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Germantown dentistry celebrates 100 years of service, looks toward the future

Posted at 10:49 AM, Oct 25, 2021

GERMANTOWN — One-hundred years is a long time for anything, especially a family business.

A Germantown dentistry is reflecting on a century of smiles. There’s a lot of history at County Line Dental. Dr. Watson started the practice in 1921.

“There weren’t any commercially available demonstration models, so my grandfather made his own,” says, Dr. John Watson, showing off some of his grandfather’s creations. He’s the third Dr. Watson to run the practice.

Dr. John says his grandfather left quite the legacy, including performing perhaps the first root canal in Wisconsin.

“Grandpa started getting out his extraction forceps, he says he was going to take the tooth out,” Dr. John recalls. “And [the patient] looked at him and said, ‘is there really nothing else you can do? I’m really attached to this tooth.’”

So, Dr. Watson told his patient about a new procedure he’d just read about.

“And he looked at him and said, ‘well if it doesn’t work, you can always pull it!’” says Dr. John. “So he tried it and son of a gun, it worked! When he died at 105, he still had that tooth in his mouth.”

Dr. John saw many of the same patients as his grandfather and learned a lot just from looking into their mouths.

But Dr. John only ever got to work alongside his dad.

“I learned so much from my dad. I think I learned more from my dad in the first year I was out of Marquette than I did the whole four years I was in Marquette!”

But now, Dr. John is looking toward the future. His own kids weren’t interested in dentistry, and he’s ready to retire.

“It’s time to move on.”

That’s where Dr. Jessica Gruber comes in.

“Dentistry is a huge family business. As you can see, Dr. John’s grandfather was a dentist, his dad was a dentist and now he’s a dentist,” Dr. Gruber says. “I’m a little bit of a lone wolf, so they somewhat adopted me – I don’t have any family that are dentists, and so they brought me into their family.”

Dr. Gruber says seeing the same families over and over again was part of what drew her to dentistry. There aren’t many other professions where you can watch families grow and change over the years.

Dr. John says he introduced Dr. Gruber to the patients over the last year and a half. She’s a great fit to take over – she’s also a Marquette grad and a Germantown native.

“I grew up right down the road from here, so being able to carry on this legacy in my hometown is amazing,” says Dr. Gruber.

“She’s right on it. She knows exactly what to do, and she’d doing it, and she’s keeping up,” says Dr. John. “And the patients all love her.”

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