Dentist retires, hands over practice

Published 9:44 pm Thursday, October 15, 2015

After keeping four generations of Suffolk residents smiling, Dr. Charles Rawls Jr. has retired from dentistry and passed his instruments to Dr. Jana Boyd, who acquired the practice from Rawls earlier this month.

Dr. Jana Boyd, left, has taken over the dental practice owned by Dr. Charles Rawls Jr., right, for 32 years.

Dr. Jana Boyd, left, has taken over the dental practice owned by Dr. Charles Rawls Jr., right, for 32 years.

Rawls, 60, has owned the practice for 32 years, since he got out of dental school. His father was an ear, nose and throat physician, and his grandfather also was a physician. Rawls wanted to follow in the health care field and also work with his hands.

“I was starting to see the fourth generation,” he said. “It’s hard to believe when you look back and see grandma, mom, daughter and granddaughter.”

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Rawls said interacting with the patients and making conversation was his favorite part of the job. The biggest challenge was what they don’t teach in dental school — the administrative side of the practice.

“It’s kind of learn as you go and hope you get good support personnel,” he said. “I was fortunate through the years to have some excellent employees.” He also gave the nod to professionals, such as accountants, that helped him through the years.

Dentistry has changed a lot in the last 32 years, he acknowledged.

“When I first started practicing, implants were just becoming another option for replacing missing teeth,” he said.

Digital radiology and digital record-keeping also were big changes.

“I just couldn’t let go of the charts,” he said.

But now that he has handed the reins over to Boyd, she is digitizing all of the office’s records. The Louisiana native married a Suffolk doctor, Ben Federici, and has worked for other dentists in the area, including Dr. Ralph Howell.

But she always knew she would have her own practice some day.

“I had this sixth sense,” she said of Rawls’ office. “I knew this was going to be my office.”

She practiced dentistry in the Navy and has been a dentist for 15 years total. She said she and Rawls have been talking for a couple of years about her taking over the practice.

“I had to figure out when I was ready to jump,” she said. She was concerned about having enough time with her family, which includes 4-year-old Carter, 2-year-old Marco and three basset hounds.

But it’s working out just fine so far, she said.

Meanwhile, Rawls spends his days fishing, golfing, gardening, having fun at the beach, volunteering and spending time with his three daughters and three grandchildren.

On Thursday, he had just come from having lunch with one of his grandchildren for Grandparents’ Day at school.

“I’ve never been able to do that,” he said.