Last updated: 03:00 PM ET, Fri August 05 2016

Dentist Has Spent Career Helping Others Join The Smile High Club

Features & Advice | Michael Schottey | August 05, 2016

Dentist Has Spent Career Helping Others Join The Smile High Club

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock.

Robert M. Trager, DDS has been providing pearly white smiles and fresh breath to travelers and airline personnel alike across four decades, but that might change sooner rather than later.

In a profile courtesy of The Wall Street Journal, Trager reveals that he’s thinking about selling his practice which has an office both at JFK and La Guardia International Airports in New York City. Trager took over the initial JFK office in the mid-1980s and expanded to the other airport in the 90s. The 76-year-old has three offices and has built an empire cleaning the teeth of airport workers.

The next time your flight attendant has an exceptionally sparkling smile, you may be able to thank Trager. Because, while he takes walk-ins and is incredibly handy when it comes to dental emergencies for travelers, the bread and butter of his business has always been those who are on the road (ahem, in the air) so often that his offices so close to theirs have become a handy little bonus.

Trager loves his business and his patients, and that took a very real turn when a flight attendant chipped her tooth while dealing with some luggage. Trager fixed the tooth and eventually married that flight attendant. Now, Bonnye Trager is not only the dentist’s wife, but also his office manager, assistant and patient chauffeur.

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The dentist is even a frequent and vocal attendee to airport meetings and has drawn good-natured ribbing from airport management who appreciate his commentary—if it's not always entirely practical. 

You can get to know Trager a little bit more in this video uploaded to YouTube. The fact that his office, accent and even the quintessential NYC-style brevity of the video seems like it comes from a Seinfeld episode is just a bonus.

Travelers don’t often think about those who provide the essential services for them at the airport—from baggage handlers, flight attendants, pilots, etc. Often, we just pass by them, note service when it’s good or bad and then move on. It’s nice to know those who have us in good hand are in good hands as well.

Although Trager plans to sell his practice, he says that his plans will be to do so to someone who plans on keeping it on its current path as a smaller practice closely knit into the airport community. 

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