Two young men are fulfilling the dreams their fathers had for them — and helping those in need — by pursuing careers in dentistry.
Cousins Parth Patel and Harshil Boghara opened Smile Culture Dental this fall in Bristol Township.
Growing up in North Wales, the men recognized early in their childhood that their parents were committed to building a better life for their children.
Their uncle — a dentist — was the first in their family to emigrate from a poor, farming village in India to America in the 1980s. Soon after, brothers Ramesh (Boghara’s father) and Dinesh (Patel’s father, who changed his last name when he arrived) followed. It was a huge risk for the men, who couldn’t speak English and had no money. Ramesh found work in health care and Dinesh in hotel management.
“It’s really an American dream story. Through hard work and determination they were able to raise a family and become successful,” said Patel.
Patel and Boghara, who both now live in Philadelphia, both graduated from the University of Miami in Florida. Boghara, 28, went on to graduate from Temple University’s Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry. Patel, 23, is in his third year of dental school at the University of Pennsylvania.
Boghara works at the office full time. Patel splits his time between school, and handling administrative and marketing work for the office.
To share their success with the community, the cousins created the Smile 4 Smile initiative. For each patient, they provide an oral health checkup and oral hygiene essentials to an individual in an underserved area.
“If we see 4,000 patients, that’s how many patients we’re going to go out and serve,” said Boghara. “We want to be a company that is doing good in the area with this opportunity.”
The Smile Culture Dental owners hope to treat 10,000 patients in Philadelphia this summer who otherwise would not receive preventative dental care.
“In health care there’s really nothing like that. I wanted to create a model where we are doing good and creating good,” said Patel.
When Patel graduates from dental school in 2018, he hopes to pursue an MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Patel and Boghara hope to inspire other dentists and health care providers to pursue the model of the Smile 4 Smile program by making giving back to under-served patients part of doing business.
They haven’t forgotten the risks their fathers took to pursue a better life for their boys.
“We want to make them proud by really doing well with it and creating a difference on a large scale,” said Patel, noting that the goal of the Smile 4 Smile program is to help impoverished patients both in the U.S. and internationally. “In five years, our goal is to give back to the communities, such as those as our parents grew up in, that lack the basic necessities that we have here in the states.”
Honoring their fathers and giving back to others is what motivates Patel and Boghara to take their own risks by starting a business in their 20s.
“It’s exciting to give back to them in creating something they can be proud of,” said Boghara. “We didn’t settle with everything we’ve been given. We want to take it to the next level.”