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New Langley dentist follows in his family’s footsteps

Dr. Braden Giswold attends to a dental patient at a Guatemala clinic recently. - Photo courtesy of Dr. Braden Giswold
Dr. Braden Giswold attends to a dental patient at a Guatemala clinic recently.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Dr. Braden Giswold

A fourth-generation dentist has joined the family practice in Langley.

Braden Giswold, 27, a June 2010 graduate of the University of Washington dental school and fresh from a month of volunteering at a free clinic in Guatemala, has joined his father, Robert, at Saratoga Dental.

“There weren’t any pressures from the family, but I have to admit I was influenced growing up around it,” Giswold said Monday. “It’s a great profession.”

Braden follows in the footsteps of his father, his grandfather William and his great-grandfather Robert, in taking up the dentistry profession.

He said his great-grandfather started his practice in Wisconsin 96 years ago, when only a two-year course of study was required. His grandfather later set up a practice in Seattle.

Giswold said his father, who also graduated from the UW dental school, joined his grandfather’s Seattle practice in 1976, then moved the office to the island in 1994. Its current location is across from Langley Middle School.

“I’ve been practicing for four weeks,” Giswold the younger said. “I’m very happy I chose this career. And it’s great to be back.”

Giswold was born in Coupeville and attended South Whidbey schools, graduating from South Whidbey High School in 2001. Following graduation from dental school, he and his girlfriend Molly Fox of Langley traveled through Mexico and Central America, finishing the trip with a volunteer stint in Guatemala.

In Guatemala, he spent about a month providing free dental care at a clinic run by the charity Hands of Hope. There, he assisted poor farmers, descendants of the ancient Mayans, in a mountain village with no other dental options.

“There’s really no social network,” Giswold said of Guatemala. “People who have nothing get zero healthcare from the government.

“So a lot of people are reluctant to visit doctors and dentists,” he added. “They rely on nonprofit organizations. Lots of them still rely on shamans and natural healing.”

Giswold said that during a three-week period, the clinic assisted 100 patients ranging from children to the elderly. It was the rainy season, and roads were washed out and the power disrupted.

“We frequently had to work without electricity,” he said.

Giswold said the Guatemala experience was “extremely rewarding.”

“It feels great to be able to provide something to people who have nearly nothing,” he said.

During his dental education, Giswold said he accumulated a lot of experience practicing in Alaska and in Eastern Washington, but is happy to be out of school and out on his own.

“I have lots more freedom now,” he said, “and I don’t have to worry about tests.”

Giswold currently commutes from the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, but may relocate to Whidbey after Fox completes her training to become a naturopathic physician. But he said he doesn’t mind the daily travel.

“It’s relaxing to come from a city atmosphere to the island,” he said. “It’s so peaceful.”

And he has no regrets about following in the family trade.

“I’m very happy I chose this career,” he said. “I’m looking forward to helping out.”

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