If Dr. Richard Galeone never met with dental supplies salesman Sam Reiff 40 years ago in Philadelphia, he may have never established a legacy in the North Penn area.
Galeone had just come off a two-year stint in the United States Air Force in 1972, where he ran a dental clinic at the hospital at Loring Air Force Base in Loring, ME.
"(Reiff) thought this would be a good area for a pediatric dentist," Galeone said. "There's many pediatric dentists in the area now, but we were the first. The area has constantly grown over the 40 years we've been here. This is a phenomenal area and one of the best places to possibly be."
North Penn Pediatric Dental Associates, located in the North Penn Medical Arts Building on North Broad Street in Hatfield Township, will celebrate its 40th anniversary on July 18.
The business began in 1972 at 920 N. Broad Street, where it was Galeone and Dr. Loretta Healy, who now practices in Exton, PA.
In 1979, a group of physicians and medical experts collaborated to purchase land at 2100 N. Broad Street and construct the 21,000-square-foot North Penn Medical Arts Building.
"It was sort of a group project with the people in the building now," Galeone said. "We bought two acres from Mickey Falco, who owned Mickey's Barber Shop in Lansdale. I used to go there when I had hair."
Falco suggested the purchase of his land when Galone mentioned he and his peers were looking for a new place with bigger space.
Today, there are eight offices operating out of the two-story building, which is owned by all the professionals as a group. It was constructed by the father of Dr. John Nash, DDS, who also operates out of the building.
"One of the things I find interesting is five out of the eight people here I grew up with within a mile of Oxford Circle in Philadelphia," Galeone said.
When Galeone moved to the new office in 1979, Healy came with him. She left in 1986 and Galone brought on Dr. Lance Coben. He retired in 2010.
Now, North Penn Pediatric Dental Associates is made up of Galeone and Dr. Michael Wong. An expansion of the office suite to 3,100 square feet in 1992 allowed the business to partner with two orthodontists: Drs. Marc Rosenberg and Donald Bedrosian.
All in all, the company hires about 27 employees, including dental assistants and receptionists.
Galeone's love of dentistry has to be credited to his younger brother, Greg, who is a dentist in Langhorne.
"He wanted to be a dentist before I did," Galone said. "I think that's really where the idea started was from him. And my father thought dentistry was a good profession. Although, at one time, my own dentist said I should become a funeral director - I would have fewer complaints."
Galeone attended dental school at Temple University School of Dentistry, now called the Kornberg School of Dentistry at Temple. He then went on to further his studies at the National Children's Medical Center in Washington, D.C. It was during his tenure there that Galeone was called one night on an emergency for the child of the Russian ambassador.
Galone has many, many stories in his repertoire - like treating a young boy who had no baby teeth at all and fixing him pediatric dentures. Galeone shares his experiences as a writer and editor for the Pennsylvania Dental Journal and the International College of Dentists-USA Section.
Over the years, pediatric dentistry has changed, but not by much.
"What really changed is the awareness of parents about pediatric dentistry," Galeone said. "There's been a tremendous change over the years."
Back in the day, pediatric dentists were called pedodontists.
"Nobody knew what it was," he said. "When they changed it to 'pediatric dentistry,' then people became aware of it. Parents figured, 'Oh, they're baby teeth, we'll let them go.' They weren't aware of the lifetime effects."
There are also minor changes that have occurred over the years: new materials, new laws and improvments in medications and safer anesthetics.
North Penn Pediatric Dental serves children from birth to 18 years of age. Galeone said they have about 6,500 patients who come as far away as Pittsburgh, the Poconos and Brussels, Belgium. Galeone also does hospital work for patients.
"They were originally in Lansdale and they relocated," he said. "They are dedicated because I think they are happy here and they work it out so they continue to allow us to treat their children."
One would think Galeone's job would be difficult; after all, children and dentists aren't the greatest of friends.
"The big secret," he said, "is take more time with the child. Go slow. Try to do a little bit at a time until you win their confidence."
Galeone has done it all when it comes to pediatric dentistry: making impressions of cleft palettes, extractions, biopsies and baby root canals. He also has experience in working with special needs children.
Through the past 40 years, Galeone found the community to be fantastic. It is one that showed his business wonderful support the entire time.
Galeone has given back to the community too. The company sponsors Relay for Life, donates to the North Penn United Way and Manna on Main Street and supports childhood cancer awareness through Philadelphia runs.
Looking back on his career, Galeone said the practice has gone beyond his wildest dreams.
"When I was in dental school, I had no idea I would get involved with a practice that has grown like this," he said.
All he wants to do is continue on with his life's work.
"I enjoy it," Galeone said of his profession. "I enjoy it more every year that I practice. It seems to get easier. When I wake up in the morning - whether I have a day off or I come into work - I feel exactly the same way. I'm one of the lucky people."
In the future, North Penn Pediatric Dental Associates will look to take on another doctor and possibly open a satellite location. He said the practice has a mission statement of offering quality care in a safe and friendly environment.
And he and his staff see that mission statement come to life in the support of parents and the word of mouth to their friends and families. There are also the numerous referrals from other dentists.
"I love seeing kids go out with a smile," he said, no pun intended. "We do the best for the kids that we can possibly do. The other stuff falls into place."
North Penn Pediatric Dental Associates is located at 2100 N. Broad St., Suite 203, in Hatfield Township (Lansdale mailing address).
They are currently accepting new patients.
They are open Monday to Thursday, 8:20 a.m. to 5:20 p.m.; Friday, 8:20 a.m. to 4:20 p.m.; and Saturday, 7:50 a.m. to 1:20 p.m.
Contact them at 215-855-4092 or by email at email@example.com.