Father, son work together at Central Park Dentistry
By David Blanchette
Ron Lynch and Matt Lynch are partners who both feel they’ve found the ideal person with whom to run a business.
“It’s just a joy to work with him,” Ron Lynch said.
“It’s worked out really well, we work well together,” Matt Lynch said.
Meet the family team that owns and operates Central Park Dentistry in downtown Jacksonville, Doctor Ron Lynch, the father, and Doctor Matt Lynch, the son.
“He has strengths that I don’t have, and I have some strengths that he doesn’t have. It’s a nice blend, we complement each other,” Matt Lynch said.
“It has blended so well, and we complement each other very well,” Ron Lynch said.
The family dental practice story began when Ron Lynch, a Richland County, Illinois native, became interested in the field after shadowing a mentor, Dr. Jim Weber, in his Olney dental office. Ron Lynch always knew he wanted to do something in health care, and he loved the sciences.
After graduating from Olney High School, Lynch graduated from MacMurray College with a double major in chemistry and biology. He applied to both dental and optometry schools but made up his mind about a career after interviewing at the Chicago School of Optometry.
“The professor was interviewing me, and I told him about dental school, and he asked me, ‘If you are applying to dental school, why would you be interested in optometry?’” Ron Lynch recalled. “I thought he was putting down his own profession, and that kind of turned me off to optometry at that moment.”
Lynch graduated from the Southern Illinois University School of Dentistry after three years as part of an accelerated program to address the severe shortage of dentists south of Interstate 80 in Illinois. He returned to Jacksonville to practice dentistry and is now in his 45th year as a dentist.
Matt Lynch was born and raised in Jacksonville and did not plan to enter his father’s career field. He earned a business administration degree from Illinois State University and initially thought about a job in the business world.
“It seemed like a lot of my classmates were going the insurance route, retail management or things like that, and that really didn’t interest me,” Matt Lynch said. “It occurred to me that my dad had always been able to provide well for us, we had a good life, and dentistry had served him well. So, I broached the idea of giving that a try and of course he was very supportive.”
Lynch attended Illinois College for a year and a half to get the science credits that he didn’t earn with his business degree, graduated from Southern Illinois University Dental School in 2008, and then joined his father in the Jacksonville dental practice.
“Matt hadn’t expressed much interest in his dad’s profession, so I was of course overjoyed,” Ron Lynch commented. “It’s a dream come true to have a child follow in your footsteps.”
Besides having his son join the practice, other aspects of the local dental operation have changed in the four-and-a-half decades that Ron Lynch has treated patients.
“I always say I come from the last century, and there have been improvements in equipment, filling materials and just technology in general,” Ron Lynch said. “But there are a lot of things that are the same. I still do my dentures and partial plates the same as I was trained in 1975. It’s not the fastest way, but I think it’s the best way.”
“Plus, they invented electricity during that time,” Matt Lynch joked, and added that despite all of the changes, some of them coming recently, “I was taught the same denture techniques as my dad, the fillings that I was taught to use we still use today, and the basics of root canal therapy are roughly the same.”
Do father and son work on each other?
“I have four fillings and he has done three of them, and I’ve done a filling or two on his teeth,” Matt Lynch said. “I’ve got a big mouth so that helps, there’s lots of room to him to work.”
One of many things that Ron and Matt Lynch agree upon is that it’s critical to put patients at ease when they come to the dentist’s office.
“Dentistry does not have a reputation of being the first place that everybody is anxious to come to when they wake up in the morning, so you need to be able to try to put them at ease,” Ron Lynch said. “We have more fun in the dental office than maybe the average office, we try to keep things lighthearted. Since I am by far the oldest one around here, I get some ribbing.”
Matt Lynch mentioned some other crucial strengths that father and son share, such as “the ability to talk to people, a lot of patience, and strong hands and back. Good eyesight is also very important.”
The Lynches also value their staff very highly. Matt Lynch said, “I’m pretty fortunate in that I see all of my employees as friends as well. Of course they’ve got to be able to do the job and do it well, which they certainly do.”
Matt Lynch also noted that good dental health depends on regular brushing, flossing and oral hygiene, plus people really need to lay off sugary and acidic drinks: “Soda, sweet tea, energy drinks, Gatorade, Kool-Aid, coffee with sugar … People that sip on those things all day long have lots of issues and we see that a lot.”
For Ron Lynch, the biggest recent problem trend is teeth grinding and clenching.
“Stress, diet and lack of sleep in our fast-paced world cause us anxiety and anxiety makes us grind, grit and clench our teeth,” he said. “That equates to more wear and tear to teeth or cracks in teeth.”
Ron Lynch is proud that Central Park Dentistry treats a lot of military veterans, during which his son will usually do the surgeries, crowns and bridges while he will do the dentures and partial plates.
The Lynches have recently exposed the historic facade of their downtown Jacksonville office, which once housed the Waddell’s Store. Once inside, patients may pass by Matt Lynch’s office, which is lined with dozens of baseball bats, a nod to his enthusiasm for the sport.
Still, what most visitors notice is how well father and son work together.
“He’s able to do his own thing in his own way and I do the same, but there are a lot of instances where there is overlap and we plan a case together,” Matt Lynch said. “It’s gone so well because we complement each other.”