Three Generations and Counting...
Jacob Birnbaum was first exposed to dentistry in Poland in 1942, serving as an apprentice to a dentist who did all of his own laboratory work. Unfortunately, Jacob’s budding dental career was put on hold as he spent the following three years in concentration camps. Against all odds, Jacob survived and relocated to Munich, Germany, after his liberation in 1945. Given his familiarity with dental laboratory procedures, he was asked by the Organization for Rehabilitation through Training (ORT) to conduct classes for dental technicians. His course was so popular that he was given two classes to teach.
His success came to the attention of Robert Rothstein, owner of Standard Dental Laboratory in Washington, D.C., the largest dental laboratory in the United States. Rothstein offered to sponsor Jacob, his wife, Mira, and their 2-year-old son, Nathan, to come to the U.S. so he could be in charge of quality control for the laboratory. But Jacob chose to come to Boston, sponsored by his great-uncle who promised to help find him a job.
The Birnbaums came to Boston in June 1949. Unfortunately, the job—in a bag factory—was not exactly what Jacob had in mind. He approached the SS White dental laboratory and obtained a position in the lab as a “plaster boy.” In 1952, Jacob established his own dental laboratory in the Park Square area of Boston, calling it Progressive Dental Laboratory. The lab became hugely successful, due in part to Mira’s unrelenting solicitation of dentists in the Boston area, and Jacob’s high-quality work.
Nathan began helping out in the laboratory in 1958, at the age of 11, and became interested in dentistry. Nathan pursued that interest, graduating from Northwestern University Dental School in Chicago in 1972 with an award for clinical excellence and then enrolling in the postgraduate specialty program in prosthodontics at the Boston University School of Graduate Dentistry.
While Nathan was at BU, his parents purchased a home office on Paulson Road in Waban. This enabled Jacob to move his dental laboratory into his home and Nathan to establish a dental practice from scratch, working evenings and Sundays to build up the practice. Upon graduation from BU in 1974, Nathan was the owner of a successful dental practice. For more than 20 years, Nathan worked side by side with his father, who did all the lab work, and his mother, who managed the practice and served as Nathan’s first dental assistant. In 1996, Jacob and Mira retired, and Nathan relocated his practice to its current location in Wellesley, where his wife, Robin, took over as office manager.
Nathan’s daughter, Heidi, expressed an interest in dentistry from a young age. Following in her father’s footsteps, she graduated at the top of her class at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in 2008. Also like her father, Heidi graduated with an award for clinical excellence. Soon thereafter, Heidi became the third generation in the family business, joining Nathan in his practice.
Nathan and Heidi are proud to carry on their family’s legacy of quality dental care and hope to see the practice continue to grow from one generation to the next.