Facing a struggling economy and a need for a more practical kind of dentistry, Dr. William B. McHugh, a Marthasville dentist, is opening an extractions only dental office in the flagship McHugh-Dailey family building at 107 E. Orleans St.
Some 80 years after his father, Dr. William O. McHugh, opened his dental office in what is now the smoking room of the Great Pacific Coffee Company restaurant, Dr. McHugh has transformed the first floor of the old annex into a dental office.
The dentist’s decision to locate on the first floor of the McHugh living quarters, adjacent to the space where his father opened his first dental office in 1927, created a family gathering that included his brother James McHugh, nieces, nephews and numerous Dailey cousins of several generations.
The waiting area for the new office is created in an alcove, which can be entered via a ramp at the east end of the former McHugh annex or by the Orleans Street grand entrance that leads up the wide staircase to the upper floors. Waiting patients can sit in a row of wood theater seats rescued from the third floor opera house, which is being restored for public use.
“We sanded them down and rubbed linseed oil into them,” said Gloria Yanker, McHugh’s office manager.
McHugh and his brother James are now part owners of the building with two Dailey brothers, Tom and Mike, grandsons of building co-founder James Dailey.
McHugh, who graduated from St. Louis University High School and dental college, became a dentist in 1964. He now has a full service dental office in Marthasville. He plans to keep both the Pacific and Marthasville offices open.
Extraction is most often the dental procedure of choice in these economic conditions, McHugh said. Extraction will be done for a flat fee of $150.
For individuals who have dental insurance, dental fees are not a problem, according to McHugh. However, some people cannot afford expensive dental procedures, he said.
“Their alternatives are extraction or pain,” he added.
It is not ideal dentistry, but it is practical dentistry, McHugh said.
As a member of the Washington Overseas Medical and Dental Mission, McHugh has made 13 trips to Honduras where he spends days doing extractions only. Doctors, nurses and dentists provide medical procedures that can be provided in the field — much like the MASH units in the Army.
Lack of professional dental offices makes it impossible for natives with little or no income to maintain healthy teeth, McHugh said.
Where there are no professional dental offices and no electricity, pulling a tooth that hurts is the only thing that can be done, he said. There are so many people in line to get a tooth pulled that Yanker has been enlisted to extract teeth of natives under McHugh’s supervision.
“She works with me, not for me,” McHugh said. “She is well versed in every aspect of dentistry.”
McHugh said he decided to locate the extraction office in the family building because of the legacy to the past.
“This building is a real monument to the builders, Jimmy Dailey and Lawrence McHugh,” he said. “It should be maintained for the future.”
The Washington Overseas Medical and Dental Mission, founded in 1995, sends three medal teams to Honduras and works year-round to supply medical needs, personal items and clothing to Hondurans. The association’s mission is “Improving the health and quality of life for the people of Honduras and Latin America.” For volunteer or donation information visit www.overseasmission.org.