Office hours remain part of dentist’s drill

Dentist Paul Kincaid, 85, has “drilled and filled” teeth out of the same 8-by-12-foot operating room for 51 years out of 61 total years in Lawrence.

These days, he works in the mornings four days a week with his partners, Dr. Susan Hall and his son, Dr. Charles Kincaid, at their clinic, 306 E. 23rd St., near Haskell Indian Nations University. He has had a longtime relationship with Haskell.

His wife of 62 years, Mary Bess, says he’s still handsome.

At the end of a day’s work, Kincaid asks for his patients’ phone numbers so he can call to check on them in the evening.

“Our ideas about dentistry are very similar,” Hall said. “We like to do quality work. We like to do it right, and we like to make patients happy.”

Kincaid’s a prostate cancer survivor, and the Kansas Dental Board recently recognized him for his long practice, but he credits his family, friends and associates for his career.

Describe how you and Mary Bess made it to Lawrence.

The year was 1945. Having purchased a $3,000 equipment and practice, my wife and I came to Lawrence on the Greyhound bus and stayed our first night at the Eldridge Hotel.

Dr. Paul Kincaid, 85, who has been a dentist in Lawrence for more than 60 years, demonstrates using an oral camera to view Janell Hoffman's teeth. Kincaid still practices part-time at the clinic where his son now is a dentist.

My office was over Benny Black’s Shoe Store. This was upstairs at 839 1/2 Mass.

I went to the Army during the Korean War, and was stationed at an army disciplinary barracks to take care of the “bad” boys. I returned to Lawrence in 1955 and moved from downtown to the present location.

What has kept you going for 61 years in practice?

Every day has been good, and yes, I’ve had ups and downs. Friends, patients, family, my loyal supporters and my wife of 62 years have been my longevity and strength. I love them all and hope I am always worthy of their longtime support.

My greatest satisfaction has been my association for 30 years with my son, Charley.

To this day on some of the more sticky, difficult procedures, he always comes and helps me. He calls himself the “B team,” but that is an error as he is more talented than I.

It’s such a wonderful profession, and the interconnection between the dentists all has been very good. There’s very little jealousy in the profession.

Dr. Paul Kincaid

Profession: Lawrence dentist for 61 years, the longest active practicing dentist in Kansas.

Age: 85.

Born in: Braymer, Mo., but “not a Tiger by any means,” he says.

Education: Bachelor’s degree from William Jewell College; University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry.

Married: Mary Bess on April 1, 1944.

Moved to Lawrence: 1945. “I never thought I’d want to live in hot, flat Kansas, but I didn’t know about this part,” he said.

Longtime staff: Cheryl Cooper, assistant for 40 years; Linda Nelson, assistant for 23 years; Jane Getto, dental hygienist for 30 years; partners Dr. Susan Hall for 12 years and son, Dr. Charles Kincaid, for 30 years.

Why do you continue to work?

Frankly, I’m enjoying visiting with the patients. And in being productive, I feel younger, and I feel like I’m contributing at the same time. Making a pretty crown is satisfactory, like a piece of woodwork.

I feel I’m a better dentist than I used to be. I’m not bragging, I’m just … I’m blessed with good eyesight. My mother sat with me in the dark when I had the measles so I didn’t lose my eyesight. I thank her for that.

What is one of your more unique traveling experiences?

Charley and I went to Haiti three times in 1983, 1985 and 1989. One of the Haitians that helped us became a “boat person,” via Guantanamo Bay (Cuba) and made it to our office. Vanel Lamarre has been with us about 14 years. He’s a very capable assistant and an asset to our office.

You’ve said the technology and equipment have improved. What do you think about the future of dentistry?

It’s in good shape because we are much, much more professional. I’m prouder of it than I ever was because we’ve come such a long ways in our specialty.

Have you ever thought about retiring?

As far as I am concerned, I want to keep going for a while yet. I have my continuing education requirements ready to re-register until 2009.

I will never have a retirement party in any way. I would not be up to it emotionally. I just want to continue to drill and fill until I fade into a pretty Kansas sunset.