Saturday, March 24th, 2018

S Shopper Stories


Trio of dentists expand well-loved practice for patients who are more like friends

by Candance Moore

From left: Jerel Gutierrez, DDS, Caleb Conrad, DMD, and Josh Curling, DDS. Drs. Curling and Guitierrez are glad to welcome Dr. Conrad to the team as their practice expands.

From left: Jerel Gutierrez, DDS, Caleb Conrad, DMD, and Josh Curling, DDS. Drs. Curling and Guitierrez are glad to welcome Dr. Conrad to the team as their practice expands.

Edinburgh Family Dentistry, in the Hickory area of south Chesapeake, has spent the past seven years steadily growing its patient base the old-fashioned way - excellent care from educated people in a genuine family environment. The practice is known for being nice but not stuffy, advanced but not expensive, and casual but never unprofessional. That balance has paid off in a big way, as word of mouth does most of their marketing for them.

So it isn't surprising that this independent practice, a burgeoning local favorite, started to outgrow its first location in no time. Practice founder Josh Curling, DDS, along with his best-friend-turned-business-partner Jerel Gutierrez, DDS, had a few difficult choices to make. How could they expand without losing their close-knit chemistry, and, more importantly, where could they find another dentist who fit in with their casual-yet-qualified atmosphere?

"We definitely knew we had to expand," Dr. Curling recalls. "We had so many new patients that our schedules were filling fast. Yet, we were committed to offering emergency and urgent care appointments because they are so important. We refused to let pressure change our practice."

These two unpretentious, instantly likable young fathers weren't interested in growth for the sake of bigger business. With thriving marriages, adorable children, and church memberships they both highly value, they agreed that any future growth would happen in a way that was best for their families and the whole community.

First they needed a bigger location. It had to be close, accessible, just the right size, and a blank canvas to make their own. For several months, Drs. Curling and Gutierrez patiently handled daily schedules while they searched.

"Expansion," Dr. Curling continues, "is a delicate time where every decision counts. It's all too easy for a practice to lose its edge because of unaffordable overhead or disjointed staff. We want this community to know that we are safeguarding what they love about us."

In 2016, their tenacity was rewarded: the landmark mattress store at Edinburgh North closed, putting empty office space in a prominent position at the end of their very building. With a few steps down the sidewalk, Edinburgh Family Dentistry entered a perfect new location.

"We're integrated in this community.
Dentistry is just our way of serving it.
Patients who come to us receive individual care in a
comprehensive way that keeps their best interests in mind.
That's what success means to us."

- Josh Curling, DDS

In keeping with their emphasis on local community values, Drs. Curling and Gutierrez developed a stylish-yet-rural design for the lobby, featuring locally sourced pine ceiling beams and a real cedar reception counter. They transferred as much original equipment as possible to lower costs. Several operatories were added to fill the extra space, now allowing the practice to treat twice the number of concurrent patients.

The new practice location feels like a matured, fully-realized version of the first. Longtime patients instantly recognize the same vibe of compassionate, effective care from a team that's stuck together for years.

Each chair still has a television for patients to enjoy during treatment, and X-rays are still done digitally on site. Emergency visits, evening appointments, and routine checkups from pediatric to geriatric remain available. For nervous patients, anti-anxiety medications are available.

On the cosmetic side, the practice still offers tooth-colored fillings, porcelain veneers, implant restoration, and a particularly exciting development called same day crowns.

"We keep up with emergent technology because we want our patients to have access to everything that can help them," Dr. Gutierrez notes. "It's never about pressuring someone to pay for a tool they don't need. We are here to give each person the absolute best solution within their means and comfort level."

As construction continued in the new suite, Drs. Curling and Gutierrez quietly searched for a third dentist to join. A friend led them to Caleb Conrad, DMD.

When Dr. Conrad impressed them with his qualifications, they realized they'd finally found a new teammate. These three fellows became fast friends.

Dr. Conrad, a tall but soft-spoken Midwesterner, spent his childhood surrounded by medical practitioners in the family. This ingrained in him the understanding that providers - and patients - were real people with homes to go to at the end of the day. He grew up seeing medicine as a natural extension of neighborly care.

An affinity for science brought him to Ohio State University. The dental program there fascinated him, and soon he was off to the prestigious Case Western Reserve for a doctorate in dental medicine.

Despite his big-league education, Dr. Conrad sought a return to his small-town roots. He arrived in Hampton Roads for warmer weather, nicer beaches, and a hometown culture that didn't live in the past. Edinburgh Family Dentistry set itself apart as a modern practice with advanced tools that had managed to keep its community focus.

"It's nice to find a dental practice that excels in all the important areas," Dr. Conrad emphasizes. "Technology, training, efficient staff, sincere care, and financial flexibility for patients. Edinburgh Family Dentistry hasn't let any of these areas decline."

He joined the practice in December, and the new location opened a few weeks later. This expansion has enabled more evening hours, more available daytime slots, and lots of catching up with new patient requests. The practice is now actively encouraging newcomers. For Dr. Conrad, it's a chance to get to know a strong local community.

Ask Dr. Conrad if he's enjoying life in Hampton Roads, and he responds with a definite yes- as long as he can keep up with Buckeyes' football vicariously. He also particularly enjoys local surfing, and he's getting to know the Outer Banks.

Dr. Curling, wife Devyn, and their three girls, Ella, Clara, and Annalise, are Chesapeake natives who can't imagine living anywhere else. On the topic of relocations, he adds with a smile that he plans to practice in Edinburgh as long as he's able to work. He attends Great Bridge's River Oak Church, and he loves to travel to the beach on vacations.

Dr. Gutierrez, who attended Great Bridge High School with Dr. Curling, echoes the theme of staying loyal to home. He and his wife Jennifer, who works for Virtual Radiologic as a diagnostic radiologist, have three children: Jamison, Jeron, and Janiah. They attend Virginia Beach's St. Gregory Catholic Church.

"We're integrated in this community," Dr. Curling remarks. "Dentistry is just our way of serving it. Patients who come to us receive individual care in a comprehensive way that keeps their best interests in mind. That's what success means to us."

Edinburgh Family Dentistry

200 Carmichael Way
Chesapeake, VA 23322