The kitchen table in my family home isn’t just a kitchen table. Sure, my family eats there, but it’s also the place where my dad reviews his patient charts and schedule for the week and where he reads his dental journals. There’s always a tug of war between food and dentistry at that kitchen table, and as I got older, I became more curious about what my dad’s side entailed. This led to me eventually going to his dental office to see what he does.
My dad and mom (a dental hygienist) transitioned from testing me on multiplication tables during long drives, to quizzing me on tooth numbers. As time passed, my curiosity led to a strong desire to be a dentist. Now, I am a dental student, and I can’t believe I’m heading into my fourth year already. I love talking about things I’m learning and, being born and raised in Toronto, comparing the differences in the Canadian and American systems. It’s exciting to call my dad after a long day with patients in clinic to tell him about my appointments. My sisters often complain about us talking about “boring dental stuff” too much, but it’s something they’ll never fully understand. Dentistry isn’t the field for everyone.
My dad teaches part-time at the University of Toronto in the graduate periodontics department. His private practice office is wallpapered with thank-you notes from past students, grateful for what they learned from him. When I would see those notes in his office, I felt like I knew what they meant — their view of my dad paralleled my own. He is so humble, yet intelligent and nonchalant. He never makes it feel like he’s the smartest person in the room, even if he is (sometimes). He can laugh and make jokes, but he’s also the same person who can deal with someone’s palate bleeding after grafting tissue from it.
While those students and periodontists had hours of my dad’s guidance, I’ve had a lifetime of his guidance. His sense of direction is the worst (he gets lost going to places he’s driven to hundreds of times); however, the direction he’s given me in life has worked out so far, and I feel lucky to have never felt lost. I’m thankful for the path my dad has led me to, and I continue to look up to him.
~ Nicholas Nemeth, Buffalo ’23