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Six Decades, Thousands of Smiles

Hatboro dentist Dr. Shelly Greene retired this week from the practice that he's run for the last 60 years.

Even through marriage, a family and several moves, Bucks County Commissioner Charley Martin stuck with his boyhood dentist.

“I still have all my teeth,” Martin, of Southampton, said, crediting his dentist of 60 years, Dr. Shelly Greene, with that achievement. Martin, who will be 69, grew up with Greene’s practice, which, over the last six decades, has been located at three different offices – all within the borders of Hatboro.

“The first few times I went there, he was his own bookkeeper. He did it all,” Martin recalled. “He’s kind of an institution in Hatboro.”

With 60 years of dentistry under his belt, Greene, 85, this week officially retired from his practice, which since 1975 has been located in the Garner House on South Penn Street.

Greene’s first office opened in 1951 during what he describes as the “golden years.” He and the borough’s only other dentist at that time opened and within the first full week had “full-blown patients.”

“We’ve had patients for a long, long period,” Greene said while sipping coffee in his office. “We’ve seen the little ones grow up and marry and have their little ones.”

He estimates that he’s seen “thousands” of patients during his career. And it’s those familiar faces that Greene, of Abington, said he would miss most while relaxing on the golf course, spending more time with his family and overseeing a dental supply mail order business.

His wife of 50 years, Joanne, an occasional fill-in when her husband’s office staff was on vacation, or sick, met the man who would become her future husband - while having her teeth cleaned.

“I was living in Chicago and my mother made an appointment with him,” Mrs. Greene said, noting that he was deemed to be the cream of the crop in terms of local dentists at that time. “That was 56 years ago.”

Mrs. Greene, who shares three children and three grandchildren with her husband, jokes that she’s not yet ready for her husband’s days of work to end.

“I’m much too young to be married to a retired man,” she quipped.

Judging from the patients calling and trickling in to bring breakfast, take parting photographs and bid farewell, they are not yet ready either.

“Our patients are very emotional with Dr. Greene,” said Barbara Hains, Greene’s office manager of 40 years. “It’s like family.”

That familial sense is what encouraged Greene to become a dentist in the first place, he said. Growing up during the depression, he recalled a dentist that lived on his block.

“He used to come out and play ball with us,” Greene said. “I liked the personality he had. It was an image I liked.”

Personality, in part, kept Martin coming back to Greene’s office. Greene, who he said shared political views different than his own, kept political discussions lively - all while making trips to the dentist relatively painless.

“I still don’t like going to the dentist,” Martin said. “He made it as pleasant as possible.”

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