Monessen dental group traces its roots to 1924
Dr. Joseph M. Dudas Sr. began practicing dentistry in Monessen in 1924.
It became a well-known family practice as five sons joined him. Drs. Tom and Joseph Dudas practiced general dentistry, while Dr. Martin Dudas was an orthodontist and John and Richard Dudas did lab work.
Just two years out of dentistry school, Dr. James Belasco was working in the Century III area when a hygienist told him there was an opening for an associate with Dudas' practice. He joined the Monessen practice in 1986.
Shortly after earning his dentistry degree, Dr. Eric Ober was looking to purchase a dentistry practice. At the same time, Dr. Martin Dudas was looking to sell his practice.
"He and I talked and decided to go in together," Belasco said of his partner, Ober.
That's how the dentistry practice rich in local tradition evolved into the expanding practice of Belasco, Ober and Associates.
Belasco and Ober maintained the practice in Monessen for five years before moving to their current main office at 1108 Fayette Ave., in Washington Township. The office provided more space, Belasco said.
"With the new sterilization regulations, we needed to upgrade everything," Belasco said.
Belasco, Ober and Associates expanded, capitalizing on old, established practices in the valley.
The practice has satellite offices at 600 Furlong Ave. in Roscoe and at 144 Third St. in California.
The Roscoe practice was acquired from Dr. Charles Page in 2002.
The California practice was acquired from Dr. Richard Birch in 2008.
Dr. Joslyn McWilliams practices three days per week each at Roscoe and Washington Township.
Dr. Gina Rakosky, wife of Dr. Eric Ober, practices three days per week at the California office.
The California office also participates in the Medicaid program known as UPMC For You, one day a week.
Dr. Christopher Munn practices general dentistry, participating in the UPMC for You program.
At the Washington Township office, there are four general-practice
dentists as well as an orthodontist.
Even in retirement, Dr. Martin Dudas is still finishing some cases Dr. Gail Lundquist recently began practicing orthodontic dentistry out of the Washington Township office.
In addition, assistants see patients throughout the week.
Dr. Suzanne Coyne practices periodontology, diagnosing, preventing and treating gum disease. Dr. Brian Borodaty practices prosthodontics, the care of implants and crown and bridge work.
Two laboratory technicians work at the on-site lab, Cathy Furio and John Dudas.
"Having three offices allows us to reach more people," Belasco said.
"It allows us more flexibility of scheduling. In an emergency, if a patient can't be seen in one office, they can be seen in another.
"These (satellite) practices are smaller. Some people prefer that, while some people like the bigger offices."
Belasco evolved in the field from patient to dentist.
Treated with orthodontics for his teeth, Belasco said he learned about the guided growth form of orthodontic dentistry practiced by Dudas.
Belasco has been practicing dentistry for 27 years.
He depends often on the staff of more than 30 to get things done, Belasco said.
"I like working with a big staff," Belasco said. "The are a lot of young associates, and they bring a lot of new knowledge out of school."
He also enjoys improving the quality of life for his patients.
"You can make a difference in people's lives," Belasco said. "They eat better, speak better.
"The daughter of one of my patients (recently) said, ‘Mom, that's the first time in three years I saw you smile."
Ober has lived elsewhere, but he loves the Mid-Mon Valley.
Ober said he also likes the flexibility of general dentistry.
"I get to do everything," Ober said.
"I do all of the different aspects of dentistry.
"I also like the people. The people of southwestern Pennsylvania are extra nice."