Jonathan Gluck treats the children and grandchildren of the very first patients of the local orthodontic practice his father founded in 1983. On Sept. 9, the Gluck family and community members will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Gluck Orthodontics, the only Jewish orthodontists currently practicing in Nashville.
“I think the fact that we are celebrating our 40th anniversary and we are now seeing second- and third-generation Gluck Orthodontics patients where my dad treated the grandparents of our existing patients and parents is really a testament to the relationships that we built and we care a lot about, we nurture and we maintain,” Gluck told The Jewish Observer Nashville.
He added that the practice’s two core values are serving with kindness and fostering long-term relationships. His father, Joel Gluck, envisioned these values when he started Gluck Orthodontics in the early ‘80s.
The evolution of Gluck Orthodontics
Joel Gluck, who is originally from Morristown, Tennessee, moved to Nashville in 1983 with his wife, Linda, after they met. Around the time Joel and Linda Gluck began building their family, Joel was looking to start an orthodontic practice. He networked with every dentist he could find in Middle Tennessee and sent a letter to every orthodontist in town. Local orthodontist Gerald “Butch” Ritter offered Joel Gluck some of his orthodontic office space.
Gluck Orthodontics began as a business practice run by Joel Gluck with Linda being his first employee. From there, Joel Gluck put up a sign and began seeing patients and building relationships with Nashvillians.
“The biggest challenge I had was coming into a city where I basically didn’t know anyone,” Joel Gluck said. “Even though my wife’s family was from [Nashville], I was the one that was building the business.”
He said a second challenge was time management, given that he was a new business owner and father to two young children during Gluck Orthodontics’ formative years. His son, Jonathan Gluck, joined the practice — consisting of 16 team members — in 2015.
Jonathan Gluck, 36, comes to work at seven in the morning Mondays through Thursdays and does not leave until five in the evening. He meets with the practice manager and treatment coordinators in the hour before patients arrive, then prioritizes the patients for the remainder of the day.
“We’re very customer service-focused and we want to make coming to the orthodontist different than every other healthcare experience that people have…” Jonathan Gluck said. “We feel like when people come to our office, that they are welcomed into our Gluck Orthodontics family, and that we really take the time to get to know them as people and to care for them, not only with what we're doing as part of their treatment, but who they are as people and where they're going in life.”
On an average day, the Glucks see between 60 to 65 patients, many of them in the hours immediately after school lets out. Though this “after-school rush” of patients may be chaotic, Jonathan Gluck said his job does not seem like work to him.
“Having grown up in Nashville, I'm now at the point where I'm getting to take care of a lot of my friends’ kids, and so that's really awesome,” Jonathan Gluck said. “I mean, then that truly doesn't feel like work. It just feels like getting to hang out with people that you love when people that I went to kindergarten with are now old enough that I'm seeing their kids as patients.”
He added that since he joined Gluck Orthodontics eight years ago, his first patients are now college students who come back to visit him during breaks. Many new patients hear about Gluck Orthodontics by word of mouth from existing patients.
“One of the awesome things I think that's happened over the last 10 years is that our practice has really evolved into not only [a] predominantly kids and teens practice, but I'd say as of today, probably 50 percent of our practice is adults, so we have the benefit of seeing people across their entire life,’ Jonathan Gluck said. “I think our youngest patients are six or seven and our oldest are in their mid-80s, and being able to take care of people all across the lifespan is super rewarding for us.”
Serving the Jewish community
Joel and Jonathan Gluck have treated nearly every Jewish tween or teen in Nashville.
“It’s great,” Jonathan Gluck said of being the only Jewish orthodontist in town alongside his father. “We got the opportunity to take care of as many Jewish families as we can, and really be leaders in the community and we don't take that for granted and we really love it.”
Early in his career, Joel Gluck joined committees and organizations in Jewish Nashville, which helped him get to know members of the community.
“For me, it’s been fun to treat people that I see at temple or synagogue or Federation stuff or Jewish Family Service or at the [Jewish Community] Center,” Joel Gluck said.
Jonathan Gluck said he feels a deep connection to the Nashville community, as his children are fifth-generation Nashvillians.
“We really see serving the Jewish community as part of our mission, whether that's taking care of patients or being active participants in our congregation, supporting the Jewish Federation, Jewish Family Service, the JCC, Vanderbilt Hillel, like all those different organizations we see [are] really central to our mission as a practice and just our family values,” Jonathan Gluck said.
Celebrating the 40th anniversary
Steve Hecklin, a Nashville dentist and longtime friend of the Gluck family, said he began his dentistry practice about 40 years ago, roughly at the same time as Joel Gluck.
“Growing together, it has been my good fortune to know that my patients were being cared for with the highest regard for integrity of service and quality care,” Hecklin said. “When Jonathan joined the practice, I knew that those ideals would not change. My wife, Sandra, joins me in congratulating them on 40 wonderful years of service, attention and commitment to this community.” Gluck Orthodontics is the lead sponsor for the annual Green Hills Park Festival, which saw nearly 2,000 attendees last year, according to Jonathan Gluck. This year, on Sept. 9, the Glucks will host a celebration of their business’ 40-year anniversary in the hour before the festival.
Jonathan Gluck said he hopes even more community members will attend this year’s festival, featuring booths for local shops, family-friendly activities, food, live music and an outdoor movie.
“There's not that many businesses to begin with — and certainly not that many family businesses — that can say they are celebrating a 40th anniversary,” Jonathan Gluck said. “I think what's even better is the fact that we feel like the future is very bright for us and we have lots of opportunities to grow and improve and to help more people and to serve more in the Nashville community. So, for us, this is obviously a cause for celebration and something that we're very excited about.”
Joel Gluck said it brings him joy that the family business he began 40 years ago will remain in capable hands with his son.
“It makes me proud and humbled that I built something and now I have a son that’s continuing to build it and that we’ve had so much great support from the community,” Joel Gluck said. “It’s certainly nothing I ever thought would be like this and it’s definitely something I’m grateful for...”
As for the future, Joel Gluck shows no signs of slowing down.
“After 40 years, I’m still excited to get up and come to work and see people and learn new things,” Joel Gluck said.
The Green Hills Park Festival will take place at 1200 Lone Oak Road on Sept. 9 from 5 to 9 pm. Join the Glucks for a celebration with the Gluck Orthodontics family and community in the hour before the festival.