Dr. Carlos Meulener has seen a lot of changes since he opened his dental practice in 30 years ago.
"I started from scratch in 1982 with no patients," Meulener, 57, remembers of starting his practice two years out of dental school, which he has since expanded to about 1,100 patients today.
For one thing, the scenery has changed for Meulener as he moved three times from various offices in town until finally settling into his current location in the small, airy building at the corner of Willow Avenue and Parker Avenue that he fixed up in 1996.
He set up shop in Little Silver after initially considering opening an office in Monmouth Beach where he and his wife Patti — who he married 38 years ago while he was in dental school — were living at the time. "I decided that was too land-locked and thought Little Silver was more central and would draw from a lot of towns," he explains.
He liked Little Silver so much that he ended up moving his family to the borough — by way of Shrewsbury — and staying for about 11 years. "It's a great place to raise a family," he says of bringing up his three children in Little Silver. His two sons and daughter — who are now grown — all attended Red Bank Regional and remain in the area.
While a lot of his patients do come from Little Silver, Meulener says that he's also had patients travel from more distant towns, like Freehold and Spring Lake, and one woman who came twice a year from Aruba (her mother lived here).
Within 30 years, Meulener says he has found the borough very business-friendly and is relieved to hear that there's finally seems to be plans in place to improve some of the other empty commercial spaces "I think the Little Silver Business Professional Association has been especially in-tune with small businesses," he says.
While there have been many benefits to practicing in his own community and working so close to home, Meulener, who now lives in Rumson, says it can come with a disadvantage. "You have to perform," he says with a smile.
Because his practice offers comprehensive dentistry — focusing on preventative measures to ensure good dental health — Meulener says he's always looking to add new patients to his practice, but he's about to get some help. His son, Brian, 33 —who now lives in Little Silver with his wife and two young daughters — decided to return to school, after seven years in advertising, and join his father in the family business when he graduates in four years.
According to Meulener's website, his practice offers general and cosmetic and implant dentistry, including preventive care, periodontal treatments, teeth whitening, mercury-free enamel fillings and porcelain veneers. He also offers advanced laser dentistry, root canal therapy, dental implants and oral surgery.
Aside from more stringent sterilization techniques and the digitization of x-rays and impressions, Meulener says one of the biggest changes he's seen while practicing in Little Silver has occurred outside of his office. "It's gotten very congested," he says of traffic in the area. "It takes longer to get anywhere."