All in the family at Britten dentistry
LUTZ — It is a family tradition for the Britten’s to become dentists.
Leonard Britten started his practice in 1979 in Tampa, and his twins have followed in his footsteps. However, it was not clear at first if Nick and Todd wanted to go into dentistry.
“It’s not like they both always wanted to be dentists,” Leonard said. “Both didn’t even decide to go into dentistry until college. So I guess it just became a family thing without being planned.”
Born in East Tampa, Britten attended Hillsborough High. He went to the University of South Florida and then Emory Dental School in Atlanta.
Britten’s practice came to Lutz about 20 years ago, and he moved into the current location at 213 Crystal Grove Blvd. in 2001. When Nick graduated from the University of Florida in May with a Doctor of Dental Medicine it took him less than a month to join his father’s practice.
“My first day here was June 9, and it is kind of funny that my first business cards were wrong,” Nick said.
“I got the cards as kind of a graduation gift, but on them it said I had a D.D.S. D.M.D. is a newer term for the degree that dentists get, so it is kind of confusing sometimes when people hear that I have a D.M.D. and my father has a D.D.S. There isn’t much of a difference, but I had to use those business cards for about the first month.”
That was not the only time a Britten had to deal with someone misunderstanding those abbreviations.
“When I still had my practice in Tampa, one time a woman called me and asked if we were a doctor’s delivery service because she saw D.D.S. on our building,” Leonard said. “The woman said she was ready to deliver a baby. You get people who are confused by the terms sometimes.”
Nick’ twin, Todd, is finishing his residency at Florida to be a periodontist, which is a dentist that specializes in the treatment of gum disease. While the twins have chosen to enter the same basic profession, they are far from identical in how they act.
“Todd always seemed to have a plan and know exactly how to get there,” Leonard said. “Todd didn’t usually stray off-course, while Nick tends to look around and survey the area. Sometimes I had to drag Nick out the door when we were going places, but it has worked out for him.”
“I like to think that I kicked him out,” said Nick, born three minutes after his brother. “He was cramping my style, so I had all the room for three minutes.”
Nick and Todd shared a home for most of their lives, including for much of their time in college.
“It is kind of weird, because this is the first time we have ever lived in different cities,” Nick said. “It is strange because as a twin you are used to seeing your twin all the time, but I got over that pretty quickly.”
Leonard said Todd will not likely Todd join his practice.
“It wouldn’t be in his interest to be here because people usually go and find a periodontist when they have a gum problem,” Leonard said. “But he’ll probably stay in Tampa.”
Leonard has another son, Matt, who is 19 months older than Nick and Todd, and has nothing to do with dentistry.
“Matt is kind of the black sheep of the family in this respect, I guess,” Leonard said. “Matt is into electrical contracting. My father, Dale, was a utilities contractor, so I guess he was following in his footsteps.”
What it comes down to is patients of Britten Dental Associates can choose from either Britten.
“It really is great to be able to stay here in Lutz, because this town is where I was born and raised,” Nick said. “I get to work on family and friends that I grew up with.
“I even worked on my old principal at Maniscalco Elementary, Mr. (Anthony) Scolaro, and I didn’t know whether to call him by his first or last name. Really, it has been a dream and I couldn’t have asked for more.”