(July 5, 2013) After 41 years serving the resort area, dentist Dr. Geoff Robbins retired June 30 from his Atlantic Dental Cosmetic & Family Dentistry practice in West Ocean City.
While he enjoyed helping patients, his favorite part of the job was the people he met and relationships forged with them, he said.
“Everybody has a story,” Robbins said, “and they always want to tell you about them.”
Hailing from a line of health care professionals, Robbins traded a university track in marine biology for dentistry when he began dental school at the University of Maryland in 1968. He graduated in 1972.
“At that point, I knew I wanted to come back to Ocean City,” he said. “There was only one dentist in the community.”
Opening an office with just one dental assistant, Robbins began his practice on his home turf. Four decades later, the office has grown to three dentists, four hygienists, six dental assistants and several other workers.
Some patients remained with Robbins “since day one,” he said. “I’m very proud of that fact.” And with so many years of biannual checkups, patient and practitioner naturally became close.
“There’s more of a camaraderie between a dentist and their patients … because you see a dentist on a regular basis,” he said. “And you’re surprised how much people know about their dentist.”
Likewise, Robbins bonded with his coworkers, several of whom got their start in dentistry because of him.
Jessica DiGristine came to the practice 13 years ago hoping to land a receptionist position. After an interview, Robbins decided to pay for her schooling at Wor-Wic Community College to bring her on as a dental assistant.
“He looked at me and gave me a chance and gave me a whole new outlook on dentistry,” DiGristine said. “He’s taught me everything I know.”
A dental hygienist at Atlantic Dental for 38 years, Debby Smith has a similar story.
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and he suggested that I go into dental hygiene,” Smith said. “It’s a very rewarding field and he’s kept it alive”
To keep his practice modern, Robbins attended periodical programs on the local and state levels and took trips to the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies.
The major changes he’s seen over his four decades in the field are increased demand for aesthetics —new filling materials and veneers — improvements in diagnostic equipment and increased availability of tooth implants.
Robbins’ immediate plans including more fishing, golfing and metal detecting. He’s also brainstorming a trip out West to the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks, the Four Corners and Mount Rushmore.
As for his years as a dentist, Robbins “never looked back on the decision,” he said.
“I liked it from my first day or private practice. I liked it more than I thought it would,” he said.