An additional practice in a new town near Pittsburgh helped a father and his two sons augment the superb dentistry that’s been all in the family for more than half a century.
BY Megan Sobieski
WHEN DR. JOHN S. Pawlowicz Jr. opened Pawlowicz Dentistry in 1964, fresh out of dental school, he was a one-man show. “It was a small office, and he pretty much did it all,” says his son Dr. John Pawlowicz III, remembering his father pouring models in the family’s laundry room. “There were just two chairs, everything was belt-driven, he used slow-speed handpieces. There were no fiber-optics back then.”
Nestled in the northern Pittsburgh suburb of Butler, Pawlowicz Dentistry grew rapidly, moving into a larger, more modern space in nearby Lyndora in 1965 and eventually welcoming two of John Jr.’s sons into the family business: John III, now 52, joined the practice in 1994, and Dr. Jason Pawlowicz, 43, came aboard in 2001.
Like their father, both brothers attended the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine—John III special-
izing in neuromuscular and surgical dentistry, Jason training in endodontics and orthodontics. “Dad encouraged us to focus in our own areas early on so we could meet the needs of all our patients,” John III says.
With the younger duo at the helm, Pawlowicz Family Dentistry has evolved to include high-end clinical treatment—and seen its client base broaden substantially. “Butler has been good to us,” John III says, “but many of our patients drive from different parts of Pittsburgh. We needed something closer to make it easier for them.”
The brothers began to scout spots for a new place—a search that would end up lasting more than a decade. “The rug was pulled out [from] beneath us so many times, I began to think a second office wasn’t in the cards,” John III says.
“Dad helped with different flow patterns, how to position chairs in the reception area and consult rooms. My brother and I have similar taste in décor. Our wives were also helpful with color schemes. It really was a family affair.”
Finally, in 2016—14 years and four sites after their search had begun—Jason discovered a cozy space in Mars, a quaint town some 25 minutes south of Lyndora, and much closer to downtown Pittsburgh. Tucked into a residential neighborhood just minutes from the Steel City’s busy Cranberry Interchange, the building was a house that had been converted into a variety of businesses over the years. That necessitated some interior transformation.
The Pawlowiczes relied on their Benco Dental partners to determine if the site was viable, even digging up drawings their Benco Territory Representative had drafted years earlier. “Benco has always been fantastic,” John III says. “They’d take footprints from these other locations and lay out the most optimal dental setting for us.”
This time, working closely with Benco Equipment Specialist Mike Boychuk, the pair were able to bring their vision to fruition; the Mars location opened to patients in summer 2017. At 1,200 square feet, the new space is less than half the size of the Lyndora facility, but that suits the family just fine. Designed with a more intimate aesthetic, the office is at once warm, inviting, rustic and serene, adorned with handcrafted details and subtle textures.
Out front, a softly lit reception area with a wooden front desk hand-hewn by a local carpenter greets patients. The walls, bathed in warm browns and light tans, offer a contrast with the patterned floors. Two shiplap walls, pieced together with repurposed barn wood, add a touch of bucolic beauty.
Each operatory features dark granite countertops with inlaid sinks and three sets of adjustable lights. Flat-screen TVs double as radiography and patient-chart displays, and pocket doors with a pane of frosted glass fashion a space simultaneously open and private.
One of the key concepts the Pawlowiczes were keen to adhere to in the new space: to stray from the typical dental-office vibe. “I had an extraction patient who said, ‘This place is beautiful!’ ” John III says. “Knowing he was in pain but took time to say how relaxed he felt—that feels really good.”
John Jr. is semiretired these days; he turned over full operations to his sons a half-dozen or so years ago. Naturally, the two younger men drew on his considerable expertise for the Mars practice. “Dad helped with different flow patterns, how to position chairs in the reception area and consult rooms,” John III says. “Jason and I have similar taste in décor. Our wives were also helpful with color schemes. It really was a family affair.”
Must-haves for the new space included top-of-the-line operatory chairs, a CBCT scanner and digital radiography that uses both phosphor plates and Schick sensors. Throughout, innovation, ambience and patient-oriented amenities are in perfect balance, supporting the full spectrum of preventive, costmetic and high-end dentistry in which the Pawlowiczes excel.
Unsurprisingly for this tight-knit clan, the brothers credit their father for the professionalism that guides them to this day. “Our dad instilled a love and passion for doing things the right way,” John III says. “Every day, we’re trying to figure out how to do the best for our patients.” And, presumably, to do right by their beloved father as well.