working with his father right out of OSU dental school in 1986.

Arnold Peck died in 2000.

"The common thread has been their commitment to their patients, whether it's shown in the people they employ or the equipment they buy," said Betty Wolfe, who was hired in 1968 as a dental assistant for Aaron and Arnold Peck.

Wolfe retired to raise a family, but returned 15 years ago and now works in the practice's business office. "Their attitude has been, 'What can we do to better ourselves to make our patients more comfortable?' "

Like his forebears, Fred Peck believes strongly in continuing education within his field and completes about 125 hours of coursework every year. He attends professional conferences and has worked aggressively toward accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He says that no dentist in Hamilton County has achieved that distinction, and he wants to be the first.

Two years ago, Peck doubled his office space, adding a porcelain lab so he could fine-tune dental fittings produced elsewhere, before placing them in a patient's mouth. He has also put in a full photo studio so he can document the "before" and "after" of cosmetic and reconstructive cases.

He's quick to invest in new equipment, but only if it benefits his patients.

"I look at what's going to work and what's best for the patient," he said. "I narrow my selection down to what's best for the patient."

Fred Peck says he likes to think of his patients' comfort and convenience. So he has strategically positioned televisions in each treatment room so patients will have something to stare at besides ceiling tiles.

He likes to spare them hours in the chair, too.

"The entire dental treatment is often worked out completely on precision equipment before I ever do anything in the patient's mouth," he said. "This way, I can ensure the proper engineering of the end result and the patient can see the proposed treatment before I begin."

High-tech treatments include laser cavity repair (no drills, no anesthetic), porcelain veneers and porcelain overlays, dental implants, and replacement of metal crowns and bridges with nonmetal fittings.

The practice of Fred H. Peck, DDS is at 19 Garfield Place, downtown. Information: 469-7440.


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